Third Report on Advancing Shared Education laid to the Northern Ireland Assembly

Date published: 25 March 2022

Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, today announced that a further Report to the Assembly on Advancing Shared Education has now been laid to the Assembly.

Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, today announced that a further Report to the Assembly on Advancing Shared Education has now been laid to the Assembly.

This is the third such report following earlier versions laid in 2018 and 2020, and covers the period April 2020 to March 2022.  

The 2022 Report outlines progress made in advancing Shared Education over the reporting period whilst also highlighting the significant impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of shared activity.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to lay before the Assembly, the third report on Shared Education, in accordance with the requirements set out in the Shared Education Act.

“Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am very encouraged by the numbers of schools and other settings which continue to be involved in Shared Education. Immense credit must go to leaders, teachers and practitioners in educational settings who have sought to maintain relationships and continued to connect with their partners and networks via enhanced use of online and digital technologies.”

The Report also sets out a series of next steps designed to further develop and embed Shared Education across the education system and beyond over the coming years.

Concluding the Minister said:

“Shared Education provides vital opportunities for our children and young people to mix, learn and socialise with their peers across religious and socio-economic divides and can bring a range of educational, social and economic benefits.

“Recognising the impact of COVID-19, re-building and enhancing participation levels will be one of a number of key areas of focus as we move forward to ensure that we can deliver on the NI Executive’s commitment, as outlined in the New Decade New Approach agreement, that children and young people from different backgrounds should be able to learn together.”

Notes to editors: 

1. 3rd Report to the Assembly  -

2. Shared Education involves the sustained provision of opportunities for children and young people from different community, as well as social and economic, backgrounds to learn together.

3. The Shared Education (Northern Ireland) Act 2016 provides a consistent definition of Shared Education as “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.”

4. Under the Act, the Department of Education has a duty to “encourage, facilitate and promote” Shared Education and also is required to lay a Report to the Northern Ireland Assembly on a biennial basis which must detail the extent to which the Department, the Education Authority, and other bodies impacted by the Act, have complied with their respective duties and powers, the level of participation in Shared Education and the extent to which there has been any increase or decrease, and the extent to which the purpose of Shared Education has been achieved.

5. The purpose of Shared Education is defined as to deliver educational benefits to children and young persons, promote the efficient and effective use of resources, promote equality of opportunity; and promote good relations, respect for identity, diversity and community cohesion. The Report highlights a range of evaluative evidence, surveys and research which point to the continued positive impact of Shared Education.

6. According to the most recent data available (as at June 2021), some 700 pre-school settings and primary, post primary and special schools across Northern Ireland are involved in Shared Education structures.

7. Follow us on Twitter @Education_NI

8. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top