The Business Bulletin - Issue 198 - 6th May 2013

Participative planning

We have just finished our 3 days of intensive working on stakeholder participation in the planning for the transformation of education in Goris and SIsian, which means the closure of outdated ‘special needs’ schools and the moving of the children into inclusive schools where they will integrate with other children.
As you can imagine this has been a tricky task. It would have been possible to have done this on a top down approach but we decided that we needed to engage the local stakeholders as only if they are involved and participating in the changes can things work.
We brought key people from the Ministry of Education and also the Ministries of Labour and Social Issues and Territorial Administration. Also present were key people from the Regional Authority, known here as the Marz.
There was a lot of opposition at first and it was clear that a lot of people were reluctant to give up the special schools and were afraid that the new community based support services would not really work and that the children would be lost in the new schools and might end up as school drop outs.
Slowly we worked through the pillars of support to the change. The first being the introduction of social work case management. I can hear you saying, but that is a basic service, surely they must have that? Actually, no and it is being developed with help from UNICEF. Its an essential part of the change because there can be many factors at home that would work against the child being more integrated with the family, such as extreme poverty, living in old box cars, alcoholism, single parent families and parents working night shifts. So we need to work closely with every family involved to identify any impeding factors and to put in place practical support to overcome these factors.
Equally important is the professional development of schools and teachers in general schools that will become inclusive. We heard reports of dire experiences of children being left alone with no support and ending up on the street. Actually, the Ministry is to create new pedagogical centres that will do this development work and provide practical support in the schools and with individual children. But explaining this and getting understanding and acceptance are very different things.  The old rule of communications applies, its only communication when its 2 way and there is receiving as well as transmitting.

Also important is the provision of after school care up to 6.00pm. There are different ways of providing this all with different funding implications. As you can imagine, the debate was fiery and lengthy but we eventually got there.
Lastly there is a real need to treat the staff at the special schools responsibly and sensitively and we got assurances on this.
I was taken by the dignity and fair mindedness of the two School Directors who were clearly concerned about the children and the staff. I was particularly pleased when at the end of two difficult days in Goris, the School Director presented me with 2 litres of his own red wine, and very good it was too.
How does a foreigner who doesn’t speak Armenian facilitate a boisterous meeting? Well, with difficulty: sometimes it feels like trying to hold onto slippery fish and often seeing them slip out of the fingers. Without excellent co working with my Armenian partner Kristine and our UNICEF partner Meri, we would never have made it, but we did make it through with getting consensus and commitment to a 16 month transition period.
Our next steps are to meet with the Ministries for a de-brief; I am led to believe that I might meet the Minister of Education, so I have brought my best shirt and tie!

Peter Gay, Goris, April 2013 - You can email Peter here

A Note from the Next Door Neighbours (80)                                            April 2013


In a small village in South Armagh something rather wonderful is beginning to take shape. After some difficult early years the Middletown Centre for Autism, a North/South body whose mission is to create a centre for excellence in Ireland for the education of children and young people with autism spectrum disorders, is beginning to take off.

In 2009 the Centre, set up two years earlier with funding from the two Departments of Education, was in serious danger of having no future, after the then Irish Education Minister Batt O'Keefe announced a funding 'pause' for the project because of financial cutbacks on the Southern side. This pause was lifted following eight months of representations from the Centre's board and the Northern Minister, Caitriona Ruane. However there were continuing questions both from unionist politicians and some Northern parents about the wisdom of taking autistic children out of their home setting for assessment and treatment.

These concerns were triumphantly put to bed by an extremely positive report on Middletown's services by a joint team of inspectors from the two Departments a year ago. They rated these services as 'outstanding': the highest assessment category. Earlier the education committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly had visited the Centre and had also gone away impressed, including sceptics like the DUP chair of the committee, Mervyn Storey.

Referrals of young people with particularly challenging learning difficulties (at the moment only happening in the North) represents a small part of the Middletown Centre's work. It also provides training services for parents, teachers and other education professionals all over Ireland. For example, its 2013 spring programme shows training events in a range of autism-related provision taking place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Kildare, Navan, Letterkenny, Belfast, Londonderry, Coleraine and Omagh, as well as in Middletown itself. In April and May, there are 21 events in areas such as sensory processing, promotion of positive behaviour, anxiety management, autism and play; autism, art and music; challenging behaviour, the hidden curriculum and the use of the curriculum to create an autism-friendly classroom.

The Centre's services are slightly different in the two jurisdictions. In the South they concentrate on research and the training of parents and teachers. In the North they work in particular with teachers, classroom assistants and speech and language therapists, and directly with particularly challenging young people referred to them by the autism teams of the Education and Library Boards. After the positive joint inspectors' report, plans are in hand to expand very significantly the services offered throughout Ireland.

