Further education and skills in Northern Ireland: policy and practice in a post-conflict society

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This paper contextualises the Further Education (FE) sector in Northern Ireland (NI). It outlines the specific political, social and economic influences that have shaped its position as a major but understated educational provider in what remains a highly divided educational system that is slowly transitioning in a post-conflict environment. Key policy frameworks underpinning sectoral development are described, showing how many policy initiatives have been both ‘borrowed’ from the English context and adapted to local need. The article proceeds to highlight a number of curricular and institutional innovations that have contributed to the development of a small-scale, but distinctive educational, social and economic model. The piece concludes by suggesting that the NI FE experience has the potential to contribute not only to its own specific conditions but, through its ‘policy and practice’ adaptations’, to positively influence FE policy and practice in other parts of the United Kingdom (UK) that require interventions around skills development economic growth and social cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-276
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Education and Work
Issue number3
Early online date29 May 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 May 2019


  • Northern Ireland
  • further education
  • policy and practice
  • post-conflict


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