It is clear from the preceding chapters that the current structural, school improvement, and community relations policies have had little or no impact on the key problems facing the education system in Northern Ireland and there is need to offer some creative alternatives. DENI recognises the problems as evidenced by the following statement taken from their corporate plan:
We will maximise the contribution that education can make to shaping a strong and shared community and delivering sustainable economic growth … We will, in particular, work to improve attainment for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds … address social exclusion and … close the achievement gap and, in doing so, improve the life chances of young people from our more disadvantaged communities. We will also harness the potential that education provides to redress inequality and to promote opportunities for shared learning for pupils in schools in all sectors. (DENI, 2012a: 6)
DENI was however bereft of alternative innovative policies to tackle the problems so clearly enunciated in its future planning. One such alternative is shared education, the subject of this chapter, central to which is the whole idea of collaborative learning.