04 March, 2019 - €50m in funding for ICT equipment for schools under the Digital Strategy for Schools

Minister McHugh today (Monday March 4th) announces third year of funding under Project Ireland 2040 takes total spend on Digital Strategy for Schools ICT Infrastructure Fund to €110m 

All schools will receive grants to purchase key technology including tablets, cloud systems, projectors  

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today announced a further €50million investment in ICT infrastructure for all primary and post-primary schools. 

Grant funding for the purchase of ICT infrastructure will issue to all eligible primary and post primary schools in the country to enable them to embed the use of digital technology in teaching and learning.

The Government’s total investment in the Project Ireland 2040 scheme will total €110m to date when all schools draw down their entitlements. 

Minister McHugh said: “We are living in a world which is being fundamentally transformed by digital technology. Disruptive technologies in cloud, mobile and social are revolutionizing how we work and how we live.

“Critical, creative thinking, problem solving skills and adaptability will be key to ensuring young people flourish this environment and we need to make sure they 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.”

The latest tranche of funding is made up of an initial pot of €45m – up €15m on the allocations in previous years. 

The grants will be allocated through a standard lump sum and additional per-capita sums based on the size of the school. At primary level, the grant is worth in the region of €5,900 for a 100 pupil school and almost €22,000 for a 500 pupil school.  At post-primary, a 500 student school can receive a grant of almost €27,000 rising to some €52,000 for a 1,000 student school. 

A further €5m pot of funding is also being set aside in this year’s tranche to recognise and support schools’ efforts to engage with digital technologies in teaching and learning.  Schools are being invited to apply for the additional fund by demonstrating evidence of effective embedding of digital technologies and Digital Learning Planning. 

Minister McHugh said: “This investment in effective ICT infrastructure in schools will also support curriculum development and enhance teaching and learning. 

“The latest funding of €50m continues the Government commitment under Project Ireland 2040 to underpin the implementation of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020. 

“The funding will go hand in hand with other supports for schools such as the Digital Learning Framework and Digital Learning Planning Resource to enable schools to fully embrace and embed digital technologies in their work. 

“We want to encourage and support real innovation in teaching, learning and assessment and recognise the efforts of schools in this regard. We have set aside €5m in this year’s fund to allow schools to apply for additional investment and excel in the technological and digital supports they provide for students and young people.”

The grant funding for schools is expected to complement the objectives of a school’s Digital Learning Plan, which the Department of Education and Skills has provided considerable resources and supports to under the Digital Strategy. 

The funding can be spent on technology including: 

  • 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 third instalment as part of the €210m committed to by the Government under the Digital Strategy in Schools to support investment in ICT infrastructure for schools. 

Ends 

Notes to Editor  

Content for the ICT infrastructure funding is available at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Grants-and-Additional-Support/ict-infrastructure/digital-strategy-for-schools-2015-2020-ict-infrastructure-funding.html  

The rates payable are €2,000 per school plus €39.89 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 €50 per student, with an additional per capita payment for students in DEIS schools. 

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

Advice and support for schools on procurement related issues is available from the Schools Procurement Unit Website at www.spu.ie

Support available under the Digital Strategy for Schools include a Digital Learning Framework rolled out nationally from September 2018 to assist schools in their efforts to embed the use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. 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 athttps://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, 

In 2018, the Department issued a circular to all schools instructing them to consult with their school community, in particular parents, in the development of policies concerning the use of smart phones and personal devices in school. This consultation requirement will be underpinned in law once the Parents and Students Charter is enacted. 

A full suite of information for schools to assist in developing Acceptable Usage Policies including templates and sample policies, can be found on www.webwise.ie.  

The Webwise programme is an internet safety initiative funded by this Department and the EU Safer Internet Project and it has important connections with other relevant Government Departments and agencies and the National Parents Council. The Programme provides access to information on the latest technologies and the changing use of social media. Webwise.ie website promotes the autonomous, effective and safer use of the internet by young people through a sustained information and awareness strategy targeting school leaders, teachers, parents and children themselves with consistent and relevant messages. 

In July 2018 the first Government Action Plan for Online Safety was launched by the Taoiseach and is available at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/be-safe-online/. Recognising that online safety is not the responsibility of any one Department, the Action Plan involves a wide range of activities across six key Government Departments A Sponsors Group, representative of those six key Government Departments, and chaired by the Department of Education & Skills, has been established and is driving the implementation of the Action Plan.