School arts scheme will unleash students' creativity, says minister
Arts and creativity are at the heart of a new initiative for schools being launched today.
Applications for the Government's Creative Schools pilot programme are being invited from the primary and post-primary sector, as well as Youthreach centres.
The programme starts in September and is aimed at stimulating children's imaginations to be inventive and to harness their curiosity.
Run in partnership with the Arts Council, it is happening under the umbrella of the Government's Creative Ireland initiative, a five-year project to drive cultural activity across society.
Up to 150 schools will be selected to participate in the pilot and given funding and expertise to enable them to explore the potential impact of the arts and creativity on school life.
Schools and their pupils will work with artists, creative practitioners and educators to develop their own unique programme of arts and creative work, connecting them to the full range of local and regional cultural resources and opportunities.
In addition, participating schools will receive a further range of supports, including a one-off grant of €2,000 and training for teachers.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said developing the creativity of children and young people enabled them to achieve their full potential and grow as well-rounded individuals.
"The arts challenge a person to think differently and be inventive in finding solutions to problems," he said
"That is why participation in the arts is ideal for equipping young people with the ability to be inventive, critical and adaptable."
The minister said all Department of Education and Skills primary and post-primary schools and Youthreach centres were eligible to apply.
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said every school was different, adding: "I'm really looking forward to seeing how each of the 150 schools will design their own, unique programme".
Arts Council director Orlaith McBride said that for creativity to thrive, "we need not only to recognise the importance of the arts but also to build infrastructures, programmes and ways of working that place the arts at the core of school life".
She encouraged parents to bring the initiative to the attention of their children's school, and encouraged teachers or principals to register.
"We'd like to make sure that a range of schools participate in the pilot phase - in different parts of the country, rural and urban, Deis schools, special schools and Youthreach centres."
She stressed the pilot would include schools that are at different stages in their own journey with the arts and creativity.
"The most important thing is for schools to confirm their interest in developing the arts and creativity, to show that the school leadership is on board, and that children and young people will be facilitated to have a central role in planning for creativity in their school," she said.
Applications will open next week, on February 20, and participating schools will be announced in May.