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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training
  2. Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields
  3. Providing quality access to creative environments

Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training

The Arts Council’s ten-year strategy Making Great Art Work (2016-2025) sets out the Council’s objective to advocate for the centrality of the arts in formal education at all levels and for the provision of quality vocational training in the arts.


Arts in Education Charter


The Department of Education and Skills and the (former) Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht made a joint commitment to promote and integrate the arts in education, with the 2013 launch of the Arts in Education Charter. This agreement placed new responsibilities on Government Departments, agencies, cultural institutions and arts organisations to provide and promote arts education to children and young people both in formal and non-formal education. It was implemented by a Charter Implementation Group. The Arts in Education Charter aims to embed artistic processes in education. An annual National Arts in Education Portal Day takes place.


The Charter drew on the Report of the Special Committee on the Arts and Education, Points of Alignment. The Arts Council’s work to develop and lead out on Creative Schools, in partnership with the relevant government departments, stems from the Arts in Education Charter, and in particular the Charter’s commitment regarding the promotion of Arts Rich Schools.


The Arts Council’s Making Great Art Work (2016-2025) strategy states that it will work with the Departments of Arts and of Education to achieve full implementation of the Arts in Education Charter.


Subjects at State Examination


Through the Leaving Certificate (applied), a state examination at the end of senior cycle, creativity is addressed through the optional subjects: Music; and Art. Culture is studied in the leaving certificate through the mandatory subject English and the optional subjects: Geography; Arabic; Classical Studies; French; Irish (Gaeilge); German; Hebrew Studies; History; Italian; Japanese; Latin; Russian; Spanish; Antient Greek; and Other Language.


In the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, a state examination for the vocational senior cycle, Culture is studied in the compulsory subjects of English and Communication; Irish; and a Modern Foreign Language or Sign Language for participants from the deaf community. Creativity is addressed through the compulsory subject Arts Education (Dance, Drama, Music, Visual Arts) and the optional subjects Graphics and Construction Studies; Craft and Design; Hair and Beauty.


Creative Engagement


The Creative Engagement programme is an initiative created and managed by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals. The scheme entails a partnership approach to the promotion and development of the arts in second-level schools, based upon positive interaction between artist, teacher and learner. The funding goes directly to provide arts services and materials to participating schools. It has been jointly funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and the Department of Education and Skills since 2005. More than 100 schools took part in 2019.


Artist in Schools Schemes


Artists in Schools Schemes, ran by local authorities, facilitate a professional artist to make a series of visits to a school in their county, to work with students on a specific project. Projects can range across artforms.


Writers in Schools Scheme


The Writers in Schools Scheme is run by Poetry Ireland and funded by the Arts Council. The Scheme part-funds visits by writers and storytellers to primary and post primary schools throughout the Republic of Ireland. These are over 250 writers and storytellers for schools in the Writers in Schools Web-Director of Writers.


The Children's Laureate


Laureate na nÓg (The Children's Laureate) participates in selected events and activities around Ireland during their term. The laureate is chosen for their internationally recognised, high-quality children’s writing or illustration and the positive impact they have had on readers, as well as other writers and illustrators. The initiative aims to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative lives. It is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth,  Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland.


Design and Crafts Council of Ireland’s Panel


The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland has put together a panel of craftspeople for school programmes, talks, residences and/or practical workshops. The Council is funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment via Enterprise Ireland.


Encountering the Arts Ireland Limited


Encountering the Arts Ireland Limited is an alliance of organisations and individuals whose main objective is the development, promotion and practice of the arts and education in Ireland particularly in the context of arts and education for children and young people. It was established as a response from the arts and education sectors to the Interdepartmental Committee’s findings in Points of Alignment (2008) and the Arts In Education Charter (2013), which places new responsibilities on government departments, agencies cultural institutions and arts organisations in terms of providing education to children and young people. Members are composed of Statutory Bodies, Organisations, Agencies, Networks, Communities, Institutions and any individual, who expresses interest in and a commitment to the development, promotion and practice of arts and education in Ireland.


Youth Arts Advocacy Programme


National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has developed a Youth Arts Advocacy Programme for young people and their leaders. The Training Programme’s objective is to embed experience and expertise in local organisations, supporting them to raise the profile of arts activities and undertake actions of their own. An additional objective was to develop relationships which allow the programme meaningfully engage with young people and inform aspects of our work. The training has included several expert inputs on how decisions in Ireland are made, communications and working with the media, working with elected representatives and using your voice to promote your message.


