By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent
Nearly 30 Munster schools are being funded to work together on creative projects covering everything from coding to gardening.
They are among 68 chosen nationally to receive support from the creative-clusters element of the Department of Education’s school excellence fund.
Involving groups of between two and five schools, each project will see school leaders collaborating on ideas, sometimes also working with colleges or businesses.
In Co Cork, for example, five primary schools in the Bandon, Kinsale, and Clonakilty areas are working together. They will be using the play-based principles of the Aistear early-childhood education curriculum to use the arts and creativity in a way that crosses different elements of the curriculum.
The pilot creative-clusters initiative is led by the Department of Education’s network of regional education centres, and schools involved in each project will be supported by a facilitator working in their themed area, who can help develop their plans.
A €2,500 fund for each project will also help to activate and animate the work for the schools.
Elsewhere in Cork, children at Scoil Iosagáin Infant primary school in Mallow and Gaelscoil Teaghlaigh Naofa in Ballyphehane will work together to design and develop a dream garden in their schools.
One of three clusters supported from Tralee Education Centre will see two Kerry second-level schools — St Michael’s College, Listowel and St Joseph’s, Ballybunion — using creative coding to develop Google classroom resources to improve teaching and learning.
The use of arts and creativity to include students with special needs and those whose home language is not English will be the focus of a project at Scoil Mhainchín, in Ennistymon, Co Clare, and Scoil Mhuire, in nearby Lahinch.
Construction, mosaics, recyclable materials and art are among the other areas around which projects in counties Clare, Cork, Kerry Limerick, and Waterford are based. A group of five Donegal schools will use drama to help children develop self-confidence and resilience, working with local actor, Maura Logue.
The initiative aims to deliver on the creative youth pillar of the Government’s Creative Ireland programme, which seeks to enable the creative potential of every child and young person.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said some of the successful approaches to teaching and learning adopted by the 22 cluster projects will be shared across the school sector to allow them to be rolled out elsewhere.