By Ballyclare High School on 12 February, 2018


Digital School Award status has been awarded to Ballyclare High School, a first for any post-primary school in Northern Ireland.

Digital Schools Awards is a new national awards programme which aims to promote, recognise and encourage a whole school approach to the use of digital technology in primary and secondary schools. Schools that successfully complete the programme receive a nationally recognised Digital Schools Award accredited by the Department of Education.

The 3 step programme has been developed to help schools assess progress and recognise excellence in the use of digital technology at primary and secondary level while providing practical support and encouragement.

The programme is supported by industry partners HP, Microsoft and Intel. Each school must fully complete a self-evaluation in order to apply for accreditation. During this stage, schools are evaluating their performance against the five digital schools’ criteria and are preparing to meet the necessary requirements for validation such as Acceptable Usage Policy, Digital Technology Plan, the school website and a short statement outlining their recent achievements and highlighting effective use of any tools, practices or initiatives which the school feels deserve recognition.

Schools that successfully meet all the criteria fully are awarded Digital School status. As a new Digital School, Ballyclare High will receive ongoing practical support and resources as part of the community of digital schools in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Shaw, ICT Strategy Leader in Ballyclare High School, said “We have always taken great pride in being at the forefront of new ICT initiatives in education, and the Digital Schools Award programme in Northern Ireland endorses our vision and approach in school as one that really benefits our pupils. It’s a really unique award, that sets out five clear areas of focus for a pedagogically robust use of IT that infuses all subjects in our curriculum. We are excited that our staff are at the forefront of using IT effectively and that it really makes an impact on our pupils’ learning. The work of the IT Strategy Group has made a real impact in the past few years. This award adds another dimension to our recently awarded Digital SchoolHouse status, our McKinney Microgrant Award scheme that affords small bursaries to teaching staff to help them purchase innovative technologies for their classroom and our industry links with IT giants Intel and Microsoft.”. Mr Shaw went on to say “I feel our pupils are really benefiting from this ongoing work and we are delighted to make a difference in their lives”.

Dr Michelle Rainey, Principal of Ballyclare High School added: “we are delighted to secure the Digital Schools Award as an accreditation of just how high the quality of how we have infused the use of progressive technologies across all aspects of life here at Ballyclare High School is. Not only is our use of digital technology a vital component of the learning experience but it is clearly serving to equip our pupils with the necessary skills to make positive and appropriate contributions to our school community as we prepare them for life beyond their schooling.”

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 Schools Award at Ballyclare High School, visit