A group of 15 schools from across Ireland have been recognised for their use of digital technology at the European Digital Schools Awards, an ambitious new educational initiative which aims to establish cross-border networks and learning.
As some of first to take part in the initiative, the group of Irish schools helped set the benchmark for others to follow. They were officially recognised for their digital education strategy at an event held at University College Dublin today (Monday 28 March), where the Minister of Education, Norma Foley, congratulated schools on their achievements via video.
The European Digital Schools Awards encourages and recognises innovation, collaboration, and skills development in the digital sphere. With support from the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme, leading technology companies such as HP and AMD, and a number of national education agencies, it is the only initiative of its kind in Europe and is aimed at providing pupils with the skills they need to flourish in the modern world.
A total of 100 secondary schools in five European countries took part in the pilot programme, with just 79 receiving the top award.
Following the success of the pilot, the initiative is now being made available to all schools in Ireland, Scotland, Lithuania, Serbia, and Slovenia, with plans also in motion to roll out the programme more widely across Europe. As the programme expands, it will provide teachers and educational leaders with greater access to support and the opportunity to take learnings from other countries.
To achieve European Digital Schools status, schools must use the European Commission’s SELFIE self-reflection tool to assess their digital learning and teaching practices and identify areas where improvements can be made. They can then access a range of expert support and resources to help them develop their digital curriculum in line with industry best practices.
Norma Foley, Minister of Education said: “The European Digital Schools Awards is an excellent example of industry bodies and educational organisations working together to support schools as they continue to incorporate digital technology into the curriculum.
“The success of the pilot programme across Ireland has been inspiring, and it is great to see so many of our schools involved. With the initiative now available to all Irish schools, we hope to see many more getting involved.”
Anna Doody from Digital Schools Awards said: “Technology has become embedded into our everyday lives in a way we never thought it would, and at an unimaginable speed. In schools, the transformation is especially acute following the proliferation of remote learning during the pandemic.
“As we guide our young people through their developmental years and into adulthood it is essential that we give them the skills, knowledge and confidence to be able to navigate the digital world effectively and safely.
“The European Digital Schools Award is not about urging teachers to use technology in the classroom. It is about encouraging an inclusive, and whole-school approach to digital learning, where everyone in the school feels supported and confident to adopt best practices.
“Our pilot programme exceeded our expectations, and we are thrilled to be announcing the roll out of the initiative across our five participating countries.
“One of the key benefits of the European Digital Schools Awards is it creates a network of educational professionals that can learn from one another. The more schools we have within the community, the greater the opportunities for knowledge sharing, and over the coming year we hope to grow the initiative, welcoming new member states and more schools into the fold.
Annmarie Whelan from HP, a central supporter of the European Digital Schools Award, said: “Understanding digital practices and having a familiarity with technology is an essential part of young people’s development, and can open so many opportunities for their future.
“We have been working alongside Digital Schools Awards for a number of years and have seen first-hand the positive impact it has made on hundreds of schools. We are proud to be on this journey and to be a part of the official launch of the European programme. We would encourage all schools to explore the opportunities created through this initiative and look forward to working with others in our sector and educational leaders to roll this out across the continent.”
Donal Harford from AMD said: “The possibilities are virtually limitless for what we can achieve through advancements in science and technology over the next few decades. School pupils across Europe are the next generation of innovators and it is through programmes like Digital Schools Awards that we can educate and inspire them to explore careers in digital technology.”
To find out more about how they can take part, schools should visit www.awards4selfie.eu.
Complete list of schools in Ireland to receive the European Digital Schools Award:
Blackrock College, Dublin
Borrisokane Community College, Tipperary
Castetroy College, Limerick
Colaiste Bhaile Chlair, Galway
Colaiste Bride Enniscorthy, Wexford
Colaiste Cois Life, Dublin
Dominican College, Dublin
Gaelcholáiste Phort Láirge, Waterford
Mercy Secondary School, Dublin
Muckross Park College, Dublin
Old Bawn Community School, Dublin
Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, Westmeath
St. Aloysius College, Cork
Saint Kevin’s Community College, Dublin
Saint Kevin’s Community College, Wicklow