Primary School Partnership in Ligoniel receive Inaugural Peacebuilding GRACE Award

North Belfast schools Ligoniel Primary School and St Vincent de Paul Primary School were presented with inaugural peacebuilding award – the Good Relations and Collaborative Education (GRACE) Kitemark on Monday 16th October in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour
23-November-23
Primary School Partnership in Ligoniel receive Inaugural Peacebuilding GRACE Award

North Belfast schools Ligoniel Primary School and St Vincent de Paul Primary School were presented with inaugural peacebuilding award – the Good Relations and Collaborative Education (GRACE) Kitemark on Monday 16th October in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at Belfast City Hall.

The Lord Mayor together with representatives of the whole school community - a delegation of Principals, teachers, parents, pupils and Board of Governor from both schools, gathered with Community Relations in Schools (CRIS) and other supporters of the work to receive the first ever GRACE plaque to be presented in schools in Northern Ireland.

A GRACE plaque will be presented for display in Ligoniel and St Vincent de Paul Primary schools to honour and celebrate the work undertaken to strengthen their Shared Education work together over the last year. With dedication and enthusiasm Shared Education Coordinators, led the process to engage their entire staff teams and facilitate Good Relations programmes with their pupils, and activities with parents/carers to meet the criteria for the bronze level kitemark.

Principals of both schools Bronagh McVeigh (St Vincent de Paul P.S.) and Dawn Young (Ligoniel P.S.) stated,

“Working with CRIS last year enabled us to engage in Shared Education again following the pandemic. CRIS worked closely with our Shared Education Coordinators to facilitate teacher planning, shared learning sessions on both school sites and a celebration event with parents. Feedback from our children, staff and parents has been really positive. Receiving the bronze award for our work has made us excited to grow and invest in our successful shared education partnership”.

Community Relations in Schools (CRIS) has been fortunate to work with these two schools, whose partnership journey has spanned more than twenty-five years and whose commitment to school-based peacebuilding has been exemplary.

Ligoniel and St Vincent de Paul are amongst the 40 schools that have been involved in the Buddy Up programme – an award-winning peacebuilding initiative that works with members of the whole school community to create sustainable approaches to peace and reconciliation. Since 2019, CRIS has partnered with the Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative to roll out Buddy Up! its flagship Inter-School Buddy System across all 5 Urban Village locations.

Director of Urban Villages Joan O’Hara congratulated both schools and CRIS on the award, commenting,

I am delighted that Ligoniel and St Vincent de Paul Primary Schools from Urban Villages areas are the first recipients of this prestigious award. I know a huge amount of work by children and teachers has gone into working together and it is great to see it recognised by this ambitious kitemark. I would also like to highlight the work done by CRIS in developing an award that will help encourage even more partnership working across schools, creating a shining beacon for partnership working. I look forward to seeing the GRACE Award flourish across NI in coming years and I’m delighted Urban Villages was there to support it at the outset. Well done to everyone involved.”

CRIS’s mission is to inspire and equip schools as powerful catalysts for peace and reconciliation. CRIS Chief Executive, Lisa Dietrich OBE stated,

At CRIS it is deeply held that a working peace is always possible. We are committed to active peacemaking as a daily challenge in creating relationships of trust and understanding - a peace that celebrates diversity and positively equips people to address conflicts. The work of these two schools over the last year, and their journey together over decades, is a powerful testament to the everyday role we can all play in restoring relationships and building an inclusive, just society”.

To find out more information on Community Relations in Schools (CRIS) visit: https://www.crisni.org/

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