Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (381)

Charlie McConalogue


381. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the digital schools award in primary schools; and the plans his Department has to enable all schools to achieve this award. [32129/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Digital Schools Award is a worthwhile initiative which recognises excellence in a school's approach to the integration of ICT in learning and teaching. This award aims to build on the progress already made by schools in ICT integration and to encourage them to strive for further progression and improvement. To achieve a Digital Schools Award, each participating school must fulfil identified criteria which are applied as part of the validation process. There are sixty-one criteria in all, sixteen essential and forty-one desirable, organised under five headings. Leadership & Vision; ICT in the Curriculum; School ICT Culture; Professional Development; Resources & Infrastructure. To assist in this process, participating schools use a self-evaluation tool based on the Digital Schools' criteria, to identify areas which may meet the criteria and those that require improvement. Successful schools retain their Digital School status for a period of two school years, at which time they may reapply. The Digital Schools Award has entered a new phase. It is now managed by Dublin West Education Centre working closely with the PDST Technology in Education (formerly the NCTE) and other partners including the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the Computer Education Society of Ireland (CESI). HP Ireland (Hewlett-Packard) and Microsoft Ireland have committed expertise and resources to the new phase of the Digital Schools Award scheme and are providing worthwhile devices for schools that achieve Digital Schools status. Both companies will be involved in a launch of the new phase in the autumn. Dublin West Education Centre will communicate with the 93 schools that have achieved Digital Schools status and a further 179 schools that have registered for the scheme in September. All schools will be contacted after the launch of the new phase. I am keen for this project to develop and arrangements are in place for its promotion and ongoing review.