08 June, 2018 - Minister Bruton launches 2018 Digital Plan for Schools

Minister publishes the 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan

Over 80 actions aimed at maximizing the potential of digital technology in the classroom

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D.,today (Friday the 8th of June) published the 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan. The Plan, which has over 80 actions, sets out a roadmap for the twelve months ahead, to bring the Irish education system further along the path to being the best in Europe at embedding digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment by 2026.

While the 2018 Action Plan includes the list of actions to be achieved this year, the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 sets out the government’s medium term plan to realise the potential of digital technologies to enhance teaching, learning and assessment.

Digital technology has fundamentally transformed the world we live in. Ireland's young people must become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens to flourish in modern society and the economy. Making this ambition a reality requires targeted and innovative use of technology to enrich teaching, learning and assessment.

The 2017 Digital Strategy Action Plan was published in June 2017 identifying some 120 actions/sub-actions for delivery during the course of 2017. Of these 113 were delivered representing a 94% completion rate. The remaining 7 sub actions are carried forward into the 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan. Progress on implementation of the Plan is continuing.

The 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan builds on progress made in 2017. It reiterates the goals and objectives set out in the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 and contains over 80 actions/sub-actions to be achieved by the end of 2018. It will be followed by annual action plans in 2019, 2020.

Key elements of the 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan include:

  • Computer Science will be introduced as a Leaving Certificate subject from September 2018 – (phased introduction).
  • The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) will work with a network of schools to explore how coding might be best integrated into the primary school curriculum.
  • The Digital Learning Framework, which allows schools to assess their digital capability, will be assessed and improved.
  • Clear statements on the use of digital technologies will continue to be included in all of the subject specifications developed in 2018.
  • Clusters participating in School Excellence Fund – Digital will begin their projects & future rounds will be considered.
  • The Department will actively contribute to the whole of Government approach to internet and cyber safe security for our young people.
  • A circular will issue to schools on the usage of smart phone and tablet devices – this will require schools to engage with the school community including students and parents on their usage.
  • Continue to improve broadband services in schools.
  • Continuing rollout of the €210million capital investment programme to schools.

 

View Action Plan 2018 here: 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan  

Launching the 2018 Plan, Minister Bruton said:

“Ireland has set itself the ambitious target of having the best education and training service in Europe within a decade. To achieve this our system must be a front-runner in embracing digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

“Through the Action Plan for Education and the implementation of the Digital Strategy we will realise the potential of digital technologies to enhance teaching, learning and assessment to help students become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens.

“The development of these skills are a critical for our young people in an increasingly digital landscape for their future prospects in life.

“Last year I provided €30m in ICT grants to schools and a further €30m issued this year and in the next three years I will invest a further €150 m to upgrade the ICT facilities in our schools. A key priority to achieving these aims will be the enhancement of broadband services to primary schools, and my Department is working with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, having regard to the National Broadband Plan, in progressing this objective.”

Ends

Note for Editors

The actions from Q1 have all been delivered (some actions for Q1 will however be ongoing for the duration of the Strategy). 

What does success look like?

As part of the 2017 Action Plan, Minister Bruton sketched out what success looks like a number of years down the road. Today’s action plan outlines the next steps aimed at delivering on that. The targets are:

  1. All  functions of teaching and learning in schools are fully digitally supported and enabled, with full engagement across the entire school community.
  2. All  subject specifications support a constructivist learning model and reflect the role of digital technologies in facilitating this model.
  3. All  students have a digital portfolio with self-created content across the entire curriculum and a recognised capacity in discerning the ethical use of digital technologies.
  4. All  schools can demonstrate effective or highly effective practice as described in the Digital Learning Framework, underpinned by a whole-school approach to e-planning.
  5. All  teachers have upskilled and embed digital technologies in their teaching practice.
  6. Our Providers of Initial Teacher Education have become recognised leaders in innovative learning for quality outcomes.
  7. An increasing number of schools participating in clusters each year leading innovation in the use of digital technologies that can be disseminated to all schools.
  8. Good protocols are in place to assist schools in managing their digital resources with robust relationship with industry, business and higher education institutions.
  9. All schools have high speed broadband connectivity.
  10. Schools use a variety of ICT equipment and delivery models for supporting their learning activities with demonstrable cost effectiveness and shared learning.

The 2018 Digital Strategy Action Plan outlines some 80 actions/sub-actions to be implemented during the year by the Department, its agencies and others across Government. Timelines and lead responsibility have been assigned, progress on the implementation of the 2018 Action Plan will be reviewed every quarter and the Department will publish an end of year review of 2018

Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Enhancing Teaching Learning and Assessment

The “Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment” was published in October 2015 and forms the basis for ICT policy for first and second level schools in Ireland. The Strategy sets out a clear vision that is focused on realising the potential of digital technologies to transform the learning experiences of students by helping them become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens who participate fully in society and the economy.   

The Strategy is organised around four themes:

  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment Using ICT
  • Teacher Professional Learning
  • Leadership, Research and Policy
  • ICT Infrastructure 

The Strategy recognises that schools need some financial certainty in terms of their planning and procurement.  Accordingly, there is a commitment in the Strategy to provide multi-annual grants in line with the availability of resources. A fund of €210m has been committed beginning with an investment of €30m in respect of the 2016-2017 school year already distributed to schools and a further €30million for the current school year (2017/2018) which issued to schools in Q1 of 2018. Funding will rise to €50m towards the end of the Strategy.

Implementation Advisory Group

An Implementation Advisory Group was established in 2017 to guide the implementation of the Strategy.

The Group includes industry and academic experts, representatives of the voluntary digital sector, in addition to the Department of Education & Skills and relevant Government bodies. 

Membership 2018

Professor Brendan Tangney - Trinity College, Dublin (Chairperson)

Professor Deirdre Butler - St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra 

Ms. Giustina Mizzoni - CoderDojo Foundation

Ms. Claire Conneely - Google Ireland

Ms. Jackie O’Dowd - Science Foundation Ireland

Mr. Donnacha O Treasaigh - Practitioner (Post Primary)

Mr. Joe Hogan - OpenNet

Mr. Patrick Cluskey - Adviser to Minister for Education & Skills

Mr. Eddie Ward - ICT Policy Unit (DES)

Ms. Betty Regan – ICT Policy Unit (DES)

Ms. Clare Connolly - ICT Policy Unit (DES)

Mr. Sean Gallagher – Practitioner (Primary)

Mr. Eamonn Moran - Curriculum and Assessment Section (DES)

Mr. Tony Weir - Inspectorate (DES)

Mr. Seamus Knox - Inspectorate (DES)

Mr. Anthony Kilcoyne - PDST Technology in Education (PDST-TIE)

Mr. Ben Murray - National Council for Curriculum & Assessment (NCCA)

View the full Digital Strategy for schools 2015-2020 here: Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020