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Schools gets state aid towards digital learning

Every primary and post-primary school in the county will share a slice of €4.7 million in state funding to support digital learning and to fund minor building works.

The digital learning grant, announced by Education Minister Norma Foley on Friday, is determined by the number of pupils in the school.

There’s a €2,000 basic grant for primary schools plus an additional payment of €39 per mainstream pupil, €43 per pupil in DEIS schools and €47 per pupil with special educational needs attending a special school or attending a special class attached to a mainstream primary school.

That means, for example, that a 100 pupil primary school would receive €5,973 and a 500 pupil primary school would get €21,865.

Post-primary schools will be paid a €2,000 basic grant plus €47 per mainstream student and €52 per student in DEIS schools.

In this case, a 500 student post-primary school would receive €25,840 and a 1,000 student post-primary school would receive €49,680.

This ICT grant builds on the €210m already allocated under the previous Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, and the €50m issued under Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan to enable schools to support learners at risk of education disadvantage through the digital divide.

The ICT funding is being provided to schools to help them continue to use digital technologies in their teaching, learning and assessment, while the minor works funding can be used by these schools for maintenance and small-scale improvements to school buildings and grounds.

Minister Foley said that thee ICT grant funding would support schools to ensure they can continue to embed the use of digital technologies in their teaching, learning and assessment.

“Digital technologies can open up a world of opportunities to our pupils and students. It is important that schools can properly equip our young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding to harness the benefits of such technologies,” she said.

The Minister said her department was acutely aware of schools’ need to have appropriate ICT infrastructure and it remains committed to continued funding to support the implementation of the Digital Strategy.

She is also commissioning further research into the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning as part of the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027.

Meanwhile, a separate €29 million in minor works funding is being provided to primary and special schools, with a number of Galway schools making the cut.

This will support the operation of the primary schools for the forthcoming 2024/25 school year.

The lead-in period ahead of the new school year will give schools good time to consider plans and priorities for use of the funding.

“Given that each school setting is different, individual schools are best placed to decide how best to use this funding to address their particular maintenance needs,” said the Minister.

“In this respect the minor works grant funding provides good flexibility to address issues at local school level.”

The department’s Planning and Building Unit is currently finalising updated guidance for schools in relation to good practice arrangements for maintenance of school buildings.

It is envisaged that this guidance will be finalised and published later in this second quarter of 2024.  This guidance will then be provided in an on-line interactive format that will be easily accessible and user friendly for use by schools.

Pictured: State aid…Minister Norma Foley.

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