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New cross-government and National Lottery funding will boost creative learning in the classroom

Thursday 30th September 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative have come together to announce a two year funding programme to promote creative learning in the classroom.


The Creative Schools Partnership Programme takes a pioneering approach to learning, bringing professional artists into educational settings to teach students new skills, in a bid to improve educational outcomes across all subjects and allow their individual talents to shine.

The Creative Schools Partnership programme is based on research which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can benefit all aspects of learning. These include better engagement and attendance levels, improving results in other school subjects, increasing confidence and self-motivation, and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

Today’s announcement confirms the continuation of the programme which will be open to 13 schools, offering grants of up to £15,000 each to develop one or two year projects. The initiative was originally launched in 2018 as part of the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy, designed to improve good relations outcomes and develop thriving places where there has been a history of deprivation and community tension.

The schools invited to take part in the programme are: Lisneal College, Belfast Boys’ Model School, St Joseph’s Boy’s School, Blessed Trinity College, Ashfield Boy’s High School, Ashfield Girls’ High School, St Cecilia’s College, St Genevieve’s High School, Mercy College Belfast, St Vincent’s Centre, Belfast Model School for Girls, Malone Integrated College, and St Colm’s High School.

The schools have the opportunity to develop their own projects and work with artists on a range of creative skills including, music production, journalism, photography, film making, animation, and script writing.

First Minister Paul Givan said:

“I am delighted to welcome the continuation of the Creative Schools Programme with the commitment of funding this year.

“This successful partnership has already seen hundreds of children having engaged with the programme within post-primary schools serving Urban Villages areas in Belfast and Londonderry.

“These young people have benefitted from this innovative arts-based approach, supporting curriculum learning and improving the educational outcomes.

“I want to thank the programme partners the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Education Authority, and of course the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative.

“The feedback collected from evaluation of this programme, has been overwhelming positive and I wish the programme every success in its continued roll-out.”

The deputy First Minster, Michelle O’Neill commented.

“The Creative Schools Partnership programme was founded on the partners’ shared creative ambition to improve community cohesion and reduce educational inequalities. We know that the arts can have a really positive impact on self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as improving mental-health and wellbeing. It has been so heartening to see how this programme has benefitted participants and strengthened connections between young people, schools and the community.

“I would like to thank the schools who have committed staff and resources to making the Creative Schools Partnership programme such a success. And, I congratulate the students who have worked closely with professional artists to learn new skills and create fantastic projects. I really look forward to seeing more of this creative approach bringing new and different opportunities to young people in our schools.”

The Arts Council is investing £100,000 from its National Lottery funds to support the scheme.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, remarked:

“The Creative Schools Programme is a landmark arts and education project. It brings professional artists into the classroom to deliver practical and creative lessons that broaden learning opportunities for our young people and opens up future career paths.

“The feedback from students and teachers who have already engaged with this programme has been incredible and, thanks to funding from the National Lottery, we are delighted to be working with the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative once again to offer a new batch of pupils the opportunity to take part in this very special initiative.”

Education Authority Chairperson Barry Mulholland said:

“Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Creative Schools Partnership has continued to produce hugely positive outcomes for our young people. It is delivered with great skill and dedication and the Education Authority welcomes its continued support. We remain totally committed to its delivery across the schools and their communities. Creativity is an essential component of education, contributing to the mental health, wellbeing and the development of our young people.”

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