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24 May 2022

Derry school celebrates winning prestigious accolade

Derry school  celebrates winning prestigious accolade

Peter Heaney, centre, Digital Schools Awards validator, presents the award to St Ethine’s P6 pupils and staff. Photo: George Sweeney, nwpresspics.

A Derry school is celebrating after receiving a presitigious award.

Ironically, as a result of the Covid pandemic, the digital technology landscape at St Eithne’s Primary School has improved dramatically and resulting it being presented with the Digital Schools Award.

At the onset of the pandemic, as education providers scrambled to put systems in place to ensure learning would continue beyond the walls of schools, the school was forced to advance its remote learning provision to ensure that none of its children lost out academically.

Covid resulted in the staff, children and parents being upskilled in a wide range of digital technologies.

St Eithne’s developed its own range of digital resources to ensure that this happened successfully.

Principal Terence McDowell said: “As children returned to school after isolations and lockdowns, the legacy of their experiences equipped them with a new found digital skills base and enriched their learning experiences.

VERY PROUD

“Teachers continue to make use of these skills and aim to develop them further.

“St Eithne’s Primary School is very proud of our achievement in raising funding, with the financial support of our parents and families, to enhance the ICT resources and infrastructure made available to our school community in the last two years.”

Mr McDowell continued: “We have upgraded each of our classrooms from using Interactive Whiteboards to new LCD screens.
“We provided a bank of iPads for use across the curriculum throughout the school. We have also benefitted from local community support as well as that of the Education Authority in providing devices to ensure that every family had access to online learning during periods of isolation and lockdown.

Mr McDowell said close collaboration with the locally-based Nerve Centre provided St Eithne’s with a solid foundation of professional development that enhanced the confidence and competence of our teaching staff and enabled them to embrace learning and experiences in ICT way beyond what they would have previously imagined.

He added: “Further collaboration with a number of post primary schools who have been awarded the ‘Digital Schoolhouse’ accolade has benefited staff and children by immersing them in learning aimed to widen their digital technology experiences.

In making the award, the DSA (Digital Schools Award) said: “The school has a broad and effective staff skill set which was deployed during the pandemic lockdown to support parents and the continuity of learning for all their pupils.

“This skill set forms a very effective base for continuing development. Expertise and experience gained during this period are now being deployed to maintain links between learning at school and at home.

St Eithne's Primary School has been very considered, methodical and effective in creating an innovative and successful teaching and learning environment for their pupils and staff using digital technology.”

Mr McDowell added: “Saint Eithne’s today, is a very different school to what it was prior to Covid. It is a school where digital technologies are alive and utilised within and beyond the physical boundaries of our school in ways that we would not have believed possible before.

Concluding, Mr McDowell said: ‘St Eithne's has created a strong and vibrant culture where ICT plays a clear and effective role in delivering the curriculum and developing learning.”

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