Victor McNair

Victor is the Digital Schools Award Validator for Northern Ireland. He was a senior lecturer at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland with responsibility for Postgraduate Technology and Design students at the University’s Jordanstown and Coleraine campuses. With 17 years’ prior experience in teaching technology and design, four of these years as Head of Department, his challenge has always been to enthuse learners, to provide a positive and constructive atmosphere and to create the spaces in which learning can flourish. He derives a great deal of enjoyment from watching this happen, striving to encourage learners to develop resilience, autonomy and innovation in their learning.

Victor’s research included the strategic deployment of ICT, e-portfolios and effective teaching strategies. He has been involved in teaching Masters and PhD students in a range of disciplines and in supporting professional development of teachers and lecturers.

Alan Armstrong

Alan retired recently after 40 years working across Scottish education, spending nearly 30 years at national level with Education Scotland and its predecessor organisations. As Strategic Director, he led a very broad range of innovative programmes for the development and implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, liaising with education leaders, practitioners, Scottish Government and Ministers. Alan’s digital responsibilities included leading Education Scotland’s support for the national Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy and Glow, Scotland’s national digital learning environment.

Over session 2020-21, he played a key role in initiating and leading the National e-Learning Offer, in partnership with local authorities, schools and practitioners, to provide innovative digital access to high quality learning opportunities for learners during school closures due to Covid-19. Alan is passionate about the role of digital in promoting and extending learning beyond school, enabling practitioners, learners, parents and many others to connect, collaborate and improve learning experiences. He also has an extensive background in quality assurance and both external and self- evaluation. Beyond Scotland, as President and Board Member of CIDREE, the European network of 20 countries, Alan actively promoted the exchange of information, expertise and skills in national and international trends, including digital, amongst professional educators and policymakers. As an education consultant, Alan looks to promote his interests in sharing and caring to improve experiences for learners of all ages.

Avril Allen

Avril is a Digital Schools Award validator for Northern Ireland. She has worked in education in NI for more than 30 years, initially as a teacher and more recently within C2k as a Senior Manager with responsibility for delivery of C2k services to schools.

C2k provides infrastructure, resources and services to support the use of ICT in schools in NI. The delivery and embedding of e-learning solutions appropriate to each school sector and enhanced use of the Management Information solution provided within the C2k service were her key responsibilities. Avril has also worked closely with the Department of Education in several key area such as eSafety, personal data sharing and teaching and learning projects.

Although recently retired, Avril maintains an active interest in the education sector in Northern Ireland and is currently serving on the Board of Governors in a local school.

Catherine Cunningham

Recently retired, Catherine has been a teacher for 41 years, 18 years of this as a Head Teacher and the last 18 months as Head Teacher of two schools. Catherine has always been interested in digital technology, as have her staff and as a school they have wholly embedded technology across the curriculum and as a result they were one of the first schools to gain a Digital Schools Award. Catherine’s school also received three Scottish Education Awards, two for Learning through Technology and currently hold Microsoft Showcase School status for the second year running. They have also been successful in the First Lego League, getting through the UK and Ireland final. Central to all their technology use in school is Glow, Scotland's digital environment for learning.

As a school leader, Catherine set and shared the vision for technologies with the school community. Catherine ensured staff had access to effective training to enable them to feel confident, skilled and capable of providing rich learning experiences for all pupils. With careful budgeting and succeful bids for external funding, Catherine ensured children had access to appropriate technology and exposure to appropriate applications so they could become digitally competent, with an awareness of digital safety and etiquette.

Catherine is currently working as a tutor, which takes her back to her roots. Catherine loves unpicking learning, identifying gaps and misconceptions and building on strengths and interests. Catherine has a particular interest in additional support needs and likes to introduce technology, particularly assistive technology, as a tool for all learners.

Karen Doherty

A former primary Headteacher, Karen has retired from her role as a local authority Primary Science Development Officer supporting local and national STEM development in association with The Wood Foundation and Education Scotland. In this role she contributed to the creation of digital resources for blended learning, shared by Education Scotland.

In her own school Karen led a pilot, cloud-based energy monitoring project; the first of its kind in the UK. This project enabled primary school children to collaborate with a German company to design characters based on endangered species which then served to illustrate real-time energy usage in individual classrooms. This learner focused project enabled youngsters to engage in contextualised data handling and to develop environmentally friendly habits.

At cluster level, Karen planned and delivered a three-year initiative for pupils in P5, 6 and 7 to develop and use digital skills to address climate change – locally and globally. This project was subsequently adopted by a global manufacturer to be implemented at schools adjacent to its sites around the world.

Karen is passionate about the benefits of digital tools to empower disadvantaged youngsters, especially those who are care experienced.

Peter Heaney

Peter is one of the Digital Schools Awards validators for Northern Ireland.  He retired in 2012 after 40 years’ experience teaching in both primary and secondary schools.  During this time, Peter was seconded several times to work with DENI, CCEA & C2k to support the implementation of ICT across the curriculum. Peter’s interest is in the application of ICT across the curriculum and its potential for developing thinking skills and creating learning links across communities particularly with the use of videoconferencing and VLE.

His classroom work attracted a number of awards including:

  1. JA.Net UK national award for innovation using videoconferencing, (this initiative linked his own class with schools in Africa, Scottish Highlands, England and Poland)
  2. PITCOM (Westminster Parliamentary IT Committee) NI regional winner award
  3. BECTA UK National ICT in Practice (Primary) award (Runner up)
  4. Oracle / European Teacher Award (ICT)

He was a member of the UK national judging panel for the BECTA / BETT ICT awards from 2005-2007. 

