Kelvinside Academy named as first digital secondary in UK and Ireland

Kelvinside Kelvinside Academy has won the race to become the first senior school in the UK and Ireland to earn a prestigious Digital Schools Award.

The Digital Schools Awards commended the Glasgow school’s “ambitious and innovative approach to education, which has created a strong digital culture and solidified its reputation as a centre of modern learning and teaching.”

The award, promotes excellence in digital learning and teaching across the curriculum and aims to equip pupils with cutting-edge digital skills that can be transferred to the world of work.

The body, which initially recognised only primary schools, made Kelvinside Academy’s junior school one of the first Digital Schools last year. Now the awards have been rolled out to secondary schools across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland, with Kelvinside Academy again leading the way.

Rector Ian Munro said: “We are thrilled to have been recognised as the first ever Digital School in the UK and Ireland. It’s a huge honour.

“At Kelvinside Academy, we have a desire to innovate across all areas of education, and we work hard to be as open-minded and curious as possible, so we can embrace new methods and technologies. This gives our pupils the tools to make an impact in an ever-changing, inter-connected world.

”Our head of eLearning Joanna Maclean has been instrumental to this success as she has been the driving force behind digitally enhanced learning at Kelvinside.”

Kelvinside Academy was commended by Digital Schools Awards validator Dr. Victor McNair for its digital innovation and creativity, enhancing learning across the curriculum.

Dr. Victor McNair commented: “Kelvinside Academy is an excellent example of a digital school where the learning, teaching, assessment, monitoring and administration are seamlessly supported by digital technology. Teachers have not lost sight of the primary goal of education, to inspire and enable lifelong learners and they have managed to enhance this vision by creating a learning environment that will allow Kelvinside Academy pupils to engage with, and indeed shape, the future digital world.”

Although the school’s heritage goes back almost 140-years, Rector Ian Munro and his team are constantly exploring ways to adapt and evolve the education of pupils. In the summer, the world’s leading innovation school, NuVu, came to Europe for the first time thanks to an exclusive partnership.

Boston-based NuVu challenges the concept of the traditional education system, and together, Kelvinside Academy and NuVu offered design and technology camps where pupils worked with experts from MIT and Harvard to explore the combined intelligence of humans and machines to solve problems.

By the end of the week, pupils had programmed and built robots to carry out tasks using code and different materials and components. With the school investing in 3-D printers and a laser cutting machine, pupils have access to cutting-edge technology all year round.

In addition, the school’s Thinking Space, situated in the heart of the school, is inspired by Silicon Valley and is designed to foster creativity and collaboration. The space hosts computers and iPad stations, encouraging pupils to make use of digital devices to access the school’s vast online subscription content platforms.

The Thinking Space includes an experimental teaching room, the ‘Think Tank’, with tables and walls that pupils can write on, allowing teachers to develop fresh teaching practices. Pupils can use their iPads to take pictures of their work on the walls, rather than relying on jotters and pencils.

All teachers have iPads which connect to classroom smart boards, enabling a digital learning experience. The school uses Virtual Learning Environment Frog which works on tablets and laptops and is a library of online resources and digital files. Here, teachers create dynamic websites, set and mark homework online and collaborate with students.

The Digital Schools Awards programme is supported by industry partners HP, Microsoft and Intel.

Ann-Marie Whelan, of HP Education, said: “Kelvinside Academy is an excellent example of how active, innovative leadership when combined with a clear and shared vision is transforming the use of digital technologies.  I am delighted to congratulate the school, teachers, students and the community on their outstanding achievement on becoming a Digital School.”