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Celebrating Education Through Creativity
Start date: 01 Jun 2016, End date: 31 May 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project has its origins in the celebration of the 21st anniversary of our school when, in January 2015, we began the process of making a piece of sculpture with the theme of Celebrating Education. In consultation with the student body, the sculpture was eventually conceived as five life size figures cast in resin. Juxtaposed on a circular site near the school entrance, the piece will be clearly visible from the main public thoroughfare. In addition, we plan to develop the sculpture site as a perennial garden, in keeping with contemporary horticultural best practice.Working in collaboration with internationally recognised Irish sculptor Jackie McKenna, the project was initiated by and co-ordinated by Art teacher Denise Cassidy. The sculptures will be made in the traditional style with the figures conceived as typical, as opposed to idealized students, from each year of the educational cycle. We want the piece to be very much of its time, incorporating the paraphernalia of modern life and reflecting a rich cultural diversity that is the Ireland of today. Consequently, actual students attending the school will be selected to provide the inspirational basis of each figure. It is envisaged that the scuplture will take a period of three years to complete. In all fifty students participated variously in the design and making of the first piece and it is our expectation that this number will increase considerably as the project develops. The project, thus far, is characterised by inclusive discussion with the student body regarding the symbolic representation of their educational experience. Underpinning this project is the desire to celebrate the endeavours of all students and staff who attended the school in the past, those who are here at present and those who will contribute to the life of the school in the future. Additionally, we hope that the making and realisation of this sculpture will foster local public interest in the arts and consolidate within the school population an appreciation and love of the plastic arts with a deeper understanding of sculpture and its place within the history of Irish visual culture. Currently, the educational scope of the project has broadened considerably to include Civil, Social and Political Education, Construction Studies, Information and Communications Technology, Agricultural Science, and Business Studies. While the broad objectives remain those outlined above, we have identified the pursuit of technological excellence in line with best international practice, finding creative ways to address student cohesion, inclusive and special needs and early school leaving, to encourage cultural expression and promote a love of learning as specific objectives that are pertinent to the needs of the school in the near and long term future.Twelve staff members have submitted proposals for both mobility opportunities and educational courses throughout the European Community. These include those who teach Art and Design, Metalwork, Languages, Construction Studies, Information and Communications Technology, History, Geography and Civic, Social and Political Education. Empowerment in ICT Skills, Creativity, Motivation, Active Citizenship and Intercultural Dialogue, Art as therapy: self-expression and special needs in art education, Classroom Management: Teaching Strategies, Emotional Literacy and Conflict Management, Spice up your teaching ideas - language teaching methodology in practice today are courses with expressed interest.When participants complete mobility opportunities, they will advise staff of findings through multimedia presentations at designated staff meetings throughout the duration of Key Action 1. Those who attend courses will, likewise, present to staff and implement new methodologies within the classroom. The expected results and impact of this proposed project is that strong links with educational partners throughout Europe will be established. Familiarisation with technological innovations that have a practical educational application, in line with best international practice will be realised. Conscious awareness and greater sensitivity to issues related to cultural diversity and expression, ethnicity and inclusivity will occupy a strong position within the ethos of the school.The long term benefits of this project and involvement with the Erasmus+ programme will be the creation of a rich and dynamic educational environment characterised by cooperative learning, innovation and creativity for both staff and students. Celebrating Education will continue to aspire to the key objectives of the European Community: the protection of fundamental human rights and freedom, security and justice for all, and the promotion of social and economic progress.
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