Waterford primary school teachers have reacted angrily to the news that their Information and Communications Technology (ICT) advisor will no longer be available to them come the new school year.
The announcement, which was made to ICT advisors by the Department of Education on June 20th, has left teachers, particularly those with special IT responsibilities, wondering what’s coming down the line.
Education Centres, including the Waterford centre based in Newtown, have been advised that any teachers seconded as advisors will return to the classroom this September.
The timing of the announcement, coming so close to the end of the school year has irked some teachers that The Munster Express spoke to this week.
“What we’ve been told so far is very vague and not that satisfactory,” said one teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous.
“The advisors were told about this on June 20th, one of the busiest times of the year for teachers ahead of the holidays, which didn’t leave too much time for any of us to submit an objection to it. In fact, most teachers were still unaware of the situation a few days after the announcement was made.”
The teacher believes that all queries of an IT nature come September will be re-routed to the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE).
“I can only speak for myself, but in the last term alone, my local ICT advisor travelled to my school four or five times,” the teacher added.
“But when we come back to school in September, with the advisor no longer available to us, who will we go to? I understand it’s going to be the NCTE, but is this just going to be an over the phone service? What’s going to happen if we need help on site at short notice?”
In a statement to teachers, the Department of Education said it “intends to redirect the funding (used for the advisor) to support school leadership in integrating ICT within schools and to assist, advise and encourage teachers to continue the process of integrating ICT in each subject area.”
Quite how this can be achieved was queried by another local teacher.
“From what I can gather, we’re no longer going to have the same level of expertise made available to us, all the more so since we don’t know yet if the people we’ll now have to deal with will be as familiar with the school curriculum as the advisor was,” she said.
“The vast majority of the ICT advisors were teachers, who were fully trained and aware of the specifics of what we need to do with pupils. We don’t know right now if the people we’ll be dealing with next year have the same know-how and that’s a worry.”
She added: “This decision was made in a Departmental ‘Value for Money Review,’ which is pretty ironic. Quite why the Department removing one of the most effective ICT aids in Irish schools – our local ICT Advisor – escapes me.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said she believed that the timing of the announcement within the context of schools breaking up for the holidays was “purely coincidental”.