CAIN: Issues - Education. Values in Education in Northern Ireland by Alan Smith and Alison Montgomery, 1997 (Chapter 3)

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Values in Education in Northern Ireland,
by Alan Smith and Alison Montgomery

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]

Text: Alan Smith and Alison Montgomery ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
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Chapter Three

Profiles of Values Initiatives

The European Context

Values in Education has become the focus of an international collaborative research venture initiated by the Consortium of Institutions for Development and Research in Education in Europe (CIDREE). This venture is known collectively as the 'Values in European Education Project' ('VEEP').[1] In 1992 the 'VEEP' was commissioned by UNESCO to undertake a project to contribute to its Humanistic and International Dimension of Education programme for 1990-1995. The project had three strands:-

  • the provision of guidelines on values education for educational policy-makers, curriculum designers and teacher trainers. (This has since been published as A Sense of Belonging, Guidelines for Values for the Humanistic and International Dimension of Education by UNESCO/ CIDREE, 1994).

  • the development and publication of an annotated bibliography. (This has been produced as Values Education in Europe: A Select Annotated Bibliography for 27 countries, 1985-1992, by UNESCO/CIDREE, 1994).

  • a questionnaire survey on values education in Europe and an overview of the annotated bibliographies of European countries. (Published as Values Education in Europe: a comparative overview of a survey of 26 countries in 1993, by UNESCO/CIDREE, 1994) (Taylor 1994:6-7).

The questionnaire survey produced a comprehensive summary of information on a range of issues associated with values education, including definitions and background, aims and objectives, formal curriculum provision, whole school and extra-curricular contributions, teacher training and teaching methods.

Eleven institutions in seven member countries (including NICCEA) are participating in the 'VEEP' collaborative programme, which is described as a "framework for sharing and discussing aspects of values education" (UNESCO ed. Barr, 1994:2).

The project adopts a curricular approach and focuses on a "range of strategies, guidelines and experimental approaches in the field of values education" ibid:6). To give greater definition to such guidelines, the range of approaches adopted in values education projects in several European countries was illustrated. These addressed areas such as values and consensus, citizenship, democracy and education, and values in national and world communities.

The intention was to identify common elements in these projects and to clarify what were perceived as "essentially straightforward ideas" to "underpin the clarification and communication of values for the enhancement of the humanistic and international dimension of education" (ibid:9). This culminated in a series of recommendations for schools, accompanied by practical suggestions as to how schools might promote the objectives embraced in the recommendations. (see appendix 1).

The 'VEEP' is intended to contribute substantially to the wider UNESCO programme. At the meeting of the Secretaries General of European National Commissions for UNESCO in 1990, recognition was given to the importance of the theme "Education, culture, human rights and international understanding". A synthesis and discussion paper was prepared and this was followed in 1991 by an international workshop and the launch of the programme. The 'VEEP' helps locate the Values in Education (NI) project within the wider context of European education.

The European Values Study 1981-1990.

The European Values Study 1981-1990 was undertaken by the European Values Group (EVG) - an informal network of social scientists, philosophers, theologians and researchers, drawn from universities and commercial agencies committed to values research. This study addressed a variety of European value issues, including the debate over common values, changing values, the permeation of Christian values through society, the potential replacement of a Christian values system, and the implications for European unity. An analysis of the responses then suggested some possible ramifications for education. Firstly, attention was focused on the potential influence of other "over-riding forces" which are "value-laden", and which could exert a greater influence than values developed within individual educational institutions. Secondly those engaged in education were informed of their responsibility "to understand values in society" and their ability to "influence values in education". Thirdly, in discerning the future of education, significance was attributed to values linked with issues such as "enterprise", and to the processes of education "which lead to greater autonomy" and which provide the individual with "a greater sense of responsibility for [his/her] own future" (McGettrick, European Values Group: 1992:52-56).

The Curriculum Redefined Project

TheCurriculum Redefined project was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). This incorporates a programme on Humanities and Values Education, (Moon 1993, Humanities and Arts Education: A Review of Issues prepared as part of the OECD/CERI Project, 'The Curriculum Redefined' ).

