Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (314)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

314. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education the level of financial support being given to schools by her Department to support teachers who are hosting classes online. [2645/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As part of the €210m investment programme underpinning the implementation of the Digital Strategy for Schools, my Department provided €100m in grant funding to schools to address their ICT needs during 2020. Schools were advised that they can use this funding to support the continuity of teaching and learning should a period of partial or full school closure occur arising from Public Health advice owing to Covid-19 restrictions as is the current situation. Schools can use this funding, inter alia, to acquire software applications or platforms to enable remote learning and communications, and to provide for devices to be loaned to teachers and learners in particular where needed to enable engagement with remote learning.

Funding for ICT is issued directly to schools given that schools are best placed to determine the ICT needs of their school community. In addition my Department directly funds the provision of broadband connectivity for schools at a cost of some €13m per annum. School buildings will remain open to allow staff access where this is essential to facilitate remote learning.

Extensive support and advice for teachers and schools to provide remote learning has been, and continues to be made available through my Department’s support service, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and its Technology in Education team at www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie The information on this website includes a link to a dedicated PDST portal https://www.pdst.ie/DistanceLearning aimed at supporting teachers and schools in the remote learning environment. This resource includes information on popular communication and learning platforms, digital tools and resources, video conferencing, webinars to support and inspire teachers to identify good practice and a dedicated online course for teachers for remote learning. The Department’s Education website www.scoilnet.ie also contains a wealth of curriculum tagged resources that can be used by teachers, students and parents to support the continuity of learning in the remote environment.

The continuity of learning guidance circulated to schools last year advised Principals of the responsibility to ensure that learners receive appropriate support to engage adequately with learning remains with the school in which they are enrolled. Regular and ongoing communication between school and home will be essential to support engagement with learning and continuous connection with classmates and school community. Additional supports will be provided for these learners from within the staffing resources of the school. Schools will have discretion to manage and redistribute their support resources in order to best meet the learning needs of their pupils and students.

Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 279.