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1993 – 1997 Council

The new Council of 1993 – 1997, immediately built upon the strong foundations already laid by their predecessors by recognising the problems which existed, offering solutions to address the needs of Catholic Maintained Sector and embracing the challenges which lay ahead.

Of immediate concern to the Council were the problems which had been identified by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights report. Their report had provided the basis for the work of the Council's Achievements Working Party and in May 1993 the working group published its report. The report identified that the process of failure for Catholic pupils began in primary schools and that more nursery schools were required. The report further recognised that selection through the 11-plus contributed to children’s under achievement and that the policy of open enrolment was concentrating problems in particular schools.

In response, the working group recommended that there should be an end to academic selection, an increase in nursery provision and interventionist programmes in both primary and pre-primary education.

These recommendations were instrumental in setting the agenda for the Council’s work most notably in the establishment of the Nursery Working Group in 1995 which examined the provision of nursery education in the Catholic Sector. Their report ‘Nursery Education – A Key to the Future’ was to play a significant part in informing the debate about the future of nursery education provision in Northern Ireland.

In 1995, the Council recognised the changing political and social environment within Northern Ireland with the publication of ‘Education for Mutual Understanding – A Vision’. This influential publication encapsulated the Council's belief that central to education for mutual understanding was the need to foster respect and an appreciation of all cultural traditions.

Perhaps one of the most important documents produced by the Council in 1996 was ‘Life to the Full – A Vision for Catholic Education’. Central to this document was an explanation for Principals and teachers of the aims and purposes of the Catholic School. It underscored the sense of moral purpose, spiritual well-being and Catholic ethos which was at the heart of the school community. For many ‘Life to the Full’ remains a seminal publication, informing Catholic education throughout the world.