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The Limerick County Board have retained Appiercom to design and develop an app for Limerick GAA.  The app will contain Live News, Fixtures & Results, Photo & Video Gallery, Squad Profiles, Coaching Resource and much more…..

The App will give fans all the latest information they need as well as the ability to know who else is at a match and send a private message to them.  The app will use the latest in beacon technology to give supporters live information at games and other events.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the education budget for next year was an important step on the road to becoming the “best education service in Europe”.

It was an ambitious declaration, but there are encouraging signs some of the worst cuts of the last decade are finally being reversed and fresh investment is on the way.

However, the reality is that much of the extra spending announced in the budget will be swallowed up by a fast-growing school population and by papering over the cracks of years of spending cuts.

Numbers entering primary school and secondary level are set to grow by an extra 12,000 next year alone. In higher education, the college-going population is set to grow by almost a third over the next decade. This all means the education sector is under acute pressure just to keep pace with the swelling population.

In relation to the additional €36.5 million which will be invested in the higher education sector this year following a decade of cuts, much of it will go towards simply helping the university sector to stand still.

 

ENCOURAGING SIGNS

At primary and secondary level more than 2,400 extra teachers will be hired. A significant portion of these posts will go towards meeting the needs of a rapidly growing school population.

In fact, the pupil-teacher ratio – which at primary level is one of the highest in Europe – will remain static despite the significant increase in posts.

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That said, there are encouraging signs of brighter times ahead following the darkest days of austerity.

The three-year, multi-annual investment plan for higher education and the prospect of greater employer contributions will give universities and colleges some much needed certainty over the coming year.

At secondary level, the partial restoration of ex-quota guidance counselling posts – one of the most cynical cuts in recent years – will help restore students’ access to one-to-one counselling and other guidance services.

For special needs, the investment in additional resource teacher posts and special needs assistants holds the prospect that services might actually begin to improve for one of our most vulnerable groups.

 

OVERCROWDED

There is still, of course, a long way to go. Irish primary classes remain the second most overcrowded in the European Union with 25 pupils per class compared with an EU average of 20 pupils.

As the INTO said, more than 100,000 pupils in classes of 30 or more have been “abandoned by this Government”.

The failure to increase capitation fees for schools means parents will be left once again to make up the difference in “voluntary contributions” and near-endless fundraisers.

Within institutes of technology, the money will not get rid of overcrowded lecture theatres, reduced access to tutorials or reliance on outdated technology

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents lecturers in institutes of technology, described the additional sums as “wholly inadequate” in light of cuts which have cost their colleges some €190 million alone during the downturn.

Neither does it provide for the restoration of cuts in pay and allowances for teachers, as noted by the ASTI.

Bruton defended charges that education spending did not come near to meeting his ambitions.

He maintains it is the start of a long-term programme of investment and that it will ultimately make Ireland the best education system in Europe within a decade. It’s a bold and ambitious statement.

But with overcrowded classrooms, a creaking third-level education system and parents forced to dig out underfunded schools, the available resources have yet to meet the scale of his ambition.

 

The figures from the ten year Growing Up in Ireland study, which has been published by the ESRI, show that despite many improvements in Irish society more support needs to be provided to help children most in need.

In the past century, Ireland has made strides in how it thinks about and treats children, according to Prof James Williams of the ESRI.

“Despite the changing nature of inequality over time, children’s future prospects continue to be shaped by family circumstances. Measures existing to help children flourish must be cognisant of the powerful impact of the home environment on child wellbeing and development.”

The study found a consistent pattern of disadvantage for children living in one-parent families, mostly due to poorer socio-economic circumstances.

“Even accounting for differences in family characteristics such as income, maternal education, parent-child conflict and maternal depression, children in one-parent families are at a significant disadvantage in terms of their risk of experiencing socio-emotional and behavioural difficulties.”

Although mothers with a migrant background tend to be more highly educated than Irish mothers, especially those from Western Europe and Asia, migrant children’s reading and math scores are lower.