The Commonwealth Values in Education Project

A working paper entitled Commonwealth Values in Education was prepared for the Commonwealth Secretariat in 1994. The foundation of the paper consists largely of responses received to a Citizenship and Human Rights questionnaire circulated to educational authorities throughout Commonwealth countries. Recommendations accompanying the paper suggested the creation of a database for the exchange of materials and the recruitment of teachers and examination and curriculum bodies to "provide necessary in-school support...and give further consideration to material needs and more general questions of school effectiveness. Following the publication of this paper, a preliminary meeting was held by representatives from a number of countries, and it was decided that each country would undertake its own research into pupils' perceptions and definitions of the term 'human rights' with the intention of bringing these findings together to identify strategies for further development.

Statutory Approaches to Values in Education in the UK

Within the UK a substantial body of values and education literature has been produced and a considerable number of statutory and voluntary research projects have been completed or are at various stages of completion. A directory compiled by Taylor (1994), records the range and extent of academic work and activities in the area of Values and Education for the period 1988-1993. It includes brief details of 113 projects and a selected bibliography of over 200 publications. Associations, organisations and centres undertaking values research and/or activities are also listed. Profiles of a selection of these and other research and development activities will be presented below. (A more comprehensive bibliography of organisations and projects is included in appendix 2).

The emergence of an increasingly diverse and pluralistic society in England and Wales and the implications of educational reform have instigated questions and concern about the moral and social development of children and young people, and the nature of their role as active citizens in the local, national and international community. Attention has focused on the formal curriculum, that is the National Curriculum, in order to evidence the provision made for the individual pupil's personal growth and development.

The National Curriculum Council (NICC)

The National Curriculum Council's guidance on The Whole Curriculum clearly sets out what it perceives as the "duty" of the education system.

to encourage pupils to think and act for themselves, with an acceptable set of personal qualities and values which also meet the wider social demands of adult life (NCC 1990:7, author's italics).
In its discussion document on Spiritual and Moral Development, emphasis is placed on the importance of the school-home partnership towards,
furnishing pupils with the knowledge and the ability to question and reason which will enable them to develop their own value system and to make responsible decisions on such matters (NCC 1993:5, author's italics).
The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA)

In a revision of this paper by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority in 1995, schools are encouraged to identify and document a statement of values which will permeate school life and which staff, pupils and parents will agree to and identify with. It was emphasised that such a statement should not be a glossy brochure, but rather "an essential and honest statement about the school and what it stands for" and one which would be "implemented - that it [would] not only be seen, but [would] be seen to be effective" (SCCA 1995:9).

The Dearing Report

In a final report on the National Curriculum (The National Curriculum and its Assessment 1994), to the Secretary of State for Education, reference was made to the educational challenge underpinning the National Curriculum. It was stated that,

Education is not concerned only with equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need to earn a living". Its intention is also to "encourage students to respect others, to become good citizens, to think things out for themselves, to use their time creatively and pursue a healthy lifestyle" and "not least, [to] value themselves and their achievements.
(Dearing 1994)
The main thrust of values education in the National Curriculum is envisaged through the cross-curricular themes, and perhaps most vividly through Education for Citizenship.

Education for Citizenship

In a speech given by the Secretary of State for Education in 1990, impetus was put upon schools to lay the foundations for positive, participative citizenship, by helping pupils' to acquire and understand essential information, and by providing them with opportunities and incentives to participate in all aspects of school life (Curriculum Guidance No.8).

The objectives of Education for Citizenship include:

  • the development and understanding of knowledge about community and society;
  • the promotion and advancement of cross-curricular skills in communication, numeracy and study;
  • the promotion and development of positive attitudes concerning individual duties, responsibilities and rights as well as respect for democracy.
  • the development of pupils' personal moral codes and the exploration of values and beliefs. Pupils are encouraged to identify shared values, to explore and consider solutions to moral dilemmas, to discuss differences and resolve conflict, and to appreciate how certain factors such as time and experience may influence personal values and beliefs.
The guidance materials suggest eight inter-related content areas which should be explored in and through curriculum provision. These are:
  • the nature of community
  • roles and relationships in a pluralist society
  • duties, rights and responsibilities of being a citizen
  • the family
  • democracy in action
  • the citizen and law
  • work, employment and leisure
  • public services

Suggestions are also given for establishing a whole school policy based on the aims of Education for Citizenship as well as opportunities for where the theme may be incorporated in the formal curriculum.

