02 April, 2018 - Schools funded to work together on Experimental Projects, as Minister Bruton rewards Excellence & Innovation

Minister Bruton empowers schools to work together and try innovative projects to see what works and what doesn’t

Minister opens second call to School Excellence Fund – DEIS and invites applications to School Excellence Fund - Creative

Speaking ahead of the teacher conferences, the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. today (Monday) reaffirmed his commitment to encouraging innovation and excellence in our education system, by announcing that over 265 schools are to be funded through the School Excellence Fund for Digital, STEM and tackling disadvantage.

The Minister also announced a second call to School Excellence Fund –DEIS and that applications to School Excellence Fund – Creative are open.

The School Excellence Fund is an initiative in the Programme for Government, pioneered by Minister Bruton to encourage and recognize excellence and innovation in our schools. Never before have schools been funded to work together on innovative solutions and given the freedom to experiment with new projects to see what works and what doesn’t.

The benefit of this approach is that it gives school leaders on the ground the support to collaborate on ideas based on their local experience and unique perspective. It allows them to work together, in some cases with higher education institutions and enterprise, and experiment to find creative solutions to complex problems. Successful approaches can then be shared across the school sector.

The Minister has set the ambition to make Ireland’s Education and Training service the best in Europe by 2026. This transformative approach to supporting local innovation will be key to realizing this vision.

Schools Excellence Fund- Digital

Children are naturally creative, curious and adaptable. SEF- Digital seeks to nurture these qualities by supporting schools to work together on projects which will use inventive methods to enhance teaching and learning through digital technology.

The Minister today announced that over 200 schools in 32 clusters have been chosen from what has been a huge demand. Each cluster will receive up to €20,000 funding over the course of the programme.

Sample of projects to be funded:

  • A cluster of 6 post-primary schools in Dublin, Cork, and Westmeath will work together on a project that will use drones to record footage of the local areas surrounding the schools. This footage will then be used to inform core elements of the Junior and Senior Cycle Geography curricula.
  • A mixed cluster of 9 primary and post-primary schools are partnering with Trinity College and UCD to work on the maths curricula in the transition from primary to post-primary. The cluster will investigate activities using IZAK9 cubes, Geogebra and other technologies to engage students in collaborative learning, problem solving, hypothesis development and testing. Digital portfolios will be used to track progress and outcomes.
  • An Educate Together national school and 4 DEIS primary schools will collaborate on a project which will use technology to facilitate pupils working together and sharing knowledge and information, enhancing their communication skills. There are different projects for defined class groups, beginning at introductory level for infant classes, up to a website project for 6th class, with newspaper/book project, photo gallery project, among others, in between.
  • A cluster of 6 Gaelscoileanna, in Dublin and Kildare will work on a project which aims to improve Computational Thinking Skills through the use of Robotic materials, with a particular emphasis on expanding the range of resources available in Irish.
  • A cluster of midlands post-primary schools’, project will use industry leading training in MoJo (mobile journalism) video content creation to enhance teaching, learning and digital literacy among educators and students in the cluster schools.
  • A DEIS post-primary school will work with 4 primary schools (3 DEIS and one special school) on a coding project

Schools Excellence Fund – DEIS

SEF-DEIS will support participating clusters of schools to explore new, innovative solutions to tackle educational disadvantage and improve learning outcomes for students.

The Minister today announced that 35 pre-schools, primary and post primary schools in 10 clusters around the country are being supported in the first iteration.

Example of projects to be funded:

  • A post primary school and 3 feeder primary schools in Athlone will be working towards improving student attitudes to and attainment in the STEM subjects. The cluster will build on links with Athlone Institute of Technology and will explore the development of links with local businesses working in the technology sector.    
  • A cluster in north east inner city Dublin, made up of 4 primary schools and 3 pre-schools is working on how they can collaborate with each other and with external agencies to better improve language skills of students from a young age and at important transitions.
  • A post primary school and 2 feeder primary schools in Rathangan, County Kildare are collaborating to develop a programme to improve the uptake of Leaving Certificate Higher Level Mathematics. The programme will be delivered to students in 5th and 6th classes in the primary schools, all the way up to junior cycle in the post primary school.

