€1.8m creative experiment to help disadvantaged pupils
More than 35 schools around the country are the first to share in a new fund to experiment with creative ways to tackle educational disadvantage.
The schools are grouped into 10 clusters, which will work to explore innovative approaches to improve the educational experience and learning outcomes of pupils.
Education Minister Richard Bruton is launching the pilot phase of the School Excellence Fund today with €1.8m in funding.
The initiative will allow the schools to trial interventions for a period of three years, with a view to sharing the learning from successful approaches across the school sector. It involves schools at primary and post-primary level, as well as pre-schools.
Department of Education inspectors will be working with the schools to identify how they might improve, and what sort of targets for improvement they should set for themselves.
The clusters are involved in a range of different activities. One, in Rathangan, Co Kildare, involves both primary and post-primary schools, which are planning to develop a consistent approach to the teaching of maths to facilitate a smooth transition to second-level.
The project will involve teachers adding to their subject knowledge and their teaching skills in the area of maths.
In another example, in Cork city, primary and post-primary schools will be working on the development of students' computational thinking skills, with a particular focus on maths.
Another cluster, in Dublin's north east inner city, will work with children from pre-school age to improve their language skills.
In Inchicore, also Dublin, three schools - two at primary level and one at post-primary - have a joint project aimed at improving students' well-being through arts.
Mr Bruton said the fund was designed to ensure that innovative approaches developed by schools would be supported and rewarded. "It is one of a number of steps we are taking to be the best at tackling educational disadvantage. We want to give schools the opportunity to find out not just what works, but what works best," he said.