Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (112)

Thomas P. Broughan


111 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce computer science into the second level curriculum in view of the recent international surveys showing a weakness in the Irish educational system in mathematics and closely related subjects like computer science; if the informal computer science initiative for young persons being taken by a Minister in his Department will be extended into mainstream curricula; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35848/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

The curriculum in schools is devised on the basis that ICT is not a subject but rather a tool to be integrated into the teaching and learning of all subjects. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed an ICT framework which sets out a structured approach to ICT in curriculum and assessment. This sets out the types of learning appropriate for students during the period of compulsory education, and provides a guide to teachers for embedding ICT across the curriculum. Therefore, it is not time bound.

The overall implementation of ICT in schools is supported by the National Centre for Technology in Education which provides for extensive training and guidance for schools on the integration of ICT into teaching and learning. To further support teachers in using ICT in the curriculum, the NCCA developed the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Teachers as a supporting document to the Primary School Curriculum 1999. The guidelines were launched by the Department of Education and Science (DES) in 2004.

I am currently leading the reform of the Junior Cycle. A Framework for the revised Junior Cycle has been prepared. It contains 24 Statements of Learning which students should experience. One of the Statements of Learning aims to ensure that all students "use ICT effectively and ethically in learning and in life".

The reform will allow for the introduction of optional school developed short courses of 100 hours duration. This will provide a new opportunity for schools to progress the provision of short courses to enhance students' ICT skills which will be embedded in all their learning. Such courses could include software programming and coding, if a school so chooses. One of my Minister of State's has established a CoderDojo programme in his constituency. The content of such a programme, for example, could be considered by schools to form part of a new short course.

In addition ICT will be an area of essential learning which all students will be required to experience, and Managing Information and Thinking will be embedded in subjects as a core skill. There is also a Transition Year option in relation to Having Fun with Computer Programming and Games and, under the ICT Action Plan, this is being expanded nationally.