The Centre for Shared education, led by Professor Joanne Hughes at Queen’s University, advocates shared education as a model for promoting inter-relations through education. This model accepts the existence of schools divided on ethnic or religious lines as understandable and legitimate expressions of difference in divided and plural societies whilst at the same time adopting a critical-reflective approach.
The Chair seeks to promote collaboration with the aim of delivering educational benefits to learners and promoting the efficient and effective use of resources. The key principles of their work include promoting equality of opportunity, good relations, equality of identity, respect for diversity and community cohesion.
The Centre delivers its vision through three core strands of interlinked activities: research (examining the processes and outcomes of shared education); intervention (assisting in the development and delivery of shared education interventions in schools); education and training (developing and providing training and resources for shared education).
ABOUT THE CHAIR’S RESEARCH
Professor Hughes’ main research interests are in the role of education in divided societies, and inequalities in education. Current research projects explore longitudinally the effect of inter-group contact between Protestant and Catholic pupils in Northern Ireland, and the development and effectiveness of shared education interventions locally and in international settings, including Israel and the Balkans.
Her research in NI informed the Shared Education Act (2016) and an associated policy framework, and in North Macedonia, the establishment of a state-wide Interethnic Integration in Education Programme, and the development of resources that have been made available to every primary school in the region. In Israel, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo she is working with local NGOs and officials to develop shared education interventions. Relating to research impact, her work is one of 19 Signature Projects supported in Queen’s Social Charter (2017).
Staff from the Centre for Shared Education deliver two training modules for post-primary teachers and other education stakeholders too: the first module, ‘Maximising Collaboration and Intergroup Contact’, explores effective collaboration and considers the logistics and challenges that arise when schools work together. Participants explore the principles of contact theory and focus on best practice at classroom level. The second module, ‘Teaching and Dealing with Controversial and Sensitive Issues’, explores the nature of controversial issues in Northern Ireland and provides research-based, practical strategies for meaningful and engaging exploration of such topics in the classroom.