Divine Word N.S. has become a ‘Digital School of Distinction’, joining a growing group of primary schools nationwide to receive the prestigious award.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White T.D. presented the award to teachers and pupils at the school today. Supported by HP and Microsoft, ‘Digital Schools of Distinction’ is a flagship award programme which promotes, recognises and encourages best practice use of technology in primary schools.

1,504 primary schools around Ireland have registered for the programme, with 240 schools receiving their award to date. 37 schools in Dublin have received the award and 257 registered to sign up to the programme.

Speaking at the event, Minister White said: “I am pleased to see that the pioneering endeavours of Divine Word National School have been recognised with this Award. The Principal and the teaching staff are to be commended for their foresight and enthusiasm in bringing such high levels of ICT integration to the school’s day-to-day life, and that of the children, who attend.”

The Digital Schools of Distinction Award aims to help schools to further integrate technology into the classroom. Schools who register and who are successfully validated through the programme are awarded Digital Schools of Distinction status by the Department of Education.

The response to the programme from primary schools has been extremely positive.  John Williams, Principal of Divine Word N.S. said that the programme offers a great opportunity for primary schools to build on their digital capabilities:

“Divine Word National School has always been to the forefront in the development of ICT skills within the whole school community. All the hard work of our teachers, pupils and parents has contributed to getting us this far. We are very proud to have achieved this award and will continue to include technology in all areas of our curriculum and planning and look forward to achieving more over the coming years.”

At Divine Word N.S., pupils are encouraged to develop their skills through game-based learning, blogging and tweeting, presentation and document preparation as well as basic programming.  Following extensive fundraising by parents, the school now provides interactive whiteboards and visualisers in all its main classrooms and a computerised library system.  Provision is made for regular ICT maintenance, updates and age appropriate software for the pupils.  In service training is offered to all the teaching and ancillary staff.

For more information on the school’s use of technology, visit www.divinewordns.ie

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 increase the number of participating schools this year and beyond and I encourage schools who have not yet signed up to Digital Schools of Distinction to do so, so that they can benefit from the support and expertise on offer.”

New digital schools receive a Digital Schools Classroom Kit, to include free printing for a year via a HP OfficeJet Pro printer, a monthly printing allowance of 200 colour pages and 2,000 black and white pages, and Microsoft software and educational apps as well as technical support services.

Martin Murphy, Managing Director of HP Ireland added: ” “With almost half 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 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 concluded:  “It is wonderful to see schools from across the country seek to secure validation and recognition for the great work that they are doing with technology. We are confident that as more and more schools embrace this programme that students will get a better and more rewarding experience of IT in the classroom. We are delighted to be associated with Digital Schools of Distinction.”

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 or follow @digital_schools on Twitter for regular updates.