The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, has today launched the School Excellence Fund – Digital in the Lego Education Innovation Studio in DCU's Institute of Education.
All schools are today being invited to apply to become part of clusters of schools, working together on innovative projects in teaching and learning using digital technologies. Schools can apply in an already formed cluster with a project proposal and a lead school identified, or can apply individually indicating a clear area of interest and clusters of schools sharing the same interest will be formed by the Department at a later stage.
The Minister has set the ambition to make Ireland’s Education and Training Service the best in Europe by 2026. Key to delivering on this ambition will be the ability of our education system to adapt to an economy and society transformed by digital technology. Today’s announcement is one of a number of actions the Minister is taking in this area, as detailed in the Digital Strategy and STEM Education Policy.
Children are naturally curious, adaptable and inquisitive. Digital technology can create an environment that nurtures, values and stretches these attributes. They are all also competencies that our children will need to develop to thrive in the future.
Clusters can be made up of between 4 and 6 schools, although the Department will consider larger clusters depending on the project. They can be made up of just primary schools, just post-primary schools or a mix of both. Each cluster will be expected to work on their project over the course of 3 years. Each cluster will receive the following resources:
An average grant of €30k per cluster for identified needs over the period e.g. software, hardware, additional training etc.
The opportunity to participate in a number of networking, training, and showcase events
Paid substitution cover for networking/training/showcase events, for nominated teachers within the cluster
Each school will receive support from the cluster co-ordinator based in the lead/co-ordinating school
The cluster co-ordinator will receive up to 2 hours per week paid substitution cover for work on the project
Online support and training
Successful projects will, for example:
Demonstrate the use of the digital technologies to embed curricular change e.g. Politics and Society, Leaving Certificate Physical Education
Use digital technology to enhance students’ Literacy and Numeracy
Show collaboration between schools and Higher Education
Show collaboration between schools and industry
Explore the use of digital technologies in designing assessments
Clusters will be expected to report on the impact of their projects on the participating schools and consider how the learning can be disseminated to all schools.
Launching the School Excellence Fund – Digital, Minister Bruton said, “The School Excellence Fund is designed to ensure that innovation in schools is supported and rewarded. School Excellence Fund- Digital will support clusters of schools to collaborate and work together in really exciting ways on projects related to teaching and learning using digital. Truly transformative change does not come from the centre but from the ground up, schools and teachers working together and sharing good practice.
“This is one of a number of actions we are taking to really embed digital technology in teaching and learning, as this will be key to achieving our ambition to become the best in Europe by 2026. We must ensure our students are well equipped to thrive in a future which will be transformed by technology and I look forward to seeing the projects which emerge from this first call”
Information on this scheme, and the application process for schools can be found at: http://www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie/en/Good-Practice/Projects/Clusters/