Digital Schools of Distinction is a flagship programme supported by HP Ireland, Microsoft Ireland and the Dublin West Education Centre.
It has been developed to assess progress and recognise excellence in the use of technology at primary level, while providing practical support and encouragement.
Participating schools will help ensure their schools are getting access to the digital classroom from an early age so they can have the skills and experience to succeed in a digital future. Schools that successfully complete the three-step programme will receive a nationally-recognised Digital School of Distinction Award, accredited by the Department of Education.
Over the past two years, it has been the aim of Star of the Sea Boys National School, Sandymount to achieve this level of distinction. The school was inspected by a representative of the programme and are now delighted to announce that they been accredited the Digital Schools of Distinction award.
The January school circular, in recognition of the award, said: “We would like to thank all our students and teachers involved in achieving this award for all their hard work. Well done.”
Dave O’Mahony, teacher of 5th and 6th class, explains the initiatives that were undertaken in the school.
“Digital Schools is an award given out for promoting the use of information and communication technologies in education. Principal Kevin Munnelly and the principal before him, Una Condon, started the ball rolling with the support of the board of management and the parents’ association.
“In the last two years, it has really taken off, previously we only had laptops upstairs. Now, we have wi-fi throughout the school, we have a school server, we have an internal email system and 16 new laptops.
Everything has been digitalised, we have interactive projectors in all of the classrooms, which means the children can come up and try different things on the board, we feel this promotes curiosity in learning.
We do computer programming also, through a program called Scratch, which was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is used worldwide. It uses drag and drop functions and introduces the children to coding and the processes behind it.
“The funding comes from the Department of Education and the parents’ association, but as always with IT it is not a once-off investment. There is a constant stream of funding coming in to keep it up to date.
The parents’ association are great, they organise lots of fundraising, especially in the school hall at night. They are responsible for installing wi-fi throughout the school, which is great because now it is completely wireless.
“Also, one of the parents with experience in IT is helping us with our router to make sure that we have the maximum amount of speed for broadband. He has helped ensure that 30 or 40 computers can go online at once and nothing is being slowed down.
“We got the award because we’ve been implementing all these policies right across all classrooms.
From first and second class upwards, children are interacting with technology every day and junior and senior infants benefit because the teacher has the technology and they are introduced to its use through the projectors and the interactive white boards.”
By Jessica Ellis