One of the most experienced education leaders in Scotland has been appointed by a national awards scheme to help drive innovation in schools.

Alan Armstrong, former strategic director of Education Scotland will support Digital Schools Awards to guide and implement its ongoing strategy to promote digital skills in Scotland.

Armstrong, who retired from the government agency in April after a 40-year career across the Scottish education sectors, will take on the role of programme validator.

Digital Schools Awards Scotland was established in 2016 in partnership with Education Scotland, HP, Microsoft and Intel, to bring together government bodies and businesses to support the teaching of digital skills in schools.

The initiative has seen more than 77 per cent of secondary schools and 59 per cent of primary schools across Scotland participate, and has recently expanded to include a stand-alone digital wellness initiative which aims to give young people the “knowledge and confidence they need to navigate the digital world”.

It is hoped Armstrong will bring extensive knowledge and wisdom to Digital Schools Awards Scotland, which is set to unveil some major developments, including the rollout of the programme at a European level.

Armstrong oversaw a number of significant innovative programmes while at Education Scotland. During this time, he led the body’s support for the implementation of the national Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy, and played a key role in initiating and leading the National e-Learning Offer to provide access to online learning opportunities during school closures due to Covid-19.

In his new role as Digital Schools’ validator, Armstrong’s focus will be on maximising the opportunities offered by digital technology in education, which will also support the implementation of Scotland’s national Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy.

He will also work with educational leaders and practitioners to build their confidence and assist them to embed digital skills in their everyday learning, while guiding them through the programme and advising on areas where progress can be made.

In addition, Armstrong will support the development and implementation of the Digital Schools Awards vision and strategy, helping to shape the programme in line with the inevitable evolutions in digital technology.

Armstrong said: “During my career, I have seen at first-hand how the advancements in technology have impacted in education and positively changed the way in which our children and young people learn.

“Digital learning in schools is an ever-evolving process, and it is vital that schools are given the support and tools needed to provide all our children and young people with skills they require for a modern world.

“Having watched closely the developments at Digital Schools Awards at national level over recent years, I have seen for myself the fantastic achievements they have made across Scottish schools.

“To date more than 1607 Scottish schools have participated in the programme with hundreds recognised for their commitment to digital excellence. I hope to build upon this success, and drive forward the programme, allowing our team to engage with, guide and support more young people across Scotland.

“I have always been passionate about promoting and extending learning beyond school, enabling practitioners, learners, parents and many others to connect, collaborate and improve learning experiences. My role with Digital Schools gives me the platform to drive forward this vision and I look forward to the challenge.”

Anna Doody, programme manager for Digital Schools Awards Scotland, said: “Alan has a wealth of experience in this sector and we are excited to welcome him on board.

“His knowledge and skillset are extremely valuable, and with his guidance and support we will be able to continue growing the programme and facilitating excellent practices in digital learning in schools – something which has never been so important.”