Northern Ireland news

Pre-school children to experience shared education

Children from Ebrington and Holy Child nursery schools in Derry are among those taking part

NURSERY school pupils are being invited to experience shared education as part of an EU-funded peace initiative.

Sharing From the Start will see the youngest children in schools in the north and Republic's border counties taking part in programmes designed to encourage good relations.

Administered by Early Years, working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust, it aims to reach almost 10,000 pre-school children in shared activities on a sustained basis by 2021.

It is supported by the EU's PEACE IV Programme.

Applicants will form partnerships to undertake shared education activities aimed at improving community cohesion, inclusion, diversity and educational outcomes for young children.

It will involve bringing children from different pre-school settings and different community backgrounds together for regular joint sessions during the year.

Many pupils are already involved including those from Ebrington and Holy Child nursery schools in Derry.

The two partners have been visiting each other's nurseries to play together and have sessions focussing on exercise and music. They have also been visiting Creggan Library for story time and will have a joint showcase performance at the Waterside Theatre.

Elsewhere, children and staff of First Steps Pre-School, Killen and Sugar and Spice Early Years, Drumquin in Co Tyrone have been enjoying rhyme and story time and arts and crafts.

"This is an exciting experience for the children. We're seeing friendships develop and they're getting so confident exploring each other's pre-schools," said Ruby Smith, leader of First Steps.

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