The Church of Ireland Board of Education (Northern Ireland) has sent a message of encouragement to all principals of schools in the controlled sector.
The message, addressed to school principals, reads as follows:
The Church of Ireland Board of Education (Northern Ireland) is writing to express its continued thanks to all involved in school life at this time and to outline its approach to the Integrated Education Bill.
The Church of Ireland is conscious that schools are currently experiencing a high incidence of Covid-19, recently reported by the Public Health Agency, as being more than 5,000 cases among staff and pupils. Thankfully, it is also being reported that in most cases the virus is not leading to individuals experiencing serious symptoms that require hospitalisation. It is acknowledged that required periods of isolation for those testing positive for Covid-19 brings disruption for both staff and pupils and significant organisational pressure on school leaders.
It is clear from reports from school leaders that the absences of affected staff and pupils has had and continues to create challenging circumstances as schools work to ensure that children and young people continue to have access to education, with particular challenges for staff and pupils in those year groups working towards examinations.
The Church of Ireland Board of Education (NI) wishes to commend Principals, Teachers, Staff and Governors on their outstanding dedication and day to day endeavour and resilience in coping with these extraordinary times and to extend our heartfelt thanks to all for their professional work in schools.
The Board is encouraged to hear that many restrictions may soon be eased and is hopeful that this will be of benefit to reducing the pressures on the operation of schools. It is also pleasing to note that some direction is emerging in respect to 2022 examinations and that already some examinations have taken place in person.
Integrated Education Bill
Schools will also be aware that the Northern Ireland Assembly are currently considering a Private Member’s Integrated Education Bill which contains elements that, if approved, will have far-reaching effects on the schooling system in Northern Ireland in the years ahead.
The Church of Ireland Board of Education believes that all pupils should learn together.
The Board recognises that the Controlled Schools Sector, which by in law and ethos is non-denominational, provides an environment for children and young people of all faiths and none, to learn together and would wish to express support for the opportunities provided in these schools.
The Board encourages churches to engage with their local schools and work with them in whatever way helps the pupils, the school and the local community.
Thank you for your time and, again, for all that you do on behalf of our young people.
The letter is signed by Board Chairperson, The Most Rev John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh; and Board Secretary, Dr Peter Hamill.