Digital Distinction

digital schools1

Local primary school Star of the Sea is currently in the running for the prestigious Digital Schools of Distinction award.

The Sandymount school is one of 190 Dublin primary schools that have signed up to the programme, which is a HP and Microsoft funded initiative, and is the sole candidate from the Dublin 4 area. 2014/15 is the second year of the programme.

The Digital Schools of Distinction Award is a flagship programme launched by Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn in September of last year. The purpose of the initiative is to promote the best practical use of information and communications technology (ICT) and to improve the educational experiences of pupils at primary school level.

In Ireland, ICT training by teachers is currently at a higher grade than any of our EU counterparts, and the award aims to further integrate technology into the classroom to help equip pupils for the demands of a competitive world dominated by computers.

The benefits of becoming a Digital School of Distinction include teaching and learning resources, free hardware and software, technical support, and opportunities for collaboration.

Star of the Sea has been afforded the opportunity to apply for the award, as they meet the five criteria under which schools are evaluated. Participating schools must convey a positive attitude to ICT with regards to leadership, vision and the integration of ICT into the curriculum, demonstrate the impact of learning in a school’s ICT culture, and ensure that schools have the appropriate ICT resources in place.

A recent survey conducted among 300 primary schools, many of them Dublin schools who have registered for the programme, yielded positive results for the utility of ICT in the classroom. 98% of teachers agreed that ICT used in teaching was a necessary tool for educating pupils in the 21st century, with 80% agreeing that it had a positive impact on student motivation, while 84% said that the initiative helped their school focus on curriculum objectives
Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland, spoke of the importance and success of the project at a recent news release.

“The importance of this programme is underscored when you see that 98% of teachers recognise that the integration of ICT into the classroom is an imperative if our young people are to be prepared to live and work in the 21st century,” Hallahan said.

“Industry has a responsibility to help make technology as accessible as possible to students and teachers and to help equip them with the skills to enhance their learning experience. We are proud of our involvement with this programme and delighted with the response to date.”

More information on the Digital Schools of Distinction Award can be found online at

Pictured: Pupils from 5th Class Star of the Sea using laptops to advance their studies under tuition from Kevin Munnelly.

By Craig Kinsella