The Minister announced that applications for the second phase of the School Excellence Fund – DEIS are now open. Approximately 40 additional schools in a further 10 clusters will be selected to participate in this phase of the programme from September 2018. The Minister also announced that a third phase will commence in September 2019.

Schools Excellence Fund – STEM

SEF-STEM supports schools to work together on projects in accordance with the government’s ambitious plans to promote the teaching and learning of the STEM subjects.

The Minister today announced that at least 30 schools in 10 clusters have been chosen and each cluster will receive up to €20,000 funding over the course of the programme.

Sample of projects to be funded:

  • 4 Kerry primary schools will promote STEM and develop STEM spaces in the participating schools, with significant industry support from Liebherr, a major local manufacturing company.  The project will use a wide range of projects to support this, including programming drones, with a pilot's license to be awarded by Kerry Airport to any pupil who can fly a specified route.
  • A cluster comprising 5 primary schools and 1 DEIS post-primary school from Kilkenny, Tipperary and Laois will conduct an outreach programme to local primary schools to increase the uptake, particularly of girls, in the JC Short Course in Coding. The overall aim of the project is to increase the numbers pursuing the suite of STEM subjects.
  • A cluster of 1 post-primary school and 5 primary schools in Offaly, intends to build on the legacy of Birr town as a former site of a Weather station, and the tradition of engineering innovation and space exploration through Birr Castle and the Lofar project (TCD). The project aims to create a two-way active learning environment through the establishment of a STE(A)M hub for all schools in the midlands. Outcomes include learner-built weather stations in each school, plant communicators, and GPS tracking systems.

School Excellence Fund – Creative

School Excellence Fund – Creative will support clusters of schools to use art and creativity to address shared challenges or to achieve better learning outcomes.

The scheme will provide an opportunity for clusters to experiment, innovate and collaborate on the design, implementation and evaluation of bespoke arts and creative projects.

Applications are now open. Interested schools can find out more information here:

Speaking ahead of the INTO conference, Minister Bruton said, “We have an ambitious plan to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. I believe that in order to get there, we need to be actively supporting and recognizing excellence and innovation among our education leaders.

“I am encouraged and inspired by the projects that we will be supporting through SEF- Digital, SEF- STEM and SEF – DEIS. Each Fund was substantially over-subscribed and exceeded our expectations. There are some very novel approaches being taken in some really important spheres and it is fantastic to see such creative solutions being applied to these complex problems. I look forward to seeing what we can learn from each and share more broadly across the school sector.

“This is a step change in education. Never before have we put funding and resources in place to support schools in working together locally to trial new ideas and experiment with what works and what doesn’t. I am committed to building on this initiative and expanding on this approach during my time as Minister.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, school leaders, students, schools, higher level institutions and businesses who came together to work on these really exciting projects. Leadership is the key to making this approach work and we are very lucky in Ireland to have excellent school leaders.”

Notes for Editors

SEF – Digital

The Digital Strategy for Schools outlines a vision for the embedding of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment in primary and post primary schools. The Strategy outlines a programme of work across a number of themes:

  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment using Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Teachers’ Professional learning
  • Leadership, research and policy
  • ICT Infrastructure

Significant investment and resources are being deployed to support the implementation of the Strategy including the development of The Digital learning Framework (DLF), which is designed to assist school in embedding digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. In addition, significant additional grant funding is being made available to schools to upgrade ICT equipment.

One of the proposed actions to achieve this vision is the creation of a scheme that would further enhance the teaching and learning environment in schools using digital technologies and which would encourage collaboration and innovation between teachers and schools. The School Excellence Fund – Digital Programme provides for the opportunity for schools to work together in clusters in a supported way for a period of three years. The programme was launched in December with a closing date of February 2nd for receipt of applications.

