Dr Pat Ryan storyteller with P2 children from Ballysally PS, Coleraine, and P2 children visiting from St Colum's PS Portstewart
Primary schools within Coleraine Borough’s ‘triangle’ gathered at Ballysally Primary School last week to celebrate the first academic year of a creative shared education programme.
Through the two-year Creative Change Project, funded by the International Fund for Ireland and delivered by the University of Ulster, 10 local schools have paired-up to explore how storytelling and arts-based learning can enhance cross-community relations between schools and within neighbourhoods.
In the last year, the project’s creative specialists have worked with teachers, parents, carers and classroom assistants to provide skills and resources that support focused storytelling, drama, art and music activities. These are designed to promote ease with difference and help enhance children’s personal and academic development and create new friendships between partnering schools.
Billy Gamble, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland said:
“The Creative Change Project is about bringing schools and communities together. The creative arts and storytelling have an important role within the classroom and can give teachers, classroom assistants and parents confidence to discuss big questions and guide children towards positive understandings of our society.
“This project is a good example of the sustainable shared education programmes that the Fund is supporting. It is not just reaching current teachers, but will leave a legacy for new trainee teachers who can continue to deliver the innovative learning methods long after the project closes.”
Dr Derick Wilson, Creative Change Project Manager said:
“This project supports teachers’ delivery on some of the more difficult areas of the Personal Development and Mutual Understanding curriculum. It encourages parents to be partners in their children's education, playing their part in creating a more open, shared society where their children will have more opportunity, safety and security together. It offers parents an opportunity to take part in storytelling and music workshops held within schools and at the University of Ulster.
Professor Richard Barnett, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster said:
“The ability of ‘Creative Change’ to deliver a consistent approach from classrooms to living rooms is one of its biggest strengths. It empowers teachers, classroom assistants and parents to engage with themes of diversity, culture and trust building. Programmes like ‘Creative Change’ are essential to support our generation, and those following, move forward together, building strong relationships based on mutual understanding.” I congratulate all the pupils, teachers and parents who have enthusiastically embraced this exciting initiative and thank the International Fund for Ireland for their support.
The Fund’s Sharing in Education Programme (SiEP) seeks to break down barriers from Northern Ireland’s historic conflict by providing a range of opportunities for young people to learn and work together. To date over £16m has been invested in SiEP which was launched in 2008.
The Creative Change Project has established five partnerships between primary schools in the Triangle area of Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart. They are:
Mill Strand Integrated Primary and Harpur’s Hill Primary
Millburn Primary and St Malachy’s Primary
St Patrick’s Primary and Carnalridge Primary
St John’s Primary and Killowen Primary
St Colum’s Primary and Ballysally Primary
To date 280 children and almost 400 parents have been involved in the project along with 11 teachers, 13 classroom assistants, 10 principals and 74 PGCE students. The Creative Change Project will run until December 2013.
About the International Fund for Ireland
The International Fund for Ireland is an independent, international organisation established by the Irish and British Governments in 1986. The Fund’s main objectives are to promote economic and social advance and encourage contact, dialogue and reconciliation between Unionists and Nationalists throughout Ireland.
Contributors to the Fund are the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Since its inception, the Fund has committed more than £695m/€869m to a wide variety of projects in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties. Developing and funding initiatives that tackle segregation and promote integration to build a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties is a key priority for the Fund.
About the Sharing in Education Programme:
Funded by the International Fund for Ireland and managed by the Department of Education, the Sharing in Education Programme seeks to break down the barriers from our historic conflict by providing a range of opportunities for young people to learn and work together. By supporting a variety of strategic projects that enable young people to participate in shared educational experiences, the Programme helps to facilitate reconciliation for a shared future.