Holywell ETNS Becomes a Digital School of Distinction

Holywell Educate Together N.S. Swords has been named a ‘Digital School of Distinction’, and joins a growing group of primary schools nationwide to receive the prestigious award.

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD presented the award to teachers and pupils at the school today. Supported by HP and Microsoft and launched in September last year, ‘Digital Schools of Distinction’ is a flagship award programme which promotes, recognises and encourages best practice use of technology in primary schools.

More than one in three Irish primary schools – a total of 1,100 schools – signed up to become ‘Digital Schools of Distinction’, in the first full school year of the programme. The programme aims to sign up a further 750 schools during this academic year.

The programme is supported by HP Ireland and Microsoft Ireland who have confirmed that they will support the programme with €200,000 in funding for its second year.

Primary schools who achieve Digital Schools of Distinction status this year will receive a range of ICT supports, including free printing for a year via a HP OfficeJet Pro printer and a monthly printing allowance of 250 colour pages and 2,500 black and white pages, Microsoft software and educational apps as well as technical support and access to education ICT specialists.

137 schools have already been awarded Digital School of Distinction status and it is expected that a further 300 schools will be recognised during this academic year. Plans are also in place to expand the programme into Northern Ireland and the UK in 2015.

Speaking at the event, Minister Damien English said: “The Digital School of Distinction programme provides recognition to schools that have embraced technology in the classroom. The programme is an excellent means to promote and enhance the use of ICT in the classroom and is in line with the e-learning roadmap supported by the Department of Education & Skills.”

The response to the Digital Schools of Distinction programme from primary schools to date has been extremely positive. Maria Boyne, Principal of Holywell Educate Together N.S. said that the programme offers a great opportunity for the school to build on its digital capabilities.

“We are thrilled to be accredited as a Digital School of Distinction here in Holywell Educate Together National School. As a developing school, our vision is to create a learning environment at the organic stage, which promotes the use of ICT as an integral teaching tool and also to develop the children’s knowledge and skillset in helping them become future members of the ‘Smart Economy’.

Staff of Holywell ETNS have embraced the use of ICT as an integral part of the curriculum and its delivery through the use Interactive Whiteboards, laptops by students in the classroom, and by incorporating tablets, various applications and other more sophisticated devices and software to students, particularly to those with special educational needs in our school.”

Congratulating Holywell Educate Together N.S. on their award, Martin Murphy, Managing Director of HP Ireland said:

“With more than one third of Irish primary schools now registered, it is clear that there is a tremendous appetite amongst educators at primary level to make the most of their schools’ digital capabilities and that the programme is a providing much needed practical support and assistance in this regard. HP is delighted to support this initiative which enables schools to harness the full potential of technology for education purposes.”

Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland added:

““The ‘Digital Schools of Distinction’ programme recognises excellence in the deployment of technology in the primary school environment. Today Holywell ETNS joins nearly 140 schools around the country in receiving the distinction, reflecting a strong commitment on the part of its teachers and other staff. By equipping students with IT skills early on, technology becomes a tool for creativity and for productivity that they can utilise throughout their lives.”

Paul Rowe CEO of Educate Together said:

"Educate Together is delighted that Holywell ETNS today joins Rochestown ETNS, Cork and Lucan East ETNS and North Bay ETNS in Dublin as a Digital School of Distinction. We recognise the importance of technology in promoting high quality communication, collaboration, teaching and learning in primary schools and we are delighted to see our schools embracing this opportunity.

We are an educational charity that is committed to delivering equality of esteem to children in school. Addressing the digital divide is an important part of this work."

Gerard McHugh, Chair of the Digital Schools of Distinction Committee and Director of the Dublin West Education Centre said:

“We are delighted by the enthusiastic reception for the programme in primary schools to date. We have ambitious plans to grow the number of participating schools this year and beyond and are looking forward to registering many more schools in the months ahead.”

Schools who register and who are successfully validated through the programme are awarded Digital Schools of Distinction status by the Department of Education.

The Digital Schools of Distinction programme is supported by the Department of Education and Skills in partnership with Dublin West Education Centre, the Professional Development Service for Teachers/Technology in Education, the Computer Education Society of Ireland (CESI), the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and the Irish Primary Principals' Network (IPPN). Digital Schools of Distinction is delivered through a public private partnership in association with HP and Microsoft in Ireland.

For further information and to register online, visit www.digitalschools.ie.