Schools Excellence Fund – Digital (Digital Learning Clusters)

The purpose of the scheme is to demonstrate the innovative use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment, through clusters of schools collaborating on specific projects. Teachers will gain valuable opportunities in the area of professional development to benefit their own teaching practice, and to assist in the development of the use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment in their own school and the wider system through peer interaction.

Broadly speaking, the scheme will be a national programme of local projects involving the innovative use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. For the purposes of this proposal, a cluster is defined as a collection of schools who collaborate in the design, delivery, evaluation and dissemination of the outcomes of these innovative projects.

The scheme will initially be introduced on a pilot basis. The pilot, including the application stage, will take place from December 2017 up to the end of the 2018-2019 school year. For the pilot in year one, between 10 and 20 clusters will be selected.

A cluster will typically consist of between four and six schools collaborating on the design, implementation and dissemination of an innovative project under the scheme. While, for the purpose of the scheme, the optimal number of schools per clusters is considered to be 6 schools, clusters comprising larger numbers of schools will be considered in the context of the value of the proposed project to the purpose of the scheme.  

Clusters can consist of primary schools only, post-primary schools only, or, a combination of primary and post primary schools.  Schools/clusters can be drawn from existing networks or result from the creation of new ones. Clusters are encouraged to establish links or partnerships with third-level specialists in education and/or relevant industry, including locally-based industry. Individual schools can also apply to the scheme but must be prepared to participate in a cluster that will be formed in consultation with them following the selection process.

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