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.


Geraldine Timoney

Geraldine is one of the Digital Schools Award Validators for Northern Ireland. She recently worked as Education Manager (primary) in Using ICT for the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, providing support to teachers in their assessment of UICT in the classroom. Before that she worked for over 10 years as Education Consultant in e-learning for C2k where she held project management, software development and teacher training roles. Her focus was on the design and implementation of e-learning technologies including, e-learning platforms, video conferencing, cloud-based software and utilities and supporting their use to enhance learning and teaching and to facilitate school administration. For two years, she was lead primary judge for the Education Technology Awards, a former awards scheme for schools in Northern Ireland. Prior to working for C2k she taught and was ICT coordinator at a primary school in North Belfast. She currently works independently with primary schools and is a mentor at CoderDojo Belfast where she teaches a class of young children on Saturday mornings.


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.


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!


Andrea Ward

Andrea has worked in education for 25 years as a teacher, school leader and advisor. She currently runs Global Education Consulting Solutions (GECoS), leading and advising on education technology projects and specialising in effective use of digital resources to engage, enhance and extend learning.

Early on in her career, Andrea realised the incredible potential of technology to transform learning and engage students. She went on to pilot technology programmes for gifted and talented and special needs learners focusing on critical thinking skills. She has since been an advocate for the effective and inclusive use of technology in schools and has spoken about the importance of digital literacy skills at international conferences. She has lead research projects identifying challenges to effective use of technology, resulting in national curriculum changes and the publication of guidance for educators. Andrea has worked with schools, Ministries and Government agencies to implement technology to support learning, developing policy and self-review frameworks, managing change and ensuring best practice pedagogy through staff development and collaboration. She has also worked with suppliers, advising on quality, safety, local requirements and ensuring the needs of learners, teachers and parents are reflected in product development. 

Andrea has extensive experience of working internationally in settings requiring an understanding of different cultures, priorities and needs. In addition to working across the UK, she has worked in USA and across the Middle East and North Africa, supporting school improvement through effective use of technology for learning.


Jess McBeath

Jess is a consultant and trainer specialising in online safety and digital citizenship within a Scottish context. She provides online safety consultancy and training to schools, charities and public sector organisations, as well as to parents, professionals and young people.  Jess is an Online Safety Mark Assessor and CEOP Ambassador.

Following a degree in Linguistics & Artificial Intelligence, Jess began her career as an IT Specialist with a multinational corporation, before spending a roller-coaster year in a mobile software startup.  She then moved into the public sector, managing local authority services including learning & development, strategic planning, performance, quality and self-evaluation, as well as gaining an MBA along the way.  Jess has worked with schools, education services, child protection, social work, police, health, elected members and voluntary sector bodies to review and transform services, and to prepare for and respond to inspection.  Jess is passionate about child protection and has been awarded the NSPCC Childhood Champion Award as Schools Volunteer for Scotland 2018.


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.