THE Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD has launched the second year of ‘Digital Schools of Distinction’ programme, to encourage the use of technology in primary schools, writes Anne Sheridan.
The programme is supported by HP Ireland and Microsoft Ireland, who have confirmed that they will support the programme with €200,000 in funding for its second year.
More than one in three Irish primary schools – a total of 1,100 schools - signed up to become ‘Digital Schools of Distinction’ in the first full school year of the programme. The programme aims to sign up a further 750 schools during this academic year.
Primary schools which achieve digital schools of distinction status this year will receive a range of ICT supports, including free printing for a year via a HP OfficeJet Pro printer and a monthly printing allowance of 250 colour pages and 2,500 black and white pages; Microsoft software and educational apps as well as technical support and access to education ICT specialists.
Speaking in Limerick, at Scoil Íosagáin on Sexton Street, which became the first new digital school of distinction to be awarded in this academic year, Minister O’Sullivan said the programme has been a huge success in its first year,
“The programme supports the advancement of the ICT agenda in the classroom and is making a practical contribution to helping schools make the most of their digital capabilities,” she said.
Principal Patrick Hanley, Scoil Íosagáin, said due to the programme their pupils are given the opportunities to become familiar with a range of technologies and to develop the skills to use them in a meaningful way that cultivates their independence, problem solving, communications and collaboration abilities. “It is a great honour for our school to become a Digital School of Distinction and we are looking forward to the benefits and opportunities it will undoubtedly bring us,” he added.
Martin Murphy, managing director of HP Ireland, said as more than one third of Irish primary schools now registered, “it is clear that there is a tremendous appetite amongst educators at primary level to make the most of their schools’ digital capabilities.”