‘Sharing from the start’ at our pre-schools

Ballymena Nursery (submitted picture)
Ballymena Nursery (submitted picture)

Pre-school settings in Ballymena are looking forward to working together again on Shared Education activities thanks to the €4.2million project Sharing From The Start.

The Sharing From The Start initiative is supported through the European union’s Peace IV Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

It involves early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border counties forming cross-community

partnerships and children taking part in joint curricular classes, improving educational outcomes and promoting good relations.

Applicants form partnerships to undertake Shared Education activities aimed at improving community cohesion, inclusion, diversity and educational outcomes for young children. The project involves bringing children from different pre-school settings and different community backgrounds together for regular joint sessions during the year.

In the Ballymena area a number of partnerships are taking part including Ballymena Nursery, Castle Tower Nursery, First Steps Playgroup, Cloughmills Early Years, Glenravel Community Playgroup, The County Playgroup and St Comgall’s Playgroup.

Now in it’s third year, there are over 100 pre-schools across the region involved in Sharing From The Start.

By partnering with a neighbouring pre-school, staff, parents and children were able to avail of many opportunities including tutoring, trips, performances and various curriculum based activities.

Starting this term there will be over 3000 children involved with a number of new pre-schools joining the programme.

All of them are now busy planning their shared sessions and looking forward to starting their work together.

Sharing From The Start is administered by Early Years working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust.

Together these three organisations have a strong track record of working for the benefit of children and good relations development.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the

Department of Education and Skills in the Republic of Ireland.

Pauline Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer of Early Years commented “Feedback from those pre-schools involved in the project so far has been very encouraging and already we are seeing positive outcomes in terms of educational and societal benefits.

“Staff and pupils enjoyed working together and they’ve experienced the benefits that come from enjoying good relations with friends from different communities.

“We’re particularly pleased that so many more children in Ballymena will be joining Sharing From The Start and availing of the opportunities in this third year of the project.

“This work is contributing significantly to making sharing a reality for all pre-school children.”

More details at www.sharingfromthestart.org