Funding, Partnerships

Boys’ Model Students uncover the untold stories of North Belfast

22nd March, 2023

A group of students from Belfast Boys’ Model School in North Belfast have been delving deep into the stories, past and present, of their local community as part of a special literacy project designed to build confidence and enhance writing skills.

Journalist Mark Devenport with Finlay Foster, year 10 Belfast Boys' Model School and Marie O’Donoghue, Creative Schools Partnership Programme Manager, Education Authority. The student is a holding a laptop that displays the magazine he has created.
Journalist Mark Devenport is pictured with Finlay Foster, year 10 Belfast Boys' Model School and Marie O’Donoghue, Creative Schools Partnership Programme Manager, Education Authority.

The year 10 boys have been training as young reporters, working under the guidance of experienced journalist Mark Devenport and Nerve Belfast to create a magazine, uncovering the hidden history of the area and its people.

The project is part of the Creative Schools Partnership Programme – a pioneering cross-government programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through National Lottery funding, the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative. Boys’ Model is one of eleven schools currently engaged in the programme and was awarded funding of £15,000 last year to develop a two year project.

All of the schools awarded funding are located in Urban Village areas and have been given the opportunity to develop their own bespoke creative projects which bring professional artists into the classroom to teach new skills, support educational learning and strengthen community connections.

As part of the project the boys have been learning interview techniques, how to write and construct a story and how to design and lay them out on page. Once completed, the magazine will be distributed within the community. They have also been working on the designs for a new colourful wall mural, which will be displayed locally.

Sarah Lawrence, Education Manager, The Nerve Centre, Belfast, explained:

“The boys have been working with the Nerve Centre to design and layout their articles using professional software. We have explored different approaches to magazine design, and have encouraged the pupils to think critically about how their choice of images/photographs, colours, typography and other design elements can be used to enhance their individual articles. They have also had experience of creating their own digital artwork that has complimented the graffiti and mural artwork they have been creating as part of the project. Additionally, the boys have had opportunity to hear about wealth of opportunities in the creative industries in Northern Ireland and how important the knowledge and skills they are learning throughout this project are for their future pathways.”

Speaking about the success of the project Conor McManus, Senior Teacher, Belfast Boys’ Model School, commented:

“As well as learning about their area and the unsung heroes that inhabit it, the boys have grown in confidence, as they develop their creative skills and embrace new ways of learning – making connections between the work they do in school and the world around them.”

Director of Urban Villages Joan O’Hara praised the enthusiasm of everyone involved in the project, commenting:

“The Urban Villages Initiative, working together with the Arts Council and Education Authority, is delighted to be able to support this innovative project through the Creative Schools Partnership Programme. The work the students are involved in will help them develop a wide range of skills through creative learning. This will encourage them to share their voices within school and in their local community. It will give them new life experiences, helping them generate new thinking, new viewpoints and new ideas which will be at the heart of building good relations.”

The eleven schools taking part in the Creative Schools Partnership Programme are Lisneal College, Belfast Boys’ Model School, St Joseph’s Boy’s School, Blessed Trinity College, Ashfield Girls’ High School, St Cecilia’s College, Mercy College Belfast, St Vincent’s Centre, Belfast Model School for Girls, Malone Integrated College, and St Colm’s High School.