Computers/ ICT Policy

Information and Communication Technology Policy

Introductory Statement

Teaching at all levels of the educational system must keep abreast of the potential created by the new technologies for the process of teaching and learning. It is increasingly important that a basic appreciation and understanding of the modern information and communication technologies is fostered in young people, from their early years in school up to the completion of their education’

                                                1992 Green Paper on Education

 

This school has been a part of ICT development since the 1990’s. Initially each classroom had been equipped with a PC and appropriate software in line with the NCTE’s teaching skills initiative. As a staff, we later decided that the schools resources would be of more benefit pooled into a computer room. This vision became a reality in 2002 and within a number of years the school has become a centre for experimentation in educational technology and we are endeavouring to keep abreast of developments in the world of ICT. The greatest struggle has been financial. However the school is still a leading advocate of using computers and interactive boards as new and exciting classroom tools which should be available to all teachers and to pupils from the earliest age possible. In recognition of our commitment to ICT the BOM and the Parents Association have made some extra funding available for the installation of interactive boards into 17 classrooms and the Speech and Language Class have been extremely positive in allowing us as a staff to pursue this type of innovation.

Appendix A: Interactive Boards and Safety
 
Rationale:
Integrated technology in teaching and learning across the curriculum is a new challenge which we feel must be met in Primary Education. We aim to develop skills in our pupils to enable them to live and work in an ever-changing world. We, as teachers, recognise the potential of ICT as a cross-curricular resource at primary level. In line with the general educational philosophies of the school, the mode of instruction will attempt to generate in the children, a sense of fulfilment, while experiencing the benefits of ICT to facilitate creative expression and academic achievement. Scoil Mhuire’s philosophy and ethos state that each person, through positive learning experiences will be stimulated to achieve to his/her potential, face life confidently, find fulfilment and be respectful in an ever-changing world. The introduction of interactive boards in selected Junior and Senior classes in April 2005 has been a revelation. We are confident that this new pedagogic tool, along with the existing ICT infrastructure, will equally enhance the learning opportunities of all the children in an atmosphere of self worth, self belief and self motivation. This should indicate our positive endorsement of the benefits of multimedia educational strategies.
 
Aims:
Educational Objectives
Computers play a major role in today’s society. Therefore, it is essential that pupils are provided with the opportunity to use a computer. Computers provide easy access to, and retrieval of useful information. Computers provide a broader network of communication. All children from Junior Infants to Rang a Sé have been timetabled weekly slots in the computer room. All staff members evaluated curricular-appropriate content-rich software for their classes and the chose software that they would use with their classes.
We aim
  • To promote a positive, masterful attitude to technology
  • To use computers and interactive boards as tools to enhance further learning
  • To facilitate cross-curricular learning
  • To develop basic keyboard skills
  • To promote imagination and creativity
  • To develop problem solving skills
  • To motivate children to collect, enter and interpret data
  • To encourage children to communicate more effectively
  • To develop project management and presentation skills
  • To develop co-operative skills through participation in ICT projects that demand the pooling of skills and interactive development of ideas and material
  • To train pupils in the use of scanners and digital cameras and their software packages thus enriching their multimedia experience
  • To train pupils in the use of certain software packages that are directly relevant to their areas of education, from Juniors to Seniors
  • To enthuse pupils so that computer skills are seen as relevant, coherent and basic part of education in the future
 
ICT Steering Committee
We do not have a steering committee in our school at the present time. While we are in no doubt of the benefits of having an aforementioned committee, the constraints of introducing the New Curriculum and the time element involved in hosting the meetings are a difficulty.
 
School ICT Audit
Please refer to copy of the Department of Education School’s audit April 2005.
All hardware listed is being used currently.
All equipment is working.
 
Computers are located centrally in the computer room and the facilities are being used efficiently. A record of equipment is kept in the Computer room and the equipment audit is being updated on an ongoing basis.
Please find updated lists of software attached. The school respects the software licensing laws and encourages the children to do the same.
 
Broadband is available in each classroom and in the computer room. We are fully networked thanks to an ICT Networking Grant [Feb. 2005]. We have fully updated the Internet User Policy for students and teachers outlining information about internet connectivity in the school and the level of access. [Please find attached. Appendix B].
The NCTE are providing content filtering with their broadband program and we will continue to use AVG + Nod32, anti-virus to ensure that our network and systems remain clean.
 
The current maintenance and technical support is being provided by Cantec Office Solutions whom the BOM have employed as ICT advisor on a per hour basis as the need arises.
 
Eight new laptops were purchased early 2009 and are housed in the Computer room.
 
Staff Professional Development
The staff have an updated list of all of the software in the school and are very familiar with the software appropriate to their own class level. Staff have access to all software.
Most of the staff are familiar with computers at varying degrees of proficiency.
The entire teaching staff participated in a basic computer-skills course, which was run by Carrick Ed. Teachers’ centre in conjunction with Roscommon VEC. Since then, a number of teachers have also attended Phase 1 and Phase 2 of ICT 2000. Seven staff members attended the Empowering Minds Robotics Summer course. Some teachers of Senior classes attended courses in the use of Powerpoint, Dreamweaver, Hyperstudio and have also attended Summer Courses on ICT. Two staff members completed an ECDL course. We have hosted stand-alone nights on the uses of the Digital cameras and scanners and some teachers attended those courses also.
We have a very open and inclusive attitude to staff training and skills development in our school and we endeavour to provide any and all opportunities for staff development. While some teachers may be reluctant to use all of the technologies available in the school, all teachers use some of the technologies and most teachers are open to staff training and development in this area. Teachers support each other and SNA’s employed in the school provide huge support. Staff training takes place in the evening of school nights and is provided by Carrick-on-Shannon teacher’s centre.
 
