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Oakgrove Integrated Primary & Nursery School, Limavady

Celebrating 25 Years of Integration At Oakgrove

5th Oct 2016

Pupils, parents, staff and governors of Oakgrove Integrated Primary School are looking forward to celebrating 25 years of integrated education in Derry-Londonderry.

When Oakgrove opened its doors for the first time back on Monday 4th September 1991, it was a momentous occasion for the staff, parents and families of the 68 pupils who put their faith in change by sending their children to the city’s first integrated primary school- a pioneering breakthrough in education locally.

The journey to integrated education started at a summer barbecue in August 1990, when a group of parents discussed their dream to offer the next generation of children integration not segregation. They wanted their children to play, learn and grow together with children from different religions, faiths, backgrounds and abilities. As the drive for integrated education gained momentum, more parents joined the group and the fundraising drive began in earnest with meetings at Lisnagelvin Leisure centre, Templemore, the Everglades Hotel and karaoke nights at Prehen Golf Club.

With the support of Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and Foyle Trust for Integration (FTIE), Oakgrove Integrated Primary School premises were secured through Derry City Council in the old Housing Executive offices on the east bank of the River Foyle at Rectory Field, 19 Limavady Road. Oakgrove very quickly established an excellent reputation under the incredible leadership of Dr Anne Murray, founding Principal. In the first year, it doubled in size and over the next four years surpassed its original target to become a two form entry primary school catering for 400 children. To quote from the University of Ulster citation: “Dr Murray has successfully set up a model for inclusive, child-centred education which has impacted on all schools in Northern Ireland.” Under her leadership, Oakgrove Integrated Primary School achieved the “European Framework for Quality Management Excellence Award” (2010) and was the first school in Northern Ireland to achieve level 2 of the “UNICEF, Rights Respecting School Award” (2011). The most recent award presented to the school was the prestigious “Excellence in Integrated Education Award” (2014).

In June 1999 Oakgrove Primary moved into its current building and the Nursery Unit was added 2 years later. The Nursery operates a dual day catering for 52 part time children each year. Other additions include the school’s Nurture Centre which caters for a growing need of children who were having difficulty accessing learning due to social, emotional or behavioural difficulties. After her retirement from Oakgrove IPSN, Dr Murray’s integrated education legacy continued on in her successor, Mrs Larraine Coulter whose passion for learning and teaching has ensured that every child achieved success in a nurturing school environment.

Current Principal, Mrs Ashley Donaghey explains that “The mission statement of the school is Celebrating Diversity – Learning Together for Life. The whole school community is involved in educating Oakgrove’s pupils to become active learners who are imaginative, inquisitive, innovative and creative. The nature of society within N. Ireland is divided, so it is paramount that young children have the opportunity to integrate, to learn the skills of conflict resolution, to celebrate what makes us different and embrace mutual understanding. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of Oakgrove’s pupils, parents, staff and governors in promoting the principles of integrated education, our pupils have an exciting future ahead within integrated education in Derry--Londonderry. Happy 25th Birthday Oakgrove IPSN.