Irish Youth Music Awards


The Irish Youth Music Awards is an all island youth music educational programme for young people aimed at supporting, developing and empowering future young musicians and creatives across the island of Ireland. It provides young people with the opportunity to learn new skills like recording, social media and public relations as well as working collectively and getting the opportunity to attend industry master classes at its annual National Day. The programme is run by National Youth Council of Ireland and has strategic partnerships which include a national media partnership with RTÉ 2FM, and industry partnerships with IMRO and BIMM Institute Dublin who we have developed a bursary with to support the progression of young people from the IYMAs programme to third level education opportunities.


The programme is launched annually in youth clubs and projects across Ireland, as well as partner organisations in Northern Ireland. Each region holds a local live selection event and chooses an act and original song to represent their region at the National Day in Croke Park. The remaining performers form a team/ mini music industry, and learn new skills such as recording, photography, social media and public relations. A songwriter and national recipient are selected at the National Day. The national recipient region receives professional recording, mastering and the launch of an album, which includes all the team members from the winning region.

Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields 

Artists~Schools guidelines


The Artists~Schools Guidelines (2006) is designed to provide practical guidelines that will empower artists and teachers to work in structured and respectful partnerships with young people in order to enhance their learning, enrich their experience of the arts and develop their creativity. It targets teachers, artists, primary carers, schools, arts organisations, policymakers, providers, and all those interested in Artists~Schools practice. It is a product of a partnership between the Department of Education and the Arts Council. The document was devised by a Steering Committee and a Core Group drawn from both the arts and the education sector.


Continuing Professional Development


The Creative Ireland Programme support Continuing Professional Development (CPD) initiatives for teachers in both primary (Teacher/Artist Partnership – TAP) and post primary (Arts in Junior Cycle) schools. TAP provides a summer course and funded in-school Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work collaborating during the following academic year. In summer 2019, 276 teachers and 80 artists took part. Programmes are co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Department of Education and Skills. It aims to create a critical mass of education and arts professionals who are equipped with the relevant skills and techniques is vital to ensuring children and young people can unlock their innate creative potential.


Creative Schools


Creative Schools (Scoileanna Ildánacha) is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme, led by the Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. Creative Schools draws on the commitments set out in the Arts in Education Charter. The initiative aims to understand, develop and celebrate the arts and creativity, as a core aspect of school life, and to foster children and young people’s creativity and participation in the arts as an integral part of their education in Ireland. Creative Schools recognises that the arts are a powerful means through which children and young people can explore communication and collaboration, stimulate their imaginations to be inventive, and harness their curiosity. 150 pilot schools took part in Creative Schools in 2018 and an additional 150 schools were added in 2019. The Creative Schools also run a week-long celebration of arts and creativity in schools.


Creative Clusters


Creative Clusters is a pilot initiative of the Department of Education and Skills, led by and in partnership with the Teacher Education Centres, and funded through the Schools Excellence Fund. Creative Clusters are groups of two to five schools working together on a creative project. It is open to both primary and post primary schools. It aims to:

  • Improve teaching and learning
  • Promote new ways of working and collaboration between schools and the arts and cultural sector
  • Provide an opportunity for clusters of schools to experiment, innovate and collaborate on the design, implementation and evaluation of a bespoke creative learning project
  • Develop the creativity of learners and teachers
  • Understand, whether clustering schools at different stages of their journey in using the creativity in the classroom and in developing longer term partnerships is an effective model for developing and embedding practice in schools.

The initiative began in the 2018/19 academic year with 23 clusters nationwide, made-up of 71 schools. In 2019/20, an additional 21 clusters, made-up of 77 schools, were created. A facilitator provided by the Education Centre helps each cluster formulate their plan and a fund of €2,500 is provided to each cluster. Projects include coding, drama, Green Forest and Wellbeing.



Diploma in Creativity and Innovation for Education

University College Dublin offers a Professional Diploma in Creativity and Innovation for Education, which is open to education professionals at all levels. The course aims to aid educators in developing their own Creativity, Entrepreneurial Mindset and Leadership, as well as Teamwork, Resilience and Approaches to Learning.



Youth Arts Regional Networking Hubs

The objective of the Regional Networking Hubs is to support training and development needs that respond to local/regional variation and capacities, to develop better regional partnerships and better support youth arts provision in youth work organisations. In partnership with Mayo, Sligo,Leitrim ETB, NYCI support a hub in the NorthWest, and a hub in Cavan and Monaghan in partnership with Cavan and Monaghan ETB and Cavan and Monaghan Arts Services. Training inputs have been provided on youth film, youth drama, visual arts and youth circus.



