Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (280)

Brendan Howlin


280. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a meeting will be arranged with a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27997/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from recent correspondence from the Deputy that the company in question runs a programme in media literacy, cyber awareness for young people including mindfulness

It is the policy of my Department not to endorse or promote any commercial product or service, professional consultant or company. In this case the endorsement might be seen as advice to parents and schools in what can be a complex and sometimes sensitive area. The Deputy will therefore appreciate that no useful purpose would be served by my officials meeting with the company in question. A letter to this effect will issue shortly.

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015–2020, which is currently being implemented, reflects my Department’s current policy on the effective use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment in primary and post primary schools. It sets out a clear vision that is focused on realising the potential of digital technologies to transform the learning experiences of students by helping them become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens who participate fully in society and the economy.

My Department, though its teacher support services, provides extensive training, supports and resources to schools to assist with the implementation of the Digital Strategy and in the development of policies and practices on the effective use of digital technologies in teaching and learning including their safe and ethical use. This includes supports on the prevention of bullying and harassment using the internet.

Webwise.ie is a key educational resource for schools which promotes the promotes the autonomous, effective and safer use of the internet by young people through a sustained information and awareness strategy targeting school leaders, teachers, parents and children themselves with consistent and relevant messages. This resource is funded by my Department and the EU and is managed by the Professional Development for Teachers (PDST).

Within the PDST, there is also a team of 22 full time personnel focusing on health and wellbeing with the goal of helping schools, through the Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) curriculum and other means to develop and promote students’ mental, emotional, social, sexual, personal and physical health in the context of a positive health-promoting school environment.

Individual schools have however autonomy to determine whether they wish to supplement or support the school's work with other external resources/materials, such as those referenced by the Deputy, but this is a matter for each individual school itself to determine.