Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris has today (Thursday 23 March) launched important new educational resources for pupils in Northern Ireland and across the UK as part of the programme to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
During a visit to Carrickfergus’ Ulidia Integrated College, whose pupils became the first in the UK to use the new materials, the Secretary of State attended an assembly using the materials to tell the story of the journey to the world-renowned peace deal, and its continuing role today.
The free, optional resources support secondary school and college teachers in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales to give an assembly on the Agreement using a short animated video, and to lead a follow-up classroom discussion.
They have been developed independently by The National Archives and in collaboration with academics, teachers and other experts, with consultation from curriculum and school bodies across the UK. This first group of resources will be followed later this year by classroom materials.
During the visit to Ulidia Integrated College, the Secretary of State viewed the new Assembly video resource alongside pupils and teachers, before discussing with the young people what the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement anniversary means to them. He then met with pupils using the new materials for classroom discussion.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said:
“Thanks to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, Northern Ireland’s young people have grown up in peace and safety, looking forward to a future of hope and opportunity.
“That’s why I’m incredibly proud to launch this new education package, which will give young people in Northern Ireland and across the UK the chance to deepen their appreciation and understanding of the Agreement’s benefits and encourage them to engage with this historic anniversary.
“It’s particularly relevant that I’m launching this initiative in an integrated school, a symbol of reconciliation, which the Agreement promoted.”
Jeff James, Keeper and Chief Executive of The National Archives said:
‘This important resource gives young people the opportunity to study and discuss the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement using material from the original documents. It allows students to consider topics that affect them and their communities, at a level which is meaningful to them and to gain an understanding of how important the Agreement is.’
UK Government Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said:
“The 25th anniversary of the signing of the Agreement is significant not just for Northern Ireland but for the whole of the UK.
“It is absolutely right that we recognise the progress that has been made since 1998 and these free, optional resources for school assemblies can help build an understanding of our complex history.”