Belfast school unveils new community mural

Belfast school unveils new community mural

A new community mural designed and created by a group of year 10 students at Belfast Boys’ Model School in North Belfast has been unveiled.

The colourful artwork features an image of a Boys’ Model pupil at its centre.

The mural was unveiled as students came together to celebrate the end of their two-year project, which also involved working with journalist Mark Devenport to create a community magazine with features on local people and stories about the local area.

Visual artist Conor McGinley worked alongside students to develop the mural, while creatives from Nerve Belfast taught pupils to use professional software tools to design and lay out the news reports they have created for the magazine.

Julia Brown, art teacher and Creative Schools Partnership lead at Boys Model, said the pupils worked across three different departments – English, media and art – to get the most out of the “unique learning experience”.

“They have created a magazine, developing all the articles themselves, interviewing members of the community to write and then design up the stories, and they have also produced a fabulous mural, which is now on display across the road from the school,” she said.

“The overall outcome of this project is that we can see how the boys’ aspiration levels have really increased over the last two years, as they have had a chance to experience and demonstrate a range of new skills.

“This project has given them so many opportunities to flourish and it’s been wonderful to see how they have grown in confidence in all aspects of school life.

“Overall it has been such a beneficial project for the pupils to have had the opportunity to be involved in.”

Funded through the Creative Schools Partnership Programme, a cross-government programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through National Lottery funding, the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, Boys Model was one of 11 schools awarded funding through the partnership in 2022.

All the schools included in the programme were awarded funding of £15,000 to develop a two-year creative-based project that would bring professional artists into the classroom to teach new skills, support educational learning and strengthen community connections.

A new report published this week by the Arts Council examined the impact of the Creative Schools Partnership within the 11 schools funded through the programme in 2022/23.

The report compiled insights from teaching staff, principals, and students.

The report found that 83% of pupils said the Creative Schools Partnership project had a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing and 94% of pupils said they developed skills from the Creative Schools Partnership project.

Students referenced gains in confidence, critical thinking, empathy, leadership, creativity, behaviour and engagement in learning.

Schools cited enhanced community cohesion, intergenerational understanding, teacher development, embedding of creative learning in developmental plans and new links forged between schools.

Benefits of the programme were also seen in the community, with better connections made with schools, improvement in good relations and improvements in the physical environment.

Karly Greene, director of strategic development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said the data demonstrates the “enormous impact” that the programme has had on participating schools and their wider communities.

“The model demonstrates how effective cross-departmental investment and collaboration can be,” she said.

“Many of the schools have been involved with the programme since it first launched but this latest funding investment has been a particular success story and, the fact that the schools continued on with their projects, through all of the pandemic and cost of living challenges which the last few years have brought, is a real testament to the value they place on this programme.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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