Creative Clusters is a pilot initiative of the Department of Education and Skills which is funded through the Schools Excellence Fund as part of the Creative Ireland Programme. Over 75 schools throughout Ireland participated in the project, including 11 schools from Co Clare. The purpose of the initiative is to demonstrate how creative practices can support clusters of schools to work together to address common learning challenges. It aims to promote new ways of working and collaboration between schools and to provide an opportunity for schools to experiment, innovate and collaborate on the design, implementation and evaluation of a creative learning project.
The eleven primary schools from Clare presented their projects at Cluster Demonstration Days in early June, all demonstrating ingenuity, imagination, creativity, collaboration and resourcefulness.
Pupils from Coore NS, Kilkee NS, Knockerra NS, Moyasta NS and Shragh NS met in Knockerra Hall to demonstrate their work on the topic of ‘The Science of Toys’. The groups had considered modern toys, discussed their merits and disadvantages and then set about designing and making their own toys. The results involved the use of levers, magnetics, hydraulics, investigations and skill. The large attendance wondered from display to display as pupils enthusiastically encouraged them to try out their toys. Dr Maeve Liston from Mary Immaculate College of Education spoke warmly of her involvement with the schools and acknowledged that the projects were entirely pupil led and surpassed all expectations of those involved with the project. Some funding for this project was also provided by the Irish American Partnership.
Pupils from Doora NS, Furglan NS, Kilnamona NS and Tubber NS worked on the theme of ‘Connections’. Families and friends gathered in Clare Education Centre to appreciate the research and investigations carried out and the practical demonstrations of their learning. The variety of projects demonstrated included learning sign language, designing load-bearing bridges, interactive use of circuits and replicating lighthouse signals. The curiosity of pupils in learning from each other was the highlight of the evening as pupils explained, demonstrated, offered opinions, outlined the challenges addressed and solutions discovered.
“We are the Animals” brought together Mol an Óige CNS(Ennistymon) and Scoil Mhuire(Lahinch) to work with drama facilitator Nell Smyth. Over several weeks, pupils explored the concept of diversity through movement, drama games, and improvisation. Each child picked a card with the image of a creature and they then depicted the characteristics of the creature through making clay models and painting the animal on large wooden shields. The final spectacle which was held on the beach in Lahinch involved group chants, movements, drama and games as the children from the senior classes in both schools depicted imagery of warriors fighting against the threat to the creatures of our planet. 52 children from both schools contributed to a visually strong finale full of fun, power and vitality.
At all of the demonstration events, the interactions among children from different schools were of excitement, enjoyment and participation as they explained their work to each other, demonstrated their learning, appreciated the efforts of others, and sought explanations for how other groups had gone about their projects. Parents and teachers alike complimented pupils highly on their efforts and wondered how pupils had achieved so much, and in such an engaging and participative way.
Speaking about the demonstrations, Ray McInerney, Director of Clare Education Centre, complimented the work of the Cluster Coordinators Michael Browne and Ana Colomber for their enthusiasm and expertise in guiding the teachers and pupils throughout their engagement with the Creative Clusters Project. The success of the project has led to its continuation for another year allowing the opportunity for another cluster of Clare schools to explore the benefits of clustering and providing collaborative learning opportunities for their pupils.
CLICK HERE for photos from Doora NS, Furglan NS, Kilnamona NS and Tubber NS Cluster
CLICK HERE for photos from Mol an Óige CNS (Ennistymon) and Scoil Mhuire (Lahinch) Cluster
CLICK HERE for photos from Coore NS, Kilkee NS, Knockerra NS, Moyasta NS and Shragh NS Cluster
Video from Mol an Óige CNS (Ennistymon) and Scoil Mhuire (Lahinch) Cluster Day, 5th June 2019 at Lahinch Beach