Department of Education issue new, water-muddying message re POD to schools

Text of today’s message:

Dear Principal,

Thank you all for your continued participation and engagement in the POD project.

Please note that the Department is committed to taking on board feedback from schools and parents about POD. In light of this please be aware of the following changes that will be released on POD on 4th March 2015 at 10.00am. In order to facilitate these changes POD will be unavailable between 8.00am and 10.00am on Wednesday the 4th March.

Secure Upload Facility

The updated version of POD will contain a secure upload facility for schools that wish to upload their pupil data using the Department’s excel template. This will replace the encryption process that is currently in place to transmit excel templates. The template is available from the Department’s POD helpdesk [email protected]ov.ie

Ethnic or Cultural Background

The DES has reviewed the question in POD on Ethnic or Cultural Background, the following categories will now be used which better reflect the categories in the CSO 2011 Census of population question. The change in wording will be applied automatically to the system from 4th March, and no additional update will be required at school level. Amended categories in red. [here, marked with an *]

White Irish

Irish Traveller

Roma

Any other White Background

*Black or Black Irish – African

*Black or Black Irish – Any other Black Background

*Asian or Asian Irish – Chinese

*Asian or Asian Irish – Any other Asian background

Other (inc. mixed background)

No consent

An updated suggested consent form incorporating these changes will be available for downloading by parents from the Department’s website on 4th March at www.education.ie. These changes will also be reflected on the POD database.

Action required by schools –

Schools that have not yet sought parental/guardian consent for the collection of this data should ensure that they use the wording as per the revised version of the suggested consent form.

Schools that have already secured parental/guardian consent – Where a parent has raised a concern around the ethnic and cultural background question please inform them that the new version of the form will be available for downloading from the Department’s website. A parent wishing to amend what they originally submitted, may return the updated form to the school.

If a new form is submitted, schools will only need to amend the original input if there is a change in category.

For schools that use an administrative software package the Department has been in touch with the software providers and they have made the appropriate changes to their data collection systems.

Learning Support

As a considerable number of schools have indicated that they are having difficulty completing the questions on GAM/NCSE and low incidence, this portion of POD is no longer compulsory for the 2014/2015 school year.

Note that while this means that we may not receive full information on this topic from all schools, the information returned by schools in these questions is still of statistical value and will be used to show aggregate information on how schools are currently allocating resources under GAM.

Schools will receive further instructions for the GAM/NCSE and low incidence questions for the 2015/2016 school year. It is important to note that this data does not roll over with the pupil each year.

The Department has received a number of comments and queries on certain aspects of POD including the retention period for POD data and other data protection concerns. The Department is taking this feedback very seriously and is currently considering the submissions received from parents and other stakeholders. The Department is consulting with the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office and once this evaluation is complete the Department will issue an updated circular on POD later in this academic year.

From the 2016/2017 academic year, it is intended that teacher allocations and capitation grants will be made on the basis of POD data, and the previous basis for allocations, the National Annual School Census will cease operation from that point. The Department will endeavour to work with schools and parents to help avoid the loss of funding or resources.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all schools that have completed the Primary Online Database. For schools that have yet to enter their pupils on POD, please complete this process by the 31st March 2015 – thank you.

A POD helpdesk has been set up which is available to assist schools with any POD queries. The helpdesk is available Monday to Friday 8:30am-5pm on 01 8892311. If you have any queries or comments please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] Please note that schools can refer parents/guardians to the helpdesk if they wish to do so.

Yours faithfully
XXXX

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