This is especially so for eastern European children, in the case of reading, and African children, for maths.

It also found that the attitudes, dispositions and language skills of five-year-olds differ according to social class background, mother’s education and household income.

Low birth weights of less than 2,500 grams were found to have a possible lasting impact on a child’s growth and development.

Children with low birth weights are five times more likely not to meet developmental thresholds for communications and gross motor skills at nine months and even have lower scores on reading and maths tests at nine years of age.

The study also found that 7.9pc of children from lowest income families were found to be low birth weight, compared to 4.6pc of those from the highest income families.

Overweight and obesity are strongly linked to social disadvantage, around 25pc of three-year-olds in Ireland are overweight or obese.

The children of unskilled manual parents are 65pc more likely to be obese at three years of age than children of professional parents.

Discussing if the words in the 1916 Proclamation of Independence, resolving to “cherish all of the children of the nation equally” have been realised 100 years on from the Easter Rising, Williams said:

“While we have undoubtedly made huge strides in terms of how we think about and treat children in Ireland, the book presents evidence concluding that we have not lived up to the Proclamation’s resolution to cherish all of the children of the nation equally.”

State spending on Irish students fell during the recession and is now lower than most countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a new report has found.

Compared with other countries, Ireland invests less in early childhood education. Teachers eventually earn more but work longer hours, the report said.

Education at a Glance 2016, published yesterday, examines education systems throughout the world. It found in Ireland in 2013 “expenditure per student in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education systems has fallen by 7 per cent compared with 2008 levels, while on average across the OECD expenditure per student had increased by 8 per cent over the same period”.

It said pay for teachers starting out is lower than the OECD average, although it rises “significantly” above it once teachers have 15 years of experience.

 

Longer hours

Teaching hours in Ireland are much longer – 915 per year at primary level compared to the average of 776 across the OECD, and 735 hours at upper secondary level compared to 644. “The findings on salary within the report are potentially misleading as they are based upon those teachers fortunate enough to have full-hour contracts,” the Teachers Union of Ireland said. “Up to half of second level teachers under 35 work less than full hours.”

General secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland Kieran Christie said the Irish system was threatened by underfunding.

“Now we are being told that the financial emergency is over, it is essential the worst of the austerity measures imposed on schools are reversed.”

One of the common arguments for using a ‘Native App’ is that they offer a ‘Push Notification’ feature. A ‘Push Notification’ is a message that you send to all the app users that pops up on their screen relaying the message in real time to the user. Its key selling point is that it is free and replaces SMS Texting thereby reducing/removing all SMS texting costs. To all intents and purposes, it sounds like an ideal solution.

However, having initially adopted Push Notifications ourselves, we discovered, that they are not all they promised to be. We found that our school clients continued to rely on SMS Texts for critical messaging to parents because they found that Push Notifications proved to be unreliable. The conclusion schools have been sharing with us is that SMS Texts, despite their cost, are 100% reliable and the most effective way to communicate with parents. For schools, guaranteeing their messages reach every parent 100% of the time is critical. The 80% success rate of push notifications is just not good enough for schools. They need to be able to contact parents on all mobile devices – not just smart ones.

 

So why have Push Notifications proved to be so unreliable for schools?

Push Notifications rely on a number of conditions in order to work successfully.

1. The app user (parent) needs to have turned on the push notification settings on their device.

2. The user must be online in order to receive the push notification at the time it is sent

3. Push Notifications are not supported on all types of mobile devices

 

Our solution:

Appierschool has concluded that the best solution to this problem is to find a way to combine SMS Texting in parallel to the App itself.

· We offer an SMS Texting Bundle at a significant discount to most competing text bundles, to be used for Critical Messaging only

· All other messages, will also be posted on the message board within the app, to be read at the parents’ leisure

This will have the effect of ensuring that 100% of parents will have access to all messages 100% of the time, and that no Critically Urgent Messages will go astray.

