THREE rural primary schools in West Cork are to receive up to €20,000 in funding which will see their junior classes learn coding and older children build their own robots.
The School Excellence (Digital) Fund will support clusters of school working together on specific projects to demonstrate the innovative use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. It is designed to encourage and recognise excellence and to ensure that innovation in schools is supported and rewarded.
This initiative will be spearheaded by Togher National School in Dunmanway, having been recognised as the lead school within their cluster, working alongside Cappabue and Drinagh National Schools.
Principal of Togher National School, Helen O’Connell, said: ‘ICT plays a key role in enhancing the learning opportunities for all the pupils in our school. We look forward to working with Cappabue and Drinagh National Schools.’
Helen explained how the Department received a huge number of applications for this funding and how they are the only schools in West Cork to be chosen to participate.
The three schools will together develop an educational environment, integrating robotics and coding for the exploration and learning of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) concepts. Projects will be introduced into the school curriculum from junior to senior classes to teach programming which allows children to create personally meaningful, interactive content while also supporting core subjects. For example, junior classes will be taught simple coding which will enhance the learning of maths, while senior classes will build their own robots and then create visual block programming for these robots. This is a three-year project but the technological equipment, including robotics, will benefit the schools for many years to come.
Gavin Russell, a parent at Togher NS and lecturer at the School of Computer Science & IT in UCC, has come onboard as an advisor for this project and principal Helen O’Connell thanked the UCC School for their recent generous donation of computers and robotics kits.
Togher National School has a proven a track record of proactively using ICT, having won many national awards for creating films, along with many STEM awards and it also holds a Digital School of Distinction award.
Teacher Richard Swann said: ‘I am thrilled that our application has been successful. Since we introduced coding a few years ago, we have really seen the benefits.’