NI students celebrate pioneering arts programme and creativity in the classroom
Almost 200 pupils from secondary schools in Belfast and Derry came together today to celebrate a pioneering arts programme called the Creative Schools Partnership, a unique pilot project designed to drive educational outcomes for students by bringing more creativity into the classroom.
Funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds, the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, the scheme was launched as a pilot programme earlier this year, working with 10 schools and communities where there has previously been a history of deprivation and community tension. Each school worked with professional artists to develop their own individual projects, including film-making, script writing, music production, ceramics, digital fabrication and animation.
The programme is based on research that demonstrates 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, creative thinking and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.
Today’s event at the Ulster Museum gave all the students involved the opportunity to come together for the first time to hear about each other’s experiences and sample some of the skills other groups have been learning at arts workshops. Year 9 pupils from Girls Model also celebrated the launch of an arts exhibition of their work in the Arts Zone at the Ulster Museum, officially opened by guest speaker Nuala McKeever and Anu Sundralingham, the artist who led the project.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,
“We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive impact this initial pilot project has had on the schools and students involved. We believe creativity is essential to optimising success in the classroom. Through an independent review of the programme,principals, teachers, and pupils have told us how this programme has helped students grow in confidence, learn new skills and energise the wider school body.
“Working together with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, £120,000 was committed to this pilot scheme and we want to reach out to those in government who can help this valuable programme continue across even more schools in Northern Ireland.”
Sharon O’Connor Chair of the Education Authority commented:
“It’s been a pleasure to hear the wonderful feedback from all the schools involved in the programme. Each of the groups have worked with professional artists to develop and deliver a unique arts project linked to school development priorities. Those involved have told about the sheer happiness students felt when they were engaged in the workshops. That’s a very important message for us in education and one that we wish to take forward.
“We congratulate all the schools who have been involved in the programme and hope that they continue to utilise the creative skills they have developed back in the classroom.”
Linsey Farrell, Director of the Urban Villages Initiative said,
“The Creative Schools Partnership has supported young people from schools in Urban Village areas to learn about other cultures andstrengthen community networks. It has also promoted an understanding of other perspectives and issues which connect our communities.
“Working in partnership with the Arts Council and the Education Authority, this programme has shown the value and the potential of creative and innovative collaboration. These partnerships can supportcommunity cohesion, deliver on government priorities and reduce educational inequalities.”
The ten schools awarded funding to take part in the first phase of the programme were:
St Vincent’s Centre
St Colm’s High School
Blessed Trinity College
Belfast Model School for Girls
Ashfield Girls’ High School
Ashfield Boys’ High School
St Joseph’s Boys’ School, and
St Cecilia’s College
To access the Creative Schools Partnership programme final Evaluation Report, visit artscouncil-ni.org/cspevaluation