Q: So Griselda, who are AppierCom?

A: We are a limerick based communications & technology company who develop mobile apps for business enterprises and schools.

 

Q: Who would use an app like this and why?

A: Our apps are useful for a range of enterprises, institutions and clubs, to help them nurture a dedicated customer or member community network around their business or brand, and ensure real-time dynamic engagement with them. It really raises a company’s customer engagement if a direct channel to the business is sitting on a customer’s phone or tablet.

 

Q: Surely a website does the trick? Why do you even need an app?

Research into mobile phones has shown that only 1 in 5 people will go to the effort to find and open a website on their phone, and the majority would rather choose to use an app function instead. These days we all live on our phones and do everything on them. Apps have been designed to make the user experience so much simpler and easier than on a website. I don’t know about you, but I sit at my desk at my computer and check my work emails on my phone. It sounds crazy I know, but you’d be amazed how many people do it.

 

Q: What kind of business are using the app?

A: If we focus on the local Limerick Community alone:

We are very popular with Business Networking Groups: Limerick Chamber of Commerce are using our app for their members, and we are currently developing one of the Mid West Mentoring business networking group

An app is ideal for Sports & Social Clubs: Limerick GAA have our app to communicate all their news and activities to the team and their wide group of supporters. Vistakon, based here in Raheen, have also just launched an app for their Sports & Social Club.

Higher Level Education & Business Courses: Limerick Institution of Technology are using our app to communicate with their students, and we’ve developed an app for Ingenium’s Smart Choice Leadership Course at the University of Limerick.

The app is great for the Arts too: We are developing an app for the Lime Tree Theatre, so all their patrons can easily find out what shows are on and book from their phones. We can also make apps for concert halls, museums and galleries.

On a national scale, Unions are another big area for us: We are currently developing apps for the PD Forra and Mandate Unions. They have huge numbers of members, and they need to be able to send messages to all of them, provide important support, highlight key events, and offer benefits to the members. SMS texting their thousands of members is very costly. By using an app to deliver important messages, the unions can save a great deal of money.

We also build apps for Charities, Racecourses, Museums, and anyone who wants to nurture a dedicated group of followers and provide them with instant, up to date convenient access to their events, products, etc., from the comfort of their smartphone or tablet.

 

Q: It’s that time of year again when everyone is heading back to school. You guys also specialise in producing apps for schools?

A: Yes this is a really big area for us – producing Apps for Schools. We have an app product called Appierschool which is a one way school to parent communication app. The new school year is about to start and we are really encouraged that Schools have begun to recognise that having an app to communicate directly to parents will make a huge difference for them, particularly in terms of costs.

 

Q: Schools spend a fortune on sending text messages to parents and posting letters to them, and the amount of paper they burn through on notes to parents is massive. Isn’t that right?

A: Yes, and using a school-to-parent communication app can change all that, as well as guarantee that all the parents get the messages when they are sent out to them.

 

Q: How many parents do you know who’ve missed that important note left in their child’s rucksack, or overlooked an important email about a match or a parent teacher meeting because their inbox is overloaded?

A: That’s exactly right. For parents, being able to check their school’s calendar, receive real time messages, and be informed about their child’s daily homework, all on an app on their mobile phone, just makes life that little bit simpler.

 

Q: Does the app let parents see a child’s homework?

A: Yes. Teachers can post the home work on the app. If parent’s have an app, then no kids will get away with telling their parents they have no homework, when they’ve been set loads, anymore!

 

Q: Which schools have you made an app for already?

A: We’ve been making apps for primary and secondary schools all over Ireland. In our Munster region a couple of examples would be Knockea, Donoughmore and Monaleen Primary Schools here in Limerick, and CBS Ennis and Deerpark CBS secondary schools in Co.Clare and Cork.

We have produced apps in Irish for gealscoils such as Peig Seyers in Cork and Bhradain Feasa in Meath, and we are also working with schools who belong to various education groups such as the Educate Together Schools Network and the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.

 

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