Integrated and Shared Education: Sinn Féin, the Democratic Unionist Party and Educational Change in Northern Ireland.

Ulf Hansson, Stephen Roulston

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Abstract

There is considerable literature concerning divided societies and the role of education in such societies. In the case of Northern Ireland, education is characterised by a largely separate system of education for its two main communities. There is also a considerably smaller integrated schools sector, where the two communities learn together. A more recent intervention is that of Shared Education where separate schools are retained but shared classes and other opportunities for sharing are offered. Politically, there has never been extensive support for integrated education, particularly from the two largest parties in the Assembly and power-sharing Executive, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin. While not active proponents of integrated education the two parties have embraced Shared Education and with their own interpretation of its implementation. The introduction of shared education can be seen as a triumph as the two main parties in the coalition – the DUP and Sinn Féin – have agreed on a policy designed to bridge the gap in education. An alternative view is that Shared Education is the least-worst option for these two parties but may do little to advance reconciliation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Futures in Education
VolumePolicy Futures in Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Northern Ireland
  • segregated schools,
  • Shared Education,
  • Integrated education
  • DUP
  • power-sharing

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