The Centre also carries out research into autism, and has an input into the training of teachers in a number of colleges of education in both jurisdictions. There is, for example, a great dearth of research into the condition available to parents with children over 16, and Middletown organises events at which they can hear the findings of the latest international research. Since the Centre began training parents and educational professionals at the end of 2007, over 23,000 people have been trained.

Another innovative and highly successful North-South training-based initiative is the Social Welfare Summer School, held alternately every year in Queen's University Belfast and National University of Ireland Maynooth since 2000.

This week-long school provides civil servants in the North's Department of Social Development (DSD) and the South's Department of Social Protection (DSP) with an opportunity to reflect on and debate the key social policy issues of common concern facing both jurisdictions. The event is largely targeted at junior and middle management who have not previously experienced higher education and who would benefit from this kind of intensive and challenging learning opportunity. The civil servants stay on campus, providing them with a real university experience. Since its inception, over 600 civil servants from the two jurisdictions have been through the school.

A demanding week involves academic lectures, study groups (each of which must produce a written report on their particular topic), expert visitors, and speeches and observations from senior management from both Departments. Under the tutelage of the school's academic director, Professor Madeleine Leonard of Queen's School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, last year's 48 students examined issues around disability, older people, workless communities, one-parent families, youth unemployment and reforming welfare and work in the context of the current economic crisis.

Professor Leonard has been involved with the summer school since 2004, and her energy and drive have helped both to provide the civil servants with a unique cross-border learning opportunity and, as a consequence, to cement links between the two Departments.

Apart from its academic rigour, the school generates greater understanding between civil servants from the two jurisdictions. As the week progresses, camaraderie heightens and the much-needed breaks away from studies - which last year included a tour of Stormont's Parliament Buildings – help build a relaxed atmosphere that is most palpable on the Friday evening when certificates are presented to students. To whoops and cheers, students are called one by one to receive their certificates, accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management, in recognition of the hard work they have put in during the week.

Senior management in both Departments also use the opportunity to renew relationships and exchange views. The Heads of the two Departments, Niamh O'Donoghue from the DSP and Will Haire from the DSD, attended last year's school and strongly reaffirmed their commitment to continuing the initiative.

Andy Pollak

PS Many thanks to Ciaran Lawler of the Department of Social Protection for providing the text for the second part of this 'Note'.

A Note from the Next Door Neighbours' is sent to everyone on the Centre for Cross Border Studies e-mail list on a monthly basis. If you have friends or colleagues who would like to be added to the mailing list for 'A Note from the Next Door Neighbours', please send their details to or call +44 (0)28 3751 1550.
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Following the announcement made today by Dr. Stephen Farry MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning, we are delighted to inform you that our Next Level Leadership programme is now 100% funded for eligible candidates!

Next Level Leadership comprises of three specific support options that can be accessed individually and are tailored to the needs of participants and the needs of their organisations:

L&M Essentials (leads to the Chartered Management Institute Award in Management) is a one day master-class covering core leadership and management knowledge, skills and behaviours and includes 15 hours guided learning & individual follow–up coaching:

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The Unleashing Potential Programme (Chartered Management Institute Certificate in Management) builds on the lessons learned in the Essentials Programmeand comprises of two x 1 day master classes covering core leadership and management capabilities together with the identification of potential improvement projects to implement within your organisation and 30 hours guided learning & individual follow–up coaching:- 

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The Maximizing Effectiveness Programme (Chartered Management Institute Diploma in Management) builds on the lessons learned in the Essentials Programme and Uleashing Potential Programme and comprises of three x 1 day master classes designed to maximize leadership and management capabilities together with practical implementation of improvement projects within your organisation and 135 hours guided learning & individual follow–up coaching:-

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See local graduate entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of Dragons in a bid to win a cash prize of £1000.
This event is free of charge however for catering purposes, we kindly ask that you confirm your attendance by contacting or call 02892 661160.
Please feel free to forward the attached invitation to your network of contacts.
This event forms part of Graduate into Business, Lisburn City Council’s Programme for Graduate Entrepreneurship.  To find out more view the website:

Graduate into Business is funded by Lisburn City Council and the EU Sustainable Competitiveness Programme NI 2007 – 2013, and delivered by Lisburn Enterprise Organisation.

