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Our 600-year-old School is set to be Microsoft Showcase School by 2024

04 February 2021

Our 600-year-old School is set to be Microsoft Showcase School by 2024

Durham School’s digital strategy will help pupils master technology in the classroom with the aim of becoming a Microsoft Showcase School in the North East of England within the next four years.


Miss Sarah Buist, Head of Digital Learning and a Geography teacher at Durham School, has high hopes for the future of technology in the classroom. Technology is constantly changing and it is very much incorporated in our everyday lives. Now, the use of technology has become even more prevalent during the global pandemic as a lot of parents and pupils turn to working from home.


So, what is a Microsoft Showcase School? According to Microsoft’s Education Blog, Microsoft Showcase Schools are: "elite schools who have thoughtfully considered the role of technology as they explore new ways to redesign learning spaces, restructure the curriculum, reinvent pedagogy, and reimagine what 21st Century Leading and Learning looks like.”


When asked about the importance of having a digital strategy, Miss Buist said, “The skills pupils will need now and in the future are different because technology will be taking a greater role in pretty much every aspect of their lives from Artificial Intelligence to robotics, virtual and augmented reality replacing jobs and tasks that will no longer need to be done by us. Therefore, as educators we need to provide an education that develops not only pupil’s ability to use technology effectively for their learning but also to develop vital intelligences, that will allow them to survive, be happy and confident in the 21st Century. A digital strategy is not just about putting a computer in front of a pupil and expect that to develop their skills, but to have teaching and learning at the very heart of the vision, to ensure our pupils get the well-rounded education they deserve.”


Miss Buist has always been passionate about the advancements in tech and remembers back to when she created a Geography Intranet site during her first teaching position. Miss Buist is a Microsoft Fellow, meaning she is a member of the Microsoft Educator Community that represents their geographical area. There is a total of 17 Microsoft Fellows across the whole of the UK from Scotland to the Channel Islands and Miss Buist is the representative for the North of England. The Fellows meet regularly to discuss new innovations in the EdTech world and how to improve and support the provision of technology in education for the region.  


Talking about the opportunities that the digital plan will create for pupils, Miss Buist said, “Pupils at Durham School will be given many more opportunities to work collaboratively with each other, and beyond the classroom. There will be opportunities to carry out work experience with those in the tech industry and take part in coding and STEAM events. The continual use of technology to aid their learning in lessons will improve essential skills. Students will now have the power to personalise their learning and improve their ability to self-regulate. The development in curriculum will allow students to increasingly work together to solve real world problems utilising technology effectively, fully preparing them for the rapidly dynamic world of work.


“Pupils and young people are often called ‘Digital Natives’ as they were born into a world of technology. Often, we can wrongly assume this means they are technology experts. The way the majority of young people interact with technology is in a passive way, liking and navigating content that is presented to them. Digital creators do just that create, think outside the box, solve problems, design products and produce ideas and content that will change people’s opinions and actions. To be free to choose their future, be happy and successful our young people need the skills to be able to be active creators and solution providers. As educators it is our responsibility to provide them with learning opportunities that will encourage being creative thinkers. “


The digital strategy has been underway for the past 18 months as pupils and staff have successfully tackled taking lessons online throughout the Covid period. The next stage of the digital strategy is set to start in September 2021. Durham School will be working closely with a number of IT and technology partners in order to help each pupil with financing a laptop for their online learning. If you would like to find out more about this next step, an information evening will be held virtually on the 11th February.


Miss Buist said, “On the run up to September 2021, I will be managing a group of Digital Leaders from our wonderful staff through a structured development plan that will allow them to make the best use of the technology in their lessons. We plan to have a school that harnesses the advantages and efficiencies that technology can offer to improve not only academic outcomes but also essential 21st Century skills for every pupil at Durham School. Providing a fully inclusive learning environment that allows staff to personalise the learning for each individual allowing their own character and skills to develop and flourish.”


Join us for the information evening on 11th February to find out more about our digital strategy!

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