Young at Art, Northern Ireland’s leading arts provider for children and young people has been announced as the only Northern Ireland recipient of funding from the latest round of Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s (PHF) Teacher Development Fund.

The funding will be used to deliver ‘Creative Teacher, a two-year teacher development programme for primary schools and will mentor up to 20 teachers from six schools across Belfast to support their pupils in developing critical thinking skills through visual arts and drama.

‘Creative Teacher’ has grown out of Young at Art’s ‘Creative Child’ programme and will align with ‘The World Around Us’, part of the Key Stage 1 & 2 curriculum. Participating schools have been part of Young at Art’s Creative Child programme in previous years, meaning they already enjoy strong positive relationships with Young at Art and their artists. Supporting the home-school interface is at the core of Young of Art’s engagement programmes with these schools, a guiding principle which will continue through ‘Creative Teacher’.

Eibhlin de Barra, Director at Young at Art welcomed the award, saying;

“As well as being the first time we’ve been funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, this will be the first time we have explicitly sought to directly influence teachers’ ways of working, placing the focus on the creative process, rather than the outputs, an approach which has a proven positive impact on the confidence and self-esteem of pupils.  There’s also strong evidence that this approach has a ripple effect on the families of pupils, as they learn to play with siblings and interact differently with parents and guardians. 

“As one of only six organisations in the UK to be funded, we’re delighted that PHF could see the very real potential of our Teacher Development Fund proposal and are really looking forward to rolling it out in participating schools from September.”

PHF’s Teacher Development Fund aims to support teachers and school leaders to develop the necessary skills, knowledge, confidence and experience to deliver effective arts-based teaching and learning opportunities in the primary classroom and to embed learning through the arts in the curriculum.

Catherine Sutton, Head of Programme - Education, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said:

“PHF is delighted to support Young at Arts’ Creative Teacher programme. We were impressed by Young at Art’s drama and visual arts approaches to enhancing pupils’ critical thinking skills and their commitment to working in schools to support children and young people experiencing significant disadvantage. The Teacher Development Fund presents an opportunity for Young at Art to focus on developing the skills, knowledge and confidence of teachers so that they can embed arts-based strategies in their teaching and across the curriculum”

 Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagain in North Belfast is one of the seven primary schools due to participate in ‘Creative Teacher’.  Principal Máire Uí Éigeartaigh said;

 “Our pupils really enjoyed taking part in the creative child project - it gave them a wonderful opportunity to explore their creative side through art, drama and performance and brought a whole new dimension to this area of the curriculum. 

 “We are looking forward to the creative teacher project which will give teachers an enriching professional learning opportunity in a much neglected but extremely important area of self-expression which complements all areas of the curriculum.”