A cluster is defined as a collection of schools who collaborate in the design, delivery, evaluation and dissemination of the outcomes of these innovative projects. It was also open to individual schools to apply under the Programme and some of those schools are being added to existing clusters approved.

A Working Group was established to oversee implementation of the Programme and consider and advise on the applications to be selected for inclusion under the Programme.

Lead School Roll Number

Participating School RN

Name

Summary

17508H

 

Scoil Naomh Colmcille

Cluster of primary schools, DEIS and   non-DEIS, using coding, Graphic Design (in collaboration with a local   printing company), and Digital Storytelling, and to children in utilising   their own devices in a "best practice" approach to inform policy in   that area.

 

18406E

St. Francis Boys School

 

13118U

Scoil Bhride

 

18068K

Scoil Naisiunta Peadar & Pól

 

20063M

Scoil an Chlochair

 

17903N

Cornamaddy National School

62540I

 

Deerpark CBS

Project comprising one lead DEIs   post-primary school, collaborating with local primary schools on two   projects, one in robotics, the other to build a renewable energy source, with   post-primary students acting as trainers and mentors for primary pupils. Not   only will this equip all of the learners with key skills, but a priority   focus will be to advance our knowledge regarding bridging and supporting the   transition from primary to post-primary school.

 

13828F

St. Columba's BNS

20106E

Scoil Nicolas

 

12473M

Greenmount National School

 

18734V

Morning Star National School

19465C

 

St. Kevin's Boys' School

Project comprising 7 primary schools   which are reflective of the broader school environment - urban, rural, single   sex, and mixed gender, with targeted inputs to encourage creative problem solving.

 

17230L

St. Brigid's National School

 

19466E

St. Kevin's G.N.S.

 

19319O

St. Olaf's NS

 

19465C

St. Kevin's Boys School

 

20190T

Holy Trinity National School

20181S

 

Gaelscoil an Ráithín

This project will encourage children   to enhance their knowledge and skills in STEM subjects through a fun,   appropriate and interactive stimulus. Primary school pupils and post-primary   students will be encourage to build their STEM robotic projects in pairs in   challenging lessons.

 

20175A

Limerick East Educate Together

 

16712B

Adare Boys National School

 

18516L

Lisnagry N.S.,

 

76476F

Mungret Community College

 

20101R

Sacred Heart Primary School Granard

 

19965W

Scoil Mhuire, Clarinbridge

 

14636B

Scoil Naomh Éanna

17281F

 

Togher N.S.

Project comprising 3 small rural   primary schools, 2 DEIS, with a focus on using Visual Block programming which   allows children to create personally meaningful interactive content.

 

17011W

Cappabui,

 

19918N

Drinagh N.S.

 

 

Dept. of Computer Science UCC

13203L

 

St. Patrick's National School, Loch Gowna

Mixed primary and post-primary   cluster, supported by a local PLC, intended to develop a structured approach   to areas such as computational thinking, sequencing and numeracy which will   have its beginnings in junior classes in primary and continue right through   the senior cycle computer science in secondary school.

 

70380I

Breifne College

 

19586M

Bruskey NS ( St. Patrick’s)

 

19378H

Ballynarry NS

 

17479D

Lacken NS

 

 

Cavan Institute (PLC) 76087R

17845C

 

Scoil Mhuire, - Brierhill National   School

Project aims to involve learners in   creating digital resources in the broad area of well-being.