The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED)

The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) published a discussion paper in 1994, focusing on the types of values encouraged and communicated through the curriculum and personal relationships in schools. The paper contextualises values within the framework of "spiritual, moral, social and cultural development" (SMSC), which is one of the four statutory elements outlined for inspection in OFSTED's Framework for Inspection 1993 (revised).

The main objective of the paper is to encourage debate on the values and principles underlying SMSC in order to work towards greater national consensus regarding provision, and to identify possible criteria for use in inspection. Schools are reminded of their obligation to promote SMSC development and the intention to evaluate this development as part of the inspection process. In approaching evaluation, it is suggested that firm standards may be set for personal behaviour based on,

pupils' knowledge, skills and understanding;

appropriate and high standards of behaviour" and

a fully developed view of the nature and quality of the educational processes [underpinning] pupils' development.
(OFSTED 1994)

The Scottish Consultative Council for the Curriculum (SCCC)

In Scotland, the Scottish Consultative Council for the Curriculum (SCCC) has stated its commitment to supporting and maintaining resources for the ongoing development of values in education. In pursuing this goal, the Council has produced a number of publications on values in education, including a new series entitled Perspectives which examines issues relating to school climate and ethos. Other materials have included:

  • Values in Education, (1991) which contained a statement outlining the "sense of values which the Council seeks to promote",

  • The Heart of the Matter, (1995) which discusses the importance of personal and social education; and

  • Sharing Responsibility (1995) which investigates opportunities for schools in Europe to share responsibility and understand the influences affecting young people's lives.
SCCC has considered values in the context of the whole curriculum and value-related issues have been addressed in many publications, including for example, PSE 5-14 exemplification: The Whole School Approach - A Staff Development Workshop, (1995). This contains materials and guidance for workshops, which deal with attitudes, relationships, and skills,
likely to aid the promotion and development of a positive and supportive school atmosphere in which the personal and social development of all pupils may be fostered. (SCCC 1995)
The SCCC has also produced Working Together: A Pack for Parents and Teachers, (1993), and A Sense of Belonging (Reflections on Curricular Issues, 1995).

Schools Inspectorate in Scotland

Over the last five years, HM Inspectorate in Scottish Schools has developed a major school evaluation scheme based on a set of educational indicators to encourage and promote school development . These indicators are a mechanism with which schools may evaluate their effectiveness and quality, focusing on two main areas - performance and ethos. In 1992, HMI published two documents relating to performance in primary and post-primary schools (HMI:1992), and these also contained a number of indicators relating to school ethos. There are twelve indicators in all, covering a range of issues - staff and pupil morale, discipline, relationships, school management, the pastoral dimension and the physical environment. The 'Ethos Indicators' programme was designed to enable staff, pupils and parents to assess and evaluate the teaching and learning experiences in their school. Through the use of different research methods - interviews, questionnaires and surveys, responses are recorded to a range of issues which have been selected by the head teacher or senior management team for consideration.

A phrase synonymous with 'Ethos and Performance Indicators' is "collective self-evaluation" - giving everyone who is part of the school community an opportunity to comment on the effectiveness and quality of the school. Schools in many regions of Scotland have become involved in this evaluation scheme and similar sets of indicators are being developed in England and Northern Ireland. The feedback from participating schools has been very favourable, with teachers commenting that the findings from the indicators process enabled school boards to use their powers in a constructive and supportive way, that relationships had been improved, and that the acknowledgement of a wider range of views led to schools having greater credibility with teachers, parents, and the wider community.

Non-Statutory Initiatives on Values in Education within the UK

In England, there are a number of organisations and centres engaged in research and development activities widely recognised as being within the field of values and education. These projects address issues such as ethos, citizenship, pastoral care and moral and social development as well as specific aspects of values in education.

