Scotland ‘leading the way’ in skills as latest round of digital schools are recognised

More Scottish schools have been recognised for “excellence in digital teaching and learning” with the award of national ‘Digital School’ status.

Best practice in the use of digital technology in the classroom and across the curriculum at 35 primary and three secondary schools was marked today at a ceremony in Tulliallan Primary School in Fife, attended by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, along with pupils, teachers and programme partners.

The new cohort joins the 43 primary schools awarded Digital School accreditation in 2017.

Launched in September 2016, the Digital Schools Award programme was developed to support, encourage and recognise schools in their efforts to integrate digital technology across the curriculum in order to both improve the learning experience for pupils of all abilities and provide students with the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital economy and society.

The programme, which is free to all schools, offers a roadmap and resources to schools seeking to do more with technology in their classrooms. It recognises schools demonstrating best practice and supports the efforts of those trying to maximise their digital potential.

Industry partners HP, Microsoft and Intel operate and co-ordinate the programme, as well as providing a financial commitment of £600,000 over five years and practical support and resources. It is run in partnership with Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland and is supported by the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning.

One in four schools in Scotland – 668 schools – has registered to participate in the Digital Schools Award since its launch. The programme aims to sign up a third of all Scottish schools by the end of 2019.

“It is encouraging to see so many schools embracing digital and supporting teacher professional learning to enrich their pupils’ education,” said Somerville.

“The digital technologies sector makes a significant contribution to employment and economic growth in Scotland and is on track to be the fastest growing part of the economy to 2024. To fully benefit from the sector’s global opportunities, we must ensure our young people are prepared with the digital skills required for the workplace.

“That is why the STEM Strategy includes a commitment to support digital skills development in early learning settings and primary schools through the Digital Schools Programme.”

Steven Grier, country manager of Microsoft Scotland, said: “The Digital Schools Programme is a fantastic 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 further enables students in Scotland to better prepare for the world of work and keep Scotland at the forefront of the current digital revolution.”

“The careers of tomorrow will increasingly be found in sectors such as robotics, programming and engineering”, commented George Brasher, UK MD, HP. “However, with recent reports showing employers are struggling to fill 43 per cent of STEM-related job roles, the UK is clearly unprepared.

“HP believes it has a responsibility to partner with industry leaders and help close this skills gap. Programmes such as the Digital Schools Award do just this – reinventing how schools teach STEM skills, better equipping the next generation for the digital economy.”

Claire Gillespie, digital technologies sector skills manager at Skills Development Scotland, said: “With Scotland’s digital technologies sector offering a huge array of opportunities for new entrants, it’s vital that we help our young people develop their interest and enthusiasm in the digital world. I’d like to congratulate all the schools receiving their accreditation and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.”

Alan Armstrong, strategic director at Education Scotland, added: “We know that making effective use of digital technology helps to raise learners’ attainment, ambition and future careers opportunities. So we need to ensure that our children and young people develop their digital skills from the earliest age.

“I’m delighted to see so many schools and establishments from across Scotland involved in the Digital Schools Award programme.  Their dedicated staff are making the most of digital technology to provide more innovative learning and teaching.  Learners’ experiences and skills really grow well.  Congratulations to the everyone receiving their award today.”

Schools awarded Digital School status can demonstrate, among other things, the presence of a whole school digital strategy, evidence of how digital technology is being used to improve learning, and a commitment to ongoing professional learning for teachers. Schools are encouraged to register for the through the awards website, where they can evaluate current practices and standards.