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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK
Ethnic groups get schools' pack
Pupils with hands up
A greater diversity of pupils now attend NI schools
A new welcome pack has been launched to help children from ethnic minority backgrounds settle into NI schools.

It has been compiled by the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools in response to a growing ethnic community.

The number of children from different countries attending Catholic schools has doubled in the past two years.

The pack, produced in four languages, contains a range of information for parents and children, including school addresses and registration forms.

The CCMS found that families from ethnic minority backgrounds, especially those from Catholic countries, were relying on the church to help them find suitable schools.

The publication was launched in Lisburn where representatives from the education sector were joined by those from the American, Lithuanian, Portuguese, and Filipino consulates.

'Decades of conflict'

CCMS chief executive Donal Flanagan said: "The launch is a recognition that society in Northern Ireland is becoming more culturally diverse, with an increasing number of people from other countries and cultures coming to live here.

"This enriches the cultural context in which people are living.

"But it also presents a challenge for schools and society in general, to be aware of diversity and to have the structures, policies and practices in place to ensure that the needs of all children and adults are met. "

All Ireland Primate Dr Sean Brady also attended the event.

He said: "The challenge for all of us who have witnessed decades of conflict and social unrest must be to create a more inclusive society where the promotion of reconciliation and respect for diversity becomes a priority for all, particularly within our schools."

Meanwhile, staff at many schools in Northern Ireland have already been trying to help new communities settle in.

At St Comhghall's in Enniskillen, the teaching staff have undertaken a Polish course to aid communicate with Polish children.

St Patrick's in Dungannon has language courses in place of RE classes for ethnic students, while one Coleraine school has an English class at night to help parents learn the language.


SEE ALSO
Ethnic pupils 'must get support'
06 Nov 06 |  Northern Ireland
City 'a cold house for foreigners'
29 Nov 06 |  Northern Ireland

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