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What is a Digital School of Distinction?

A Digital School of Distinction is a school which demonstrates best practice approach to use of ICT in education to deliver the education experience. Schools that successfully complete the 3 step programme will receive a nationally recognised Digital School of Distinction Award, accredited by the Dept. of Education. 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.

There are three steps to becoming a Digital School of Distinction

Step 1: Registration

Registration to create your school profile for the Digital Schools of Distinction Programme. Your school profile contains relevant contact details and stores your self-evaluation information. Your profile is private and protected by secure password.

This step takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Step 2: Self-Evaluation

Each school must fully complete a self-evaluation in order to apply for accreditation. During this stage, schools are evaluating their performance against five digital schools criteria and are preparing to meet the necessary requirements for validation such as Acceptable Usage Policy, ICT plan , the school website and a short (one page or less) statement outlining their recent achievements and highlighting effective use of any tools, practices or initiatives which the school feels deserve recognition.

Don’t worry, your self-evaluation responses are retained so you may return at any stage to review, update or change your self-evaluation form.

Finally, when you are satisfied that you meet the programme criteria and have successfully completed the self-evaluation, you can request a programme validator to visit your school.
This can be done in stages.

Step 3: Validation

After successfully completing the self-evaluation you will be prompted to request a validation visit at the end of the process. Programme validators are Department of Education approved. The role of the validator is to meet the Principal, visit the classrooms and assess the self-evaluation submission. The visit takes approximately two hours.

The validator will submit a School Validation Report to the Digital Schools of Distinction committee for review and adjudication. Schools that successfully achieve the criteria will be recognised and awarded Digital School of Distinction in Ireland. New Digital Schools of Distinction will also receive free hardware and software and ongoing practical support and resources as part of the community of digital schools of distinction in Ireland.

Schools that do not meet the required criteria will receive feedback, guidance and support in order to reapply for validation. A new programme validator will be assigned to the school. A school visit will take approximately 2 hours.

Digital School's of Distinction Criteria

The five criteria used to evaluate schools are as follows:

1. Leadership and Vision
Digital Schools of Distinction will have an ICT strategy, and a positive attitude towards ICT.

2. ICT integration in the curriculum
Schools will integrate ICT across the curriculum. Staff will demonstrate a clear understanding of how ICT can be used to improve learning.

3. School ICT culture
Schools will demonstrate an awareness that ICT affects the quality of learning and teaching, pupils attitudes and behaviour, and the school community.

4. Continuing Professional Development
Schools will demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional development in ICT, informing teachers of courses in professional development, as well as offering general support.

5. Resources and infrastructure
Schools will have appropriate ICT resources, including hardware, software and infrastructure to support particular learning environments, and reflect plans for ICT development as outlined in the school’s policy.

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