Allport’s intergroup contact theory outlines four conditions for effective contact: equal status between participants within the contact situation, cooperation, common goals and institutional support. While the literature indicates that institutional support may be a particularly important condition for effective contact, its role and impact remain under‐researched, particularly in studies of contact within real‐world contexts. This article seeks to address this gap through a study of institutional support within a school‐based contact initiative operating in two countries, Northern Ireland and North Macedonia. Known as ‘shared education’, this promotes inter‐school collaboration as a means of fostering contact between pupils from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. Adopting a qualitative approach and using data collected through interviews with staff involved in four shared education projects, this study explores three aspects: the extent to which shared education demonstrates support for contact; the factors that encourage or impede supportive contact norms; and the relationship between the norms of the school and those of other authorities, particularly parents and the community.
- comparative education—research approaches
- institutional support
- intercultural education
- intergroup relations