The Citizenship Foundation

The Citizenship Foundation seeks to "improve and extend the quality of citizenship, particularly through education". The Foundation has produced various citizenship materials on human rights, consumerism, ethics and political education for primary and post-primary schools, and adult education groups. It also undertakes research, organises school competitions and publishes a bi-annual journal entitled Citizenship. A recent publication has been the You, Me, Us! Social and Moral Responsibility for primary schools materials (eds. Rowe and Newton:1994). This pack was produced as a result of co-operation between the Citizenship Foundation and The Home Office. Following a discussion of the theoretical background and teaching methods, five citizenship issues (friendship, rules, property and power, respecting differences and community and the environment), are explored through a variety of different activities.

The Values Education Council

In October 1995, the Values Education Council held its first annual conference and AGM in London. The Council has been established by individuals engaged in activities in the field of values and education to

promote and develop values education and values in education, and to help individuals develop as responsible and caring persons and live as participating members of a pluralist society
(Constitution of The Values Education Council).
The Council's aims include the promotion of dialogue and research into values, the development of a network for exchanging and discussing information and the provision of a framework for member bodies and developers of public policy to work together.


The National Association for Values in Education and Training (NAVET) identifies its main objectives as developing an understanding and communication of values and their application within education and training, and encouraging a recognition of the diversity of values and opinions in society and of the powerful influence values systems may have upon the climate of organisations. NAVET also produces a regular newsletter and a short papers series.


The Centre for Research into Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Understanding and Education (RIMSCUE Centre) is based at the University of Plymouth. It is primarily a research body, examining such issues as the moral, spiritual and cultural development of children, ethos, the hidden curriculum and values in education.

The Gordon Cook Foundation

The Gordon Cook Foundation, based in Aberdeen is a charitable organisation which seeks to promote and advance "all aspects of education which are likely to [further] character development and citizenship". The term 'Values Education' has been adopted to indicate the range of educational activity which the Foundation aims to support. A major aspect of the Foundation's work has been to fund and support research and development projects and activities which further its objectives of investing in people and "effective organisations" and which promote the development of teachers and values education within the educational system.

Over the past five years, the Foundation has funded over 100 projects exploring a variety of issues, including the preparation and trialling of values education materials for teacher training and classroom use, investigations into parental values, the transmission of values in the pre-school environment, and the identification and communication of values in primary and post-primary schools. (Further details of projects funded by the Gordon Cook Foundation may be found in appendix 2). Many of the organisations and projects mentioned in this chapter have also received funding support from the Foundation.


Values Education, Consultancy, Training and Organisational Research (VECTOR Fellowship) is part of an independent research and training consultancy. It provides information on values education, identifies and disseminates good practice, pursues training and organisational development opportunities and supports a network of interested bodies through a regular newsletter.

Projects And Publications

In addition to the projects and activities undertaken by the organisations listed above, there are many others which have been initiated by individuals educational bodies or universities (details of these are included in appendix 2).

Values and Visions

The 'Values and Visions' project, part of the Manchester Development Education Project is a national project established "to encourage spiritual development and global awareness in the primary school". The aim is to reach teachers "where they are" and to examine ways in which a school could evolve a "shared understanding of its own values and vision" by engaging in practical activities designed for whole school participation. In practical terms, the project offers in-service courses for teachers and school-based training to management, staff, parents, and pupils. Several 'Values and Visions' workshops have been held in Northern Ireland, offering teachers an opportunity to take "time out" and reflect upon their perceptions and experiences of teaching and to participate in discussion sessions on school values and visions.

The Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation has recently published a National Curriculum design and technology course for Key Stage 3 (Nuffield Design and Technology Study Guide/Student's Book 1995). This has been devised in such a way as to allow explicit consideration of the position and relevance of values in design and technology. The project approaches values in three ways.

Firstly, through an appraisal of real life case studies, pupils are encouraged to discuss the range of possible effects and implications of certain designs and technology and in turn, pertinent value-related issues.

