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Saturday 19 April 2014

School sets pace with first digital badge of honour

Abdul Ikolaba (10) from 5th class and (below) Ella Kinsella (9), Ola Ayeni (9), Craig Giltrap (9) and Abbie Kinsella (9) from 4th class at Sacred Heart Senior National School in Dublin

ROBBIE O'Leary's tech-savvy primary school is a digital revolution leader, but the principal says setting such an example is not about counting the numbers of computers in classrooms.

Rather, it is about how well teachers embrace technology and integrate it into the classroom – and the staff themselves learn most of what they need to know from each other.

They have taken to technology so well at Mr O'Leary's Sacred Heart Senior National School, Killinarden, Tallaght, that it is first in the country to be awarded Digital School of Distinction.

Serving an area that suffers disadvantage, the 280 pupil school has seen the benefits of technology for students who are more engaged with school work and whose literacy and numeracy standards have improved.

Now, all primary schools are being invited to earn the same badge of honour under a programme rolled out by computer giants, HP Ireland and Microsoft Ireland, and the Department of Education. Digital Schools of Distinction will recognise excellence in integrating technology into teaching and learning.

It is hoped that, by next September, 500 schools – almost one in five of the country's primary schools – will have earned the honour. HP Ireland and Microsoft Ireland are providing support for the programme for five years, including a financial commitment of €300,000 in the first year, as well as practical support and resources.

If it is successful in Ireland, Digital Schools of Distinction will be rolled out in other European countries.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the programme advanced both the literacy and technology agenda for schools.

Irish Independent

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