Limerick schools could share in €1m scheme backed by U2

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

LIMERICK’s schools could be in line to get a share of €1m to develop music amongst its students, this month’s City VEC meeting has heard.

LIMERICK’s schools could be in line to get a share of €1m to develop music amongst its students, this month’s City VEC meeting has heard.

Paul Patton, chief executive of the Cecil Street based Vocational Educational Committee (VEC) told councillors that they have applied for €500,000 from the Music Generation scheme, backed by U2.

If their application is successful, it will have to be matched, with Mr Patton confirming discussions have taken place with LIT, the University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College.

The money would be distributed over a five year period.

The scheme can be used for a number of music-based initiatives, such as the setting up of school music groups, after-school clubs, and an increase in educational programmes.

“Access to music is very positive for the mental and physical health of children. It builds up confidence, and they have greater levels of retention when music is provided,” he told the meeting.

He confirmed that schools under the DEIS scheme will be the first to benefit.

The scheme - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools - sees them benefit from a lower pupil-teacher ratio, in order to help the students with learning difficulties.

Another centre set to benefit is St Enda’s Community School on the southside, set to close to regular students in three years.

But northside councillor Michael Hourigan warned against the dangers of excluding other schools, particularly those in regeneration areas.

“Many schools in disadvantaged areas are on the borderline of being DEIS-designated,” he pointed out.

He also asked if a school awarded cash in the first year of the scheme would get it each year after this.

Mr Patton answered: “We hope it will be self-sustaining. If you give a school money for a one or two year period, we hope it can sustain that for the rest of the period.”

He added: “If the partnership is successful, it will mean an extra €1m is being pumped into the local economy. The benefit of this type of scheme has been shown in the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s Sing out with Strings programme.”

“It is intended to take this project across the whole city,” Mr Patton concluded.