Shared Education Legislation and Policy

Shared Education Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

The purpose of the Shared Education Act (NI) 2016 is to make legislative provision in relation to Shared Education.  

As well as providing a definition of Shared Education, it sets out the core components that are regarded as the minimum essential for the delivery of Shared Education.  The Act places a number of duties on Education Bodies including the duty on the Department of Education and the Education Authority to encourage, facilitate and promote Shared Education.  The Act also provides a power to relevant arms-length bodies to encourage and facilitate Shared Education.

The Act and the accompanying Explanatory notes can be viewed using the following link:

The Act states that the purpose of shared education is to –

(a) deliver educational benefits to children and young persons;
(b) promote the efficient and effective use of resources;
(c) promote equality of opportunity;
(d) promote good relations; and
(e) promote respect for identity, diversity and community cohesion.

It states that Shared Education means the education together of –

(a) those of different religious belief, including reasonable numbers of both Protestant and Roman Catholic children or young persons; and
(b) those who are experiencing socio-economic deprivation and those who are not, which is secured by the working together and co-operation of two or more relevant providers.

A “relevant provider” means a person providing education at a grant-aided school, or services of any kind (including youth services) which provide educational benefit to children or young persons.

Shared Education Policy

Sharing Works – A Policy for Shared Education (2015) sets out the background and development of Shared Education.  The policy provides a practical description of how Shared Education works in practice and encourages education settings to go beyond the minimum core definition to address the needs of all groups as set out in Section 75 of the 1998 NI Act.

The Policy can be viewed via the following link:

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