Digital Schools Award launched by Minister for Education and Skills

Friday, October 19, 2018

An innovative scheme promoting excellence in digital learning and teaching, and aimed at equipping pupils with cutting-edge digital skills, is set to be offered to Irish secondary schools.

The Digital Schools Award announced today by the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D., encourages schools to integrate digital skills across the curriculum.

The initiative builds on the aims and processes of the Department of Education and Skills’ ‘Digital Learning Framework for Post-Primary Schools’ introduced this year.    

Participating schools self-assess their developments in digital technology under the two areas of Leadership and Management, and Teaching and Learning.  The programme encourages teachers to identify and develop classroom activities that promote skills such as digital innovation and creativity; collaborative and self-directed learning; problem solving and computational thinking. 

It also encourages and supports teachers’ professional development in digital technologies, digital equity and access, and cyber resilience across the whole school.

HP Ireland, Microsoft Ireland and Intel are providing practical support and resources, including financial backing.  The programme, which will initially operate as a pilot in a number of schools, is welcomed by the Department of Education and Skills. 

Developed by HP in Ireland in partnership with Microsoft, the digital schools programme is already proving successful in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where more than a third of schools have signed up.

Speaking at the launch of the Digital Schools Award at the NAPD - National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals - Conference in Galway today (Friday 19 October, 2018), Minister McHugh said: “Digital technology is revolutionising lives and careers, and Irish education is harnessing the potential of digital in teaching and learning, so that Irish students are fully engaged and well placed to take advantage of the digital revolution.

“The Department’s Digital Strategy for Schools Action Plan is backed by a €210million capital investment programme and is key to our schools being part of the best education systems in Europe.

“This Digital Schools Award, backed by industry, will further support schools in embedding digital technologies in all aspects of their activities, and help ensure that good practice is captured and shared among the teaching community.

“I welcome the support of HP Ireland, Microsoft Ireland and Intel in driving this initiative.”

Speaking at the programme launch, Ann Marie Whelan, HP Ireland, said: “We, as an industry, are committed to helping ensure that young people have the skills necessary to thrive as digital citizens – both in the workplace and wider society.  We are proud to support the aims of the Department of Education’s Digital Learning Framework and, through the awards, provide recognition to the schools and teachers committed to making digital technologies part of teaching and learning in the curriculum.”

Dr. Kevin Marshall of Microsoft Ireland said the company is committed to ensuring schools around the country have the support they need to develop and successfully implement digital frameworks.

“As a company we’re working at both ends of the system.  We’re engaging students through our dedicated education and innovation hub at our campus, DreamSpace, opening their minds to the opportunities technology can provide them with.  

“With teachers we’re supporting training and development at our newly opened education suite, and also directly with our partners, DCU and UCD.  Through this work we’re constantly inspired by the leadership approach teachers around the country are taking to future-proof their schools and ensure students and teachers have the digital know-how to excel in the classroom of the future”.

The Digital Schools Award is an important recognition which helps highlight schools leading the way in digitalising their future, the Microsoft Head of Education added.

“By highlighting success stories, we hope other schools will be inspired to start their own digital journey.”

Post primary schools across Ireland can find out more at www.digitalschoolsawards.ie.