 

20350P

Merlin Woods Primary School

 

76096S

Merlin College

 

13365O

Scoil Mhuire, Oranmore

 

76293U

Kingswood Community School

 

71050P

St. Colman's Community College

 

62640M

St Angela’s College

19755L

 

Sacred Heart of Jesus National School,   Huntstown,

Primary school cluster including one   gaelscoil, focusing on using digital technology to address the T1 and T2   aspects of competencies of the PLC for oral language in both Gaelscoileanna   and non-Gaelscoileanna and to support the ongoing development of a whole-school   PLC plan for T1 and T2 languages

 

19505L

Scoil Oilibhéir, An Chúil Mhín,   Clonsilla

 

20137P

Mary Mother of Hope Senior National   School, Littlepace

 

13447Q

Scoil Muire GNS, Lucan, Co. Dublin

19798g

 

St Colmans Derrinabroc NS

Cluster involving 4 primary and one   post-primary school (2 DEIS), aims to enhance the Physical Education   Programme at both Primary and Secondary School level in our cluster through   the use constructivist pedagogies with mobile devices for students to give   effective peer assessment and feedback in their PE lessons.

 

17904P

Scoil Mhuire, Brusna N.S

 

19651W

Scoil Íosa, Carracastle N.S.

 

15255R

The Don N.S., Cortoonmore N.S.

 

68067P

St. Nathy's Secondary School

20131D

 

Dublin 7 Educate Together National School

Primary cluster comprising mainly DEIS   schools, with an emphasis on pupils working together and sharing knowledge   and information. Different projects for defined class groups, beginning at   introductory level for infant classes, up to a website project for 6th class,   with newspaper/book project, photo gallery project, among others, in between.

 

05933G

Presentation Primary School Georges Hill

 

16695E

St. Paul's Primary School

 

20436C

St. Mary's Primary School

 

12448N

Gardiner Street Convent

20223I

 

Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, Lucan, Co. Dublin

All-Irish cluster of gaelscoileanna   aiming to develop Computational Thinking Skills in a Constructionist and   Inquiry-Based Science Learning Environment through the use of Robotic   materials, with a particular emphasis on expanding the range of resources   available in Irish.

 

19898I

Scoil Uí Riada, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

 

20058T

Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich, Maynooth, Co.   Kildare

 

19680G

Scoil Chearbhaill Uí Dhálaigh,   Leixlip, Co. Kildare

 

19940G

Gaelscoil Naomh Phádraig, Lucan, Co.Kildare

 

19991A

Gaelscoil na Camóige, Clondalkin,   Dublin 22

60872A

 

Mercy Secondary School, Inchicore,   Dublin 8

Post-primary cluster, 2 DEIS, 2   non-DEIS schools, project focuses on the Junior Cycle Framework, intends to   develop assessment frameworks for teachers and students to use for the   explicit assessment of skills, and show how to utilise state-of-the-art ICT   tools (such as https://www.nomoremarking.com/ which is based on Adaptive   Comparative Judgement ) to support the   assessment of skills/competences.

 

91335U

Tallaght Community School, Tallaght   Dublin 24.

 

68262N

Bremore Educate Together Second Level School

 

68241F

Stepaside Educate Together Second Level School.

65450W

 

CBS Thurles Secondary School

7 primary schools with one lead   post-primary school, focus on enhancing STEM capacity through cross-sectoral   collaboration, with post-primary students interacting with primary pupils in   relevant subject areas.

 

17634M

Scoil Ailbhe, CBS Primary School.

 

16211C

Two Mile Borris National School

 

04005G

Moycarkey National School

 

18343G

Littleton National School

 

01569O

Ballycahill National School

 

19968F

Gaelscoil Bhríde

 

18775M

Holycross National School

68081J

 

Temple Carrig School, Greystones, Co   Wicklow

Post-primary cluster, with a broad   geographical and demographic spread, project will use high definition drone   cameras to record footage of the local areas surrounding the schools. The   core focus of footage will surround the core elements of the Junior and   Senior Cycle curriculums, namely, Physical Processes (Rivers, Coasts,   Geology), Human Geography (Urbanisation, Population growth, Historical) and   Field Studies (Rivers, Coasts, Traffic Studies). This will facilitate content   creation to show a variety of land uses in different areas of the country.

