A partnership between schools in the Roe Valley has been heralded as leading the way in the process of shared education.
The Roe Valley Learning Community involves St. Mary’s, Limavady Grammar School, Limavady High School, Rossmar Special School and St. Patrick’s College, Dungiven. The North West Regional College, through its Limavady campus, is also involved.
The partnership was celebrated at an event at St. Mary’s, Limavady, on Tuesday marking the conclusion of the sharing education programme in the Roe Valley, and which also coincided with the release of the report into sharing education and its future in Northern Ireland.
The programme is supported by Queen’s University and, speaking on Tuesday, Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University, hailed the Roe Valley as the leader in the process.
Speaking of the “wonderful things happening in the Roe Valley”, Prof. Gallagher said it was “the single most important partnership in this entire body of work”.
“The original lessons we learned were here in Limavady,” he told guests.
“Limavady has always led the way in this process and it will continue to lead the way in this process,” he added.
The event was also attended by staff and members of the Boards of Governors of the post primary schools, principals of local primary schools, Limavady Mayor Cathal McLaughlin, local councillors and representatives from The Queen’s University, Belfast.
Also present was chairperson of the NI Education Committee Mervyn Storey who expressed delight at being able to witness first-hand the “inspirational” work of the schools in the Roe Valley.
He congratulated the Roe Valley Learning Community joint choir and said it was an example of when individuals come together and make harmony.
Jim Clarke, Chief Executive of CCMS, spoke of the sharing experiences which would shape the young people of the Roe Valley. He said he was confident these experiences would be built upon for future generations.
St. Mary’s principal Mary McCloskey talked of the many links between the schools from sport to parent involvement to pupils attending classes in each other’s schools.
“There are things happening everyday,” she said.
Limavady High School principal Shane Laverty said one of the most striking observations for him was the fact that, in working closely together, all of the schools in the partnership got to know pupils from other schools on a personal level.
“This was brought home to me in a deep and meaningful way when our school suffered the sad passing of one of our most popular and talented pupils who had just left year 14 last June - a young man who touched the lives of many of his peers in a very positive way,” he said.
“It was comforting to us as a staff and to his friends in Limavady High and beyond, that so many staff and pupils from the other schools in the partnership took the time to offer their sympathy and condolences on such a sad occasion.
“It proved to me that the Sharing Education Programme can benefit us in so many ways as we continue to view each other as friends and individuals without labels.
“As Henry Ford once said, ‘coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success’.”
Limavady Mayor, Cathal McLaughlin also addressed guests, and praised the schools and pupils for the work and achievements.
Each of the leaders involved in the Roe Valley partnership and Queen’s University were presented with a specially commissioned piece of artwork by local artist Fiona Cassidy.
Mrs McCloskey explained; “The piece of artwork is named ‘le cheile’, meaning together in Gaelic, and symbolises the joy and positivity of each of the schools in their moves towards a shared future for all.”
Watch the Roe Valley Learning Community joint choir sing the world famous ‘Danny Boy’ online at derryjournal.com
See more photos from Tuesday’s event on Page 10.