Secondly, with the provision of a values template, pupils are prompted to analyse what values are implicit in the design and construction tasks which they undertake. The template is essentially a box of values (technological, environmental, economic, aesthetic, social and moral), which pupils are encouraged to consider when preparing their designs and constructions.

The third strand presents strategies for engaging with value issues. 'Winners and Losers' examines the positive and negative impact of designs and technology, identifying who will be directly or indirectly affected by specific technology, how they will be affected, and the appropriacy of the technology. Scores are used with the 'Winners and Losers' strategy, along with a pre-defined set of criteria.

Teachers are furnished with guidance and resources throughout the course, enabling them to promote pupils' development and understanding, and to deal more effectively and confidently with the values dimension of design and technology.

The Values Education Project

The Values Education Project at Northern College, Dundee was undertaken over a five year period and considered a number of value areas including the theoretical, practical and applied nature of moral living, pluralistic Scottish society and Christian tradition, the schools' role as a community and its relationship with the wider community, individual and social dimensions of moral living and specific and local concerns and global responsibilities. In practical terms, the project involved work with schools, a series of workshops and the production of guidance material entitled "Values Education Project - A handbook for School Values Development". This manual is divided into various sections and examines the experiences and approaches to Values Development in schools, the development and implementation of a statement of position on values, ethos and staff development, audit and managing change in schools.

Academic Publications

The philosophical nature of values has been explored by different researchers with studies examining the fundamental importance of values in determining how an individual ought to live his or her life (Almond, 1981,1990, Carr 1991, 1992, 1993, Haldane 1986, 1990, 1993, 1994 and Wilson 1977, 1979, 1986, 1987). Morality and ethics and their relationship with values have been common areas for discussion. Writers have explored definitions of morals and values, the perceived overlap of the two and the role of values and morals in religious education. In general, morals are perceived to be principles of behaviour relating especially to distinctions of right and wrong, while values are seen to embrace morals along with principles, attitudes, ideals and beliefs, and are not always associated with unequivocal judgements of right and wrong.

A recently published resource of practical relevance to schools is Cross Values Education: A Staff Development Manual for Secondary Schools. In this publication, guidance is offered to teachers to assist them to fulfil government requirements outlined by OFSTED for values education in schools, by addressing the "what" and "how" of values education. The pack contains theoretical material and practical examples of classroom activities, considering the nature and purpose of values, curriculum concerns and values education and the whole school. The aim is to help teachers "create... effective lessons" and "tackle values education with confidence."

Journals and Newsletters

There are a number of journals and newsletters in circulation which are concerned with different aspects of values and education. The Journal of Moral Education is described as a "unique interdisciplinary, international forum for moral education and development", and publishes papers on all aspects of the theory and practice of moral education.

NAVET, (see p.21) publishes the NAVET Papers, a series of short papers on any aspect of values within education and training and Newsvalues - a bi-annual newsletter. VECTOR (see p.22) produces VECTOR NEWS.

Values Education published by S. Martins College, Lancaster aims to provide a forum for discussion of issues in values education, inviting contributions on any aspect of social and moral education, personal values and human relations.


Activities include the provision of long-term and short-term courses. These address the general concept of values and education.

A modular Masters degree is offered in Values Education at the Institute of Education in London, giving teachers the opportunity to reflect, in a philosophical and systematic way on the values underlying their practice.

A Masters degree may be taken in Religious Education-Moral Education at S. Martins College, Lancaster. This course aims "to deepen teachers' understanding of religion and ethics and their interfaces as relevant to their professional contexts" (Taylor 1994). A B.Ed Honours degree in Moral Education/Social Ethics and a PGCE in RE-ME are also offered.

Other courses provide short-term exposure to specific values issues in teaching practice and the curriculum. Such courses include Values Education and Spiritual Development in the Primary School and Personal and Social Development of Children through Primary Education (S. Martins College, Lancaster).

The Centre for Religious Education Development and Research (CREDAR) and RIMSCUE also focus on values in teacher training courses.

