North Belfast Nurseries take part in unique Shared Education project

Carr’s Glen Nursery, Stanhope Street Controlled Nursery and Naíscoil Bheann Mhadagáin are working together on the ‘Sharing From The Start’ project.




The Sharing From The Start initiative which involves over 2400 children is supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. It involves early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border counties forming cross-community partnerships, and the children taking part in joint curricular classes, improving educational outcomes and promoting good relations.

Elaine Stewart Carr’s Glen Nursery, Seosaimhín Mhic Thomais Naíscoil Bheann Mhadagáin and Karen Timmons Stanhope Street Nursery


The curriculum focus for the North Belfast partnership this year will be arts. Local artist Anushiya Sundaralingam is helping the children to create three felt murals around the theme of gardening and the outdoors. They will all help out during their shared sessions at each other’s settings and then each nursery will get to keep one and display as a memento of their work together.

As well as their art work Naíscoil Bheann Mhadagáin pupils are teaching their new friends some nursery rhymes in Irish. Later in the year the nurseries will be having a number of trips together to Streamvale Farm and Carnfunnock County Park. The initiative between the three way partnership has drawn widespread support.



Karen Timmons leader at Stanhope Street Controlled Nursery said “This is a fantastic initiative as it brings children together in a natural way. As teachers we have learned a lot from each other and friendships have developed not only between the children but the staff as well. We’ve also been so encouraged by the support of parents and many have even helped out during the shared sessions.”

Seosaimhín Mhic Thomais leader at Naíscoil Bheann Mhadagáin added “This programme is of course a very positive experience for the children but it’s much wider than that in the sense that it has brought benefits to parents and teachers as well. Our pupils are enjoying teaching their friends from Carr’s Glen and Stanhope greetings in Irish. It’s wonderful for the children to experience different settings and learn together.”

Carr’s Glen Nursery leader Elaine Stewart commented “Our settings are collaborating and having experiences which without this programme we wouldn’t have been able to. For our teachers and staff it’s been very worthwhile working together and developing professionally.”



The €4.2 million Sharing From The Start project is administered by Early Years working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust. Together these three organisations have a strong track record of working for the benefit of children and good relations development. Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills Ireland. For more information CLICK HERE