Dr Aideen Hunter, Dr Jessica Bates, Dr Alan McCully and Dr Una O’Connor (UU)
Rural Primary School Partnerships, Sustainability and Social Cohesion
This presentation will offer insight into the potential for co-operation between small controlled and maintained schools in adjacent rural areas. It will draw on the Primary Integrating/Enriching Education (PIEE) project (2010-13), which involves developing cross-community partnerships between small rural schools in the NEELB area to enhance educational provision. The evidence was collected from two ‘case study’ partnerships. Additional to this, a survey of all participating principals and teachers was undertaken. In the third year of the project, the work was extended to look specifically at the impact of ‘shared’ teachers, a project initiative whereby a teacher is employed jointly by two partnership schools for a year. The presentation will examine the potential for rural schools, through cooperation, to enhance pupils’ entitlement and to achieve greater economic viability. From the evidence gathered, it will assess how far such partnerships might contribute to greater social cohesion or to what extent, in the longer term, they might consolidate existing patterns of segregation. The question of the sustainability of partnerships beyond the life of PIEE will also be addressed.