 

60910F

Alexandra College, Dublin 6

 

60272W

King’s Hospital School, Dublin 20

 

62370J

Midleton College, Cork

 

60640C

Sandford Park School, Dublin 6

 

63300Q

Wilson’s Hospital School, Co Westmeath

70390L

 

Virginia College

10 post-primary schools, 6 DEIS, using   a variety of specific projects (including a collaboration with Monaghan   Institute to design, develop and implement transition year modules in   Micro:bit programming and App Invention) supported by Cavan Monaghan ETB, to   develop a consolidated approach on the Integration and embedding of   technology to enhance teaching, learning and STEM practices in CMETB schools.

 

72170H

Ballybay Community College

 

72210Q

Beech Hill College

 

72171J

Largy College

 

72190N

Castleblaney College

 

70360C

St Mogues College

 

70350W

St. Bricins College

 

76313A

Coláiste Dun an Rí

 

76091I

Coláiste Oiriall

 

72180K

Inver College

71140Q

 

Crana College

2 Primary, 2 post-primary schools, 3   DEIS, This project will aim to support schools and teachers in their   introduction of coding/computer science across the curriculum, to provide   students across various year levels (primary and secondary) with the   opportunity to learn about and use algorithmic thinking, computational   thinking and coding creativity to understand and change the world.

 

62830R

Saint Eunan's College

 

20235P

Letterkenny Educate Together National   School

 

17469A

Cloughfin National School

71220O

 

Mulroy College

7 post-primary schools, Under this   proposed project, a group of selected teachers from the identified schools,   including one island school, will come together in partnership under   curriculum planning to explore ways of enriching and enhancing the teaching   and learning in their classrooms. Project will develop curricular content in   consultation and collaboration with students.

 

71140Q

Crana College

 

71230R

Deele College

 

71200l

Errigal College

 

76083J

MaghEne Bundoran

 

71242B

Gairmscoil Chú Uladh

 

71150T

Colaiste na Carraige

 

71244F

Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada

71840V

 

Cloister Chiaráin

Post-primary DEIS lead school with 4   primary schools, STEM ROOTS is a project that encompasses primary, secondary   and third level. Students and teachers from across the sectors will   collaborate to produce group ePortfolios that will showcase STEM development   through web design, hardware and software projects.

 

09306W

Croom NS

 

20133H

Scoil Dean Cussen

 

18872K 

Scoil Íde

 

15680J

Roxboro

76101i

 

Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh

Post-primary - all-Irish cluster of   Gaelcholaistí, using Video Blogs: to promote, refine and sustain the Irish   language through technology in Irish-Medium Schools

 

70560K

Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí

 

76102K

Gaelcholáiste an Eachréidh

 

76273O

Gaelcholáiste Charaigh Uí Leighin

 

71124S

Coláiste Dáibhéid

 

91511O

Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne

76105q

 

Banagher College – Colaiste na Sionna

Post-primary cluster, rural towns, The   project aims to use industry leading training in MoJo (mobile journalism)   video content creation to enhance teaching, learning and digital literacy   among educators and students in the cluster schools; while also being central   to AFL (assessment for learning) and blended learning approaches in the   respective schools.

 

63270k

Colaiste Mhuire, Mullingar

 

65610s

Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore

 

68325L

Coláiste Chiarain, Summerhill,   Crannagh, Athlone

91400F

 

Mayfield Community School

Lead by DEIS post-primary, with 4   primary schools (3 DEIS), project uses coding animated webcasts and robot   challenges to reinforce the learning of our students by coding what they have   learned, sharing what they have coded, assessing the effectiveness of their   efforts and then reflecting on the whole process to learn how to do it better   the next time around.

 

20497W

Scoil Mhuire agus Eoin N.S.

 

19410A

St. Killian's Special School

 

19426P

St. Mark's N.S.

 

19427R

St. Brendan's G.N.S.

76474B

 

Dunamase College

Mixed primary and post-primary, number   of DEIS schools, one Gaelcholaiste, strong third level involvement, education   centre support and industry participation, through a series of cross sectoral   workshops will explore the maths curricula in the transition from primary to   post-primary, and investigate activities using IZAK9 cubes, Geogebra and   other technologies to engage students in collaborative learning, problem   solving, hypothesis development and testing. Digital portfolios will be used   to track progress and outcomes in this project.

 

19747M

Scoil Bhride

 

20081O

Gaelscoil Phortlaoise

 

65620V

Sacred Heart

 

16928B

St Philomena's NS

 

18057F

Scoil Mhuire

 

91530S

Kildare Town CS

 

20427B

St Brigid's

 

20403K

Kildate Town ET

91494R

 

St Louis Community School

Post-primary cluster, with a focus on   the area of career guidance, improving senior cycle student’s awareness of   how key skills relate to diverse study and career paths using artificial   intelligence.

 

61681V

Patrician Secondary School

 

65170Q

Summerhill College

20295K

 

Carlow Educate Together NS

Educate Together primary school   cluster, This project aims to create an online classroom to teach Educate   Together’s Ethical Education curriculum to 6 schools where children will   collaborate to build up a complete programme of work for all schools to use.   Methodologies used will be applicable to other content

 

20177E 

Newbridge Educate Together NS

 

20402I 

Citywest Educate Together NS

 

20347D 

Portlaoise Educate Together NS

 

20403K 

Kildare Educate Together NS

 

20411J

Firhouse Educate Together NS

71620H

 

Bunclody Vocational College

A cluster of 10 post-primary schools,   the project will create a professional network of Music teachers, to   facilitate the use of additional music software, video conferencing for   student and teacher collaboration and creation of Class Notebooks as Digital   portfolios as part of assessment.

 

71610E

Bridgetown College

 

76127D

Creagh College

 

71600B

Coláiste Abbáin

 

71650Q

Coláiste an Átha, Kilmuckridge

 

71680C

Selskar College

 

72241E

St. Paul's Community College

 

72230W

St. Declan's Community College

 

71630K

Enniscorthy Vocational College

 

76066J

Meanscoil San Nicolás an Rinn

62990Q

 

Dominican College

Project will use digital technologies   to facilitate and enhance the Classroom based assessment piece for Juinior   Cycle initially, across a number of curricular areas, including P.E, and   modern languages. To note, this cluster has been expanded, by the addition of   5 individual applicant post-primary schools proposing similar projects.

 

62960H

St. Joseph's College "The Bish"

 

63001G

Jesus and Mary Secondary School,   Salerno

 

 

NUI Galway School of Education

 

68141b

Ardscoilnamara

 

61820J

Loreto Secondary School

 

60770P

St. Mary's Secondary School Glasnevin

 

61141M

Presentation College, Carlow

 

64660F

Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh.

19951L

 

Swinford National School

Project to involve teachers and pupils   in the creation of a new 4D model of CPD, which combines Lesson Study, Bridge   21 and Design Thinking models to create a new innovative online experience   for teachers working in Teacher Design Teams to collaboratively effect change   at a whole-school level to innovate and improve educational practice, through   the embedding of a range of digital technologies in teaching and learning. To   note, these two clusters were asked to merge based on common theme.

 

02912G

Meelick National School

 

16780S

Culmore National School

 

13389F

Midfield National School

 18542M

 

St Patrick's De la Salle Boys' N.S,

 

18880J

Gortskehy N.S.

 

12173A

Meelickmore N.S.

19745I

 

Scartaglen National School

The plan aims to embed coding   practices, develop computational thinking and problem solving while   encouraging creativity. The coding skills to be taught are divided into four   levels, Junior/Senior, First/Second, Third/Fourth and Fifth/Sixth class.

