Five schools from Bearsden, just outside Glasgow, have become the first in Scotland to achieve Digital Schools Award status by working together.
Bearsden Academy, Mosshead Primary, Bearsden Primary, Baljaffray Primary and Castlehill Primary received the nationally recognised education award via a cluster initiative.
It is the first time in the history of the programme, that schools have set out to share resources, mentor and guide each other. As part of the initiative, senior pupils from Bearsden Academy were assigned to each of the four primary schools within the cluster and worked closely with the children to support their digital learning and development.
This included maximising the use of technology and the digital learning platform Glow. In addition, teachers at all five schools met regularly to streamline the digital curriculum.
They also developed improvement plans as a cluster and for their own school and would regularly reflect on their own personal development.
To date, 44% of schools in Scotland are registered for the Digital Schools Awards programme, which encourages excellence in digital learning and supports the efforts of schools, teachers and learners in making the best use of digital technology in the classroom.
The initiative, which launched in September 2017, is delivered in partnership with Education Scotland. It was designed to promote, encourage and reward schools that make the best use of digital technology in the classroom and received a financial commitment of £600,000 over five years from leading organisations such as HP, Microsoft and Skills Development Scotland.
Initially designed for primary schools, a secondary programme was rolled out in 2018 to focus on real world, work ready scenarios. A total of 165 primary schools and some 25 secondary schools have been awarded Digital Schools status.
George Cooper head teacher at Bearsden Academy said: “We are very proud of the pupils and teachers who have worked incredibly hard, often in their free time, to collaborate, exchange knowledge and support each other to achieve the Digital Schools Award.
“The cluster initiative was built on the close working relationship we have in our cluster and will help equip our students for the future, whether preparing primary school pupils for secondary school or preparing our senior pupils for adult life in a digital world.”
When recognising the schools, validators commented on the digital expertise of staff, strong infrastructure and successful planning to identify teaching and learning needs.
There are currently nine other Digitals School clusters taking part in the programme, which aim to achieve Digital School status within six to nine months of commencement.
East Dunbartonshire Council's Convener of Education, Councillor Jim Goodall, said, "It's great to see Bearsden Academy being recognised for the excellent progress it has made in promoting digital tools to develop young people's skills for life and work. The school has adopted innovative ways of promoting their use. It has engaged S6 pupils as digital leaders and they have been working with local primary school pupils to develop the digital skills of younger pupils. Parents have also been involved and the appropriate use of digital tools, both in school and at home, has increased greatly over the last two years."
Anna Doody from Digital Schools Awards said “The Digital Schools programme has successfully brought 165 nursery and primary and 25 secondary schools in Scotland to accreditation. The ability to pull resources, collaborate on ideas and provide guidance to each other only offers another level of support to schools.”
Ann Marie Whelan from HP said: “This was a great exercise in collaboration which saw neighbouring schools work closely together to better prepare pupils for the digital world.
Participating schools are required to self-assess their developments in digital technology under common practice areas of Leadership and Vision, Digital Technology for Learning and Teaching, School Culture, Professional Development and Resources and Infrastructure.
Upon joining the initiative and completing an online self-review framework, schools within a cluster are assigned a validator who will propose a matrix system of support aimed at addressing learning gaps.
The Digital Schools Awards Scotland is a national award to promote, recognise and encourage a whole-school approach to the use of digital technology in nursery, primary, special education and secondary schools.
The Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety Badge introduced earlier this year provides education professionals with the resources and support required to help pupils safely navigate the digital world. The CR-IS Badge was developed out of a recognition that growing digital teaching and learning in schools should go together with excellence in developing teachers’ and pupils’ cyber resilience and online safety. Schools can apply for CR-IS without going for the Digital Schools Award or it can be done in conjunction with their application to become a Digital School.
Schools are encouraged to register for the free programme through the website www.digitalschoolsawards.co.uk
Keep up to date with the Digital Schools’ initiatives by following: Twitter @schools_digital