Initiatives in Values and Education in Northern Ireland

While 'values' and 'values in education' are not terms in common usage within the Northern Ireland educational system, there does seem to be a prevailing awareness among teachers and educationalists of the divergent concepts and issues encompassed within this sphere. The majority of value initiatives identified in Northern Ireland therefore do not make explicit reference to values or to the promotion or development of values. The aims and objectives of organisations included in this section and the nature of their activities does however indicate a strong commitment to the broader generic area of personal and community development, of which values and values education are an integral part.

The Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI)

In its recent consultative document - A Strategic Analysis , the Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI), makes reference to the government's priorities for education Northern Ireland. It was suggested that education had a major role to play, and not least in "developing appropriate values and attitudes in school life, such as personal integrity and consideration for others" (p.3:2.3). Values are given explicit consideration in a strategic plan formulated by DENI, following comment and discussion on the consultative document. Under the heading of Personal Development, a set of strategic aims are listed with reference to values. These are "to nurture:

  • moral values and a sense of personal responsibility;
  • respect for diversity and for the worth of all individuals; and
  • concern for other people, and appreciation of the value of co-operation and team effort."
    (DENI 1995)

There is also a call for a commitment to promoting "a peaceful and tolerant society and appreciation of our natural and cultural inheritance" (DENI 1995). These aims along with the other aims and principles are perceived as providing definition to the nature of the Education Service, and of contributing towards a clearer view of the direction of education for the immediate and long-term future.

In A Strategic Analysis reference is also made to the importance of "promoting mutual understanding between the two traditions within Northern Ireland, especially within the context of school life" (p.3:2.3). A practical initiative introduced in pursuit of this objective is the 'Cross Community Contact Scheme'. Approximately one-third of all schools in Northern Ireland are involved in this scheme which provides modest grants for collaborative projects between two or more schools which fulfil specific criteria, (relating to the age and denomination of the pupils involved and the nature of the project). In addition, DENI has also supported smaller scale European projects which have sought to bring young people into contact with their contemporaries in other countries as well as increasing their knowledge and understanding of European and world affairs through curriculum subjects.

The Northern Ireland Curriculum

The structure and content of the Northern Ireland Curriculum was devised with the intent that it would be "broad, balanced and relevant" and that it would "meet the needs of pupils". With these objectives in mind, the Northern Ireland Curriculum has been defined in terms of areas of study, thereby allowing for the inclusion and exclusion of subjects from particular areas while also promoting a sense of "wholeness" in pupils' learning experience. In contrast with the National and Scottish Curricula, the Northern Ireland Curriculum has six statutory themes which schools are obliged to implement. These include Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU) and Cultural Heritage which have been identified as a perceptible values dimension within the curriculum. An increasing emphasis on the development of whole school policies, in particular pastoral care and discipline has also turned teachers' attention to the "value areas" (Hamill 1995).

In providing guidance towards the interpretation and implementation of the Northern Ireland Curriculum, a number of aims were outlined for advancement through the areas of study and statutory cross-curricular themes. These focused on the spiritual, moral, cultural, intellectual and physical development of pupils. A reflection of these various aims in the curriculum, and an analysis of how they might be advanced through individual subjects was undertaken by the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, (NICCEA). The study revealed that the curriculum yielded many opportunities for the promotion of these aims as well as providing evidence of recurrent themes and the overlap of certain issues and topics between the subjects.

A review of the revised curriculum revealed a preoccupation on the part of teachers with the intricate detail of statutory elements and in particular with the requirements associated with individual subjects. This concern with the subjects was perceived to be detrimental to the degree of attention given by teachers to cross-curricular themes, and various steps have been instigated to encourage greater integration of these through the delivery of the curriculum. Strategies include clarifying the contribution of each subject to the themes, providing examples in curriculum guidance materials of how and where subjects meet objectives of the themes, and indicating the appropriacy of the themes at each of the key stages. To allow teachers time and space for further contemplation of the themes and aims, and consideration of how they might address them in their teaching situation, a five year moratorium on change has been imposed until the year 2001. The 'Values in Education' project was initiated at the beginning of this period, with one of its objectives being to evaluate the current provision for values in the curriculum and to inform the Council in its realisation of a vision for education in Northern Ireland for the next millennium.

Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU)

As already indicated, EMU has been identified as a strong values dimension in the curriculum. One of six (educational) cross-curricular themes, EMU became statutory under the 1989 Education Reform Order (NI) although many schools were engaged in EMU activities before the theme was formally included in the NI curriculum.

There are numerous statutory and non-statutory bodies presently undertaking activities related to EMU and its complementary theme Cultural Heritage. A selection of these organisations and their work is presented in this chapter, and a bibliography of other organisations along with a brief description of their activities is included in appendix 3.

The exploration and implementation of EMU facilitates the communication of an explicit set of values through both the formal and informal curriculum. EMU aims to provide pupils with the opportunities,

to learn to respect and value themselves and others;
to appreciate the interdependence of people within society;
to know about and understand what is shared as well as what is different about their cultural traditions;
to appreciate how conflict may be handled in non-violent ways".(NICC 1990)
In-service training for EMU is provided by the five Education and Library Boards. EMU modules are also offered on postgraduate diploma courses at The Queen's University and the University of Ulster. These courses employ interactive teaching methods to explore a range of issues relating to EMU including background, rationale, research, implementation, pedagogy, controversial issues and evaluation.

The Forum on Community Understanding and Schools (FOCUS) is an informal network of individuals and organisations committed to forwarding the aims of EMU and Cultural Heritage through a variety of structured activities and the provision of support for teachers. Originally formed as a mutual support group for seconded teachers, it now comprises over thirty statutory and voluntary bodies, many of whom are pursuing value-related activities in schools and the wider community. Some of these organisations are introduced below and others are included in Appendix 3.

NICCEA, DENI and CCMS (Council for Catholic Maintained Schools) are all members of FOCUS. CCMS has acknowledged its commitment to EMU and its role in fostering improved relationships. Indeed EMU has been described as the fourth 'R', in the curriculum, therefore suggesting it should become a central element in the educational process. Guidance has been issued on the development of EMU through Whole School Initiatives and curriculum materials. Boards of Governors have been encouraged to demonstrate their commitment to EMU, by supporting school initiatives and activities in this area.

'The EMU Promoting School' is an action-based research project developed from the work of the 'Quaker Peace Education Project' (see appendix 2). The emphasis of the project is on the "design, development and delivery" of long-term whole school programmes centring around issues such as "self-esteem, the quality of relationships, conflict resolution skills, peer mediation training and bullying" (Who's Who in EMU, 1995:21). The main thrust of the project to date has been to carry out substantial research within a small number of schools, focusing quite deliberately on the development of positive ethos and involving teachers, pupils and the local community.

Another body engaged in EMU is CRIS (Community Relations in Schools), which offers support to teachers involved in cross community contact programmes by giving advice on planning and resourcing, organising 'encounter' sessions, and facilitating residential courses. Co-operation North and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum also organise EMU activities, promoting and facilitating contact between children and young people from different religious backgrounds.

The 'Peer Mediation' programme which is an element of the 'EMU Promoting School Project' is currently being developed in several schools in the Western and North Eastern Education and Library Boards. A long-term aim is to promote peer mediation in schools throughout Northern Ireland. The main aims of the programme are to promote children's understanding and management of conflict and to encourage and empower them to deal with their own arguments and disagreements. Training workshops are provided for children in Primary 7 with a view to them serving as mediators for the children in their schools. The programme also seeks to assist schools in promoting and developing EMU in the context of school ethos.

