Plan to offer Computer Science in all nine Longford secondary schools commended at NOAC local authority showcase

Longford County Council presentation at national Good Practice Seminar stems from Longford’s Digital Strategy

Press Release: 31 October 2023                                                                    

Longford County Council’s efforts to work in partnership with Longford schools to offer Computer Science as a Leaving Cert option in all nine secondary schools was showcased at a national event organised by the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) and commended by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD at the annual Good Practice Seminar held in Kilkenny on Thursday last.

The project forms part of Longford’s digital strategy and consists of a partnership with schools and industry which hopes to shape Longford’s future through technology. Microsoft and Ericsson are supporting the plan and its introduction to primary and secondary schools. 

Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council Cllr Colm Murray paid tribute to Longford’s schools who are leading the way on this project, “Three local schools, Scoil Mhuire Longford, Ballymahon Vocational School and Templemichael College, Longford are all forging ahead, with computer science already being taught to fifth years in preparation for their leaving cert. In addition, there are 15 sixth years completing computer science for Leaving Cert in Scoil Mhuire and they will be the first Longford class to complete the Computer Science Leaving Cert syllabus. I would like to compliment the schools and their teachers for paving the way on this for Longford.”

Chief Executive of Longford County Council, Paddy Mahon added, “It’s clear already that the success of this initiative, as a key part of Longford’s Digital Strategy, will act as a catalyst towards the digital transformation of Longford. Longford County Council is committed to continuing to support Longford schools to help children to learn, work and navigate everyday life in our digital world”.

Industry support has been critical to the success of the project, and, with the help of Microsoft Ireland, Longford primary schools were invited to participate in the Longford Dream Space Showcase 2023. Eleven primary schools took up the challenge and participated in a 10-week Dream Space programme. This empowered the students to explore the world of STEM and computer science. The students and their teachers harnessed the power of Micro:bits (pocket-sized computers), to foster computational thinking, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking.

Thanks to ten weekly tutorial videos provided by the Microsoft Dream Space team via YouTube, the 11 primary school teachers and students honed their skills, and before they knew it, they were crafting remarkable projects to showcase at the Longford Microsoft Dream Space showcase in Edgeworthstown, an event where over 300 Longford primary school students presented their tech projects.

Ericsson Ireland described it as a “fantastic initiative” and that they hoped “to see it spread across other counties”.

Furthermore, school representatives spoke very highly of the experience, with one Longford teacher noting, “It was wonderful for us as teachers, to be learning alongside the children as we all worked through the programme together, with great support from Microsoft Ireland and Longford County Council throughout. I honestly couldn’t speak highly enough of the project, and I know that the younger classes are already talking about next year’s event. It’s really giving Longford primary schools a running start at the new curriculum subject areas of mathematics, science, and technology.”

The sixth annual Good Practice in Local Government Seminar, organised by NOAC, in collaboration with the Local Government Management Agency and the County and City Management Association, presented a wide range of local authority innovations across numerous areas such as renewable technology, building on crisis management, recruitment, education, tourism, strategy development and accommodation assistance for vulnerable persons.

Opening the event, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD, recognised the “initiative, innovation and hard work of local authorities” while addressing attendees. He also praised the “significant work carried out by the NOAC Board and the vital role it has in providing independent oversight of the local government sector”.

Minister O’Brien further commented, “The variety and calibre of projects showcased today really brings the work of our local authorities to life and shows the positive impact being made across the country through our local government colleagues. The projects also show the importance of local action and coordination on topics as diverse as housing, education and climate change and the leadership of our local authorities as the driving force behind so much good work. I commend the great projects discussed this morning and NOAC for creating the opportunity for local authorities to learn from each other at this annual best practice event.”

The hybrid event, held both in-person and virtually in Kilkenny Castle, took place as part of the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform’s Public Service Transformation Week 2023 and was attended by Chief Executives and senior officials from the local authorities within Ireland. The showcase provided an opportunity for local government to demonstrate good practice within the sector and gave a platform to share innovative projects that could be replicated across Ireland. 

The school programme and the Dream Space Showcase were funded by Creative Ireland and supported by the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform (PENDR) under the Public Service Innovation Fund 2023 and Longford County Council.