Tradelinks Applications Open

Increase Cross-Border Trade and Explore New Markets

Tradelinks is a business development programme for the micro-enterprise sector involving organisations from Northern Ireland and the Border counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal.
We want companies committed to:

  • Enhancing employment generation
  • Developing exporting
  • Address barriers to cross border trade
  • Investigate opportunities from new technology
  • New market & product development
  • Innovation

Tradelinks will provide:

  • A suite of programmes which address micro-enterprise issues
  • Experienced assessors
  • One-to-one mentoring
  • Opportunities for cross-border linkages
  • Signposting service to other programmes

Applications are now open, however spaces are limited. 

To find out further details or to apply, please contact Nicola or +44 2838 396 520.


For Northern Ireland specific contracts, there are a number of sources of information specifically for contracts within Northern Ireland. The Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) handles contracts for a number of government departments. You can find a list of current tender opportunities on the CPD website. Again, there is no email alert facility that we can find which makes the content difficult to adapt to the Bulletin format.

Please see for the current list of Northern Ireland opportunities.

GB-TELFORD: Condenser Assemblys
Provision of HR Payroll Requirement Contract RM1361 SB133
Framlingham Castle - Phase 2B - Wall Walk and High Level Repairs
GB-Bedford: Delivery of Education and IAG Services
GB-Hertford: Level 3 Diploma for Children & Young People Workforce Qualification
Provision of Servicing and Maintenance of Automatic Gates and Barriers to Essex Police
Testing of Fire Damper to include ad hoc repairs
Press Contracts Database
Provision of Empty Homes Review
Consultancy for Boilers
Advocacy Service
Provision of an Advertising Audit and Potential Support with Tendering of Opportunities
Delaying Disability Evidence Review
Woodlands Farm Drainage
GB-Swindon: Grinder-Polisher Material Preparation Machines
Maintenance contract and emergency call outs for Roofing within the Bradford District
Dealying Disability Economic Assessment
Develop, construct and commission a new prototype plant growth facility and laboratory processing complex in Norwich
Bevois Town Primary School - Boiler Replacement & Tanners Brook Junior School - Hot & Cold Pipework Replacement
Clissold Park Ice Rink and Christmas Market
Provision of HR Payroll Requirement Contract RM1361 SB133
UK-London: Social research services
UK-Southampton: Software package and information systems
UK-Holywood: Data network management and support services
UK-Manchester: Miscellaneous software package and computer systems
UK-Liverpool: Network servers
UK-Bridgend: Software package and information systems
UK-Kingston upon Thames: Graphic design services
Mobile Communications
Cognos Consultancy
GB-Leicester: Supply of an Electronic Rostering, Scheduling and Monitoring System Work Package for Leicester City CouncilÂ’s Reablement Service
Points of Interest Data – RM1359
UK-Coventry: Telecommunications equipment and supplies
UK-Truro: Document management software package
UK-Beverley: Software package and information systems
UK-Lincoln: Software package and information systems
UK-Worcester: IT services: consulting, software development, Internet and support
UK-Aylesbury: Repair and maintenance services
UK-Wirral: Medical software package
UK-Surrey: IT services: consulting, software development, Internet and support
UK-Worcester: Lawn or sports-ground rollers
UK-Croydon: Installation services of electrical equipment
UK-London: Repair, maintenance and associated services related to roads and other equipment
IS-Reykjavik: Pipes
Framlingham Castle - Phase 2B - Wall Walk and High Level Repairs
Provision of Servicing and Maintenance of Automatic Gates and Barriers to Essex Police
Consultancy for Boilers
Testing of Fire Damper to include ad hoc repairs
Woodlands Farm Drainage
Bevois Town Primary School - Boiler Replacement & Tanners Brook Junior School - Hot & Cold Pipework Replacement
Maintenance contract and emergency call outs for Roofing within the Bradford District
NO-Molde: Construction work
NO-Oslo: Power distribution cables
NO-Harstad: Construction work
IRL-Tralee: Harbour construction works
UK-Norwich: Road furniture
UK-Hove: Construction work
UK-Cwmbran: Ironmongery
IRL-Drogheda: Dredging and pumping works
NO-Kristiansand: Plumbing and sanitary works

74769 - - Role Skillnet Trainer Panel 2013/14
Publication date:  02-05-2013
Response deadline:  24-05-2013 16:00   GMT
Procedure: Open Procedure (NON OJEU)
Description: The objective of this request for tender (RFT) is to establish a panel of qualified trainers, from which companies will be selected to participate in a mini-competition for contract award for delivery of various training programmes to RoLe Skillnet and its member companies, once specific needs arise. The categories of training expected to be run over the duration of the panel are outlined in Appendix I – Specification of Requirements of RFT document
Buyer: Role Skillnet

Belfast City Council Tenders are available at

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