Schools funded to work together on Experimental Projects, as Minister Bruton rewards Excellence & Innovation

Minister Bruton empowers schools to work together and try innovative projects to see what works and what doesn’t

Speaking ahead of the teacher conferences, the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. today (Monday) reaffirmed his commitment to encouraging innovation and excellence in our education system, by announcing that over 265 schools are to be funded through the School Excellence Fund for Digital, STEM and tackling disadvantage.

The Minister also announced a second call to School Excellence Fund –DEIS and that applications to School Excellence Fund – Creative are open.

The School Excellence Fund is an initiative in the Programme for Government, pioneered by Minister Bruton to encourage and recognize excellence and innovation in our schools. Never before have schools been funded to work together on innovative solutions and given the freedom to experiment with new projects to see what works and what doesn’t.

The benefit of this approach is that it gives school leaders on the ground the support to collaborate on ideas based on their local experience and unique perspective. It allows them to work together, in some cases with higher education institutions and enterprise, and experiment to find creative solutions to complex problems. Successful approaches can then be shared across the school sector.

The Minister has set the ambition to make Ireland’s Education and Training service the best in Europe by 2026. This transformative approach to supporting local innovation will be key to realizing this vision.

Schools Excellence Fund- Digital
Children are naturally creative, curious and adaptable. SEF- Digital seeks to nurture these qualities by supporting schools to work together on projects which will use inventive methods to enhance teaching and learning through digital technology.

The Minister today announced that over 200 schools in 32 clusters have been chosen from what has been a huge demand. Each cluster will receive up to €20,000 funding over the course of the programme.

Sample of projects to be funded:

Schools Excellence Fund –DEIS
SEF-DEIS will support participating clusters of schools to explore new, innovative solutions to tackle educational disadvantage and improve learning outcomes for students.

The Minister today announced that 35 pre-schools, primary and post primary schools in 10 clusters around the country are being supported in the first iteration.

Example of projects to be funded:

The Minister announced that applications for the second phase of the School Excellence Fund – DEIS are now open.  Approximately 40 additional schools in a further 10 clusters will be selected to participate in this phase of the programme from September 2018. The Minister also announced that a third phase will commence in September 2019. 

Schools Excellence Fund – STEM
SEF-STEM supports schools to work together on projects in accordance with the government’s ambitious plans to promote the teaching and learning of the STEM subjects.

The Minister today announced that at least 30 schools in 10 clusters have been chosen and each cluster will receive up to €20,000 funding over the course of the programme.

Sample of projects to be funded:

School Excellence Fund – Creative
School Excellence Fund – Creative will support clusters of schools to use art and creativity to address shared challenges or to achieve better learning outcomes.

The scheme will provide an opportunity for clusters to experiment, innovate and collaborate on the design, implementation and evaluation of bespoke arts and creative projects.

Applications are now open. Interested schools can find out more information here: 

Speaking ahead of the INTO conference, Minister Bruton said, “We have an ambitious plan to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. I believe that in order to get there, we need to be actively supporting and recognizing excellence and innovation among our education leaders.

“I am encouraged and inspired by the projects that we will be supporting through SEF- Digital, SEF- STEM and SEF – DEIS. Each Fund was substantially over-subscribed and exceeded our expectations. There are some very novel approaches being taken in some really important spheres and it is fantastic to see such creative solutions being applied to these complex problems. I look forward to seeing what we can learn from each and share more broadly across the school sector.

“This is a step change in education. Never before have we put funding and resources in place to support schools in working together locally to trial new ideas and experiment with what works and what doesn’t. I am committed to building on this initiative and expanding on this approach during my time as Minister.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, school leaders, students, schools, higher level institutions and businesses who came together to work on these really exciting projects. Leadership is the key to making this approach work and we are very lucky in Ireland to have excellent school leaders.”