The work at CREDIT continues, with almost 30 teachers attending the most recent Exploring Skills in CREDIT and the Extending Skills in CREDIT courses. Teachers’ feedback continues to be positive with one stating that “It has been a fabulous learning opportunity” and another acknowledging that it is “An excellent course and I believe all newly qualified teachers in Northern Ireland should attend this course before entering the classroom”. Many others reiterated the value of the course on both a personal and professional level.
The CREDIT project has been developed by Stranmillis University College, in partnership with St. Mary’s University College, and is funded by the International Fund for Ireland through its Sharing in Education Programme and is managed within the Department of Education. The project offers two professional development courses that afford teachers, working in all phases and sectors, the opportunity to take time out of the classroom to reflect upon current practice and further support them in developing skills and confidence in dealing with important issues of diversity, inclusion and community cohesion in their own individual setting, at a classroom level and on a whole-school basis.
13 eager and enthusiastic teachers have just completed an action packed two days of the Exploring Skills in CREDIT course in Stranmillis University College on the 13th and 14th May. The programme began with contextualising the rationale for the importance of diversity and mutual understanding work in NI, and helping teachers to further develop skills for creating a classroom environment conducive to dealing with sensitive issues. Teachers were also afforded the opportunity to review a range of relevant curriculum resources and consider examples of good practice in schools. Following the course, a number of teachers commented that they felt the course was very thought-provoking and many felt more confident in talking about controversial issues and approaching these in the classroom. The teachers will return to St. Mary’s University College on Friday 14th June to present their personal reflections and future plans for developing this line of work in school.
On Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd May, the teachers packed their bags and headed for the sunny North Coast for a residential in Corrymeela, Ballycastle, where they continued their reflection and work on promoting a collaborative ethos and re-imagining their classrooms. Teachers were delighted to have the opportunity to hear from pupils in Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle who have first-hand experience of working closely with pupils from neighbouring Ballycastle High School, and one remarked that “ listening to how collaboration can work from the pupils was very empowering.”
Another important element of the residential experience was the opportunity to engage with a guest panel on the topic of Education and Community. The panellists, representing a wide range of political and community groups were (from left to right) Joe O'Donnell, Strategic Director with the Belfast Interface Project; Inderjit Bhogal, leader of the Corrymeela Community, a leading Theologian and Methodist minister; Joan Baird, UUP Councillor at Moyle District Council; Conall McDevitt, MLA and the SDLP Party's Health spokesperson, sitting on the Health Committee. Also in the picture are Patricia Eaton, the CREDIT Project Director and Stuart Harrison, a CREDIT participant who chaired the panel in a very professional Question Time style.