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School Curriculum.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 11 March 2008

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Ceisteanna (354, 355)

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

430 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the administrative and management reasons she and her Department do not have details of the number of post-primary schools with classrooms dedicated to the teaching of information and communications technology sciences, having regard to the commitment to the implementation of a comprehensive schools ICT strategy and the cost of basic data upon which a precise sum of €252 million was committed to underpin this programme in the National Development Plan 2007 to 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10536/08]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

Information and Communication Technology is not a discrete subject for the junior or leaving certificates. The approach taken by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has been to pursue the development of students' competence in ICT via the inclusion of ICT as a tool to be used in all subjects.

In this context, the new syllabuses for the Leaving Certificate subjects of Design and Communication Graphics and Technology were introduced last September and will be examined for the first time in June, 2009. Computer aided design is a compulsory element of the Design and Communication Graphics course while ICT is a core component as well as a course option in the Technology syllabus. Some 500 schools are offering Design and Communication Graphics and some 50 schools are offering Technology at Leaving Certificate level. Each of the schools concerned has been funded by my Department to upgrade their facilities to enable them to provide these subjects.

Apart from this specific curricular initiative, all major post-primary school building projects, including major refurbishments, extensions and new school buildings, include the provision of a minimum of one computer room; with all but the smallest schools also being provided with a Multimedia Learning Laboratory — which is an enhanced computer room with additional audiovisual facilities for the learning of languages. Indeed, the largest schools will have several computer rooms. All new post-primary classrooms are networked and there is additional provision for the use of computers by students in specialist rooms such as science laboratories.

Since the introduction of the ICT in Schools Programme, there has been specific investment by way of grants to schools to enhance their ICT infrastructure, accompanied by a range of continuing professional development activities, digital content initiatives and supports for schools to integrate ICT into their teaching and learning. While my Department does not maintain records of all school classrooms dedicated for the teaching of information and communication technology sciences, the National Centre for Technology in Education undertook a Census of Schools ICT Infrastructure in 2005. 584 post-primary schools (80%) responded to a question on the location of computers within schools, which revealed that 58% were located in computer rooms, 7% in specialist rooms and workshops, 6% in language and science laboratories, 5% in learning support and special needs resource rooms, 4% in general classrooms, 2% in school libraries and resource areas with the remainder being either mobile computers or computers located in staff rooms, offices, and administration areas. Almost all of the responding schools had a computer room.

As the Deputy will be aware I have received the report of the Strategy Planning Group to advise on the prioritisation of measures under the planned investment of €252m over the period of the National Development Plan. I will shortly be publishing the report together with my implementation plan.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

431 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the administrative and management reasons she and her Department decline to give the number of post-primary schools that have dedicated up to date laboratory facilities in view of Parliamentary Question No. 453 of 4 march 2008; the number of post-primary schools that have separate dedicated laboratories, irrespective of the age or quality of their equipment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10537/08]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Further to my reply to Question no. 453 on 4th March last I wish to inform the Deputy that all post-primary schools recognised by my Department would have dedicated laboratories for the teaching of science subjects. The number of laboratories in a school would depend on the size of the school, uptake of science subjects etc. My Department does not maintain detailed records of each school's equipment levels.

As I indicated in my reply to Question no. 453 on 4th March my Department has invested heavily in modernising school facilities throughout the country including science facilities in post-primary schools through the provision of new buildings, extensions etc., or as a dedicated investment to facilitate the teaching of science. Over 60 schools were approved for funding under the Summer Works Scheme to enable them to get science laboratories refurbished on a devolved basis. I have provided for class materials, basic general equipment and chemicals for practical work for the Sciences. My Department also spent in excess of €13m in 2004 to facilitate the introduction of a revised Junior Science syllabus.

Additional funding was made available to schools where other specified equipment was required. In addition, certain schools identified as needing new or refurbished science laboratories as a result of a 1998 national survey received funding. It is also open to schools to apply for funding from my Department for replacement/new equipment.

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