Presentation Castleisland Launches Digital Excellence Cluster Initiative

Launching the STEM Initiative at Presentation Castleisland on Monday were, from left: Olive Sharp, teacher, Gaelscoil Mhic Easminn, Tralee; Elizabeth Sweeney, teacher, Scoil Íde, Curranes; Dayna Hurley, teacher, Presentation Castleisland; Katherina Broderick, principal Presentation Castleisland; Claire O’Riordan, PDST Digital School Excellence advisor and Máire Lynch, principal Muire Gan Smál, Castleisland.

Staff members and management from local schools gathered on Monday at Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland to launch the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM initiative – a digital excellence cluster programme.

Involved were: Presentation Castleisland; Muire Gan Smál, Castleisland; Scoil Íde, Curranes and Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn, Tralee

Cluster Training Day

Presentation Castleisland Principal Katherina Broderick and teacher, Dayna Hurley welcomed:  Máire Lynch, principal, Muire gan Smál; Elizabeth Sweeney, teacher, Scoil Íde; Olive Sharp, teacher, Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn and Claire O’Riordan from Professional Development Service for-Teachers (PDST) for a STEM Digital Excellence cluster training day.

A Beacon School

Presentation Secondary School Castleisland has been chosen as a beacon school to demonstrate the innovative use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment, through clusters of schools collaborating on a specific STEM project.

Significant investment and resources have been deployed to support the purchase of this technology by the Department of Education as a part of Digital School Excellence Fund.

STEM Role Models

Students of Presentation Castleisland will be trained to become STEM role models for younger female students in primary schools.

Presentation students will run workshops with primary school students over three years in all areas of STEM.

It is hoped, by engaging in this programme, that students of Presentation Castleisland will aspire to eventually pursuing STEM-related careers.

Opportunity to Engage

The programme will provide the opportunity to engage with third level academic centres of excellence such as IT Tralee and UCC.

The Department of Education received a large volume of applications; however Presentation Castleisland has been chosen as the only secondary school in Kerry to participate in the Digital School Excellence programme.

Supported and Rewarded

When launching the Digital School Excellence Fund in December 2017, then Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton said that the School Excellence Fund is designed to ensure that innovation in schools is supported and rewarded.

“School Excellence Fund-Digital will support clusters of schools to collaborate and work together in really exciting ways on projects related to teaching and learning using digital. Truly transformative change does not come from the centre but from the ground up, schools and teachers working together and sharing good practice,” said Minister Bruton.

Digital Literacy Skills

The funding recognises excellence and allows the cluster schools to promote areas of STEM among female students.

The project aims to develop a more positive attitude to STEM subjects in general amongst females within the cluster at primary and secondary level; to enhance students digital literacy skills, particularly in the area of Maths and Science; to increase the uptake of Chemistry and Physics at senior level in second level; to improve students research, numeracy, problem-solving and teamwork skills; Increase the number of female entrants into STEM courses at 3rd level and to increase the competence and proficiency of teachers in the use of digital technology in their subject areas.

A Very Exciting Initiative

Commentating on the initiative, Presentation Castleisland Principal Katherina Broderick said that the Digital School Excellence programme promises to be a very exciting initiative.

“It will allow our schools and teachers the opportunity to work together, share good practice while focusing on developing the important skills our students will need to thrive in the future,” said Ms. Broderick.

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