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Brookeborough Shared Education Campus plans get the go-ahead from their managing authorities.
Brookeborough Primary School and St Mary’s Primary School have received formal support from the Council for Catholic Education (CCMS) and the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) for their proposal. A submission has now been sent to the Department of Education for their consideration.
The two primary schools in Brookeborough have been pioneers in developing cross-community linkages over the last 40 years. Through the Shared Education Programme the children enjoy a variety of activities and learning opportunities where friendships and links between the communities have been formed. The cross-community work between the schools has resulted in excellent educational and community relations outcomes and the schools would like to see this develop for the benefit of the pupils and wider community.
Following the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ initiative the Department of Education opened a call in January for Expressions of Interest for Shared Education Campuses. Under the programme, Education Minister John O’Dowd is seeking to invest in innovative projects involving shared facilities.
At a parents evening held earlier this year interest was expressed in advancing a local area solution for the future educational needs of the children of Brookeborough. The desire to build upon the linkages between the two schools led to a community consultation being carried out earlier this month. The results from this consultation showed overwhelming school, parental and community based support for the development of a shared education campus in Brookeborough.
Mr Dermot Finlay, Principal of St Mary’s PS said “I am very pleased that the proposal has been endorsed by CCMS and WELB – as are my board of governors. It is a forward thinking move which has received the backing of the community. The Shared Campus could have a very positive impact on the Brookeborough area and revitalise the village. In the meantime our schools continue the good work through our shared programmes and with the Fermanagh Trust. Over many years St Mary’s PS and Brookeborough PS have reached out the hand of friendship, working together in the interests of pupils and the broader community. This shared campus would cement the relationship between the two schools, sharing facilities, developing bonds while at the same time retaining their own distinct identity, culture and ethos.”
Florence Brunt, Chair of the Board of Governors at Brookeborough PS said “The Board of Governors are fully supportive of the idea of having a shared campus in Brookeborough. This is a way of retaining primary school provision in the village as well as improving facilities for the whole community. The two schools have been working closely together for decades. In recent years thanks to funding from the Fermanagh Trust the schools have been able to partake in a wide range of activities and develop even closer bonds. We are pleased to have got to this stage and hope the good work will continue.”
Last week the P3-P7 pupils at St Mary’s PS and Brookeborough PS ‘wowed’ their parents, families and friends at their shared education drama performance. Miss Hazel Gardiner, Principal of Brookeborough PS said “This performance was an opportunity to showcase their hard work together. It’s also a good example of what can be achieved when expertise can be shared collaboratively between schools. We are pleased that the WELB and CCMS have endorsed the proposal for a Shared Campus in Brookeborough. If this is approved by the Department it will secure excellent educational, sporting and community resources for the village whilst also enhancing and maintaining the respective cultural traditions. The children really enjoy working together and we are all excited about our future shared education plans.”