The Arts Council of Ireland
The Arts Council has warmly welcomed the publication of a landmark report which shows the impact, reach and influence of the Creative Schools Programme. Creative Schools is led by the Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Education, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Creative Ireland.
The report by Dr Regina Murphy and Dr Eemer Eivers (Dublin City University) presents an evaluation of the first four years (2018-2022) of the initiative and provides information on the experiences of children and young people, teachers, educators, arts practitioners and artists. To date 971 schools, nearly a quarter of all schools in the country [~24%], have participated in the programme.
Participants in schools and centres, including children, students, teachers, principals, Creative Schools Coordinators and their supporting Creative Associates have been overwhelmingly positive in their overall attitudes towards the programme and in their reports of experience. 99% of participating schools said they would recommend the programme to other schools.
Schools from every county in Ireland have participated in the programme and all school types including 27 Youthreach Centres, have been well represented. The Creative Schools programme has successfully prioritised participation by DEIS Schools, small rural schools, Special Schools, Irish Language medium schools and Youthreach centres in response to interim findings from this report.
In many instances, changes to how students perceive their place in the school as well as improvements to the physical face of the school (e.g. an art installation or a student co-designed garden), can be directly attributed to the programme. The report also highlights that the Creative Schools initiative has been successful in promoting and infusing creativity in schools and drawing attention to the increasing importance of creativity in education.
Creative Schools has opened up a very broad range of experiences for students and pupils and each participating school has had a unique journey. The wide variety of activities undertaken by schools during their engagement in Creative Schools have included circus, architecture, heritage, music, comedy, literature, coding, traditional arts, science, horticulture, film, design, craft, drama, visual arts and dance.
The researchers Dr. Murphy and Dr. Eivers conclude:
“The overall Creative Schools initiative has transformed a very broad range of Irish schools in the Irish educational landscape more than any other initiative heretofore in placing learners in every county at the heart of the process, valuing and validating their perspectives and experiences, collaborating meaningfully with them while shifting the focus of arts education in particular from child-centred to child-led participatory practice.”
Maureen Kennelly, Arts Council Director said of the report:
“…By placing young people at the heart of decision making, we have been able to support schools to fully embrace the creative possibilities within their community and their locality…”
Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said:
“Creative Schools, a key programme under the Creative Youth Plan, has gone from strength to strength since 2018, particularly in its reach to schools and those under the DEIS programme, in alternative settings and special schools. This report highlights positive impacts that Creative Schools has had on students and their school communities…”
Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD added:
“I welcome DCU’s Creative Schools report which highlights the success of the programme in putting the arts and creativity at the centre of education. It has given students the opportunity to develop creative projects on their own school grounds, to take part in workshops and performances and to visit galleries, theatres, heritage sites, cinemas, museums, libraries and local arts centres…”
Two Sixth Year students from Mungret Community College, Limerick who participated in the Creative Schools programme also gave their views about their experience.
Aaroh Jain: “I think Creative Schools had a profound impact on me, because it was a chance to exercise autonomy in our school, a platform to see if we could bring our own ideas to life.”
Eve Adedirann: “Creative Schools is a great way to explore interests you may have thought you never had.”
The full report is available to read online from the DCU DORAS website: https://doras.dcu.ie/29450/