Trainings by National Youth Council of Ireland

National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) also offers different arts training for available to anyone working with young people in a youth work, out-of-school or non-formal education setting. These training include topics such as photography, film making and film editing. The trainings aim to explore the given art form as a creative and exciting medium for engaging young people. Its objective is for participants, through developing practical skills in the art form, to become inspired and more confident about using that art form when working with young people.



Arts Charter Summer Course

The Arts Charter Summer Course is a summer course for teachers and artists. The courses focus on and best practice in the partnership between artists and teachers, working together in schools. It is designed by members of Encountering the Arts Ireland Limited and is a joint initiative between the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.


Design Thinking Pilot Programme

The Design Thinking Pilot Programme for Schools is an action research study run by designCORE and the Department of Humanities in IT Carlow, supported by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. It aims to develop a design thinking pilot programme for post primary schools in Ireland. In response to the needs of teachers and students, the research takes the form of collaborative co-design workshops with six designers, six teachers and twelve students from four participating second level schools. The research and workshops investigate ways that designers can support teachers and students to develop creative approaches to problem solving. The programme strives to develop students’ 21st century learning skills such as creative problem solving, critical thinking, divergent thinking and imagination.


Providing quality access to creative environments 

The Young Ensembles Scheme is to support groups of young people between the ages of 10-24 years to create or critically engage with ambitious and original work together in any artform. Groups/ensembles must be made up of three or more members. The maximum award is €25,000.


The Arts Council runs a Festivals Investment Scheme, recognising the distinctive role arts festivals play in sustaining a vibrant and sustainable arts profile at a local level. The scheme is open to multi-disciplinary festivals and single artform festivals. Depending on the type of festival, funding is available up to €35,000.


Fighting Words is a free service helps children and young people, as well as adults who did not have this opportunity as children, to discover and harness the power of their own imaginations and creative writing skills. All are welcome, with priority access for those with additional needs. The Fighting Words model has been shown to positively impact on personal, social and academic development. In 2019 a partnership between Fighting Words and Dublin City University's Institute of Education was launched, formalising a longstanding connection. Building on an Evaluation of the Fighting Words Model, carried out by researchers at the Institute of Education, this partnership has been established to explore ways to integrate the Fighting Words model at all levels of teacher education. Funded by the Department of Education and Skills, there is a full-time Fighting Words Fellow based on the campus, working with academic staff across a variety of disciplines.


The Irish Association of Youth Orchestras (IAYO) is the all-Ireland resource organisation for youth orchestras in Ireland, funded by the Arts Council. Membership is free and open to all Youth Orchestras in Ireland. IAYO represents over 5,000 young musicians in 108 youth orchestras in Ireland and assists in the development of youth orchestras in all parts of the country. IAYO is grant-aided by The Arts Council and supported by Cork City Council; The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media; and Music Network through the Music Capital Scheme 2010.


The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland is funded by the Department of Education and Skills the Arts Council. Its mission is to inspire young Irish musicians through the study of challenging and exciting repertoire under the guidance of music professionals, encouraging performance of the highest standard on national and international platforms. Its principles include promoting equal access to its activities, overcoming financial and geographical barriers, to benefit young musicians in all parts of Ireland.


Youth Theatre Ireland is the national development organisation for youth theatre. It supports a network of youth theatres who deliver year-round programmes of drama workshops and performance opportunities for 12- to 21-year-olds from cities, towns and villages across Ireland. Youth Theatre Ireland was established in 1980 and with support from the Creative Ireland Programme, rolled-out a new nationwide expansion programme during 2019. This project established new partnerships with local groups and youth service providers, and designed a structure for the development, training and start-up of youth theatre groups.


The National Festival of Youth Theatres is the largest gathering of Irish youth theatres in the year. The festival takes place over five days in early July and involves a residential programme of theatre skills workshops delivered by expert facilitators and a packed calendar of social activities. The festival is ran by Youth Theatre Ireland and participation is open to Youth Theatre Ireland affiliated youth theatres. The festival aims to give participants the opportunity to learn new skills, work with specialist facilitators and get to know young people from youth theatres all around the country.


The Creative Youth Plan commits to working with key partners to develop a programme aimed at encouraging creative and sustainable engagement with singing and choral music for young people. In 2019, Sing Ireland, with the support of the Creative Ireland Programme and funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media commenced YouthSing Ireland. Informed by research commissioned in 2018 by the Creative Ireland Programme, this project enhances opportunities for engaging young people in singing. It also supports teachers with an enhanced continuous professional development offering, and new resource material in Irish (or of Irish origin), together with an online resource for teachers. A Sing Space will bring young people and children, teachers and musicians together to work collaboratively.