By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
Eleven schools in Northern Ireland are to receive funding which allows them to take part in a pioneering education programme bringing artists into the classroom.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative have announced funding for the continuation of the Creative Schools programme.
The 11 schools now have the opportunity to shape their own projects and work with artists on a range of creative skills, including music production, journalism, photography, film-making, animation and scriptwriting.
The cross-government programme targets schools in the Executive Office’s Urban Village initiative in Belfast and Derry and encourages them to think outside of traditional learning approaches, by bringing professional artists into schools to teach new skills.
Last year schools were invited to apply for up to £15,000 (€17,000) each to develop a bespoke project.
The schools allocated funding are Lisneal College, Belfast Boys’ Model School, St Joseph’s Boys’ 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.
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 60th year.
The film will also reflect on the impact of Covid on their school and wider community and will allow 22 students to develop film-making skills, including their own scripts, music and visuals.
Their project will work across key curriculum subjects including drama, art, history and English.
Initially launched as a pilot scheme by the three partners in 2017, so far 1,000 pupils have benefitted from the Creative Schools programme.
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, said: “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.”
Education Authority chairman Barry Mulholland said: “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.”