The controlled sector is the largest education sector in Northern Ireland accounting for 49% of all schools, including 63 nursery schools, 380 primary schools and 69 post–primary schools. Controlled schools are open to all faiths and none which brings a rich diversity and inclusive ethos.
Controlled schools below share their examples of being #OpenToAll.
Botanic Primary School is just one example of a diverse controlled school. Paul Bell, Principal, comments, “Botanic Primary School is a multi–cultural school that traditionally accepts children from all communities. The diversity present within the school is reflected in our ‘International School Award’ from the British Council and our recent School of Sanctuary Award. We welcome this diversity and believe that it adds to the positive ethos of our school.”
Culmore Primary School makes a promise to every child through the school ethos. Clare McMenamin, Principal, said, “We will strive to respect the experiences, knowledge and cultural diversity that every child brings to school. At Culmore we celebrate all faiths and are actively involved in a shared education partnership. This programme has enabled the school to enrich the learning experiences of each child in their care by giving them the opportunity to learn alongside children from other backgrounds.”
DH Christie Memorial Primary School, Joanna Coulter, Vice Principal, commented, “Our school makes no differences; we invite applications from any child and commit to providing the very best educational experience that we can for any child who comes our way. One very telling example of this is the recent provision of a third specialist education provision on site for pupils with very complex learning needs. We believe that everyone deserves a chance and that we much always explore how to meet a child’s needs.”
Dungannon Primary School, Bryan Martin, Governor, highlights the many different nationalities within the school, adding, “’Dungannon is one of the most multi-cultural towns in Northern Ireland; the diversity within the school is clear with several different nationalities in the school family. We have children with a wide variety of learning needs, and these children have opportunities to be integrated with mainstream classes on a daily basis. We have children of different religions, and we have demonstrated our ability to cater for different needs with sensitivity and respect.”
In controlled schools, inclusivity is demonstrated in a strong school ethos.
Largymore Primary School, Gillian Dunlop, Principal, commented, “Largymore is proud of its tradition of mutual respect and inclusion, welcoming children of all faiths and denominations. We enjoy a positive, warm, friendly ethos which is strengthened by committed and enthusiastic staff and Governors who work in partnership with very supportive parents.”
Limavady High School, Darren Mornin, Principal, reflects on serving the needs of the local community added, “Limavady High School is most definitely open to all the school is diverse and inclusive in nature and reflects the community it serves which is very mixed. We have pupils of different nationalities in our school family and have a wide variety of children who have many different learning needs.”
Lisneal College has worked with St. Mary’s College and St. Cecilia’s College to create a strong shared education partnership. Michael Allen, Principal, added, “Lisneal College actively promotes inclusion in every aspect of school life and encourages respect, tolerance and the celebration of diversity in all relationships across school. The shared education partnership between Lisneal College, St. Cecilia’s College and St. Mary’s College, Londonderry, has embraced cultural differences. The three schools have worked diligently in creating a shared education programme for pupils to overcome cultural divisions.”
Millington Primary School, Heather Murray, Principal, stated, “At Millington, we celebrate the diverse cultures that are found within our student and staff population and in our wider community. In our school alone, 30% of our pupils represent an amazing 24 countries and speak 17 different languages! Our students can develop an understanding of the perspectives of children from different backgrounds and learn to function in a multi-cultural, multi–ethnic environment, therefore preparing them for the diverse world in which we live.”
Controlled schools have a positive shared ethos which contributes significantly to the success of the sector, offering quality education, excellent pastoral care and a commitment to the well–being of every child.