£300k Scheme To Transform Teaching Strategies

A new programme is set to inject more creativity into classrooms in a bid to improve educational outcomes for students.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is backing the strategy along with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, following a successful pilot scheme in 10 post-primary schools last year.

The Creative Schools Partnership programme 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, improved results in other school subjects, increased confidence and self-motivation, and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

Eleven schools serving Urban Village areas have so far been awarded funding from the £300,000 scheme to take part in the first phase of the new programme. They are: Belfast Boys' Model School, St Joseph's Boy's School, Blessed Trinity College, Ashfield Girls' High School, St Cecilia's College, St Genevieve's High School, Mercy College Belfast, St Vincent's Centre, Belfast Model School for Girls, Malone Integrated College, and St Colm's High School.

The schools will be working with artists on a range of creative projects including music production, journalism, photography, film making, animation, and ceramics.
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The Arts Council is investing £150,000 from its National Lottery funds to support the scheme. Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: "We were overwhelmed with the positive feedback we had from the schools who took part in last year's pilot programme and are delighted to be working with the Education Authority and the Urban Villages Initiative once again to create a new three year programme which will benefit many more children. 

"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."

Linsey Farrell, Programme Director at Urban Villages Initiative, added: "It is evident from last year's programme that young people have 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-Londonderry play a key role in fostering positive community identities and we aim to share good practice and strengthen partnership working with local communities."

Education Authority Chairperson Sharon O'Connor commented: "The Creative Schools Programme is making a valuable contribution to our 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. 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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