Inaugural Peacebuilding GRACE Award for Primary Schools

Award winners with CRIS | NICRC

Two North Belfast primary schools were presented with an inaugural peacebuilding award.

Ligoniel PS and St Vincent de Paul PS were present with the GRACE (Good Relations and Collaborative Education) Kitemark on Monday 16 October in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at Belfast City Hall.

The Lord Mayor, together with representatives of the whole school community, gathered with Community Relations in Schools (CRIS) to receive the first ever GRACE plaque to be presented in schools in Northern Ireland. 

CRIS is supported by the Community Relations Council though its Core Funding Scheme.

A GRACE plaque was presented for display in Ligoniel and St Vincent de Paul Primary schools to honour and celebrate the work undertaken to strengthen their Shared Education work together over the last year. 

CRIS has been working with these two schools, whose partnership has spanned more than 25 years. 

Lisa Dietrich OBE, CRIS Chief Executive, said: “CRIS’s mission is to inspire and equip schools as powerful catalysts for peace and reconciliation. The work of these two schools over the last year, and their journey together over decades, is a powerful testament to the everyday role we can all play in restoring relationships and building an inclusive, just society.” 

The Principals of both schools – Bronagh McVeigh (St Vincent de Paul P.S.) and Dawn Young (Ligoniel P.S.) – said: “Working with CRIS last year enabled us to engage in Shared Education again following the pandemic. CRIS worked closely with our Shared Education Coordinators to facilitate teacher planning, shared learning sessions on both school sites and a celebration event with parents. Feedback from our children, staff and parents has been really positive. Receiving the bronze award for our work has made us excited to grow and invest in our successful shared education partnership”. 

Ligoniel and St Vincent de Paul are among 40 schools involved in the Buddy Up programme – an award-winning peacebuilding initiative that works with members of the whole school community to create sustainable approaches to peace and reconciliation.

Since 2019, CRIS has partnered with the Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative to roll out Buddy Up! its flagship Inter-School Buddy System across all five Urban Village locations. 

Director of Urban Villages Joan O’Hara added: “I am delighted that Ligoniel and St Vincent de Paul Primary Schools from Urban Villages areas are the first recipients of this prestigious award. I know a huge amount of work by children and teachers has gone into working together and it is great to see it recognised by this ambitious kitemark. I would also like to highlight the work done by CRIS in developing an award that will help encourage even more partnership working across schools, creating a shining beacon for partnership working.”

Find out more about Community Relations in Schools (CRIS)