The Arts in Education Charter, launched in 2013, was a landmark development in relation to the promotion of arts education and arts in education in Ireland. The Charter is an initiative of my Department, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, working in association with the Arts Council. The Programme for a Partnership Government recognises the Charter as providing an unprecedented opportunity for children and young people to engage in a proactive and meaningful way with arts in education in Ireland and commits to its implementation. Good progress has been made on implementation of the Charter objectives, as set out below under a number of key headings.
A - The Arts in Education Portal (www.artsineducation.ie): Ireland's first Arts in Education Portal, the key national digital resource for arts in education in Ireland, was launched in May 2015. Since its launch up to the end of March 2016, there have been 18,145 visitors (per session) with 43,295 page views, an average of nearly 4,000 page views per month. A celebration and demonstration of the success of the Portal formed part of the National Arts in Education Day, held at The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) on 23rd April 2016.
B - Teacher – Artist Partnership as a model for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) initiative: An important development is the more focused attention to helping artists and teachers to develop together their understanding, expertise and creative pitch for arts in education work for children at different age levels. A significant initiative in this regard was the initiation in 2014 by the Charter Group of a pioneering programme of joint teacher - artist collaboration in continuing professional development. The scheme, 'Exploring Teacher Artist Partnership as a Model of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for Supporting and Enhancing Arts Education', commenced in 2014. It is intended that the Education Centres, responsible for local delivery of national programmes of teacher professional development on behalf of my Department, will have the capacity to implement this model locally and regionally into the future. This will be possible through strategic planning involving collaboration and co-operation with the various Local Authority Arts Offices, art organisations, educational institutions and school communities.
C - Artists in Residencies in Higher Education Institutions: Significant developments regarding arts in education for initial teacher education have also been taking place. Higher education institutions, particularly colleges of education, have been extending their offerings of arts in education courses and experience for student teachers. The provision of a set of 'artists in residency' bursaries by the Arts Council, for such institutions, has been a major boost to this work.
D - Artists-Schools Guidelines: The Artists-Schools Guidelines were originally published in 2006. A number of changes have occurred in the arts in education landscape in Ireland since the Guidelines were first published. A significant change arising from the Charter is the launch of a national digital resource for the arts in education at www.artsineducation.ie. Given this changing landscape, the Arts Council, on behalf of the Implementation Group of the Arts in Education Charter, is currently reviewing the Artists-Schools Guidelines to examine whether and how they should be updated to continue to act as a useful resource.
E - Nationwide Mapping of Arts Provision, Relevant to Education: Planning is underway to incorporate a mapping of organisations, events, artists and locations at regional and local level throughout the country, which could be drawn upon for arts-in-education purposes. This will be incorporated in the Arts-In-Education Portal on an incremental basis. This could be a major resource for schools, and also help to highlight areas of limited or poor provision, with a view to its remediation.
F - ARIS – Arts Rich Schools: The Arts in Education Charter charges the Arts Council, in co-operation with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and my Department, with the promotion of Arts Rich Schools (ARIS). According to the Charter – 'ARIS will incentivise and recognise those schools (primary and post-primary) which in a range of ways make the arts a key part of school life and place the arts centrally within the life of the school community affecting pupils primarily but also teachers, parents, other staff and community.' A working group is assisting with the development of Arís and the development of a feasible implementation plan for a first phase of Arts over three years (2017-2019).
G - Research in Arts in Education: The Arts in Education Charter refers to the need for access to research that builds on existing good practice and explores new models of arts and school practice to create a source of knowledge and experience for policy makers and practitioners to draw on. The Implementation Group has had communications with the Higher Education Authority, higher education institutions and associated bodies on how best a repository of such research can be established as an on-going source of such provision. Discussions are still underway with the aim that such a National Digital Research Repository for Arts in Education would be established over the next 18 months.
H - Music Generation: The Music Generation initiative is co-ordinated and managed by Music Generation Ltd. through its National Development Office. Between 2010 and 2015, 11 Music Generation Music Education Partnerships (MEPs) were established as part of Phase 1 of the initiative, with the aim to provide non-mainstream vocal and instrumental music tuition for young people. In 2015, Music Generation Ltd. announced Phase 2 of the initiative during which up to 9 additional new MEPs will be established over the period from 2016 up to 2020.Initial funding for 50% of Phase 1 of the Music Generation initiative came from philanthropic sources with the remaining 50% funding from MEPs, with the Exchequer taking up 50% funding after 3 years. Phase 2 will similarly funded.
I - Non-mainstream Music Education Bursary Scheme: The Department of Education and Skills also established the new Non-mainstream Music Education Bursary Scheme in February 2016, worth €50,000. The Purpose of the scheme is to provide support by way of a cash grant to established, smaller-scale, non-mainstream music education/community music initiatives with limited or no access to other forms of public funding.
J - Local Arts Education Partnership (LAEPs): A further objective of the Charter which will make a major contribution to rooting arts in education at local and regional level as normative provision, is the Local Arts Education Partnerships (LAEPs). The impact of co-operative efforts by the statutory agencies, the local authorities and the Education and Training Boards (ETBs), in conjunction with the regional Teacher Education Centres and other agencies, have potential to re-shape the landscape of arts in education provision in Ireland.
K - School Policies: The Charter envisages that schools, in their school policies and plans, shall incorporate arts in education opportunities as an important aspect of enriching the curriculum and the wider life of the school. Schools will be assisted by my Department in this aspect of their school planning and self-evaluation. Making provision for arts in education practice will also be reflected in the design and equipping of school buildings. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has also established reciprocal partnership with the Arts Council in the promotion of the arts in schools, as set out in the Charter.
Implementation of the Arts in Education Charter is overseen by an Implementation Group, chaired by Professor John Coolahan. The group reports bi-annually to me and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The group presented its fourth bi-annual report in April 2015.