Landmark DCU report on Creative Schools programme published
Creative Schools was introduced in a selection of Irish primary and post-primary schools in 2018. The report by Dr Regina Murphy and Dr Eemer Eivers of the Institute of Education at 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. Notably, over 35% of all Special Schools across the country and nearly 30% of all DEIS schools have participated in the programme.
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. Within each school, children and young people have engaged in dialogue about creativity, have been listened to, taken seriously and had their ideas acted upon.
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.
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:
“We are delighted to welcome this report by Dr. Murphy and Dr. Eivers. Since its establishment in 2018, the Arts Council has led out on Creative Schools and this report captures the impacts we have seen in so many schools during that time. 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. One of the great joys of the programme is watching the Creative Schools journey of each school or Youthreach centre unfold in a unique way. The transformations that the report highlights demonstrates how we in the Arts Council are delivering on our commitment to plan and provide for children and young people in Ireland.”
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. I will continue to support embedding creativity into children and young people’s lives, including their education.”
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. The recommendations of this report will greatly contribute to the further development of the current plan for the programme, Creative Schools and Creative Youth 2023-2027.”
The full report can be read by clicking this link.