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About Us

The Ministerial Advisory Group on Advancing Shared Education was appointed by the Minister of Education and announced on 19 July 2012

The Group consisted of Professor Paul Connolly (Chair); Dawn Purvis; and P.J. O'Grady. The work of the Group was independent from the Department of Education and supported by a secretariat based at the School of Education, Queen's University Belfast.


Professor Paul Connolly is Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education at Queen's University Belfast. He was, until recently, founding Director of the Centre for Effective Education at Queen's as well as being Director of the cross-university, interdisciplinary initiative Improving Children's Lives. He holds the prestigious Donald Dewar Visiting Chair in Social Justice and Public Policy at Glasgow University, is Editor of the international research journal, Effective Education, and is Co-Chair of the Education Coordinating Group of the international Campbell Collaboration.

Dawn Purvis is currently an independent consultant and Chair of the Board of Healing through Remembering, a cross community organisation dealing with the legacy of the past. Until March 2011, Dawn was an Independent Unionist member in the Assembly, a former Chair of the All Party Group on Children and Young People and independent member of the Policing Board. She previously worked as an academic researcher for the Universities of Ulster and Huddersfield. Dawn has a keen interest in educational underachievement.

PJ O’Grady has recently retired after 14 years as Principal of St Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha, North Belfast. He has always worked in the catholic education system and is a strong advocate of ‘faith based schooling’. He is a founder member of the Catholic Principals Association. His visionary work for the betterment of community relations has been recognised by many, including President McAleese, Rotary NI, Business in the Community and the University of Ulster who has recently awarded him an honorary doctorate for ‘school transformation and contributions to cross community life’.

Ministerial Advisory Group