Funding, Partnerships

Funding announced for 11 schools to place creativity at the heart of learning

28th November, 2022

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative have today announced funding for the continuation of the Creative Schools Programme in 11 secondary schools.

Students Olivia Marcus and Dara Kerr from Mercy College holding a clapperboard and camera.
Pictured: Olivia Marcus and Dara Kerr from Mercy College

The pioneering cross-government programme targets schools located within Urban Village areas and encourages them to think outside of traditional learning approaches, by bringing professional artists into classrooms to build student confidence, make community connections and teach new skills.

Last year schools were invited to apply for up to £15,000 each to develop a bespoke project for their students, and today’s announcement will guarantee funding to support the programme throughout this academic year.

The schools allocated funding 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.

The 11 schools now have the opportunity to shape their own projects and have outlined their plans to work with artists on a range of creative skills including music production, journalism, photography, film-making, animation and scriptwriting.

Initially launched as a pilot scheme by the three partners in 2017, so far 1,000 pupils have benefitted from the programme, which places a focus on improving educational outcomes for children across all subjects by opening up new learning experiences which allow students’ individual talents to shine.

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, commented: “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, opening up creative career pathways.

“We are now entering the second year of this current phase of the programme and it has been wonderful to hear lots of feedback from senior teachers, and the pupils themselves, about the many benefits which participating in the Creative Schools Partnership has brought into their classrooms. Thanks to funding for Good Causes from the National Lottery, we are delighted to be working with the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative again this year to offer even more pupils the opportunity to take part in this very special programme.”

Chairperson of The Education Authority Barry Mulholland, said: “The Education Authority is delighted that these 11 schools have been given the opportunity to continue to engage with the Creative Schools programme for another year, and reap the many benefits it offers to support their educational attainment and their mental health and well-being.

“The Creative Arts play a pivotal role within education, enabling the young person to experience a sense of freedom, self-expression and enjoyment, all of which help to contribute to good mental health. 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.”


Mercy College
Students at Mercy College in North Belfast will work with artist Karen Kinghan to produce a narrative and documentary film reflecting on the school’s 60 year. The film will also reflect on the impact of COVID, on their school and their wider community, adding valuable insight and experience and developing good relations. The project will allow 22 students to develop film making skills, including their own scripts, music and visuals. The project will work across key curriculum subjects including Drama, Art, History and English and focus on building student resilience, confidence and self-esteem.