According to a principal colleague of mine, it appears that every school will get €1700 plus €34 per pupil (based on last year’s numbers) from this new ICT grant announced last week. This principal rang the Department of Education to find out about this grant. Big schools are going to get a lot of money! However, will it be anywhere near enough to fund anything worthwhile? An average 4 classroom school will get approximately €5,100 (based on 100 pupils), which is almost €1,300 per mainstream classroom. However, one can’t leave the support teachers out, so let’s call it €1,000 per room.
However, just before you were about to purchase a projector and 2-3 laptops, the government have decided that there will be guidance issued shortly. Schools will be tied into department approved schemes in the purchasing of laptops, printers etc. This creates two suspicions for me. Firstly, almost every single member of the Smart Committee would have vested interests. That is, they are the heads of large corporations and I’m sure they’ll be looking for some form of payback for their time. Secondly, from looking at the current NCTE, (the government’s ICT in Education department), guidelines, it’s unlikely that classrooms will be getting more than two pieces of hardware. You might get a laptop and a projector for your €1,000 or maybe a projector and visualiser.
Having perused the recommendations of the report with arbitrary figures of 5 computers per classroom, this grant will not cover very much unless schools are allowed to be more flexible in their purchasing power. For example, refurbished computers are very cost effective solutions or why can’t schools use outsourcing solutions to reduce their costs?
There’s certainly no chance of schools buying Interactive Whiteboards. The NCTE refuse to recommend them and even if they did, there wouldn’t be enough money in your pot to get them anyway.