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National recognition continues for Banff Academy

By Kyle Ritchie

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Banff Academy has received its second national award in the space of a few weeks, this time being recognised for integrating digital technology.

The prestigious Digital Schools Award Scotland is awarded for showing excellence in incorporating technology into learning and teaching.

The scheme promotes, recognises and encourages a whole school approach to the use of digital technology.

It comes after the academy was presented with the Wellbeing Award for Schools for its work to support the mental health and wellbeing of its pupils and staff.

The latest digital award is a three-step programme to help schools assess progress and recognise excellence at nursery, primary, special education, and secondary school levels.

Banff Academy has won a national award recognising how it has integrated digital technology into learning and teaching.
Banff Academy has won a national award recognising how it has integrated digital technology into learning and teaching.

In order to receive the award, Banff Academy had to complete a rigorous self-evaluation process which included demonstrating the school has an internet safety policy; a school digital strategy with improvement plan; and staff and pupil training on the appropriate use of technology.

The school’s leadership group submitted 55 pieces of evidence to the Digital Schools Award to support its self-evaluation.

In order to apply for validation Banff Academy had to write a short statement outlining recent achievements and highlighting the use of tools, practices or initiatives.

This included overcoming a barrier using digital technology and the school was not short of examples following two periods of lockdown and delivering online learning.

The academy was assessed by an external validator who met virtually with depute headteacher Sarah Paterson, who has responsibility for the school’s digital strategy; a group of teaching staff; and a parent.

The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the school’s self-assessment submission against a variety of criteria.

In her general recommendation, external validator Catherine Cunningham, said: “Banff Academy has taken a thorough and rigorous approach to its digital journey, working collaboratively with all staff to support this.

"This has resulted in developing a strong team, confident in their collective ability to deliver a sound digital technologies curriculum for all pupils.

"It is also recommended they become a mentor school as they have the capacity to share and develop their skills with others.”

Banff Academy head teacher Alan Horberry said: “We are absolutely delighted to have achieved this nationally recognised award for our digital progress.

Head teacher Alan Horberry.
Head teacher Alan Horberry.

"During this unprecedented time, when we have been providing online learning experiences for all pupils, staff have risen to this challenge admirably.

"They have upskilled themselves very quickly and been supported by those who were already using blended learning”.

During lockdown the school were quick to send devices out to pupils in need and demonstrated strong pastoral care, identifying and addressing the needs of their pupils.

Banff Academy’s digital plans for the future include pupils developing their own digital portfolio where they will record achievements, skills and attainment.

The creation of a collaborative connections website for pupils, parents, and partners to share opportunities and success stories of Banff Academy pupils.

Finally, introduce pupil digital champions who will provide training for the community on how to use digital technology.

Related story: Award recognition is platform for Banff Academy to continue mental health support

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