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Knocknagin Primary School, Desertmartin

Shared Education

We had a very successful Shared Education partnership with Desertmartin P.S.

Below is a History of the partnership. 

For approx. 35years there had been a link between Church of Ireland P. School and the neighbouring Catholic school, Knocknagin Primary School. Initially the contact was only between principals. This gradually expanded to include teaching staff and the schools were part of a local ‘cluster group’ which met on a regular basis for teacher planning or for new NEELB initiatives to be delivered to staff. Only occasionally did the children come together for projects or one off lessons.

Approximately 10 years ago, the then principal of Knocknagin P.S and the principal of Desertmartin P.S decided to make the link between the schools more ‘formal’ and enrol for the pilot of the PIEE project. The ethos behind this project was that children would learn to respect each other through regular working together. As the schools are within a mile of each other and the children from both schools were living in the vicinity, regular contact would not be a problem.

Then Knocknagin’s principal changed. However, the new principal was very enthusiastic about the project and for the next five/six years , we gradually have built up a strong, thriving partnership.

We all believed right from the start that everyone in school should be involved. Everyone, both staff and pupils therefore had ownership of this project….so from the beginning, there was no ‘opt out clause’ and everyone took part. The governors of both schools believed strongly in the partnership.

In the first years of the PIEE project, the numbers of children in both schools and the staffs were almost identical so Key Stages of children worked together. A variety of projects and trips took place, at first out of school and then within each other’s schools. It was carefully monitored so that children spent roughly the same amount of time in each other’s school. Staff ‘team-taught’ the classes together so children always had their ‘own ‘ teacher in the classroom.

The next step involved ‘Friday Clubs’. This involved all children in KS2 and all four members of teaching staff. The children were divided into 4 mixed groups. Each member of staff was responsible for a subject ie. PE, music, art cooking. The principals remained in their own schools and the other two members of staff taught in their partner school. The children rotated, one teacher a week for the four week cycle. This allowed all members of staff to become familiar with all pupils and also meant that the children were no longer always with their ’own’ teacher. It also introduced the fact that parents now were going to the partner school to pick their children up.

The following year we applied for ‘the shared teacher’ which was being funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. Our bid was successful. A joint Board of Governors was formed from DPS and KPS. It was decided that our shared teacher would be responsible for delivering the World Around Us to all our pupils (along with Eco-schools and PDMU) and that these lessons would be delivered in joint classes. When the shared teacher was appointed, she was ‘based in’ both schools. She moved between schools each day and children were also transported between the schools each day. Parents picked up at both schools.

A detailed timetable was drawn up. All staff worked together with CASS, who helped us draw up a rolling WAU scheme through topics ensuring breadth and progression from P1-7 throughout both schools. Every child took part in joint classes at least twice each week. Children were picked up from each other’s schools regularly. This was an extremely successful year, cementing the relationships at all levels. As well as WAU, both schools reached silver level in Eco-schools. At the end of the year, the schools together put on a performance of the musical, Cinderella , this involved all pupils and our performance was a sellout! A wonderful experience for all involved.

The following year, we were granted funding for approx. 6 months. Our shared teacher followed a similar timetable with all children being involved.

PIEE funding then ceased. However, the staff, governors, parents and children felt our partnership was so successful and had come so far that it was felt it should continue. Sharing played a major part in the Area Based Plan for the two schools.

There was another change of principal at Knocknagin, and our partnership continued to thrive.

Until June 2019, joint classes were taught by all staff. We planned together for shared education. Every child from P3-P7 had two shared classes each week where WAU was the main thrust of the lessons. P1+2 had one joint play session each week.

This demanded a big commitment for all staff. Children had to be transported up and down the road during break/lunchtimes. Both staffs needed to be aware of individual children’s needs and medications. Specific times had to be set aside for planning etc. But we believed that what our children achieved through this partnership, both academically and socially far outweighed any disadvantages.

We had been successful in attaining funding through the Shared Education Signaturec Project for many years. 

Unfortunatly the Covid-19 pandemic ceased face-to-face lessons for 2020 but pupils remained in online contact.

Unfortunatly Desertmartin PS closed in August 2020.

We are currently in discussions to form a new Shared Education partnership.