Beyond the stereotype - Education Workshop

A lively discussion involving around 50 representatives from churches, schools and a range of other key organisations with a role in education took place in Portadown, on Friday (25th March) with a view to helping children and young people to reach their full potential. Mark Baker, CSSC Chief Executive took part in a panel discussion at the event.

Beyond the stereotype publication cover

The workshop was focused on a new research report from Stranmillis University College, Beyond the Stereotype: Approaches to Educational Under(Achievement) in the Controlled Sector in Northern Ireland. It was hosted by the Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC) – representing the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Churches in relation to education in Northern Ireland.

The study, which was commissioned and funded by the TRC, aims to go ‘beyond the stereotype’ of the well-documented challenge of underachievement among Protestant working-class boys from disadvantaged inner-city communities, and to ‘cast the net wider’ to provide a broader and more representative picture.  Particular challenges in rural communities, which have not been reported extensively to date in previous studies, are identified with some school leaders speaking of the difficulty in motivating boys to work hard towards GCSEs.

Significantly, Beyond the Stereotype also finds that while pupils view educational achievement as largely related to success in external exams (such as GCSEs and A-levels), many school and community leaders (including employers) place greater value on a wider range of skills and abilities, and pupils’ mental and physical health, self-confidence, happiness and willingness to learn.

Dr Noel Purdy, who led the research through Stranmillis’ Centre for Research in Educational Underachievement, said: “We’ve certainly identified lots of challenges – there are big challenges facing controlled schools and indeed every school in Northern Ireland – but what we did see was a diverse, committed, community-orientated and innovative sector which is committed to maximising achievement for all children.  In other words, allowing all the children in schools to stand tall and achieve to their full potential.”


30 March 2022