School partnerships in a post-conflict society: addressing challenges of collaboration and competition

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In societies emerging from conflict, education plays an important part in instituting peace and reconciliation, and school leaders are key to this. This paper examines the complexity of school leadership in Northern Ireland. Despite the peace agreement of 1998, Northern Ireland’s communities are still deeply divided, and this is reflected in education. The school leaders who were interviewed as part of this research work within school partnerships as part of ‘shared education’ projects which involve schools working together and with twin aims of improving both educational and reconciliation outcomes for young people. The challenges that school leaders face when working in partnership in post-conflict societies have not been given the attention they deserve in the literature, so this work is significant in that it brings a focus on how school leaders can best be empowered to be agents of change, in turn empowering pupils. While the context is Northern Ireland, the outcomes from this study will be of wider interest and significance for school leaders facing similar challenges in other divided situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalIrish Educational Studies
Early online date14 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 14 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Educational Studies Association of Ireland.


  • Schools
  • School leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Northern Ireland
  • Shared Education


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