BALLYCLARE HIGH SCHOOL IS FIRST DIGITAL SCHOOLHOUSE IN NORTHERN IRELAND
By Ballyclare High School on 11 October, 2017
Primary schools in the Ballyclare and wider Newtownabbey area are now able to avail of unique technological teaching and expertise from Ballyclare High School, which has just become the first Digital Schoolhouse in Northern Ireland.
Digital Schoolhouse status has been awarded to Ballyclare High School by Ukie, the only trade body for the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry, which is delivering the innovative project. As a Digital Schoolhouse, the school will work to inspire, upskill and engage the younger generation in the ever-developing world of technology.
Victoria Walker will be the lead teacher for the project in Ballyclare High School. She explains: “We will be using play-based learning to engage the next generation of pupils to open their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities for future students in the computing industries.
“This is a fun way for primary schools to introduce new technology to their pupils, who are active and engaged learners in this medium. PlayStation, through Sony, has been involved in the structure of the project and children will have the chance to increase their skills in coding that could perhaps lead to a future career in the gaming industry.
“This arena is progressing at such a pace that we don’t yet know what jobs will be available to younger children in ten years’ time and Digital Schoolhouses are working to bridge the gap between industry and education as we prepare children for the digital age of the future.
Dr Michelle Rainey, principal of Ballyclare High School added: “We anticipate that this creative project will benefit our own pupils and those within our local feeder primary schools. Young people who undertake these specialist workshops will have a chance to gain an insight, through fun, play-based learning, into coding expertise, which we hope many will take even further as they grow older.
“This project, therefore, also has the potential to, in seven to ten years, benefit the Northern Ireland economy. By piquing students’ interest at a young age, we hope that many will want to find out more, increasing their abilities and knowledge as they grow older. It is our aim that the young people who have been through the programme will have an excellent aptitude for coding and will one day become a part of a local, highly-skilled, technological workforce with any potential skills’ gap plugged in advance.”
The Digital Schoolhouse project encompasses a wide remit of digital topics, including algorithms and programming, communication and the internet, data representation, hardware and processing as well as digital literacy and E-Safety.
Mr Shaw, ICT Strategy Leader in Ballyclare High School secured the project for Ballyclare High School and added “We have always prided ourselves for being at the forefront of new ICT initiatives in education, and the Digital SchoolHouse programme in Northern Ireland will help us develop the new programmers and coders of the future that will push our country on to be the new digital hub of western Europe. It’s a really unique programme, working with industry to educate pupils in our community, for them to go back into the industry that first supplied the funding to spark that interest in each child”.
Ballyclare High School has 1210 pupils and a teaching staff of 85. It is a progressive grammar school in which there has been a high level of investment in resources and training, creating a culture in which learning and communication are enriched and expectations of achievement are raised.
For further information on the Digital Schoolhouse project at Ballyclare High School, visit www.ballyclarehigh.co.uk.