Queen's Policy Engagement

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KESS Seminar – Enabling Society through Interaction

20th June 2018 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome and Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Prof Roger Austin (Ulster) and Prof Rhiannon Turner (QUB) – New evidence and new approaches for shared education 

This presentation focuses on how new research evidence can be used to make shared education more sustainable and more accessible for more children. Shared education has been adopted as policy by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. It is based on the hope that the sharing of resources and expertise between schools can improve community relations and raise educational outcomes (DE 2016). Most of the 300 schools currently involved in shared education projects (25% of the total number of schools) do so through the Shared Education Signature Programme. Children meet face to face and spend time together on joint curricular projects either in neutral venues or in each other’s schools.

The presentation considers new research evidence on a different approach to shared education –  blended contact – a combination of online interaction and face to face work which can inform future policy development. It includes findings of a study with 28 primary schools in Northern Ireland with marked socio-economic and educational disadvantage, which suggest that blended contact has striking advantages, not just in terms of children’s better understanding of each other, but also in the skills of teachers with regard to use of ICT communication tools, such as Virtual Learning Environments and video-conferencing. Since the online element of the contact is already available in schools in Northern Ireland there would be no additional cost to schools or to government. Making better use of existing technology resources in schools for shared education has the added advantage that it helps teachers meet the new statutory requirements for the assessment of Using Information Communication Technology. This presentation explains how this kind of alignment, between two different policy areas in schools, is likely to make shared education more sustainable. Moreover, it explains that the use of online contact provides a better chance to include ALL schools, irrespective of their geographical location and in this sense makes shared education more accessible by more schools.

2.05pm – Mr David Coyles, Prof Brandon Hamber and Dr Adrian Grant (Ulster) – Hidden barriers and divisive architecture: the case of Belfast 

The “peace-walls” are particularly symbolic of the role that architecture plays in separating residential communities and a comprehensive scholarship continues to assess their effects. This presentation outlines original findings from a three-year multi-disciplinary academic research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which extends this current understanding of physical and social division. It reveals new evidence of a distinct and important, yet largely unrecognised, body of divisive architecture; an extensive range of ‘hidden barriers’ embedded in various architectural forms across Belfast’s residential communities. The presentation draws on six distinctive case-study communities that have been subjected to the implementation of ‘hidden barriers’ during the comprehensive redevelopment of social-housing during the Troubles: all six communities fall within the top ten percentile of the most deprived electoral wards in Northern Ireland with comprehensive, evidence-based examples of less visible and undervalued forms of social and physical division. The case studies provide a rigorous and reliable evidence base drawn from qualitative fieldwork that includes architectural mapping, photography, community focus groups and in excess of 100 community interviews. This data is underpinned by new and extensive archival research and analysis of NINIS statistical data. The presentation explains how emerging findings from the research reveal complex and multi-layered impacts that these “hidden barriers” have on community relations and community regeneration policy aspirations that are central to the implementation of the Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community Strategy’. It concludes by outlining recommendations on how these issues could be addressed within current policy frameworks, presenting the case for the development of novel and bespoke approaches to issues of concern, with a focus on housing, tourist development, and infrastructural investment.

2.25pm – Discussion

2.55pm – RaISe – Closing Remarks

3.00pm – Networking and Refreshments


20th June 2018
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)


Long Gallery
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Belfast, BT4 3XX United Kingdom
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