Ireland wants to have the best education system in Europe by 2026

15 Sep 2016

Coding and computer science are coming to the Irish school curriculum in a strategy designed to make the Irish education system the best in Europe by 2026

The Irish Government has revealed an ambitious action plan that includes bringing coding to primary schools and computer science to the Leaving Cert, aiming to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.

The plan contains a range of actions that tackle everything from coding and computer education to entrepreneurship and skills in order to win in the ‘war for talent’.

The plan targets a 30pc increase in the number of students from disadvantaged areas attending higher level as well as better supports for children in difficulty.

Coding is to be rolled out to primary schools from 2018 and computer science is to be a made a Leaving Cert subject.

New languages such as Mandarin are also to be introduced at third level.

‘Technology companies have long been calling for the swift introduction of reforms and new initiatives so that students are equipped with the necessary skills to live in a digital world’

An entrepreneurship action plan to teach entrepreneurial skills at secondary school will also be enacted as well as apprenticeship and trainee schemes for 50,000 students between now and 2020.

Wellbeing guidelines are to be rolled out nationally to all primary and secondary schools.

To enable these changes to flow in smoothly over 366,000 hours of continuous professional development for teachers as well as a new centre of excellence will be created.

Path towards a fair society

“Excellent and innovative education and training are the pivot around which personal fulfilment, a fair society and a successful nation should revolve,” said Education Minister Richard Bruton, TD.

“It is central to sustaining economic success and in converting economic success into building a strong community. Our ambition in the Action Plan for Education is to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe.

“This will mean that we can provide better opportunities for more people from disadvantaged groups, as well as ensuring we create more sustainable well-paying jobs.

“In this plan, our high ambitions are matched by specific actions to deliver on them, across all parts of the education service.

“Actions are aimed at improving outcomes for the learners who depend on the service, at breaking cycles of disadvantage, at supporting teachers and institutions to continually improve, at building better links between education and the broader community, and at improving our systems on which we depend to deliver all this.”

IBEC bodies including the Irish Software Association and ICT Ireland welcomed the inclusion of coding as well as the creation of a computer science subject for Leaving Cert.

“Technology companies have long been calling for the swift introduction of reforms and new initiatives so that students are equipped with the necessary skills to live in a digital world,” said Paul Sweetman of IBEC.

“The increase in the use of technology in teaching, learning and assessment announced in today’s plan, though welcome, is overdue. We will be closely monitoring the quarterly implementation reports – in particular for coding and computing – to ensure commitments outlined today are delivered.”

Classroom image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years