Whole School Approaches

Increasing attention has been given to issues which affect the whole school, that is staff, pupils, parents and in some cases the wider community. Two aspects of school life frequently focused upon are discipline and pastoral care. Two of the Education and Library Boards have appointed advisors to deal exclusively with whole schools issues, and other Boards have included WSI as part of the remit of named advisors. Included under the umbrella of WSI is the preparation and implementation of pastoral care and discipline policies. In-service courses have been offered to teachers (often senior management), providing guidance and support towards identifying suitable and applicable strategies and mechanisms for school development. The Regional Training Unit (RTU), (part of the Education and Library Boards) has also held workshops and courses on pastoral care provision for teachers and senior managers, giving practical guidance and support in framing and implementing a whole school policy.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) has produced a series of guidelines on whole school curriculum policy and school development planning. In outlining a "basic philosophy" for Catholic whole school policy, emphasis is laid on the school's whole community responsibility "[to recognise] its values, gifts and riches". It is also stated that "an effective school policy...[is one] in which values and attitudes concerning relationships between individuals and groups are lived out and not merely advocated" (CCMS 1991). In a second paper entitled From Policy to Planning for Development, Catholic schools are reminded of the importance of viewing the curriculum as the "totality of experiences which a school has to offer" and the centrality of the child in this educational process.

In 1995, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland (DENI) introduced the 'Raising School Standards Initiative'. This was developed in response to concerns surrounding under-achievement in some schools, and in particular, low levels of literacy and numeracy. A Strategic Analysis by DENI (1994) indicated a need to "[target] these schools in resource terms, [and] to address other ways of helping underachieving schools to improve pupil performance" (p.17,4.33).

Within the Western Education and Library Board, the 'Raising School Standards Initiative' was introduced in September 1995 under the title, 'The Developing School' project. Following inspection, approximately twenty primary and post-primary schools in the WELB were identified by DENI and invited to participate in the project. A liaison officer (who is also a subject advisor with the Board), has been appointed to provide guidance and support for each of the schools involved. The intention in the initial stages is that staff within each school will formulate an action plan, so that they can determine as early as possible the issues which they feel need most attention, while also giving some indication of how they intend to progress and what they hope to achieve. The intention is that all staff, parents, governors and, where appropriate, members of the wider school community are involved in drafting an action plan so that there is a sense of corporate ownership. Each action plan will be unique, though it is anticipated that there will be areas of commonality.

Schools have developed individual programmes which concentrate on the formal curriculum and improving levels of literacy. Some schools have also focused on issues such as the school community, the pupil's experience of the transition from primary to secondary, pastoral care, and the general learning environment of the school. Once an action plan has been forwarded to the WELB, it is considered by the management group for 'The Developing Schools Initiative' and if approved funding is allocated.

Another project under development in the West of the province is 'The Strabane Initiative'. This is a multi-lateral project, "targeting all phases of educational provision from pre-school to further education". It aims to involve teachers, parents, and children as well as voluntary and statutory agencies in the local Strabane community, in "[redressing] the incidence of under performance, by the funding of an imaginative range of measures in response to locally identified need." (WELB 1995)

A list of objectives have been identified, including the improvement of "the quality of parenting, achieving a closer match between the aims and aspirations of the schools and parents" and "raising the self-esteem and educational aspirations of children and young people within the community". Financed by the WELB for a three year period from 1995, the project is still in its early stages with a number of schemes at various stages of conception and development.

A Eruopean Dimension

The concept of European awareness and the implications of European Community policies for education and training were the focus of a research and development project commissioned by the Northern Ireland Curriculum Council, (now NICCEA) in 1992. The project outcomes were disseminated through a set of guidance materials entitled Thinking European - Ideas for Integrating a European Dimension into the Curriculum. As well as giving examples of how and where the European dimension might be introduced through the four key stages, various possible aims and objectives were outlined towards the development of pupils' knowledge and understanding of European issues. These included an appreciation and awareness of the variety and differences between European cultures; cultivating tolerant and accepting attitudes towards other peoples' opinions, beliefs and ideas; and developing pupils' sense of responsibility as citizens of Europe, with particular attention being given to human rights, democracy, peace and the environment. In order to assist schools define and promote these values and attitudes in a progressive and coherent manner, strategies for managing a whole school approach were also presented.


This chapter has provided a broad overview of the projects and activities completed or in progress in the values and education field in Europe and the UK. It documents examples of the types of approaches being taken and indicates the many different aspects of the curriculum which have been considered. It also outlines the potential breadth and depth of a definition of values education and illustrates the degree to which values permeate the educational process.

[1] The UNESCO definition of Europe included Canada, Israel and the USA.

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