Belfast Telegraph

Nelson McCausland's intolerance is pathetic

By Chris Donnelly

Nelson McCausland's attack on Holy Cross Boys' (DebateNI, March 10) might be depressing, but it's far from surprising.

Ours is a proud school community, protective of a hard-earned reputation for refusing to indulge excuses for underachievement, something recognised by the Education and Training Inspectorate and many others in education.

It's that same ethos which defines our approach to reconciliation and mutual understanding.

Every year the P4 pupils visit the Northern Ireland War Museum as part of studies into the Second World War. When Queen Elizabeth last visited Belfast the principal, Kevin McArevey, took a delegation of pupils to meet her.

The Easter Rising was a seminal event in Irish history, and the occasion of the 100th anniversary has been seized upon by many teachers to provide a theme through which learning can take place in the connected environment of the new curriculum.

At Holy Cross Boys' we have devised an education programme incorporating many initiatives, including producing a short drama on the 1916 theme; composing a song; an art competition imagining the Ireland of 2116; a learning initiative based on the Minecraft game, and writing a Proclamation for a New Generation, involving our student council in modernising the document to reflect what they see as rights and entitlements today - free education, wellbeing of minority communities, treating everybody equally and even wanting a litter-free Ireland.

It has also involved a 32-county challenge, whereby pupils took on the task of learning the names and locations of all 32 counties in the country.

We've also had a number of whole-school assemblies, through which the themes of the era have been explored, looking at the signatories to the Proclamation as well as other key figures, including Edward Carson. That is what education is all about.

Nelson McCausland has, in the past, proclaimed the right of schools to teach about the Orange culture and tradition.

For Nelson it would appear that such sentiments do not seem to extend to other traditions in Northern Ireland.

  • Chris Donnelly is vice-principal of Holy Cross Boys' Primary School in Belfast

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