Deep Disappointment at Shared Education cut - TRC

17.5.2023 | Church in Society, Education

The Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC), which represents the three main Protestant Churches in education – the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church of Ireland, and Methodist in Ireland – has said that it is deeply disappointed by the decision to cut the Shared Education budget by 50% and remove financial support for this initiative in the next financial year.

The three Churches transferred most of their schools in Northern Ireland into state control in the early part of the 20th century – hence the terms ‘transferor’ and ‘controlled’ – in return for assurances regarding the Christian ethos of schools and a continued role in their governance.

In a statement following the funding cut announcement the TRC said:

Pre-pandemic, more than 87,000 children and young people were involved in Shared Education projects. As we continue to emerge from the worst effects of Covid, it is vital that we promote and encourage the growth of Shared Education, which enables staff and pupils from different backgrounds to work together on a regular basis, bringing significant educational, social and community benefits. This also includes giving pupils the opportunity to study subjects at GCSE level at their partner schools that are not taught at their own.

The reduction of this funding in this financial year, and proposed complete removal next year, which will disproportionately impact the controlled and maintained sectors, will be to the detriment not only of children and young people, but also to good relations across society. This is on top of significant cuts to other areas of the education budget, many of which are specifically targeted towards providing a better start for the most vulnerable children among us.

TRC is deeply concerned about this direction of travel, not least because of the endemic underfunding of the education system in recent years. Cuts to funding are short-sighted especially when the impact of these decisions on the mental and physical well-being of children and young people will be significant.

TRC calls on all in government to reconsider this negative impact on the most vulnerable in society and give education the proper funding it requires, and particularly in the area of Shared Education.

During his year in office the Moderator, Dr John Kirkpatrick, has visited a number of schools, including those which are part of the Shared Education programme. You can read about his visits to Ballycastle High School here, which is partnered with  the town's Cross and Passion College, and Kilkeel High School, which is partnered with St Louis’ Grammar School.

Back to News