Scottish Digital Schools Awards extended to secondaries

Digital Schools AwardsA scheme promoting excellence in digital learning and teaching, is to be offered to Scottish secondary schools with the aim of equipping pupils with cutting-edge digital skills.  The Digital Schools Awards, announced today by Shirley-Anne Somerville, minister for further education, higher education and science, encourages schools to “infuse digital skills across the curriculum”.

Colleges, universities, and employers are also being encouraged to partner with schools to develop a modern, digitally resilient workforce with advanced computational thinking capabilities.

The announcement builds on the introduction of the Digital Schools Awards to Scottish primary schools last year. This programme has already seen 15% of primary schools register and 43 schools achieve digital school accreditation, including 22 schools who today received their awards at a presentation held in Goldenhill Primary School, Clydebank.

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’.

The secondary programme builds on the primary and encourages schools to identify activities where digital skills are more focused on real world work-ready scenarios.

The programme is being driven by a consensus among policy, academic, technology and business leaders that schools play a central role in shaping Scotland’s future as a digital nation.

The development team consulted with schools and organisations such as Developing the Young Workforce, PLAN C, Scotland IS, Smarter Grid Solutions, STEM, the Child Protection Team for Education Scotland and the Digital Technologies Skills Group to include the latest thinking in digital technology for education.

As a result, the programme promotes skills such as digital innovation and creativity; computational thinking; advances in STEM; the use of digital technology to promote higher order thinking skills; support for digital equity and access and the need for cyber resilience.

HP, Microsoft and Intel are providing practical support and resources including a financial commitment of £600,000 over five years and the programme is recognised by Education Scotland.  The programme is also supported by the Scottish Government’s Digital Skills funding.

It is expected that by the end of 2018, more than a quarter of all Scottish primary and secondary schools and over 190,000 pupils aged between 5-18 years, will be digitally supported through the programme’s activities.

“A key priority in shaping the Scottish Government’s Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy has been to align the needs of employers with the curriculum,” said Shirley-Anne Somerville.  “Our colleges, universities and employers have a key role to play in helping schools to prepare our young people for the opportunities to flourish in the future.

“I welcome HP, Microsoft and Intel support on this digital schools’ programme which is a fantastic example of industry supporting education in Scotland.”

David Hogg, education manager for HP EMEA, added: “The Digital Schools Awards programme is a unique partnership between the technology industry, education and government and offers a great opportunity for Scotland to take a lead in the development of digital skills across both primary and second level education.

“HP is proud to support this ground-breaking digital schools’ initiative which will help young people in Scotland take full advantage of career opportunities as they consider further education or employment and allow them to play a full part in making Scotland a great digital nation.”

Steven Grier, country manager, Microsoft Scotland, said: “The Digital Schools Programme is a shining 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. We are proud to be part of this exciting initiative and look forward to seeing how it enables students to better prepare for the world of work.”

Claire Gillespie, digital technologies sector skills manager at Skills Development Scotland, said: “Involving technology employers in our schools is key to ensuring that young people will have the knowledge and experience needed in the years ahead.

“There are many excellent digital projects happening in our schools and the Digital Schools Awards provides a roadmap for best practice. I’d like to encourage any school that hasn’t yet got involved in this programme to consider doing so.”

Schools are encouraged to register for the programme through the www.digitalschoolsawards.co.uk website where they can undergo a self-evaluation of current practices and standards.