Education Fair

8 March 2016

St Mary’s University College was delighted to be part of the recent Education Fair, sponsored by Greater Falls Extended Schools Cluster (GFESC) and supported by the Full Service Community Network and West Belfast Partnership Board.

The aim of the fair was to enable staff members from schools in the West Belfast area to meet and interact with a wide range of external providers covering various health, wellbeing, curricular and pastoral issues under the Extended Schools Programme.
School staff were given the opportunity to engage with these providers and assess the suitability of the activity for their pupils as well as the financial cost of the activity.

Facilitators included the following: Full Service Community Network, Time 4 Me and Family Works Counselling Services, Whiterock Children’s Centre, Active Communities Network, Springvale Education, Take Ten, La Salle Pastoral Centre, Parklife, Conservation Volunteers, Ionad uibh Each ach and St Mary’s University College.

Approximately fifty nursery, primary and post-primary schools were represented at the fair. By clustering together, these schools can access additional funding from Extended Schools so that funding is directed towards joint projects that better benefit all involved.

Guest speakers included Sean Quinn (Chair, GFESC), Professor Peter Finn (Principal, St Mary’s University College) and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann MLA. Jim Clarke (Council for Catholic Maintained Schools) and Bernie Mooney (Education Authority, Belfast) were also in attendance.

Professor Finn said:

“We are delighted that St Mary’s is the venue for this fair. Today’s event is one of hundreds held here every year which enable the institution to make a positive contribution to the Greater Falls community. We know that the Greater Falls community has disadvantages which you and many others are working to overcome…and there are no quick fixes. “We also know, however, that education is a fix and very often the only one. And, in that regard, this geographical area, the Greater Falls, has an advantage – namely, the extent to which there are already excellent partnerships and deep collaboration in this community. This is reflected in the very language that organisations use to describe themselves: Greater Falls Extended Schools CLUSTER, Full Service Community NETWORK, West Belfast PARTNERSHIP Board.

“Strong local partnerships and collaboration, alongside effective high-quality teaching and leadership in schools, are essential to raise standards.”

It is hoped that this will become an annual event.

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