05 February, 2018 - Minister Bruton Starts Internet Safety Week by Investing €30m in ICT Equipment for Schools

Schools will receive grant of up to €33,000 to purchase key enabling technology

Funding for tablets, cloud technology, projectors

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., announced today, the start of Internet Safety Week, that he is investing €30m in ICT infrastructure for primary and post-primary schools.

Thousands of primary and post primary schools around the country will receive a grant to purchase equipment which will enable them to integrate digital technology in teaching and learning.

The grant, which will be received by all schools built before 2014, is allocated according to the size of the school plus a standard lump sum amount, is worth in excess of €4,100 for a 100 pupil school and almost €13,000 for a 500 pupil school at primary level. At post-primary level, the Minister said that the grant is worth almost €18,000 for a 500 student school, and over €33,000 for a 1,000 student school. Note - schools built since 2014 would have received funding for ICT infrastructure upon set up.

All schools are supported in having a Digital Learning Plan in place, which details the integration of new technologies in the teaching and learning of the school. It is expected that the infrastructure purchased with this grant will align with the objectives set out in a school’s Digital Learning Plan, some examples of what the funding can be spent on include:

  • Desktop PCs, laptops, tablets or hybrid devices.
  • Projectors     
  • Cloud based tools and software applications to support learning.
  • Learning platforms – these are generally cloud based applications used to support the teaching and learning process.

Today’s investment is the second instalment of the €210m the Government have committed to investing in ICT infrastructure for schools and fulfils a commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education system the best in Europe by 2026.

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said:

“Digital technology can transform the way people learn, encouraging curiosity, exploration and creative thinking. These are the capabilities our young people will need in the future.

“Critical, creative thinking, problem solving skills and adaptability will be key to flourishing in this environment and we need to make sure our young people are well prepared.

 “Our Digital Strategy for Schools sets out a clear vision that is focussed on realising the potential of digital technologies to transform the learning experiences of students. While we are introducing coding and computer science into the curriculum, we must also invest in the ICT infrastructure of our schools.

“That is why we are continuing our commitment to underpin the implementation of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 through investing €210m in funding for schools. The €30m in funding to issue to schools over the coming weeks represent the second release of that funding, and together with the other supports being made available to schools – the Digital Learning Framework and Digital Learning Planning Resource – will enable schools to fully embrace that vision.

“We are exploring the possibility of top slicing some of the remaining funding from the €210m to target schools who undertake to engage with innovative practice and cost effective networks of delivery in future years. I will ask my Digital Implementation Group to consider and advise on this further over the coming months.

“We also want to encourage and support real innovation in teaching, learning and assessment, and schools working together to achieve those aims. The Schools Excellence Fund is a vehicle to enable this, and the recently announced Schools Excellence Fund – Digital programme, also with funding for schools, is one of the Government’s further initiatives in the area.”

Notes to Editor

The rates payable are €2,000 per school plus €21.47 per mainstream pupil in primary schools, with additional per capita payments for pupils in DEIS schools, Special Classes and Special Schools. At post-primary, the rates payable are €2,000 per school plus €31.22 per student, with an additional per capita payment for students in DEIS schools

Advice and support for schools is available from the PDST Technology in Education website: www.pdstechnologyineducation.ie.

Today’s announcement is part of a suite of supports being delivered to schools under the Digital Strategy for Schools. In 2017, a Digital Learning Framework was launched to assist schools in their efforts to embed the use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. This framework is currently being trialled in 50 schools, and following on from the learnings of that trial will be disseminated across all schools from September 2018. Reflecting that Framework, and other developments in the sector, an updated resource for e-learning planning has also been made available to schools to assist in developing and enhancing schools’ Digital Learning Plans, called Digital Learning Planning Guidelines.

Further information on these initiatives can be found http://www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie/en/Planning/.

Safe use of new technologies:

The Department of Education and skills takes the health and safety of all children extremely seriously.

All schools are advised to have an Acceptable Usage Policy in place, which governs students’ use of the internet at school and covers a wide range of issues surrounding the rights, responsibilities and privileges – as well as sanctions – connected with computer use. A suite of information, including an “AUP Generator” to assist schools is available at https://www.webwise.ie/aup-2/. Information for teachers, schools and parents on specific technologies, including Smartphones and social media apps, can be found at www.webwise.ie and www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie.

Under the Broadband for Schools Programme schools are provided with a portfolio of network services including security & filtering of content. 

Decisions on the use of phones in schools are taken at a local level by the Board of Management of a school, who under the Education Act 1998, have responsibility for the direct governance of a school. In developing policies on such issues, including bring your own device and smart phone usage, Boards of Management should consult with the wider school community, including parents.