CCE’s work in the Republic of Ireland continues to develop as we support and work on key elements of Creative Youth – a plan to enable the creative potential of every child and young person, which was published in December 2017 as part of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022.
Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools
This programme aims to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives. It is an initiative that support schools to develop and begin to implement their own Creative School Plan. As Project Lead, CCE continues to support the Creative Schools initiative, which is led by the Arts Council of Ireland in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Working with the core team based in Dublin, CCE has developed and delivered training to schools and Creative Associates right across Ireland as the programme has continued to develop and expand. The current focus is on recruiting an additional 150 new schools across Ireland to join the 300 schools already in the programme.
In late 2019 a week-long national celebration of Creative Schools took place. Children and young people took over arts and culture spaces across Ireland to share their creative achievements.
As part of the Schools Excellence Fund the purpose of Creative Clusters is to demonstrate how the arts and creativity can support clusters of schools to work together to address common learning challenges. It is an initiative of the Department of Education and Skills, led by and in partnership with the 21 full-time Teacher Education Centres. 150 schools are currently involved in the initiative and new schools will be recruited soon.
CCE’s Director of Programmes, Di Fisher-Naylor, trained representatives from the 77 new schools who joined the programme in the Autumn term of 2019 alongside their Creative Cluster Facilitators. A core element of the training this year has been the focus on supporting participating schools to include the voice of children and young people in all stages of the process.
Junior Cycle for Teachers
Another significant development in Ireland has been CCE’s work with the Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) which is a dedicated continuing professional development (CPD) support service of the Department of Education and Skills. JCT’s aim is to support schools in their implementation of the new Framework for Junior Cycle (2015) through the provision of appropriate high quality CPD for school leaders and teachers, and the provision of effective teaching and learning resources. CCE, together with staff from the Creative Schools Team, and JCT led on the design and delivery of a two day training event for all the JCT full time staff just before Christmas 2019. Over 120 staff, who are teachers and school leaders seconded to JCT from school across Ireland, took part. The training covered three main topics:
What is the purpose of school?
What is learning?
What is creativity?
Feedback from the JCT participants was overwhelmingly positive, with many participants commenting on how grateful they were for the quality of the learning it generated. Discussions are underway for CCE to continue their work with JCT with the aim of developing a whole-school 1 day intervention on creativity which would be available to all 700 Junior Cycle schools across Ireland.
Elsewhere in Ireland
CCE has continued to work with the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills as they work to develop their long-term strategy and consider the place of creativity within it. CCE arranged for a workshop for senior inspectors on creativity which was led by Bill Lucas of the Centre for Real World Learning and took place in Dublin in September 2019.
CCE also supported the design and delivery of the National Educational Psychology Service’s (NEPS) annual conference which took place in Athlone in November. Paul Collard delivered a keynote address and a workshop. CCE Associate Paul Gorman also lead a creative learning workshop. Laura Keogh and Ross Curran from the Creative Schools team presented the work of the programme and their presentation was warmly received. A growing focus of NEPS work is on preventative approaches with children and young people and as part of that they are examining the impact of classroom pedagogies on the wellbeing of pupils. The conference delegation was therefore greatly interested in the pedagogical approaches that CCE proposed and its embodiment in the work of the Creative Schools programme which was clearly having a major impact on the well-being of pupils in the schools in which the programme operated.