Minister for Education Norma Foley TD announced the publication of the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027 and the payment of €50 million in grant funding for digital technology infrastructure to all recognised primary and post-primary schools.
This strategy will advance the embedding of digital technologies across teaching, learning and assessment, building on the work under previous strategies. It aims to further support the school system so that all students across our schools have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to navigate an ever-evolving digital world successfully.
Minister Foley said, “it is vital that our school system uses digital technology effectively, so that our students learn the skills they need for the modern world. This strategy I am publishing today will help our school communities to further embed digital technology across teaching and learning, and will provide ongoing investment to build technology in schools.”
“Digital technologies are part of our everyday lives. Our students must be fully equipped with key skills, including digital skills, to enable them to avail of new opportunities for learning and get the most from their education journey. This in turn will allow them to reach their potential and participate fully in a digital world.
“There has been huge progress in recent years, and an ongoing commitment from our school leaders and teachers, who have already demonstrated this in their increased use of digital technologies in their teaching practice up to now. There were further learnings as a result of schools’ experiences with remote teaching and learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. This strategy will support our schools to grow and further embrace their use of digital technologies.”
This strategy was developed following an extensive consultation process with all relevant stakeholders. This included students at primary and post-primary level, parents/guardians, teachers and school leaders as well as the education partners, initial teacher education institutions, disability groups, non-governmental organisations, the industry sector, EU colleagues in a number of member states and other relevant Government Departments.
Minister Foley said, “I would like to thank sincerely all of those who took the time to engage with the consultation process. The outcome of all elements of the consultation process played a key role in informing the overall development of the new strategy. It is very important to me that everyone is given the opportunity to have their voice heard, particularly students.”
“The successful delivery of this strategy will require ongoing collaboration and engagement with all key stakeholders. I am delighted that the strategy allows for the establishment of both a consultative and an industry group which will further help support the implementation of the objectives of the strategy and ensure its currency over its lifetime to 2027.”
“Through continued investment we will ensure that all schools, regardless of location, are provided with appropriate broadband connectivity. We will continue to invest in supporting schools to build their own capacity and digital technology infrastructure. In recognition of the work underway at school level to welcome children from Ukraine and to enable schools to support those children, schools can also use this funding as part of that effort. This can include loaning devices to Ukrainian children enrolled in the school if needed, as well as providing appropriate software, app and tools to support their learning.”
“As we move past the pandemic, it will be important to maintain the momentum gained and to look at innovative ways to further embed digital technology in teaching and learning to enhance the digital learning experience of all learners. The funding provided for under the next Digital Strategy is a key support to schools in that journey.”
The high level objectives of the strategy are set out under three pillars, which aim to ensure that the school system is prepared for and continues to progress the embedding of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. They also address inclusion, supporting curricular reform, online safety, technical support and include consideration for areas, particularly emerging technologies, where further research is required.
Schools have received the first payment to support the implementation of the strategy, which totalled €50 million across schools.
The Department’s capital budget was increased in 2021 to facilitate the early payment of the first tranche of funding from the overall commitment under the National Development Plan of €200m over the lifetime of this strategy. A full table of this funding is set out below.
The circular outlining the criteria applying to the Digital Strategy Digital Technology Infrastructure Grant Scheme will issue to schools after the Easter break.