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Nine schools to take part in landmark educational programme

Friday 18th December 2020 at 12pm 0 Comments

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Nine post-primary schools in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry are preparing to take part in a landmark programme which aims to boost educational outcomes for students by bringing more creative skills into the classroom.

The schools have been awarded grants of up to £8,000 each as part of the Creative Schools Partnership - a three-year £300,000 initiative backed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative and delivered by the Education Authority.

The Creative Schools Programme, which had been put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is based on research which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can benefit all aspects of learning.

Groups of students within each participating school will have an opportunity to work with professional artists to develop a range of skills from script writing and theatre production, to musical composition and performance. Many of the projects will see students engage with the local community, including care homes and day centres, while others will help students process the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their lives and find a positive outlet to communicate its impact to others.

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

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money set aside for good causes, the Arts Council is pleased to continue to support this important programme. Working in partnership with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, today’s announcement sees funding awarded to nine schools, providing teachers with the support they need to engage professional artists and explore new creative ways to engage students in the classroom.

“While each of the projects taking place this year are all very different, what they have in common is that they will help the young people involved develop their own sense of self-belief, as well as supporting their learning and development in all aspects of school life.  We very much look forward to hearing how their work progresses over the coming months.”

First Minister Arlene Foster said:

“The Executive Office is proud to be supporting this programme and its delivery to a number of schools serving Urban Village areas across Belfast and Londonderry. Creative Schools will provide great opportunities for young people to enjoy new learning experiences through a wide range of creative projects, helping to boost their educational outcomes.

“Working alongside professional artists and teachers, the students will be able to learn new skills, build their confidence and perhaps even develop exciting new career paths. The projects will also bring real benefits to those partner organisations in local communities such as care homes and day centres. I wish all those involved every success.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added:

“The Creative Schools Partnership provides enhanced resources for creative learning projects in schools serving some of the most deprived communities in the north. I am delighted that one of the main aims of this programme is the promotion of positive mental health and well-being, which is a key theme for the Urban Villages Initiative, and particularly important at this time.

“The challenges thrown up by Covid-19 have made it a very difficult 10 months for our children and young people, and this programme will help students process the impact of the pandemic on their lives. It will also be a gateway which gives young people the opportunity to connect with their wider community, develop relationships and build solid foundations for the future.”

Chairperson of the Education Authority, Sharon O’Connor, said:

“The Education Authority is delighted to welcome the re-start of the Creative Schools Programme, at a time when young people and schools continue to face many challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Creative Arts play a pivotal role within education, enabling the young person to experience a sense of freedom, expression and enjoyment, all of which help to contribute to their mental health and well-being. The Creative Schools Programme has been recognised as a highly effective collaborative approach which harnesses the power of creativity to support learning and well-being. We look forward to seeing its continued positive impact in the lives of the young people who participate this year.”


Case Studies
Lisneal College

Lisneal College will create two drama productions with community groups in their local area.  The drama department will work alongside industry professional and build experience in conjunction with academic delivery.  There will be two groups of approximately 6-8 students each who will be partnered with a community group and the process will focus on the production of an intergenerational community based project looking at relationships between young people and older people within a community setting.  They will look at intergenerational issues, promoting empathy and therefore improving community cohesion. Each group will develop their own script and production and subsequently the two shows will be staged in both the community venue and the school on successive nights.  There will be a variety of roles for the young people to experience - from writing to acting to various aspects of productions including, lighting, sound, costume, stage management and production management. 

St Colm’s High School

St Colm’s project will focus on writing, music and drama.  Since Covid-19 they have notices a marked different in their young people.  Their project will focus on building confidence, self-esteem and communication skills.  The young people’s experiences with Covid-19 will form part of the stimulus for this year’s work. Through their creative writing, they will develop an anthology of the students’ work, creating a platform for their voices.  Part of this year’s work will include a virtual performance and a celebration of their work, which will be shared with the whole community.

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