null alt text

Schools Think Next is a series of online conversations that will provide a space to engage with ideas about the future of education in Northern Ireland schools.

The series will bring local and international perspectives to vital conversations about learning from the experience of Covid-19, as well as possibilities for longer-term system change.

Before the Covid-19 lockdown in March, the Northern Ireland school sector was already preparing for change. The New Decade, New Approach Deal in January 2020 agreed to an independent review of the education system.

The impact of Covid-19 has given us an unprecedented opportunity to see the world in a new way and to craft an education system that better meets the needs of our young people.

‘Lockdown is a revelation. Not because it reveals new things but because it lifts the curtain on the way things already are. Our choice will be how to live, how to speak up, how to act and how to vote in light of all that lockdown reveals’. Pádraig Ó Tuama, BBC Radio Ulster, GMU, Thought for the Day, 4 April 2020

Schools Think Next engages with a wide range of local and international educational thinkers, researchers, practitioners and others to explore possible answers to two key questions:

  • What should be left in the past?
  • What should be embraced for the future?

The wider international online engagement builds on local thinking and provides a platform for sharing of ideas and experience across different countries.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #SchoolsThinkNext.

Online conversations

Conversation one: Intercultural learning, 9 December 2020

What is the role of language learning and how important is it that young people have international experiences?

Conversation two: Shared society, 27 January 2021

What needs to happen in classrooms and in the structures of the Northern Ireland education system to promote a shared and integrated society? 

Conversation three: Vision 2030, 24 February 2021

As plans are made for an independent fundamental review of the Northern Ireland education system, how do we ensure that we give children and young people the best educational experience and outcomes in the future?

Talking Heads

During the first Covid-19 lockdown, we asked local and international educational experts to record two-minute videos presenting their vision for the future of education.This is what they said.

Marie Lindsay

Former principal of St Mary’s College, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Watch Marie's video

Prof Tony Gallagher

Professor of Education, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Watch Tony's video

Julie Wilson

Founder and Executive Director, Institute for The Future of Learning, USA

Watch Julie's video

Dr Anne Looney

Executive Dean, Institute of Education, Dublin City University, Ireland

Watch Anne's video

Prof John Hattie

Laureate Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne and Chair of the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leaders

Watch John's video

Prof Siobhan O'Neill

Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Interim Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland

Watch Siobhan's video

Prof Peter Finn

Professor Peter Finn, Principal at St Mary's University College, Belfast.

Watch Peter's video

If you have any questions, please contact the Schools Think Next team at