Creative Clusters

Creative Clusters 

Spraoi le Chéile biodiversity app launched

A Creative Cluster, involving three Ennis primary schools, culminated on Friday with the launch of a biodiversity app, Cairde an Dúlra, which was developed by David and Colm Forde.

The app features artwork by children from St Anne’s School, Knockanean National School and Ennis CBS Primary, all of whom participated in the Creative Cluster, a two-year project that operated under the banner, Spraoi le Chéile. Biologist and environmental consultant,  Éanna Ní Lamhna, was the special guest at the launch in John O’Sullivan Park, Lees Road, Ennis.

Artist, Ana Colomer, was the cluster facilitator for the project, which operated under the wing of the Clare Education Centre and their director, Ray McInerney.

Ana explained that the biodiversity app has an orienteering theme and encourages children to learn about animals and trees.

“It has two levels, which makes it inclusive and open to all. There are 10 locations on the app and on each location, the children have to enter a code to unlock the games. They have to complete all 10 locations to win. There is an aspect of physical exercise and movement, going from one spot to the next to complete the challenges,” she explained.

David Forde said that himself and his brother, Colm, really enjoyed creating the biodiversity app.

“Our challenge was to make an app that got children moving and learning about biodiversity. In designing the app, we made sure to make it really easy to use, so that a junior infant could play it and at the same time a sixth-class pupil would enjoy it and learn from it too. The app is loaded with images and questions that the children produced and this is such a great addition to the app,” he said.

Ray McInerney, director of Clare Education Centre, said that the work of the pupils and staff of St Anne’s, Ennis CBS and Knockanean schools was “an outstanding example” of how Creative Clusters can promote new ways of working and collaboration between schools through the medium of the arts.

“This project has provided an opportunity for staff and pupils across the three schools to experiment, innovate and collaborate on a creative learning project. The Spraoi le Chéíle cluster enthusiastically embraced this project and creatively sought to create opportunities for young people to connect, communicate and interact though creative learning. It is even more laudable that this project achieved so much, despite the restrictions of Covid-19. The Creative Clusters project has sown the seed for innovation and creativity in participant schools and the work of the Spraoi le Chéile cluster epitomises the possibilities of collaboration and creativity. The management committee of Clare Education Centre are delighted to be associated with Creative Clusters and warmly congratulate the pupils, teachers and project team of the Spraoi le Chéile cluster,” Mr McInerney added.

Another key aspect of Spraoi le Chéile was a Forest School, which was held at John O’Sullivan Park over an eight-week period, while a visual art module was also a central component of the project.

A number of teachers from the participating schools, including Michelle O'Halloran, St Anne’s Ennis; Donna Lyttle, Ennis CBS Primary and Amy Mc Ennis, Knockanean National School, were effusive in their praise of the programme. All three were among the teachers from their respective schools who helped to run Spraoi le Chéile, under the direction of Ms Colomers.

“When we completed our Creative Cluster training two years ago, the key message I brought away was that this is all about developing children’s creativity and imagination. This is exactly what this project did. What began as a collaborative cluster about making connections with other schools through art turned into an amazing creative experience for everyone involved,” Ms O’Halloran said.

“Our experience together brought us on a journey through the arts, where the children enjoyed a series of trips to the local theatre for an art exhibition, live theatre, puppetry and prop-making workshops, to our present venture learning about the biodiversity of our native woodlands. Covid has unfortunately put an end to meeting up but the children have still been fortunate enough to spend the past eight weeks attending the Happy Out Forest School with Veronica and Gráinne in Lees Road in Ennis. Overall, the two years have nurtured a relationship between the three schools, which will hopefully continue into the future,” Ms McEnnis stated.

Meanwhile, Ms Lyttle said that a collaborative approach was central to the success of Spraoi le Chéile.

“Throughout the year, the children took part in Forest School and art workshops. These workshops developed the children’s knowledge and skills to allow them to create the artwork and questions that populate the biodiversity app. It enables the whole school community to learn about biodiversity, all the way from Junior Infants to sixth class. The more children learn about their locality and the natural world around them, the more likely they will feel responsibility for it in the future.”

