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68 schools to use art and creativity to address shared challenges and to achieve better learning outcomes
The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., yesterday announced that 68 schools have been selected to participate in a network of Creative Clusters as part of the Schools Excellence Fund and the Creative Ireland Programme.
The Schools Excellence Fund is an initiative in the Action Plan for Education, the government’s plan to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.It sets out to encourage and recognize excellence and innovation in our schools. This initiative will help deliver on the Creative Youth pillar of Creative Ireland, which sets out a commitment that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, arts and coding by 2022.
The benefit of the Creative Cluster approach is that it gives school leaders on the ground the support to collaborate on ideas based on their local experience and unique perspective. It allows them to work together, in some cases with higher education institutions and enterprise, and experiment to find creative solutions to complex problems. Successful approaches can then be shared across the school sector.
The Minister has set the ambition to make Ireland’s Education and Training service the best in Europe by 2026. This transformative approach to supporting local innovation will be key to realizing this vision.
Speaking at the announcement, Minister Bruton said, “The Schools Excellence Fund provides new and exciting opportunities for schools. Never before have schools been funded to work together on innovative solutions and given the freedom to experiment with new projects to see what works and what doesn’t. I am committed to building on this initiative and expanding on this approach during my time as Minister.
“Creative Clusters is one of a range of activities forming part of the Government’s Creative Ireland Programme. Creativity and flexibility are key skills for our children and young people to develop in a modern society. This new initiative underlines my commitment to developing and fostering these skills in our children and young people.”
Participating schools will receive supports by having access to a facilitator – a specialist working in the cluster’s chosen area/theme, who will assist participating schools in developing their plans. Clusters will also receive €2,500 to help activate and animate their plans.
Creative Cluster’s plans are varied in their aims and ambitions, with one Donegal cluster project titled ‘Life – the Drama of it’. The schools are developing a plan based on the idea that drama can enable children develop resilience and self-confidence. The coming together of five schools in this cluster will give the children an opportunity through drama to develop key skills and learn about relationships while underpinning their own wellbeing. The initiative will allow the schools to work with local actor Maura Logue who will facilitate the project between the five schools.
In Clare, a group of five schools are working on a project titled ‘Science, Engineering and Creativity’. These schools will collaboratively develop and enhance work under the STEAM umbrella. Pupils will be tasked with using recyclable materials to investigate science problems, requiring them to consult, problem solve, communicate, design, test and present their ideas.
‘Art as a form of Communication’ is the theme of a five primary school cluster in County Kerry. The cluster will use the arts in education to discover the personal and inventive ideas of the children. This will play a major part in the development of the full range of intelligences, visual, auditory/musical, linguistic and kinaesthetic. By incorporating arts education into lessons, all the children will have the opportunity to be taught through the different learning styles.
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan T.D., welcomed the announcement. “This initiative underlines the importance of fostering creativity by integrating the arts and creativity into education, and the impact this can have on other areas of the mainstream curriculum including science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Having schools engage in collaborative, shared learning around creativity is an exciting step for the Creative Ireland Programme. I am certain that these new Creative Clusters as part of the Schools Excellence Fund will have a positive impact on our children and young people in their learning experiences in schools.”
Other Cluster themes include: