Dáil Éireann - Volume 661 - 24 September, 2008
Written Answers. - School Services Staff.
Deputy Frank Feighan Deputy Frank Feighan
Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the decision to terminate information technology advisors to 21 education centres in view of the effect on education and further in view of the way in which the timing of the decision may also adversely affect the employment prospects of the teachers involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29287/08]
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe Deputy Batt O’Keeffe
 Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: A Value for Money Review of the ICT Support Service, which addressed the work of the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), the ICT Advisory Service and specific posts assigned to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, was undertaken by my Department and will shortly be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. 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 focussing supports for ICT leadership and change within each school.
There were three vacancies among the 21 ICT Advisor posts attached to the regional full-time Education Centres in June 2008 and a further post was due to be vacated following the retirement of an ICT advisor. Of the remaining 17 posts, 14 were filled by teachers on secondment from their teaching duties and three were filled on a non-secondment contract basis. These posts have been renewed annually. Against this background, the Education Centres were advised by the NCTE that my Department was not prepared to renew secondment arrangements for the 14 teachers seconded as ICT Advisors. The implementation of these arrangements was discussed with the Education Centres and schools concerned and any difficulties arising in specific schools due to the return of the teachers concerned were addressed by my Department.
The position in relation to the three non-seconded ICT advisor posts is that my Department authorised the NCTE to fund the relevant Education Centres to offer temporary short-term contracts for the persons concerned for the remainder of the calendar year. While I understand that the three persons concerned did not wish to avail of this offer, my Department is engaged in ongoing discussions with the relevant Unions.
The NCTE will continue to provide advice and support to schools on the integration of ICT into teaching and learning and will continue to provide a range of ICT continuing professional development courses for teachers. The NCTE will work closely with the support services supported by my Department. The role of the school’s ICT coordinating teacher, with the support of the school principal, 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. This emphasis on “in school” promotion of, and support for, ICT integration in teaching and learning is consistent with the Reports of the Strategy Group, Investing Effectively in Information and Communication Technology in Schools 2008-2013, and the evaluation report undertaken by my Department’s Inspectorate, ICT in Schools, which I published in July.
The NCTE will be publishing a handbook, Planning and Implementing e-Learning in your School, for principals and ICT co-ordinating teachers. A professional development course for ICT coordinating teachers on the development of e-Learning Plans will also be available along with nationwide seminars on e-Learning for principals and ICT coordinating teachers to be run this Autumn.
Dáil Éireann 661 Written Answers. School Services Staff.