O’Dowd funds 1916 lessons after requests from South Tyrone teachers

editorial image

Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan has welcomed funding from the Department of Education to provide lessons on Easter 1916 in local schools.

The announcement was made last week at the Northern Ireland Assembly after the issue was raised by the South Tyrone MLA in response to requests from local teachers for more financial support in the area.

Education Minister John O’Dowd said that £45k would be made available to schools to cover the cost of the lessons.

“CCEA is currently developing support materials, in conjunction with other partners to assist teachers should they wish to explore the significant centenaries”, said Education Minister John O’Dowd. “I have agreed to provide funding of up to £45k for this work by CCEA in 2016/17.”

As part of the ‘Ireland 2016’ programme to commemorate the events of 1916, three all-island schools’ competitions will be held this year in History, Drama and Art.

Mr O’Dowd added that the cross-curricular nature of the competitions provided opportunities for pupils to learn about this important period in history.

The move comes at a time when the department is facing unprecedented cuts to funding.

Ms McGahan said: “This is welcome news as I have been approached by many local teachers who wish to explore opportunities that primary schools can avail off to assist with the teaching at Key Stage 2 in relation to the 1916 Easter Rising and other key events in Irish and European history that have upcoming centenaries.”

“There are opportunities for teachers to address significant centenaries within the History strand of The World Around Us at Key Stage 2. For example, many schools choose to study ‘Titanic’ as a topic and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has produced teaching resources (such as the Thematic Unit ‘Unsinkable’) to support this.”

Commemorations to mark the 1916 have proved controversial with First Minister Arlene Foster describing the Easter Rising as “an attack on democracy”. She claimed previous commemorations had only aided “violent republicanism”. Last month, she said she would not be travelling to Dublin for the official centenary celebrations of the 1916 uprising. Nationalists have denounced her decision as a sign of “narrowness” in outlook