Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has today announced €79 million in funding to support digital learning in schools and minor building works.

€50 million in grant funding for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will issue shortly to all recognised primary and post-primary schools, while a separate €29 million in minor works funding is being provided to primary and special schools.

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.

The €50 million ICT grant represents the second tranche of ICT funding under the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027.

Schools previously received €50m in ICT grant funding for the 2021 to 2022 school year.

Minister Foley said:

I am pleased today to be announcing funding which will support primary, post-primary and special schools throughout Ireland to enhance both school settings and teaching and learning, to benefit our pupils and students.

ICT grant funding will 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.

The Digital Strategy ICT grant will consist of:

€2,000 basic grant for primary schools plus an additional payment of

  • €39 per mainstream pupil
  • €43 per pupil in DEIS schools
  • €47 per pupil with special needs attending a special school or attending a special class attached to a mainstream primary school.

For example, a 100 pupil-primary school will receive €5,973 and a 500 pupil- primary school will receive €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.

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.

Minister Foley said the department is 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.

Minister Foley 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.

Implementation of this strategy is well underway so it is timely to consider where we are in this journey.

To that end, I am further commissioning research on the impact on student learning and wellbeing through the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning to help inform policy and optimise the resources and supports provided to schools.

The circular outlining the criteria applying to the Digital Strategy ICT Infrastructure Grant Scheme will be published soon.

Meanwhile, arrangements are now being made for the payment of €29 million in Minor Works grants to primary schools and special schools.

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.

Minister Foley said:

Minor works payments are a vital resource in terms of supporting the operation of schools generally and I am pleased to be able to announce €29 million in funding that will allow school communities to address issues at local level.

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

and she continued:

Good maintenance arrangements are important and should be prioritised with this funding.

Maintenance of school buildings is important in promoting health and safety, in providing an appropriate and welcoming learning environment, and in protecting the significant levels of public funding being invested in new and upgraded school infrastructure.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister Rabbitte said:

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, the importance of having a digitally savvy population cannot be overstated.

A digitally literate society is empowered with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the digital world, enhancing opportunities for social, economic, and personal advancement.

From accessing information and resources to participating in online communication and commerce, digital proficiency fosters inclusion and bridges divides.

and she continued:

Moreover, in an era where technological advancements drive innovation and progress across all sectors, a digitally savvy population becomes the backbone of a thriving economy, capable of leveraging digital tools to drive productivity, entrepreneurship, and job creation.

Additionally, digital literacy empowers individuals to critically evaluate information, safeguard their privacy and security, and contribute positively to digital communities.

Thus, fostering digital literacy is not merely an option but a necessity for building resilient, equitable, and prosperous country in the 21st century.

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 Q2 2024.

It is envisaged that the guidance will be provided in an on-line interactive format that will be easily accessible and user friendly for use by schools.

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