 

07317R

Glengurt NS

 

10394G

Kilmurry NS (Scoil Mhuire B & C)

 

14839P

Clondrohid National School

 

 

Tralee Institute of Technology

 

61301I

Coláiste Ide agus Iosef, Abbeyfeale   (Second Level)

19488O

 

Attymass NS

The aim of this project is to explore   and research the impact of a number of professional learning opportunities   for all teachers in our schools so that digital technologies will be embedded   in teaching, learning and assessment by all teachers. We aim to address this   by focussing on teaching and learning approaches and methodologies and   exploring /sharing/ researching the range of tools and applications that can   deepen the learning for all pupils.

 

18003F

St. Attracta's NS

 

14051T

Stokane NS

 

20230F

Scoil Phádraig, Westport

 

14418O

Bofield NS

 

18694M

St. Angela's NS

 

11725I

Behymore NS

 

12467r

Craggagh NS

 

20089H

St. Joseph's P.S. Ballinrobe

 

17922R

Cloghans Hill NS

 

05120L

Lehinch NS

 

20457K

Castlebar ETNS

19384C

 

Ardfert Central N.S

Primary and post-primary school   cluster, using Virtual Reality to provide an enhanced learning experience for   pupils and students, in a variety of contexts, including the Primary Language   Curriculum, wellbeing, and numeracy. To note, these two clusters have been   asked to merge based on common theme.

 

18665f

Abbeydorney N.S.

 

20158a

Tralee Educate Together N.S.

 

10957b

Scoil Mhuire de Lourdes

 

20237T

Gaelscoil Riada

19390U

 

St. Mark's Senior National School

 

19765O

St. Thomas's Senior National School

 

20173T

St. Anne's Primary School

 

19543T

Sacred Heart Senior National School

 

76098W

Coláiste Pobail Setanta

 

19543T

Sacred Heart Senior National School

 

76098W

Coláiste Pobail Setanta

SEF – DEIS

SEF-DEIS is designed to ensure that innovative approaches and proposals to tackle educational disadvantage are supported and rewarded.

The overarching aim of the initiative is to improve learning outcomes for young people. In order to achieve improved outcomes, schools in the SEF-DEIS will be challenged to promote innovation by adopting new evidence-based approaches to tackling under-performance in literacy and in the STEM subjects or in the Arts subjects.

There are ten clusters, comprising thirty-five schools, currently involved in the first phase of the SEF-DEIS. They are working on a diverse range of themes including:

  • A cluster comprising one post-primary school and its two main feeder primary schools working towards ensuring that students learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) develop sufficient higher order language skills to access the full curriculum and to achieve at the level of their ability (Balbriggan).
  • A cluster comprising one post-primary school and three feeder primary schools collaborating with a local third level institute and local industry to improve student attainment in Science. The schools are working towards improving student attitudes to and attainment in the subject (Athlone, Westmeath).
  • Teachers in a cluster comprising four primary schools and three pre-schools collaborating with each other and with external agencies to ensure improved outcomes in language. This will involve the development and delivery of an evidence-informed programme at the level of the classroom and in the home (Dublin north east inner city)
  • Teachers in a cluster comprising one post-primary school and two feeder primary schools working towards the development of a programme in Mathematics that will be delivered to senior pupils in the primary schools and to junior cycle students in the post-primary school with the ultimate aim of improving the uptake and attainment at higher level in Mathematics in State examinations (Rathangan, Kildare).
  • A cluster comprising one primary and a post-primary school has decided to develop the students’ computational thinking skills and their problem-solving skills as a means of better supporting the transition of primary pupils into the post-primary school. The work will be supported by a local third level institution (Clonmel, Tipperary).
  • Another primary and post-primary school have collaborated to develop the PEACH project –Physical, Emotional, Active, Cognitive, Health project. This project will focus on the students’ wellbeing by addressing their needs in the areas identified above. Parental involvement will be an important element of the programme, as it will be in most of the other projects (Cork City).
  • A rural cluster of schools will focus on the development of a cross-sectoral approach to the development of the students’ communication skills. Teachers will engage in collaborative review of their practices with a view to enhancing their communications skills and teaching methodologies while students will be expected to demonstrate improved communication skills over time (West Sligo).
  • A cluster comprising two primary and one post-primary schools will seek to improve students’ literacy skills by adopting a cross-sectoral approach to the development of their oral language skills. The project will seek to ensure continuity of teachers’ practices and students’ experiences between the two levels (Enniscorthy, Wexford).
  • A cluster comprising one post-primary and three primary schools is seeking to bring about attitudinal change among students to Science. The schools will work with the local business community to tap into available expertise and teachers will engage in cross-sectoral peer observation as a means of improving practices in the area of Science teaching (Inchicore, Dublin).
  • Three schools, one post-primary and two primary are collaborating to ensure that high ability students achieve to the best of those abilities. Ultimately, the project is aimed at ensuring greater uptake at higher level in senior cycle Physics and Chemistry. The schools will collaborate through the implementation of a cross-sectoral approach to teaching STEM subjects (Limerick city).

