For this year’s biennial European prize, the Evens Foundation looked for strategies implemented in secondary schools for dealing with ‘hot topics’ in a constructive way. 13 high quality projects from all over Europe were selected for the shortlist.
According to the international jury of experts, New-Bridge Integrated College developed an impressive and strongly embedded project that continues to break new ground in relation to integrated education in Northern Ireland, and of which the approach is very transferable to other EU countries and contexts. The project arose in the polarized education system in Northern Ireland, but also integrates more recent problematics (social and cultural mix, mixed-ability students). It helps teachers to respond to everyday diversity as well as to transform controversial subjects into a learning opportunity.
The project is steered by the school and has strong leadership, both from the Senior Leadership Team and the Community Relations, Equality and Diversity team. It also has a solid peer-learning dimension: the project was developed by teachers for their colleagues. It focuses on both knowledge and skills development, and works with teachers, pupils and families. The cross-curricular approach to controversial issues is being mainstreamed into formal education processes across the school, and is accepted by all stakeholders.
To ensure a consistent approach to teaching controversial issues, the project offers teachers specific training, ideas, tools and activities to work positively with controversial or sensitive issues when they arise, as well as material to prepare lessons on controversial subjects. It does not expect teachers to follow extensive training courses but rather to start working and build their competences and confidence to deal with such topics step by step, at their own pace.
The laureate will receive a cash award of €25,000, of which some is to be used to share their vision and good practices with colleagues in other European countries.
The prize‐giving ceremony will take place on 9 November 2017 in London in the framework of the next Conflict Matters conference. On this occasion, all shortlisted candidates will also be invited for an exchange seminar in order to share experiences and good practices.