Drones and robots feature in new school fund

Bruton says new School Excellence Fund is ‘step change’ in education

Minister for Education  Richard Bruton said  he was ‘committed to building on this initiative and expanding on this approach during my time as Minister’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he was ‘committed to building on this initiative and expanding on this approach during my time as Minister’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Schools are being funded to use drones for research as part of a new fund to promote innovative teaching projects.

The School Excellence Fund seeks to encourage schools to address shared challenges or achieve better learning outcomes by giving them freedom to experiment with others across a range of project areas.

In all, a total of 265 schools will receive up to €20,000 each and will work in clusters on projects ranging from building weather stations to using robots to boost computational thinking.

In other cases, schools are linking with third-level institutions and businesses to boost digital learning and knowledge of science, technology and engineering.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the new fund amounted to a “step change” in education.

“Never before have we put funding and resources in place to support schools in working together locally to trial new ideas and experiment with what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

“ I am committed to building on this initiative and expanding on this approach during my time as Minister.”

Successful approaches will then be shared across the school sector, Mr Bruton said.

Among the winning projects include:

* A group of six secondary schools in Dublin, Cork and Westmeath who will use drones to record footage of the local areas surrounding the schools to inform core elements of the geography curriculum;

* A secondary school and two primary schools in Rathangan, Co Kildare, will collaborate to develop a programme to improve the uptake of higher level maths in the Leaving Cert;

* A group of midlands secondary students will use a mobile journalism video content creation tool to help boost teaching, learning and digital literacy among educators and students.

Disadvantaged schools

The fund also aims to help disadvantaged schools pilot new ways of improving education. A total of 35 pre-schools, primary and secondary schools in 10 clusters around the country are being supported.

They include a group of primary and pre-schools in northeast inner city Dublin who will work to identify ways of improving language skills of students from a young age.

A new branch of the fund has been opened to support clusters of schools to use art and creativity to address shared challenges or to achieve better learning outcomes.

Mr Bruton said he was “encouraged and inspired” by the projects it would be supporting over the coming months.

“There are some very novel approaches being taken in some really important spheres and it is fantastic to see such creative solutions being applied to these complex problems,” he said.

“I look forward to seeing what we can learn from each and share more broadly across the school sector.”