Education Minister John O’Dowd today introduced the Shared Education Bill into the Assembly.
The Bill provides a legislative definition of Shared Education as involving those of different religious belief, including reasonable numbers of both Protestant and Roman Catholic children or young persons; and those who are experiencing socio-economic deprivation and those who are not.
The Bill also places a power on the Department and its arms length bodies to encourage and facilitate Shared Education and will also enact the duty on the Education Authority in relation to Shared Education as set out in the Education Act 2014.
Speaking after the Bill’s introduction, Minister O’Dowd said: “This Bill will send a strong signal to the education sector and the wider community that Shared Education is a key feature of our education system going forward. I understand that for some, Shared Education is a new and evolving area. Good practice is still being developed however, the Bill will give the flexibility to encourage and build confidence on the benefits of Shared Education for both those in our education system and wider society.
“The case for Shared Education has been well established and this Bill and my Shared Education Policy published in September, have both been welcomed as an opportunity to build a more inclusive approach, at a pace communities are comfortable with. Many of my Assembly colleagues, like myself, believe that Shared Education must be part of the solution to promoting a culture of mutual understanding and I look forward to taking the Bill through to law before the end of this Assembly mandate.”