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A Voyage of Discovery – Children Learn to Share on Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

Resource type: News


Children from 2 schools in Northern Ireland travelled to St Mary’s Primary School on Rathlin Island as part of a cross-community partnership. The partnership between the three schools is one of 11 schools partnerships in the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Primary Integrating/Enriching Education (PIEE) Project. The PIEE Project is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the International Fund for Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, it is possible even in small, rural communities for children from one tradition to be educated quite separately from their peers from the other tradition, such is the extent of segregation in the region’s education system. Despite geographical proximity, it is hard for children from Nationalist and Unionist traditions to meet, play and learn together as they grow up.

This week thirteen children from different schools spent two days together, turning the only inhabited island off the coast of Northern Ireland into their own ‘shared classroom’.


(Pictured) The Primary Integrating/Enriching Education Project is allowing children from different backgrounds to learn and play together as well as fostering positive relations between children, their teachers and parents.


Children from Ballycastle Integrated Primary School and Gaelscoil an Chaistil in Ballycastle travelled across to St Mary’s Primary School on Rathlin Island for a two day residential which provided them with opportunities to explore each other’s culture through visits to both of the island’s churches and joint soccer and GAA lessons as well as improving their map-making skills and visiting the island’s famous puffin colony.

Over the next three years, these thirteen children will be able to build on the friendships developing during their visit to Rathlin Island through shared experiences linked to, and also extending beyond the curriculum. In addition, they will benefit from the resources and facilities at each other’s schools. Their parents are also involved in shared activities and their teachers will benefit from shared training and development. These opportunities are even more important to Rathlin Island’s St Mary’s Primary School which often faces practical day-to-day challenges due to its isolated location.

The Ballycastle and Rathlin Island primary schools are participating in the Primary Integrating/Enriching Education Project (PIEE) which is jointly funded by Atlantic and the International Fund for Ireland. Launched last year, PIEE is a three year initiative which will ultimately reach over 1,900 children in 28 primary schools in the North Eastern Education & Library Board area in Northern Ireland.

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Children & Youth

Global Impact:

Northern Ireland


International Fund for Ireland, PIEE Project