15 April, 2021 – Minister Foley invites applications from schools for funding to work together on Creative Projects

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today invited primary and post-primary schools across Ireland to apply for Creative Clusters, an initiative taking place as part of Creative Ireland and under the Schools Excellence Fund. The Department of Education budget for Creative Clusters in 2021 is €595,000.

Under this scheme to support schools to build capacity in creativity, schools in each cluster will enjoy access to a specialist facilitator, artist or creative expertise in whatever their chosen area of interest or theme might be. These resources will help the schools to build a project of learning and activities tailor-made for their students. As part of this funding allocation, a cluster may receive up to €15,000 funding to help bring their plans and ideas to fruition in 2021-2023.

Minister Foley said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for schools to work together on a project of their choice. Schools are given complete freedom to design and develop their own project, with support from a local facilitator and their local Education Centre.

“I hope that this exciting initiative will help schools to further enhance creativity in their classrooms. It is important that our children are allowed to express themselves and learn to adapt and collaborate. Creative Clusters gives students of all ages the opportunity to develop these essential skills, enjoy and explore artistic and creative expression.”

To date, the Creative Clusters initiative has seen schools around the country work together to develop creative projects and collaborate on new ideas based on their local experience and unique perspective:

In Kerry, Holy Cross Mercy Primary School, Kilgobnet NS, Scoil Bhríde Loreto NS and St Brigid's Secondary School are focusing on music collaboration and inclusivity in partnership with the Education Centre Tralee. This project is based on communication and collaboration and involves composing, performing and a focus on music and live instruments such as the ukulele.  Students will learn the process of music recording by working with studio experts via Zoom to equalise, mix and level tracks to produce CDs. Each school in the cluster will produce a CD.

In Dublin, St Marnock’s National School Portmarnock, St Helen’s Senior School Malahide and Portmarnock Educate Together National school came together as a creative cluster to work on an animation, digital storytelling and coding through a creative collaboration in association with Drumcondra Education Centre. Through sharing of expertise among the various participating schools, through mentoring among the schools in areas of experience and expertise, continuous professional development opportunities have been exchanged and explored.

To-date, all schools undertook a process of self-investigation and achieved the Digital Schools of Distinction Award offered through Dublin West Education Centre. The focus and challenge of this cluster is to enable and encourage creativity through digital literacies. In a time of Covid-19 protocols, the digital journey continued with work on creative areas of coding, technologies in animation and storytelling using a green screen.

A combination of two primary and two post-primary schools in counties Carlow with Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach agus Gaelscoil Eoghain Uí Thuairisc and Kilkenny with Coláiste Pobail Osraí  agus Gaelscoil Osraí formed a creative cluster and worked collaboratively, to explore the Arts, heritage and Irish culture. Their students worked with an Irish language poet and the renowned Kilkenny-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon to develop a shared body of work, through the medium of Irish with illustrations for public display in the community. Together, the four schools aim to promote the use of the Irish language; to reflect the love the four school communities have for the Irish language, and to support its promotion through the medium of the Arts.

The Schools Excellence Fund of the Department of Education sets out to encourage and recognise 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. 

Further information will be available from the Department’s website at https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Curriculum-and-Syllabus/creative-youth.html

The application process will open on 15 April 2021 until 14 May 2021.

Notes for Editors

Creative Clusters– Schools Excellence Fund

Creative Clusters is a pilot initiative of the Department of Education, led by and in partnership with the Education Support Centres Ireland (ESCI). Creative Clusters provide schools with access to creative people, skills and resources that will support them to draw on their own skills and experiences and those within their wider communities. Creative Clusters is an initiative under 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.

The Creative Ireland Programme

The Creative Ireland Programme is a five-year all-of-government, culture-based initiative that emphasises the importance of human creativity for individual, community and national wellbeing.  It is led by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.  The programme is grounded in the belief that every person has creative capacities, the development of which contributes to their personal wellbeing as well as to the general wellbeing of our communities. 

The Programme consists of five pillars:

  1. Our Young People
  2. Our Communities
  3. Our Cultural and Creative Infrastructure
  4. Our Creative Industries
  5. Our Global Reputation

Creative Youth – the plan for Pillar 1

In December 2017, Creative Youth – a Plan to Enable the Creativity of Every Child and Young Person was launched. The ultimate aim is to deliver the Government’s commitment to ensuring that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, arts and coding.  The Creative Youth plan sets out a range of initiatives which will be piloted and implemented in the coming years, including Local Creative Youth Partnerships. The Department of Education, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the Department of Equality, Children, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Arts Council are key partners in delivering Creative Youth.

Schools Excellence Fund

The School Excellence Fund is an initiative in the Programme for Government to encourage and recognise excellence and innovation in our schools. The Schools Excellence Fund is operating in a range of areas. These are:

SEF – Creative

SEF – DEIS

SEF – Digital

SEF – Gaeltacht

SEF – STEM

SEF – Step Up