All involved in the project built very successfully on the work of the first year to further the aims of Bridging the Gap and to achieve the goals and targets set at both project and school level.
Schools set themselves ambitious goals and were successful in achieving them. In a significant number of school-based projects, the schools chose the arts as tool for enhancing teaching and learning. International research has found that learners can attain higher levels of achievement through their engagement with the arts and that the arts can help ‘level the playing field’ for youngsters from disadvantaged circumstances. These findings have been borne out by the experiences of Bridging the Gap to date.
The year saw thousands of pupils in Bridging the Gap schools, teachers and parents visit UCC through Bridging the Gap activities. In April 2003, Bridging the Gap and Ionad na Gaeilge Labartha, the UCC centre for the promotion of the Irish language hosted a visit to UCC for pupils attending the Bridging the Gap gaelscoileanna. The showcasing events of June 2003 held in UCC were tremendously successful in celebrating the pupils' talents.
UCC staff increased their involvement in Bridging the Gap by assisting in professional development and school based projects. Other groups such as Cork Opera House became involved in the project during the year. By its second year Bridging the Gap had clearly become a wider community as a result. Scholarships for principals to attend the Project Zero Classroom at Harvard Graduate School of Education enhanced professional development in teaching for understanding as well as forming networks and building on friendships.
This year also saw more public awareness of Bridging the Gap, particularly through a Radio na Gaeltachta interview with pupils, principals and UCC staff and an article by Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, chancellor of the National University of Ireland in the Irish Times, which commended the work of the project.