Shared Education

Purpose of Shared Education

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.

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 Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

The purpose of the Act is to make legislative provision in relation to Shared Education.  As well as providing a definition of the core minimum requirements of Shared Education, the Act places a 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:

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:

Advancing Shared Education Report to the Northern Ireland Assembly June 2020

This is the second biennial report detailing progress on advancing Shared Education and it is laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly in accordance with section 7 of the Shared Education Act (NI) 2016. The June 2020 report covers the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2020.

The first biennial report detailing progress on advancing Shared Education was laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly in May 2018, and covers the period 09 May 2016 to 31 March 2018

Shared Education Self Evaluation Frameworks

Schools are at different starting points along a continuum in respect of Shared Education. For some, they are beginning their journey while others are embedding high quality Shared Education experiences for their pupils.  Drawing on good practice, the Education & Training Inspectorate has developed Frameworks for Collaboration that should be used to self-assess the extent and quality of Shared Education provision.  The frameworks can further assist the development of action plans to facilitate the development and embedding of Shared Education in relevant educational settings.

The frameworks can be viewed via the following links:

Delivering Social Change Shared Education Signature Project (DSC SESP)

The Delivering Social Change (DSC) framework was established by the Executive to tackle poverty and social exclusion and aims 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 DSC SESP aim is to improve the educational and reconciliation outcomes through school working collaboratively by further developing and embedding Shared Education in schools that are already engaged in delivery of Shared Education.  Funding of up to £25m was made available to eligible schools up to June 2019.  Support was also provided through the Education Authority’s team of Shared Education Development Officers who provide advice and guidance to schools on self evaluation, initial application stage through to delivery.

Further details are available through the following link:

A programme of Professional Learning is also available to ensure practitioners have the necessary knowledge and skills to delivery high quality Shared Education experiences for children and young people.


A 2019/20 Shared Education pilot was funded by the Department of Education, to provide an opportunity to test a funding model across a wider range of partnerships operating in different community circumstances, or particular phases or Key Stages of education. The evaluation of this pilot will help inform future decisions on long-term arrangements for Shared Education from the 2020/21 academic year and beyond.

Peace IV Shared Education Programme

The Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, is providing funding of up to €35.3m, comprising €30m from the European Union and €5.3m government funding, to encourage the development and delivery of Shared Education within education settings that have limited or no prior experience.  The Programme operates in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.  Details are available at Peace IV Shared Education Programme.

Two consortia, were appointed as delivery partners in September 2017.

The Sharing from the Start (SfS) project, delivered by the Early Years Organisation, together with the Fermanagh Trust and the National Childhood Network, targets early years settings.  Further details are available at SfS.

The Collaborating Through Sharing in Education (CASE) project, delivered by the Education Authority and Léargas, targets Primary, Post-primary and Special Schools, and youth to school settings.  Further details are available at CASE.

Sharing from the Start is scheduled to run until June 2021 and CASE until March 2022.

Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) commissioned SJC Consultancy to undertake an impact evaluation of EU PEACE IV-funded ‘Shared Education’.  Details are available at PEACE IV Shared Education. Launch of impact evaluation findings | NCB 

Useful Links 

Young Life and Times and Kids Life and Times Surveys

Further details can be found through the following link:

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