Belfast Telegraph

McAleese hails the success of project

By Michael McCready

The President of Ireland urged four north Belfast schools to ‘keep up the good work’ following the success of their parental partnership programme.

Mary McAleese was at Star of The Sea Primary School on the Antrim Road last week to recognise the achievements of Edmund Rice PS, Star of the Sea PS, New Lodge Nursery and Victoria Nursery after they formed the New Lodge Schools Cluster in September 2007 to develop a partnership between schools, parents and the community.

President McAleese, accompanied by her husband Martin, spent the afternoon meeting parents and children involved in the project.

Speaking at the event, Mrs McAleese said: “I’m very proud of what you are doing. It is fantastic and it is a privilege to be here today.

“The Cluster staff have created an opportunity and I’m delighted that people have taken this opportunity to vindicate the decision of the Cluster to create it.

“Keep up the good work.”

Orla Leonard, parent support officer for the New Lodge Schools Cluster, said the programme has become a focal point for hundreds of parents from the four schools over the past three years.

“A parents’ centre was established as a community resource to help involve and support parents in their child’s education,” said Ms Leonard.

“The centre has become a hub of the community with daily courses and workshops running throughout the year. Approximately 50 courses and workshops have taken place so far and hundreds of parents have been involved in various aspects of the project.

“The partnership with statutory, voluntary and especially community organisations has been essential to the success of the project.”

The cluster has been supported by the BELB’s Parent Support Programme throughout the development of its education programme for parents which includes courses in subjects such as personal development, essential maths and English, and IT skills.

Mrs McAleese also visited the Jewish Synagogue on the Somerton Road and the Children's Hospice in Newtownabbey as part of a tour of Northern Ireland.

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