Religion and Education in Northern Ireland: Voluntary Segregation Reflecting Historical Divisions
Myriam Hunter-Henin (ed), Law, Religious Freedom and Education in Europe (Ashgate), pp. 133-152, (2012) Forthcoming
24 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2012
Date Written: June 22, 2012
Since the foundation of Northern Ireland (‘NI’) in 1920, the issue of control over primary and secondary education has been a source of significant tension between its two main ethno-religious communities as well as between each and the NI government. Education in Northern Ireland is organised differently compared with the rest of the United Kingdom and several of its ‘unique features’ arise out of the particular form of its political and religious sensitivities concerning education. This chapter is structured as follows. First, I shall outline the features of the governance of education in the NI model. Secondly, I shall attempt to explain briefly why these features came about. Thirdly, I shall consider research that has attempted to understand the effects of the model on the religious background of pupils in different schools. Fourthly, I shall address the role of teachers in this model. Fifthly, I shall consider issues relating to curriculum and collective worship. Sixthly, the crucial issue of school funding will be examined. Finally, I shall consider the prospects for the model in the future by considering pupil opinion on the structure of schooling and I shall explain how this model relates to political developments in Northern Ireland generally.
Keywords: religious education, Northern Ireland
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