On the 1st May, 38 Scottish schools were awarded national ‘Digital Schools’ status, a recognition for excellence in digital teaching and learning. 35 primary and three secondary schools were honored at a ceremony in Tulliallan Primary School in Fife, attended by Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, along with pupils, teachers and programme partners. The new cohort joins the 43 primary schools awarded Digital School accreditation in 2017.
Launched in September 2016, the Digital Schools Award programme was developed to support, encourage and recognise schools in their efforts to integrate digital technology across the curriculum, providing pupils with the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digitized society. The programme, which is free to all schools, offers a roadmap and resources to schools seeking to do more with technology in their classrooms. It also recognises schools demonstrating best practice and supports the efforts of those trying to maximise their digital potential.
Industry partners HP, Microsoft and Intel operate and co-ordinate the programme, as well as providing a financial commitment of £600,000 over five years and practical support and resources. It is run in partnership with Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland and is supported by the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning. One in four schools in Scotland – 668 schools – have registered to participate in the Digital Schools Award since its launch. The programme aims to sign up a third of all Scottish schools by the end of 2019.
Science Minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville, commented: “It is encouraging to see so many schools embracing digital and supporting teacher professional learning to enrich their pupils’ education. The digital technologies sector makes a significant contribution to employment and economic growth in Scotland and is on track to be the fastest growing part of the economy to 2024. To fully benefit from the sector’s global opportunities, we must ensure our young people are prepared with the digital skills required for the workplace. That is why the STEM Strategy includes a commitment to support digital skills development in early learning settings and primary schools through the Digital Schools Programme.”
We are proud to be part of this exciting initiative and look forward to seeing how it further enables students in Scotland to better prepare for the world of work and keep Scotland at the forefront of the current digital revolution. – Steven Grier, Microsoft Scotland
“The Digital Schools Programme is a fantastic example of how we, as an industry, are committed to supporting the next generation and ensuring that all young people acquire the skills they need to thrive in the modern digital workplace,” added Steven Grier, Country Manager, Microsoft Scotland. “We are proud to be part of this exciting initiative and look forward to seeing how it further enables students in Scotland to better prepare for the world of work and keep Scotland at the forefront of the current digital revolution.”
“The careers of tomorrow will increasingly be found in sectors such as robotics, programming and engineering”, commented George Brasher, UK MD, HP. “However, with recent reports showing employers are struggling to fill 43 per cent of STEM-related job roles, the UK is clearly unprepared. HP believes it has a responsibility to partner with industry leaders and help close this skills gap. Programmes such as the Digital Schools Award do just this – reinventing how schools teach STEM skills, better equipping the next generation for the digital economy.”
Schools awarded Digital School status will demonstrate how they are meeting that challenge by, among other things, implementing a whole school digital strategy and demonstrating evidence of how digital technology is being used to improve learning. They will also show an ongoing commitment to ongoing professional learning for teachers.
Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director, Education Scotland concluded: “We know that making effective use of digital technology helps to raise learners’ attainment, ambition and future careers opportunities. So we need to ensure that our children and young people develop their digital skills from the earliest age. I’m delighted to see so many schools and establishments from across Scotland involved in the Digital Schools Award programme. Their dedicated staff are making the most of digital technology to provide more innovative learning and teaching. Congratulations to the everyone receiving their award today.”
Schools are encouraged to register for the award through the www.digitalschoolsawards.co.uk website, where they can self evaluate their own current practices and standards.