Barnardos report calls for better use of technology in the classroom

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7 May 2015 | 0

The majority of parents of primary and second level children said digital devices were important for schooling but less than half felt there was sufficient training for using them effectively. That’s according to a survey of 690 parents conducted by Barnardos, the results of which were released today.

According to the Digital Devices in Schools survey, which was conducted in April 2015, 89% of parents surveyed felt digital devices have a place in school education, with just 4% saying digital technology had no place in Irish schools.

Almost a quarter (23%) of parents said their children had access to tablets and e-books in school and 42% felt they could and should be better used.

The cost of hardware was raised as an important issue, with 12% of parents saying their children’s schools left tthem to pay for hardware like PCs and tablets. A further 14% said they had to purchase their own software.

In terms of child safety, 77% of parents said they would appreciate advice and guidance on Internet safety.

Finally, 86% of parents polled said they wanted a national strategy for how digital devices should be used in the classroom in schools so all children have equitable access to digital technology in school.

Commenting on these findings, June Tinsley, head of advocacy at Barnardos, said: Access to digital technology is uneven and without a standardised approach to its use, supply and how it is incorporated into teaching there is a substantial risk of marginalising children and perpetuating inequalities. Already the Department of Education’s digital strategy for schools is long overdue and there is a danger it will be already out of date when it is finalised due to the speed of advancements in technology.

“The vast majority of parents were in favour of their children using digital devices for their school work to some extent, but cost remains a huge concern. While schools fund the supply of devices and associated technologies in some cases, in many schools the lack of funding is leading to undersupply or outdated technologies being used.
“Our key concern is that those worst affected are children who are already experiencing educational inequalities. These include children from lower income families, those in disadvantaged schools and those with additional learning needs. Ireland already spends less than the EU average on education and subsequently access to and participation in Ireland’s ‘free education system’ is influenced by parent’s ability to pay.

As part of the report Barnardos made a number of recommendations, including the removal of the current 23% VAT rate on e-books, the forumlation of a digital strategy by Government and an increase in funding to support the rollout of digital services in the classroom.

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