ICT Management and Planning
  • The integration of ICT is possible at many different levels and in various areas in Scoil Mhuire. Interactive boards in classrooms are at the cutting edge of ICT in primary schools and allow teachers to use a fully integrated approach across all curricular areas. We have invested in content rich software that consolidates the areas of Maths, English and Science. Time is spent in the computer using software to reinforce what is taught in the classroom. This is seen by the NCTE and NCCA as more important at primary level than developing word processing skills.
  • Each teacher is responsible for choosing particular topics and pieces of software for their own class level. They then inform the ICT co-ordinator and/or the Principal and the ICT co-ordinator orders it after consulting with the principal.
  • We are very happy with the content rich software that we are using in the school at the moment. Any new or relevant software comes into the school and the Principal gives it to the teacher of the appropriate classes to assess. Our systems run on Windows 98 (in the computer room), Windows XP and Windows Vista in the classrooms. We also have Microsoft Office running on our machines.
  • The computer room has a laptop and digital projector for teachers to use when they want to show a new piece of software to the whole class. The staff are all able to use it once they have been switched on.
  • Teachers can bring the laptop home to view software and are fully conversant with any software package that they introduce to their classes. From time to time we receive sample disks from ‘Diskovery’ and members of the staff examine new disks for use.
  • In October 2004 teachers came together to view software and are happy to continue using the software that they chose. When the need arises, teachers will be given the opportunity to assess new software and familiarise themselves with new software.
  • Teachers outline the subject area that will be covered and the software used each term. At the end of the year they fill out a grid outlining their progress and it is hoped that this practice will continue.
Classroom Management
Every class, from Junior Infants to rang a sé is timetabled to use the computer room every week. Children work individually or in pairs. All machines are equipped with excellent headphones and splitters to facilitate two children working together. As a general rule the pairings are mixed ability.
The SEN team have been furnished with the timetable and have access to the room during any free slot.
 
    Health and Safety
 
 
INTERACTIVE BOARDS, LAPTOPS, ALL PLUGS SHOULD BE PLUGGED OUT EVERY AFTERNOON BY THE TEACHER AS SOON AS HE/SHE IS FINISHED WITH EQUIPMENT. This is to avoid boards being damaged as a result of lightning/electrical fault etc.
 
 
  • Children are only allowed access to the WWW in supervised situations. The NCTE Broadband installation program is providing external centralised firewall.
  • Obviously unwanted material is deleted immediately and teachers have been asked to immediately inform the ICT co-ordinator and/or write it down in the incident book in the computer room.
  • At the moment, children are not allowed to have their own e-mail accounts in the school and are not allowed to access their existing ones.
  • Children are taught form an early age that they do not give out any personal details like surnames, addresses, phone numbers etc.
 
Planning Objectives
·        To have Broadband connectivity networked throughout the school
            (Sept. 2007 – in all rooms including pre-fabs)
·        To continue using the dedicated computer room in the school
·        To acquire interactive boards for all classrooms (long term objective)
            (Sept. 2007:  installed in 13 rooms: Sept. 2008 installed in 15 rooms)
·        To actively promote community involvement in the educational activities of the school with respect to ICT
·        To maintain the high ICT profile of the school by continuing to advance the developmental work carried out over the past few years
·        To continue staff development in ICT
·        To add to the software and hardware base as required
·        To introduce and integrate basic word processing skills into 1st and 2nd class ICT
·        To ask staff member to fill out a questionnaire about their confidence and competence in teaching ICT
·        Digital cameras and scanners have been ordered through the Tesco computers for schools promotion. Digital cameras are stored in the Staff room. As the need arises courses will be organised in the school for anyone that wants to re-familiarise themselves with use of same.
·        Ms. Sandra Crean purchased USB keys for all teachers with interactive boards for storing information/resources for use with interactive boards. (2007)
 
Timeframe for Implementation
As with current practice the area of ICT is reviewed at regular intervals by the Principal and the ICT co-ordinator and a short written review is furnished at the end of the school year outlining progress made. Budgetary constraints mean that the final decision for implementation some of the aforementioned objectives are taken out of our hands and we are at the mercy of the BOM and Parents Association for our funding. We use wisely the monies furnished from the Department.
 
 
Budgetary Provision
Purchasing of new equipment will be done by the BOM in consultation with the Principal and the ICT co-ordinator. This will be guided by the evaluation of the ICT plan, budget constraints and Department of Education guidelines. Advice on purchasing will be sought from various areas. Cost comparisons between different agencies will be viewed with special relevance to backup service.
 
ICT Co-ordinating teacher
The role of ICT co-ordinator is held by a post holder, Ms. Sandra Crean. She assumes the role of ICT advisor, providing leadership in ICT throughout the school and liases with Cantec Solutions in attention to maintenance and care of computers in the school