Belfast Telegraph: Students get top marks from Blair for peace project
They are two schools providing a lesson to the rest of Northern Ireland about mutual respect and a shared future, and now former PM Tony Blair is using them as an example of peace at work.
Ballycastle High and Cross and Passion are separated by just a few hundred yards, but for years symbolised the religious divide.
Now an innovative project has brought them closer together in a shared-education programme which has drawn praise from the former Labour leader.
The schools provide integrated teaching at GCSE and A-level, and have formed a joint choir, orchestra and even a rugby team.
According to Cross and Passion principal Barbara Ward, links between the schools date back to the 1960s, but developed over the last 15 years. Around 150 of the school’s pupils now have lessons in Ballycastle High each week.
Ms Ward said it was a lesson for other parts of Northern Ireland. “While we remain two separate schools with our own identities, we are making very good use of resources to provide cost effective and shared education,” she said.
Ballycastle High principal Ian Williamson said that there were many benefits to the project. “We went through an inspection in January and it rated us outstanding in terms of curricular provision,” he said.
“One of the reasons is the collaboration with Cross and Passion — we can offer a lot more courses. There are many educational and social benefits to the project,” he added.
The schools are participating in the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which brings together students from all over the world.
Writing in today’s Belfast Telegraph, the former premier said the project shows what can be done to heal the wounds of a divided
“Above all it shows the way in which faith schools can draw on the best in their traditions in preparing young people for the religiously
and culturally pluralist world of today,” he added.
This article originally appeared in the Belfast Telegraph. You can read the article written for the Belfast Telegraph by Tony Blair here.