Glasgow’s Kelvinside Academy has become the first school in the UK and Ireland to be awarded the Digital Schools Award.
At a time when the technology industry is plagued by a significant skills shortage, Digital Schools Awards – which is accredited by Education Scotland and supported by Microsoft, HP, and Intel – praised the independent Glasgow school’s innovative teaching methods and creative use of digital technology.
Until recently, the Digital Schools Award was given only to primary schools. Kelvinside’s junior academy was one of the first in the UK to be recognised as such, but Scotland is now home to 47 Digital Schools in the junior category. Since then, Digital Schools has been expanded to include secondary schools in its remit, the first of which is Kelvinside Academy.
Rector Ian Munro commented that, “At Kelvinside Academy, we have a desire to innovate across all areas of education, and we work hard to be as open-minded and curious as possible, so we can embrace new methods and technologies. This gives our pupils the tools to make an impact in an ever-changing, inter-connected world.”
As such, the school incorporates cutting-edge technology into the heart of its teaching practice. Every teacher uses an iPad connected to a classroom smart board, while 3-D printers and laser-cutting machines were recently purchased for pupil and staff use. Other notable developments include the construction of a tech centre known as the ‘Thinking Space’, which takes Silicon Valley as its inspiration and boasts an iPad and computer station, as well as an experimental teaching room known as the ‘Think Tank’.
Kelvinside’s emphasis on digital technology in education has been influenced significantly by their partnership with Boston-based NuVu, one of the world’s leading innovation schools which challenges more orthodox teaching methods. Previous collaboration between the two schools gave some pupils the chance to work with industry experts from MIT and Harvard to delve deeper into AI, while others were tasked with the construction of robots designed to perform different tasks using code.
Digital Schools Award
Digital Schools validator Dr. Vicky McNair spoke highly of Kelvinside Academy’s forward-looking approach, stating that the school “is an excellent example of a digital school where the learning, teaching, assessment, monitoring and administration are seamlessly supported by digital technology.”
“Teachers have not lost sight of the primary goal of education, to inspire and enable lifelong learners and they have managed to enhance this vision by creating a learning environment that will allow Kelvinside Academy pupils to engage with, and indeed shape, the future digital world.”
As part of the process, Digital Schools Awards uses five key criteria in its assessment. Validators assess a school’s wider IT strategy and attitudes towards digital tech, the extent to which digital technology is integrated into the curriculum, and the quality of a school’s hardware, software, and IT equipment.
In addition, the assessment board look for evidence of a school’s awareness of the positive impact of digital tech on the quality of teaching and learning, and a commitment to ongoing professional development in IT.
Digital education consultant, Evelyn Walker, told DIGIT: “This is a wonderful achievement and with Kelvinside Academy’s Senior student Digital School award, this will have a positive effect in respect of digital technology role models for their younger students. With equipping these students with cutting edge digital skills, this will ensure that these transferable skills will lead to innovation and success in world of work.”