Creative Cluster


Spraoilecheile-Creative Schools Cluster 2020 

This Creative School Cluster consists of three Primary schools from Ennis, Co. Clare. St Anne's School, CBS Primary and Knockanen School. The schools have come together to experiment, innovate and collaborate on the design, implementation and evaluation of our creative learning project. We hope to develop the creativity of the learners and teachers and to overcome our learning challenges as a cluster. We will do this by drawing on our own skills and experiences and also on those within the wider community.

Some special memories from their time together - view video HERE


Creative Clusters 2019

Creative Clusters is a pilot initiative of the Department of Education and Skills which is funded through the Schools Excellence Fund as part of the Creative Ireland Programme.  Over 75 schools throughout Ireland participated in the project, including 11 schools from Co Clare. The purpose of the initiative is to demonstrate how creative practices can support clusters of schools to work together to address common learning challenges. It aims to promote new ways of working and collaboration between schools and to provide an opportunity for schools to experiment, innovate and collaborate on the design, implementation and evaluation of a creative learning project. 

The eleven primary schools from Clare presented their projects at Cluster Demonstration Days in early June, all demonstrating ingenuity, imagination, creativity, collaboration and resourcefulness.

Pupils from Coore NS, Kilkee NS, Knockerra NS, Moyasta NS and Shragh NS met in Knockerra Hall to demonstrate their work on the topic of ‘The Science of Toys’.  The groups had considered modern toys, discussed their merits and disadvantages and then set about designing and making their own toys. The results involved the use of levers, magnetics, hydraulics, investigations and skill.  The large attendance wondered from display to display as pupils enthusiastically encouraged them to try out their toys.  Dr Maeve Liston from Mary Immaculate College of Education spoke warmly of her involvement with the schools and acknowledged that the projects were entirely pupil led and surpassed all expectations of those involved with the project.  Some funding for this project was also provided by the Irish American Partnership.

Pupils from Doora NS, Furglan NS, Kilnamona NS and Tubber NS worked on the theme of ‘Connections’.  Families and friends gathered in Clare Education Centre to appreciate the research and investigations carried out and the practical demonstrations of their learning. The variety of projects demonstrated included learning sign language, designing load-bearing bridges, interactive use of circuits and replicating lighthouse signals.  The curiosity of pupils in learning from each other was the highlight of the evening as pupils explained, demonstrated, offered opinions, outlined the challenges addressed and solutions discovered.   

“We are the Animals” brought together Mol an Óige CNS(Ennistymon) and Scoil Mhuire(Lahinch) to work with drama facilitator Nell Smyth. Over several weeks, pupils explored the concept of diversity through movement, drama games, and improvisation. Each child picked a card with the image of a creature and they then depicted the characteristics of the creature through making clay models and painting the animal on large wooden shields.  The final spectacle which was held on the beach in Lahinch involved group chants, movements, drama and games as the children from the senior classes in both schools depicted imagery of warriors fighting against the threat to the creatures of our planet.   52 children from both schools contributed to a visually strong finale full of fun, power and vitality.

At all of the demonstration events, the interactions among children from different schools were of excitement, enjoyment and participation as they explained their work to each other, demonstrated their learning, appreciated the efforts of others, and sought explanations for how other groups had gone about their projects.  Parents and teachers alike complimented pupils highly on their efforts and wondered how pupils had achieved so much, and in such an engaging and participative way.

Speaking about the demonstrations, Ray McInerney, Director of Clare Education Centre, complimented the work of the Cluster Coordinators Michael Browne and Ana Colomber for their enthusiasm and expertise in guiding the teachers and pupils throughout their engagement with the Creative Clusters Project.  The success of the project has led to its continuation for another year allowing the opportunity for another cluster of Clare schools to explore the benefits of clustering and providing collaborative learning opportunities for their pupils.

CLICK HERE for photos from Doora NS, Furglan NS, Kilnamona NS and Tubber NS Cluster
CLICK HERE for photos from Mol an Óige CNS (Ennistymon) and Scoil Mhuire (Lahinch) Cluster
CLICK HERE for photos from Coore NS, Kilkee NS, Knockerra NS, Moyasta NS and Shragh NS Cluster

Video from Mol an Óige CNS (Ennistymon) and Scoil Mhuire (Lahinch) Cluster Day, 5th June 2019 at Lahinch Beach - VIEW HERE.  

CC KnockCC LahinchCC Doora


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