Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (130)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

130. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that implemented Circular 0038/2018. [11525/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Decisions on the use of smart phones and other such devices in schools are taken at local level by the Board of Management of a school, who under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998 have responsibility for the direct governance of a school.

My Department recognises the requirement to safeguard children from the negative impact of using digital devices but consider that it is also very important to recognise the value of digital technology to enhance teaching and learning for all students. In that context, schools are best placed to identify and put in place appropriate policies in the context of their own particular situation, through consultation with their local school community.

Circular 0038/2018, which issued to all schools, early last year requires all schools to consult with teachers, student and parents in the development of policy around the use of smart phones and personal devices in school. This consultation requirement will be underpinned in law once the Parents and Students Charter is enacted. There is no automatic requirement for schools to report on the implementation of circulars to the Department.

This bottom-up approach will ensure all parents, teachers and school communities are satisfied with the smart phone policy in place in their school. It will also mean that parents will be able to adopt a complementary approach at home to that which is in place in their child's school, if they wish to do so.

The intention is to promote a shared approach regarding the appropriate and beneficial use of digital technologies. The Department recognises that parents are the primary educators of their children, and will prioritise their child’s best interests and well-being. In that context, the input of parents to developing school policies as articulated in the draft Education (Parent & Student Charter) Bill 2018, which notes and mandates that role, is a priority of this Department.