01 April, 2019 - Launch of Gaeltacht e-Hub Pilot Project

The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. today (Monday, 1 April 2019) attended Gairmscoil Mhic Dhiarmada, Arranmore to launch the Gaeltacht Irish-medium e-Hub pilot project. 

Minister McHugh said “This innovative digital project will provide Gaeltacht post-primary students with the opportunity to access online a greater range of subjects through the medium of Irish.  This three-year pilot project is based on comprehensive research completed on similar e-learning initiatives globally, where students supplement their existing curriculum with online courses, when those subjects are not available in their own school. This digital project will greatly enhance the capacity of Gaeltacht post-primary schools to extend their curricular provision for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).” 

Planning for the pilot project commenced in two Gaeltacht post-primary schools from September 2018 – Coláiste na Coiribe in Galway and Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in Kerry. Almost 50 Transition Year students participated in a five-week Transition Year Physics Module through the medium of Irish where they gained first-hand experience of virtual learning. 

Following a tendering process, the consultancy firm H2 Learning is assisting the Gaeltacht Education Unit in the Department of Education and Skills in managing and co-ordinating this digital project. 

The Minister said, “I am very pleased to be here today to launch this exciting innovative project. This project demonstrates the important role which information and communications technology (ICT) can play in extending the range of curriculum subjects through the medium of Irish for Gaeltacht post-primary students, including those who attend island schools.” 

 “I would like to congratulate all those involved in this project: officials of my Department, H2 Learning, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), SciFest and in particular the students and teachers who are involved in the implementation of the project in schools. I wish all those who will participate in the online Leaving Certificate Physics Pilot Project from September 2019 every success and I trust that there will be a beneficial outcome for all students involved.” 

The online course will be taught by two Physics e-Teachers with experience in the teaching of Leaving Certificate Higher-Level Physics through the medium of Irish.  The e-Teachers will be based in their own post-primary Gaeltacht schools and will teach students across a number of other post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht. Four schools have applied to participate from September.  Students who are participating in the pilot project will be supported by e-Mentors in their own post-primary schools. E-mentors are members of the teaching staff with science or mathematics expertise who will support students during the lesson times. 

Feedback from those participating in the pilot Transition Year Physics module has been very positive. Students and e-Mentors have reported that they have enjoyed and benefitted from the experience of learning at a distance in an interactive way during the Physics online lessons. 

This online Leaving Certificate Higher-Level Physics will be entirely through the medium of Irish. Additional support will be provided to participating post-primary schools to include a grant for digital equipment and additional hours for e-Mentors. 

Notes to Editors

  • The three year e-Hub pilot project is being implemented to support the implementation of the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme under the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022.
  • A budget of almost €5m has been provided in 2019 for the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education.
  • Under Support Pillar 1 of the Policy, Strengthening the Structure of Educational Provision, the establishment of a hub school or e-school with virtual classrooms is recommended as an option for extending the range of curricular choices available to students in small post-primary schools.
  • The aim of this three-year e-Hub pilot project is to utilise online delivery to extend the subject range available through the medium of Irish to students in post-primary Gaeltacht schools, starting with online Leaving Certificate Physics from September 2019.
  • The report, International Review and Advisory Report on Online Learning, was published by the Department of Education and Skills in 2018 to inform the implementation of the e-Hub pilot project.
  • The consultancy firm, H2 Learning is supporting the Department of Education and Skills in implementing the e-Hub pilot project.
  • Implementation of the e-Hub pilot project, commenced in two Gaeltacht post-primary schools in September 2018 – Coláiste na Coiribe in Galway and Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in Kerry.
  • Additional resources, including additional teaching hours and a grant for technology equipment, are being provided to post-primary schools participating in the project.
  • Approximately 50 Transition-Year students participated in a five-week Transition-Year Physics Module through the medium of Irish in Spring 2019.
  • The pilot will be open to post-primary schools that have students who wish to take Higher-Level Leaving Certificate Physics through the medium of Irish but are not in a position to provide Physics as a Leaving Cert subject choice for the 2019/20 school year.
  • The Department plans to offer the full Leaving Certificate Physics course online from September 2019 to 2021.
  • SciFest consists of a series of one-day STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fairs for post-primary students. The aim of the programme is to encourage an interest in the STEM subjects.