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School Curriculum

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 22 September 2021

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Questions (106)

Emer Higgins

Question:

106. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Education if she plans to introduce digital literacy and online safety into the core education curriculum at primary and secondary school level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45711/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Considerable work has been done in the development of curricula on digital literacy. At both primary and post-primary levels considerable scope for building the capacity of students in the area of digital literacy is provided for through the emphasis on dispositions, competencies and skills as foundational elements of the curriculum. Specifically, in the newly introduced Framework for Junior Cycle digital literacy skills are promoted through the eight Key Skills (all skills have an ICT/digital component) and through the Statements of Learning.

Currently at post-primary level, there are several programmes and courses in ICT and Digital Literacy already in place, particularly the Junior Cycle Short Course in Digital Literacy and the IT courses in the Leaving Certificate Applied programme. To a lesser extent, the recently-introduced Leaving Certificate subject in Computer Science also looks at aspects of digital literacy.

In addition, areas such as Wellbeing and its constituent programmes in Social, Personal and Health Education, Relationships and Sexuality Education and Civic, Social and Political Education also underpin skills of digital literacy in engaging with the subject material in these courses.

In addition, in the ongoing reviews of the Primary Curriculum and of the Senior Cycle the skills of, or skills closely related to, digital literacy, have featured strongly in all discussions on future provision.

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 also promotes the development of digital literacy in our young people and the importance of respectful online communications. The development of a new Digital Strategy for Schools is now well underway and will be informed by the learnings from the current strategy and the experience of teachers, schools leaders, students and parents regarding the embedding of digital technologies across the curriculum as well as the impact of remote learning during school closures. The new strategy will also take into consideration government objectives and priorities, national and international experience and will look to address and incorporate new and emerging issues and trends in digital technology and online safety. To ensure a comprehensive review of the existing strategy and to take account of new and emerging themes from the point of view of all relevant stakeholders, a wide ranging consultation framework has been developed. The overall consultation process is an integral part of the development of the new strategy and key to ensuring its successful implementation. Publication is planned for later this year.

In addition development has commenced on a new Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy strategy for early years, primary and post primary schools, a successor to The National Strategy: Literacy & Numeracy for Learning and life 2011-2020 and Interim Review 2017, The strategy will be developed against robust research to include consideration of national and international practice, stakeholder consultations to include school leaders, teachers and learners and public engagement. The new strategy will set out a clear vision for raising standards of teaching and learning of literacy to include digital literacy and numeracy and identify key priorities and actions to be delivered over the coming years.

There are extensive training and curricular supports, including through the Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) curriculum, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and the Webwise Programme, to assist schools in the development of policies and practices on the safe use of the internet and on the prevention of bullying including cyber-bullying. The PDST and its Webwise team have developed dedicated resources for teachers, parents, children and young people which gives practical information and advice on the safe, ethical and responsible use of the internet and addresses key issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, image sharing, respectful communication, social media, popular apps and more. The Webwise resources are available at www.webwise.ie.

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