Schools have been encouraged to submit applications for inclusion in the second phase of the SEF-DEIS by 18 May. It is envisaged that ten clusters comprising approximately forty schools will be selected to participate in the programme from September 2018. More information, including how to apply can be found here: http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/school-excellence-fund/school-excellence-fund.html

SEF – Gaeltacht

Schools in the Gaeltacht play a critical role in the preservation of the Irish language in their communities through the provision of high quality Irish-medium education. The Minister launched the Policy on Gaeltacht Education in 2016, which is the first Gaeltacht specific education policy in the history of the state. Funding for the implementation of the Policy has more than doubled in 2018 increasing to €2.3m, indicating this government’s commitment to supporting the Irish language and Gaeltacht schools.

A key feature of Policy implementation was the launch of the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme in April 2017 which provides Gaeltacht schools with the opportunity to access extra supports and resources to assist them in achieving Gaeltacht status through the development of action plans and implementation of specific language-based criteria. Through the school self-evaluation process and Recognition Scheme, 133 schools in the Gaeltacht are moving towards full Irish-medium immersion education with the support of their local language-planning committees.

To support the promotion of innovation and excellence in the delivery of Irish-medium education through the Scheme, schools that achieve Gaeltacht School Recognition over the next few years will also have the opportunity to work towards becoming Irish-medium Gaeltacht Schools of Excellence / Scoileanna Gaeltachta Barr Feabhais. This will enable schools to share their practices with other Gaeltacht schools and become involved in leading communities of practice.

 Another exciting and ground- breaking research-based project which is on track for implementation on pilot basis in the 2018/2019 school year is the implementation of a pilot e-hub digital project in four post-primary Gaeltacht schools participating in the Scheme. The roll-out of this project will not only be of great interest to Gaeltacht communities but also to those with an interest in how ICT and online synchronous and asynchronous learning can assist in extending the range of subject options through Irish for post-primary students.

SEF – Step Up

The Inspectorate and the Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) support service are collaborating on a project to support and encourage post-primary schools to use the school self-evaluation process to achieve the highest level of quality in the implementation of the new Junior Cycle framework in specific subject areas. Schools will have access to dedicated support from JCT and to advice from inspectors in order to encourage them to use innovative teaching approaches and to assist them in progressing from providing effective learning experiences to highly effective learning for their students.  

SEF – Creative

Creative Clusters is a pilot initiative of the Department of Education and Skills, led by and in partnership with the 21 full-time Teacher Education Centres (ATECI). Creative Clusters provide schools with access to creative people, skills and resources alongside supporting them to draw on their own skills and experiences and those within their wider communities. Creative Clusters is an important initiative of Creative Youth – A Plan to Enable the Creative Potential of Every Child and Young Person, which was published in December 2017 as part of the Creative Ireland Programme.

Applications are now open. Interested schools can find out more information here: Schools Excellence Fund - Creative Clusters

SEF – STEM

The remaining SEF-STEM clusters will be informed once they return from the Easter Holidays.