SMHS Launch of Digital Schoolhouse

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Friday 10th November, 10am, St. Malachys High School is hosting the launch of Digital Schoolhouse, a pioneering programme inspiring and engaging schools with the computing curriculum powered by PlayStation, and sponsored by SEGA and Warwickshire County Council and The

Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA), the digital and enterprise equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award (the 'digital DoE'), in Northern Ireland.

Secondary schools Ballyclare High School, De La Salle Boys Belfast and St Malachys Castlewellan have collaborated to bring these exciting initiatives to Northern Ireland and all have a long-standing relationship with digital initiatives.  In 2001, St Malachys and Ballyclare introduced the first trial of online examinations in Northern Ireland.  Similarly, the two schools introduced an online GCSE ICT course and video conferencing into the nation’s resource bank for education.

Now, in an era with uncertainty as to what the future holds for our young people and what jobs will be available in 20 years’ time, our young people require the ability to think and adapt to whatever the future holds, supporting them in career readiness.

Digital Schoolhouse provides expert training for teachers on bespoke, play-based, proven ways to teach the computing curriculum creatively. It works with industry to support students in career readiness and challenge the misconceptions surrounding STEM, empowering girls and boys to engage with computing.

Following intense training in London during July, the lead teachers from St Malachys, Ballyclare and De La Salle are now working with their local feeder primary schools to bring the innovative initative to Northern Ireland. They will each host 24 of these primary schools to give over 1800 pupils the experience of Digital Schoolhouse resources to develop computational thinking skills, key competencies for learning to code and crucial for 21st Century skills.

Further supporting the development of digital skills, 10th November also marks the launch of The Duke of York iDEA in Northern Ireland. Completely free and accessible on any modern device, operating system and browser, the initiative is for both adults and children, with Bronze, Silver and Gold badges achieved at different expertise levels rather than age. They support both formal and informal learning, and have been mapped against the National Curriculum and Skills Framework for the Information Age.

iDEA accredits partner activities, such as learning events and workshops, so participants can earn points towards the badge they are aiming for by demonstrating ‘real-world’ experience. As well as being fun, the badges provide a visual acknowledgment of achievement, which can then lead to increased employment marketability in the technology and enterprise sectors. The Bronze Award is available to participate in for residents in Northern Ireland now, with the Silver Award coming in the Spring of 2018 and the Gold Award launching in 2019.

Principal of St Malachys, Orla O’Neil, will welcome over 50 guests, including Inspectorate, examining body CCEA, principals of local primary schools and teacher training colleges.  They will all be invited to experience a Digital Schoolhouse lesson similar to the experience which pupils will be experiencing in the classrooms. Lead Digital Schoolhouse teacher at St Malachys, Eamonn O’Hare will then give a background presentation and introduce director of Digital Schoolhouse, Shahneila Saeed, and Northern Ireland Computing at School (CAS) director, Dr Irene Bell.