Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Pupils unite and learn dangers of sectarianism

Primary seven pupils from two Bangor schools explored sectarianism and bureaucracy whilst becoming familiar with the music of Mozart recently.

The pupils at St Malachy’s Primary School and Towerview Primary School have termed a unique cross-community venture ‘The Courage Project’ which is funded by the Integrated Education Fund under its PACT (Promoting a Culture of Trust) scheme.

Lady Sylvia Hermon MP was special guest at the event as the two schools came together.

Both have a tradition of working together and the project hopes to create a common code which each school will follow when tackling issues surrounding prejudice and sectarianism in the future.

Drama teacher Peter Morgan-Barnes had been brought in to devise a show involving pupils and staff. A string quartet flew in from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to accompany the performance. The schools wanted to explore and combat sectarianism in its current form, finding most conflict resolution rooted too far in the past to be relevant to today’s youngsters.

Alan Brown, principal, Towerview Primary School, Bangor, said: “The IEF’s PACT scheme supports activities which bring children from all backgrounds to work collaboratively.

“The Courage Project provides pupils with an opportunity to explore the issues surrounding their identities and the identities of others. This is something which will play a major part in our pupils’ lives as they head out into the wider world.”

The pupils took up the challenge enthusiastically and loved the experience. The show involved intensive rehearsals, and performances took place recently.

Ros Quinn, acting principal at St Malachy’s, said: “It all went really well and continued the link with Towerview, allowing the children to work together. We also involved the local community.”

Lady Sylvia Hermon added: “I thought the production by the joint P7 classes from the two schools was absolutely brilliant, particularly since they had had such a short time to learn their lines and rehearse together.

“In fact, they were so good, I had to keep reminding myself throughout the play that the vast majority of the cast were aged only 10. They really were amazing.

“As for the twin themes of community relations and civil service ‘speak’, they could so easily have been treated very seriously but with little enduring impact. Instead, both themes were treated cleverly with great wit and remarkable insight.”

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