The Department is continuing to engage with the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) and colleagues in the Republic of Ireland in progressing education focused programmes to be supported via PEACE PLUS, a significant cross-border collaboration funding programme.
This includes the Shared Learning Together investment area (worth a total of €51.2m over the programming period) which will seek to expand, enhance and amplify existing Shared Education provision, building on the success of the earlier PEACE IV Shared Education programme.
Following prior approval from the NI Executive, Irish Government, North South Ministerial Council and EU Commission, PEACE PLUS formally opened in June 2023 with the commencement of a competitive application and assessment process. Related projects will become operational in due course subject to the outcome of that process.
Further details regarding PEACE PLUS can be found on the SEUPB website at PEACEPLUS Programme | SEUPB.
Previous funding for Shared Education had been via two key programmes, delivered with partners over a number of years:-
Delivering Social Change Shared Education Signature Programme 2015-2020
The Delivering Social Change (DSC) framework was established by the Executive to tackle poverty and social exclusion and aimed to deliver a sustained reduction in poverty and associated issues across all ages and improve children and young people’s health, well-being and life opportunities.
The aim of the DSC Shared Education Signature Programme (SESP) was to improve educational and community relations outcomes through schools working collaboratively by further developing and embedding Shared Education in schools that were already engaged in delivering Shared Education activities. Funding of up to £25m was made available to eligible schools up to June 2019 to support pupil engagement and, to June 2022, to build capacity for Shared Education across the education system. Support was also provided through the Education Authority’s team of Shared Education Development Officers who provided advice and guidance to schools.
SESP has now ended, with former partnerships provided with the opportunity to move to mainstreamed Shared Education funding.
PEACE IV Shared Education Programme 2014-2020
Funding was invested in two projects to increase the number of schools, teachers and participants involved in Shared Education to promote good relations and enhance children’s skills and attitudes to contribute to a cohesive society. Managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), €35m was initially awarded to fund the PEACE IV Shared Education Programme, with €30m funding from the EU and match funding from the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland governments. The programme aimed to encourage the development and delivery of Shared Education within education settings that had limited or no prior experience. The Programme operated in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland and funded two projects:
- Collaboration through Sharing in Education (CASE) for Primary, Post-primary and Special schools with a budget of €28.9m; and
- Sharing from the Start (SfS) for early years settings, with a budget of €4.26m.
Both PEACE IV projects have now concluded. Further details of each project, including evaluations, are available at PEACE IV | SEUPB.