As you will be aware Markethill PS, in an effort to address elements of the Northern Ireland Curriculum has been working with other schools in the SELB from the Maintained sector of education over the past few years. This work has been undertaken through the agencies of ‘Hand of Friendship’ and CRED – Community Relations Equality and Diversity, and latterly PCPP – Primary Curriculum Partnership Programme. In each case external funding has made these contacts possible.
The work within the Primary Curriculum Partnership extends the already productive work we have been doing with St Patrick’s Crossmaglen over the last few years and it is an excellent opportunity to further develop the skills and expertise of our teachers and our pupils.
Through our shared classes we will be involved in several interesting learning activities that cover a range of statutory curriculum areas. So immediately it can be seen that the focus of PCPP is on learning and teaching. For instance the P1 children from both schools are currently involved in a series of 6 shared lessons, with the aim of promoting both learning and friendships and respect for each other. We believe this is extremely important as our children are growing up in a very diverse society and we want to support them in developing the skills and social and community perspectives they will need throughout their lives.
To achieve this we believe it is essential that our children in Markethill PS should know about their traditions and history and feel confident and comfortable about their own identity. Equally, we believe it is important to be able to respect others, regardless of background, race, religion or disability. By developing their knowledge and their range of skills through occasional shared classes, children will have greater mutual respect for each other and have a better sense of their own identity as well.
Background Information to PCPP
The Primary Curriculum Partnership Programme (PCPP) commenced in September 2011 and will end in December 2013. It is funded by the International Fund for Ireland and managed by the Southern Education and Library Board.
This cross community project is focused on partnering schools from both sides of the community to work together to deliver Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PDMU) in shared classrooms.
AimsTo enhance the quality of delivery of PDMU in a range of Cross Community settings through the sharing of teacher expertise.
PCPP and the Northern Ireland Curriculum
It should be emphasised that the work we are undertaking through PCPP is based strictly on the Northern Ireland Curriculum, in particular strand 2 of several of the themes of the Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PDMU) element of the curriculum. For instance theme 8 deals with Similarities and Differences and under strand 2 similarities and differences within our local community are considered in terms of culture, personal interests and hobbies, religion, disability, personal experiences and celebrations. The details are available in full in the relevant curriculum extract which has been placed on the school’s web site for your reference.
This aspect of the curriculum is a conscious attempt to provide our children with perspectives and values that will better equip them to make reasoned/rational responses to the challenges which they are likely to encounter as they grow older not only in Northern Ireland but also in the wider world. More importantly it will assist in enabling them to understand and articulate their own beliefs more clearly in a rapidly changing world and through interaction with others we see it as a vehicle through they may better celebrate and understand their own heritage while acknowledging the existence of others.
Finally PCPP should also be seen within the broader context of community and educational sharing which the school has been involved in over the past number of years with other schools in the Maintained sector including St James at Mullabrack and St Malachy’s at Camlough. These projects which have been monitored by Department of Education and its associated agency the Education and Training Inspectorate and have proved their worth in terms of giving our children wider perspectives on their local community and country.
PCPP and Parents and Families
To achieve the most from PCPP we need to keep parents and families well informed about the aims, content and progress of the programme. Therefore this is an area in which the relevant staff in the school have been liaising on quite intensively with the SELB and our intention is to provide information in the following ways:
The out-working of PCPP
To uphold the spirit of PCPP as well as fulfilling the key themes of the NIC in relation to PDMU it will be important to develop in our children an increasing awareness of the cultural and religious differences and similarities that exist in our small country. The types of joint curriculum themes that can be investigated to achieve this might include:
The avenues through which these themes can be explored include:
We wish to emphasise that all the encounters and activities will be undertaken in a sympathetic, sensitive and unbiased manner so as not to undermine deeply held and cherished traditions and heritage.