During the UK City of Culture year in Derry, at the invitation of Oracle USA, Peter lead a number of ICT initiatives that used videoconferencing and VLE to link learning between schools in Derry and Kentucky. This initiative also involved local schools in creating story telling presentations using digital media.

From 2001-2014 he lead an initiative for the Pushkin Trust (A NI based arts development organization) to develop and use a VLE platform where children from NI, ROI and Russia could collaborate and share learning. This was a literacy, creative and cultural experience for the children and teachers involved.

Peter has published a number of articles and support resources on the use of ICT in the primary classroom for CCEA, most recently a Key Stage 1 & 2 support package on how coding and specifically LOGO can support the development of shape and space concepts within mathematics.

In collaboration with Dr Linda Clarke (Director of School of Education, University of Ulster) he co-authored a study of classroom practice on using asynchronous conferencing to develop literacy skills for BJET (British Journal of Educational Technology).

He has also published articles for Oracle / on the use of VC and VLE to support the development of literacy and encourage cultural awareness between school in NI / UK and South Africa.

Currently spending a lot of time on the river Foyle enjoying renewing my rowing skills now that retirement has presented the time and opportunity.

Joanna Maclean

Joanna is a Digital Schools Award Validator for Scotland. She is a dedicated educator with over 28-years expertise in embedding technology to enhance lessons and engage students of all ages: nursery, primary, and secondary. As a certified coach, she strives to empower others through a culture of coaching and servant leadership, and is part of the GTCS's National PRD & PL Steering Group. Joanna is a certified project manager (PRINCE2 Agile) and devised the vision which led to her Primary school being the first school in Scotland to receive the Digital Schools Award in 2016. Her Secondary was the first in the UK and Ireland to receive this coveted award in 2017. As well as pedagogical expertise Joanna is digitally astute, administering devices, systems and processes e.g. MIS, VLE, BYOD, and MDM’s. She is a Microsoft Innovative Education Expert, Apple Teacher and is Google certified. Joanna is a member of Education Scotland’s National Technology Network, however her focus is on pedagogy over technology, in particular the development of Meta-skills, which is the focus of her PhD thesis in Educational Technology at Lancaster University. Joanna is affectionally known to her family as as she is passionate about all things digital.

Jen McKay

Jen has worked in education for 26 years beginning her teaching career in a primary school in East Lothian. Having been asked to be the 'ICT Coordinator' for the school, Jen developed a passion for technology and using it to enhance childrens' learning. This passion saw Jen taking on the first ICT Development Officer role in East Lothian working with early years, primary and additional support needs bases.

From here she went on to work on the national Tesco SchoolNet 2000 Millenium project and then NOF training across Scotland. Then as a contractor with Learning and Teaching Scotland she had the opportunity to work on the successful online communities Masterclass and Heads Together.

This lead to a role working on Glow as a Development Officer, a role which allowed Jen to work across Scotland helping enhance teaching and learning for both practitioners and young people. Laterly in Education Scotland, Jen worked in the Digital Learning and Teaching Team managing Glow TV and ePortfilio implementaion in Scottish schools.

Having recently left Education Scotland Jen has set up her own private tutoring business which she feels has taken her back to her roots!

Andy Pendry

In addition to being a DSAS Validator, Andy is currently consulting in the Learning Technology sector at home and abroad using wide experience gathered from various roles in the commercial and public sector. They include ...

Scottish Government: Chief Technology Adviser at Education Scotland. Supporting Learning Technology across 32 Scottish Local Authorities, developing Learning Technology policy and providing Glow cloud services for every pupil and teacher and associated partners in the Scottish Schools sector.

BBC Jam: Scottish Learning Adviser with the BBC Jam team based in London and general BBC Scotland Education adviser. The Jam team designed and developed over 100 new digital learning resources, tagged for use in the four Nations’ curriculum.

Apple UK: Education business development manager in the Apple UK learning team, also supported learning technology projects in Europe and US.

Teaching: Principal Teacher of Computing Science in Edinburgh secondary schools from 1982 to 2000.

Beverley McCormick

Beverley is the EMEA Mathematics Educator at 3P Learning. In this Ed Tech role she helps to create engaging and pedagogically sound maths products for more than 3 million users worldwide in more than 17,000 schools. Prior to this role she was a primary school teacher for 16 years in Northern Ireland.  As a teacher, she created opportunities for her students to develop skills of inquiry and discovery through project-based learning which infused the STEM subjects.  As a result, she was presented with the GTCNI STEM Teacher of the Year Award in the same year that her students also received the both the Junior Innovators Communications Award at SciFest and the Best Overall Primary School Award at The Big Bang Fair.  During her teaching career she was also nominated and awarded a Highly Commended status for IT Teacher of the Year Award by BCS(NI).

Beverley’s love of infusing technologies into teaching and learning and for developing both creative and inspiring learning opportunities is also demonstrated by her passion to support educators on their professional development journey.  She firmly believes that teachers should be equipped with digital technology skills to support their teaching and that this should be underpinned by the safe use of digital technologies. She founded the first Code Club in her school, is a STEM Ambassador and both a Raspberry Pi Educator and Community Trainer. In addition to this, she is a Microsoft Innovative Education Expert, Apple Teacher and Google Level 2 certified. Beverley enjoys opportunities to share her knowledge and passion for education with others and in doing so, hopes to have an impact on the next generation of teachers and students.