Education news

Schools to inject more creativity into the classroom

Year 10s Odhran McCart, Francine Faloon and Alliemarie Conway with teacher Gilah McCarroll, Marie O’Donoghue from the Education Authority and Jennifer McAlorum from Nerve Belfast

SCHOOLS are to inject more creativity into the classroom to improve educational outcomes for young people.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Education Authority (EA) and the Urban Villages Initiative are backing a new three-year programme.

The Creative Schools Partnership follows a successful pilot scheme rolled out last year in 10 post-primary schools serving communities supported by the Urban Villages Initiative.

It 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.

A total of 11 schools serving Urban Village areas have so far been awarded funding from the £300,000 scheme.

They include Belfast Boys' Model School, St Cecilia's College in Derry, and St Vincent's Centre in Belfast.

Each will work with artists on a range of creative projects including music production, journalism, photography, film making, animation, and ceramics.

The Arts Council is investing £150,000 from its National Lottery funds to support the scheme.

Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said the Arts Council was overwhelmed with the positive feedback it had from schools who took part the pilot.

"While each of the projects will be different, what they each have in common is that they will help the young people involved develop new skills, build confidence and self-belief, as well as supporting their learning and development in all aspects of school life," she said.

Linsey Farrell, programme director from Urban Villages, said it was evident from last year's programme that young people had learned new skills and improved their self-confidence through a wide range of exciting and creative projects.

"The programme has also had very good results in promoting positive mental health and well-being, which is a key issue for communities in Urban Village areas. Schools serving these places across Belfast and Derry play a key role in fostering positive community identities and we aim to share good practice and strengthen partnership working with local communities."

EA Chairwoman Sharon O'Connor said the Creative Schools Programme was making a valuable contribution to schools.

"It is placing high quality arts engagement and at the heart of young people's lives. It focuses on creating collaborative opportunities for schools, teachers, artists and communities," she said.

"The programme enables our young people to bring about real change in how they see and value themselves, as well as understanding how they can make a positive impact in their own community."

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