Dáil Éireann - Volume 658 - 01 July, 2008
Written Answers. - Information and Communications Technology.
Deputy Ruairí Quinn Deputy Ruairí Quinn
Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason 18 information and communication technology advisors — registered and experienced teachers, 15 of whom are on secondment — who provide information technology and e-learning strategy to primary and secondary schools will be removed on 31 August 2008; the further reason notice of this decision was not given by 1 May 2008 in order that the 15 teachers who are on secondment could make arrangements to return to their teaching posts; the number of people who will become unemployed; the savings that will arise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25688/08]
Deputy Charlie O’Connor Deputy Charlie O’Connor
Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the concerns being expressed in respect of future funding for the information and communication technology advisory service; his plans to deal with those concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25704/08]
Deputy Mary Upton Deputy Mary Upton
Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the decision to remove information and communication technology advisors from schools; if he will specifically address the needs of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25913/08]
Deputy Willie Penrose Deputy Willie Penrose
Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason, in view of the Government’s supposed commitment to expend €252 million in supporting information and communications technology in schools over the period 2007 to 2013, his Department has cut funding for IT support services to schools, which has led to 21 ICT adviser posts not being filled in September 2008 as a result of the withdrawal of funding; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the directors of education centres were informed by e-mail at 5.15 p.m. on 20 June 2008 that the ICT advisory service would no longer be available; the reason this occurred in view of the recent reports that the decision to withdraw funding was made in March 2008 but not communicated to the personnel involved, which causes all such personnel inconvenience; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25944/08]
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe Deputy Batt O’Keeffe
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: I propose to take Questions Nos. 464, 466, 502 and 507 together.
 ICT Advisor posts were provided as part of the ICT Advisory Service operated by the 21 full-time Education Centres around the country, to provide pedagogical advice and support and advice on ICT-related issues to schools and Education Centres. While employed by the individual Education Centres, my Department funded the posts via the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), which in consultation with the Education Centres, directed the work of the ICT advisors in supporting the local implementation of the ICT in Schools Programme. There are 3 vacancies among the 21 posts, with a further post due to be vacated in September following the ICT advisor’s retirement. Of the remaining 17 posts, 14 are filled by teachers on secondment from their teaching duties and 3 are filled on a non-secondment contract basis.
A Value for Money Review of the ICT Support Service, which addressed the work of the NCTE, the ICT Advisory Service and specific posts assigned to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, was undertaken by my Department. While concluding that the Service is generally effective and efficient, the Report recognises that each school must plan and execute its own policy for ICT integration across the curriculum. It concludes that now, ten years on, the resources currently utilised by the ICT Advisory Service operating from the regional Education Centres would be better employed focusing supports for ICT leadership and change within each school.
The Education Centres have been advised that the Department is not prepared to renew secondment arrangements for the 14 teachers seconded as ICT Advisors. The implementation of these arrangements has been discussed with the Education Centres and schools concerned. My Department will ensure that any difficulties arising in specific schools by the return of the teachers concerned will be addressed. My Department is considering the position of the three non-seconded ICT advisors.
The role of the school’s ICT coordinating teacher will be prioritised as central in the provision of ongoing ICT support and advice to teachers. Local school-based and peer to peer support has been identified internationally as the most effective way to further ICT integration in schools. Furthermore, there is a need to ensure that the integration of ICT is specifically incorporated into all the support service activities funded by my Department and that it is recognised as an integral part of all curriculum development, support and training rather than an optional add-on.
The annual cost of the 14 seconded teachers is some €1.3m. It is intended that any consequential savings will be directed to support ICT in schools. As the Deputies will be aware, I intend to publish the report of the Strategy Group appointed to advise on priorities for investment in ICT in Schools.
Dáil Éireann 658 Written Answers. Information and Communications Technology.