North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey and Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee has spoke at the launch of the CREDIT Project at Stranmillis University College.
Commenting Mr Storey said:
“I want to congratulate those who have been involved in putting together the CREDIT project. I am sure that this project will be an invaluable resource to many teachers over the years to come. The issues which this course raises are the very issues which are concerning members in the Assembly. How do we share and deal with diversity inside the classroom, across schools and within the community.
“It is important therefore, that we equip our teachers to deal with the issues that the CREDIT project tackles. Tackling issues of diversity and inclusion is of fundamental importance for our schools.
“For my party we want to see greater inclusion and diversity in our schools. I want to be clear about what we mean by a shared future. Shared education is not integrated education.
“The CREDIT project seeks to promote good relations between different schools and between communities. More than that, the aims state that this project seeks to equip teachers to build ethos and pastoral care. My party’s aim for the future of education is exactly that, to build on the ethos of our schools by fostering greater sharing across the education sectors in Northern Ireland. But for us this is merely a first step.
“Education and learning is not simply a matter of knowledge its about character. The bedrock of any education system is ethos. Schools exist to equip pupils for the entirety of their lives, they give us the knowledge we need, but they also teach us how to be effective in society, to be good citizens and neighbours. Ethos is essential to education.
“As we move forward with our education system, as we seek to make it better, as we move to a more shared future, we must never lose sight of ethos. Yet all too often the media, the Department and the politicians reduce our schools to cold hard facts and figures, but ethos cannot be measured in facts and figures. Ethos is something different.
“The problem in moving forward is therefore an ideological one. There is an ideology that exists in Northern Ireland that says that one size fits all. That all schools should be the same, look the same, be the same size and have the same ethos.
“I disagree. Schools that are successful should be allowed to succeed and success is not statistics and exam results. Success is founded on ethos.
“As we reform education in Northern Ireland so we must retain the ethos of our schools.
“No school is an island; we need to create the environment in which schools grow together. We are not merely observers of the division in education, we are participants; we teach in and we fund a divided education system and then sit back and wonder why we cannot heal a divided society.”