The Leonardo Effect: a Good News Story for Education in Northern Ireland

5 December 2007

Results of The Leonardo Effect project will be launched at St Mary's University College at 10.00am on Friday 7th December 2007.

This revolutionary project began as an attempt to stimulate pupils' creativity through teaching art and science together. From this it has grown and evolved into an approach to teaching that enables teachers to deliver in a meaningful way the exciting new, skills-based curricula that are currently being rolled out in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. It is making significant contributions both to children's learning and the development of teachers.

This explains why it has attracted grants from a succession of funders including the Higher Education Academy, The Hamlyn Foundation and NESTA. The NESTA grant at £190,000 was their largest project in Northern Ireland.

The project has already received considerable media attention; having featured in several local newspapers and the national press eg. The Daily Mail and The Herald in Scotland. In the Republic it has featured on Den TV.

The Leonardo Effect has been run in twenty-four primary and post-primary schools across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as in London, Bristol, and Dublin. Despite different school curricula in these diverse areas, it is the case that principals, teachers, pupils and parents have been lavish in praise of it as a means of enhancing learning and as a successful way to engage pupils to become active learners. It has been found to motivate disaffected learners whilst allowing talented children the scope to achieve their full potential. The independent evaluation carried out by Goldsmiths College comes to the same conclusions.

The significance of its effect on children's learning is why the launch of results of a project in Northern Ireland has brought educationalists to Belfast from the education and training inspectorates of all the areas in which it has been tested, and in several cases from curricular bodies and government departments of education as well. QCA are sending six principals from English schools to the launch. While they are here, they will visit schools in Belfast which took part in the project so that they can learn more about it at firsthand. In addition, Mr Mick Waters, Head of Curriculum at QCA, will be our Keynote speaker at the launch.

You can see why we are very excited about The Leonardo Effect. The research has been supervised by Deirdre Robson and Mary Flanagan in the Art Department and Ivor Hickey in the Science Department.

We would be delighted if you were to attend the launch but if you are unable to do so, or want more detail on the project and where we think it will go in the future, particularly in relation to the development of new curricula in Key Stage III, please contact Dr Ivor Hickey on 02890268314.

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