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Meabh Gilligan with Principal Brian McGrath
During the recent visit by the Assembly’s Education Committee’s to Fermanagh to study Shared Education in the County, the politicians met with a number of Fermanagh’s shared education partnerships. During this meeting Meabh Gilligan, P4 pupil from St Martin’s PS Garrison read out a letter she had prepared for the MLAs about how much she enjoyed all the work she had done with the other schools, the friends she has made and how much she wants shared education to continue.
Chairman of the Committee Mervyn Storey MLA was so impressed by Meabh that he agreed to forward her letter to the Education Minister John O’Dowd MLA. Members of the Committee commented on how much they enjoyed the opportunity to meet principals and in particular to hear directly about a pupil’s experience. Meabh said “I was glad to tell the politicians how much I like shared education. I’m happy my letter is going to the Minister and I hope I get a reply!”
Brian McGrath, Principal of St Martin’s PS said “It’s great to see such positive feedback from the Education Committee. It has given them an insight into shared education from a child’s perspective.” For the last four years St Martin’s PS along with Belleek CPS, St John the Baptist PS and St Davog’s PS have been working together as part of the Shared Education Programme, facilitated by the Fermanagh Trust. The significant level of collaboration has brought about very clear benefits to the learning outcomes of the children and has supported the professional development of staff.
The four primary schools have formed the Erne West Learning Community. They are one of fourteen school partnerships in Fermanagh who have produced substantial shared education submissions to the Area Planning process last June sending out a strong message to managing authorities that they want to continue their collaboration moving forward.
Lauri McCusker, Director of the Fermanagh Trust and Catherine Ward, Shared Education Programme Manager briefed the politicians during their meeting at Fermanagh House where they discussed the widespread support from school communities, political parties, Churches and other organisations for shared education in Fermanagh.
Lauri McCusker said “With a number of upcoming announcements expected regarding the government funding of shared education, the Education Committee meeting with schools and hearing how it works on the ground was surely helpful. It was a timely opportunity and a chance to restate that the progress that has been made through shared education must be built upon.”