10 December, 2007 - Diversity Resource is first for primary schools, North and South moves linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity to the educational advantage of all

Minister for Integration, Conor Lenihan, T.D.,and Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane, M.L.A, today jointly launched a Toolkit for Diversity in the Primary School at a special event in Ballymascanlon, Dundalk, Co. Louth.The resource will assist schools to develop more inclusive and intercultural school practices and environments.It will be distributed to over 4,000 primary schools in Ireland, North and South.
The resource is the result of a collaborative project led by Dr. Barbara Lazenby Simpson from Integrate Ireland Language and Training (Dublin)and Mary Yarr from the Southern Education and Library Board, (Armagh) with extensive consultation and many contributions from school principals and teachers, north and south.Joint funding for the production and distribution of this resource pack was provided by the Department of Education and Science and the Southern Education and Library Board.
Speaking in Dundalk today, Minister Lenihan said that "the objective of the project was to develop an inclusive and intercultural primary school that not only welcomes children whose language, culture and ethnicity are not Irish, but one that moves linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity to the educational advantage of all children."
The pack promotes a positive view of the challenges and opportunities created by a diverse school population for developing respect for each person, for linguistic and cultural enrichment and for the preparation of all young people to take their places in the intercultural society in which they live.
Welcoming the cross border collaboration, Minister Ruane said "this resource is tangible proof of the value of cross border collaboration, harnessing expertise from across the Island of Ireland, to the benefit of schools and society as a whole. It is a celebration of diversity in the educational environment and it supports the process of developing our future adults for the multicultural society in which we live."

Both Ministers congratulated all who had contributed to the project, including SCoTENS (Standing Council on Teacher Education, North and South) for the provision of initial funding, the many teachers who participated to ensure that different educational contexts were taken into consideration and wished all schools success in its implementation.

Note for Editors
The toolkit draws together some ten years of experience from north and south, all firmly embedded in research and international best practice.

It contains four sections: 
Section 1 - Getting ready, addresses the preliminary issues that any school must deal with if it is to be genuinely welcoming and inclusive. Section2 -  Early days, is concerned with the first steps towards the integration of pupils from other countries, cultures and ethnicities; inevitably the focus is very much on language and the need to develop classroom communication and a classroom environment capable of responding to new linguistic and cultural challenges.

Sections 3 and 4 -Moving on and What Next?  A response to the fact that inclusiveness is a continuous process.
It is accompanied by a CD.