Taoiseach: Loreto Community School, not just a SmartClass but a Smart School.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended  Loreto Secondary School, Milford this evening to present an award after it recently won the National Smart Class Initiative.

Below is a transcript of the speech he delivered to students, teachers and parents at the school.

I’m delighted to present this prize to Milford Loreto Donegal. Not just a SmartClass but a Smart School.

The fact that Loreto was already chosen as one of the 78 schools in the pilot project for broadband roll-out across the country, has brought technology to the very heart of your educational community and great endeavours here.

But being first is not new to Loreto Milford.

Back in the 1960s, you were the first co-ed convent in Ireland. And you have gone on in that bold, no-nonsense, pioneering spirit. I commend you.

Today, I want to congratulate the First Years who will benefit from this initiative.

This Digital Curriculum Prize of 150,000 euro will make a huge difference not only to the 140 First Years, but to everyone in the school, to all their families, their teachers and the wider Milford community.

This prize marks a new chapter in the long and already-proud history of this school. And, indeed, it marks a new departure for the companies involved.

I know that every one of the 140 children who will benefit, is excited about what this new means of learning will mean for them this year, and intrigued about the effect it will have on them and their learning in the years ahead.

It’s hard to imagine that the entire Junior Cert Curriculum is now loaded onto this tablet-style laptop.  No more struggling with mega-kilos of books. Your spines will thank the companies involved.

And I have every confidence that the opportunities given to you here in the e-notebooks, e-workbooks and other electronic learning and teaching resources, will impact powerfully on your thinking ability and your imaginative capacity.

Many of you here will take up jobs that have, not yet, even been thought of.

I congratulate the Educational Company, Steljes and Intel for their collaboration on this exciting project.  When you look at these young students here today, it brings new meaning to the tagline ‘Intel inside’.

Because I can assure you, what goes on in here in the heads and hearts of our children is what will make or break this country in the years and generations ahead.

It behoves all of us then to make sure we create the kind of environment that ensures that what goes on in here is the best, the deepest, the most original, often unusual but always sincere.

Our children are masters at technology. It’s about time that their facility with, and affinity for that technology was a critical part of their school life.

I’m sure there are parents here who might be a bit anxious about the e-curriculum and its materials.

Especially if they’re the kind whose children respond to their technology questions with an exasperated, eye-rolling....  “Did you ever think of  switching it on?”  By the nodding, more than a few.
This too, is your chance to push the boundaries, broaden your learning horizons.

I believe the collaborative opportunities this new departure gives our children are critical. Because collaboration, imagination are where it’s at for Ireland and our future.

Indeed this e-learning approach is not purely about education but about employment. It creates the kind of environment that gives those all-important jobs to designers, programmers, coders.  And in turn helps rear and equip with the necessary technological skills, the upcoming e-generation. All of you here.

I particularly like the one-to-one learning approach this new scheme fosters.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for teachers to find, what might be in some cases, previously-unseen creativity in their pupils.

And perhaps vice versa!

I know there are many students all over Ireland who would find that this new system of learning brings new joy to their school day, and perhaps new purpose, to what might be otherwise, a somewhat tedious school experience.

I note you have a meditation room here and I would urge you all to use it.

The world now is one of instant reaction. We’re always on, primed and expected to respond. But, equally, in that world, we must have time to reflect. Something that is true of us all, especially our politicians.

Your new e-curriculum will allow you to explore new worlds not alone in the crucial areas of maths and science but equally in  literature and the Arts. This technology will bring right into the classroom the recorded voices of writers such as Yeats and Joyce and TS Eliot.

I leave by saying well done Loreto Milford.  You must be proud of yourselves today. I know that your teachers, your school will help you to make the very most of what you have been given.
But in the end it’s all down to you: your courage, your hard-work, your ambition.

These are the things we need for Ireland’s recovery.

The qualities necessary for our better future in a better Europe true to the ideals of Schuman and Monnet.

Congratulations to you all. And good luck.