Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has spoken of the growing importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills among school leavers.
He was speaking at a conference attended by 200 primary school teachers aimed at sharing best practice in the delivery of ICT teaching.
Addressing delegates at the conference at Ashfield Girls’ High School in Belfast, the Minister highlighted the demands placed on the education system by the global economy and said: “Employers tell us they need young people who are literate and numerate – these skills underpin ICT expertise. Growing that expertise is vital if we are to build a world class education system and compete in an increasingly global market.
“Opportunities in the work environment now and in the future are very different from a generation ago; the knowledge, skills, attitudes and qualifications of school leavers need to reflect and respond to a fast changing world.
“ICT is an essential skill in its own right – sitting alongside literacy and numeracy as a core skill that all young people need to develop.”
Mr O’Dowd spoke of the ability of ICT to help teachers connect with pupils and deliver teaching that suits the needs of individual children. He continued: “Digital technology offers teachers the flexibility to personalise learning and to engage with pupils with different learning styles, particularly less confident pupils. There is also great potential for developing pupils’ literacy and communication skills. Our policy on ICT in schools has to recognise and reflect the fact that children are growing up in an increasingly technologically advanced environment.
“Schools here have received recognition for having one of the most fully developed ICT infrastructures in the world and significant investment in that infrastructure is continuing. As schools transform to the new technology, pupils will get access to the full range of new services. In recognition of the changing nature of technology, a key aspect of the new service is to facilitate the increasing use of personal smart mobile devices. In effect, this means anytime, anywhere learning, study and guided research.”
Speaking directly to teachers at the conference, Minister O’Dowd concluded: “You will play a key role in helping your pupils become a talented employee, employer, or entrepreneur of the future and I stand ready to help you, as you work to achieve that.”
Notes to editors:
1. The Department of Education’s ‘Education Works’ campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/education-works for more information.
Watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/thedeptofeducation
2. See photos from the Department of Education in our collection at http://www.flickr.com/niexecutive