Govt needs to stop spinning on school smartphone usage – Byrne

Published on: 18 March 2019

Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson, Thomas Byrne TD, has said the Minister for Education, despite a lot of spin from the Government, has no clue as to whether schools are actually consulting with parents on smartphone usage in schools. 

Deputy Byrne was commenting as Minister McHugh recently confirmed that the Department circular on smartphone usage in schools will only be underpinned in law once the Parent and Students Charter Bill is enacted.

Deputy Byrne explained, “In December 2016 the Parent and Student Charter Bill, a new law which would require every school to consult with parents and students on key issues, was announced.

“It underwent committee scrutiny in 2017 and in 2018 at the Teachers Conferences, Minister Bruton issued a circular requiring schools to consult with parents, teachers and students on the use of smart phones and tablet devices in schools. The circular was supposedly to implement the law on an administrative basis before the law was passed. 

“We’re now three months into 2019 and the legislation for this parent and school consultation has not happened.

“I also received confirmation in a Dáil reply that the circular, hasn’t ever been followed up by the Department, they have no idea how many schools have implemented it thus far.

“I am very much hearing on the ground that many schools, with neither the time nor the resources, ignored the circular.

“A couple of weeks ago, Minister Richard Bruton boasted of his efforts in this area as Education minister. Minister McHugh’s Dáil reply illustrates that there is little to boast about for the Government.

“Legislation, which has been announced needs to happen. The Minister, only months in office, is already taken over by Fine Gael’s obsession with announcing and re-announcing statements”, concluded Deputy Byrne. 

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