Our Lady’s Bower has become one of the first schools in Ireland and indeed Europe to achieve European Digital Schools Awards status.

Launched last year, the Digital Schools Awards European programme was created to encourage and recognise innovation, collaboration and skills development in digital technology amongst schools. It is backed by the European Commissions’ Erasmus+ programme, national government bodies and leading technology companies led by HP.

Only 90 secondary schools across the continent were selected to take part in the initiative which is being piloted in five European countries namely Ireland, Lithuania, Scotland, Serbia and Slovenia and it is the first of its kind to be available across the continent.

OLB is among the first schools in Ireland to receive the award which recognises and celebrates best practice in digital education.

To achieve European Digital Schools status, the school had to demonstrate strong leadership in digital education and provide sufficient access to resources and infrastructure. The school culture, professional development strategies and teaching practices were also assessed as part of the submission.

The European Digital Schools Awards requires schools to use the European Commission’s SELFIE self-reflection tool to assess their digital learning and teaching practices and identified areas where improvements can be made.  As part of the programme, teachers were given access to expert support and resources to help them develop their digital curriculum and ensure pupils are given the skills they need to navigate the modern world.

The European Digital Schools Awards programme also intends to open up dialogue across borders and create a growing community of digitally competent schools, where teachers can share experience from different education systems.

Anna Doody from Digital Schools Awards said: “We know that schools across Europe have taken great strides in recent years to integrate digital practices into their teaching, and one of the most important and valuable aspects of the European Digital Schools Awards is the ability to network with counterparts in other parts of the world. By connecting schools, we hope to bring attention to innovations happening elsewhere in the continent and encourage collaboration by opening more channels for knowledge sharing across borders.”

Principal Ms Anne Beades said: “It is a wonderful achievement for Our Lady’s Bower to be one of the first schools in Europe to receive this award. Our school has been at the forefront of girls’ education in the midlands since our foundation in 1884 and this award highlights that as a school community we are ensuring our students are equipped with the skills needed to navigate the modern world. I wish to acknowledge and express my appreciation to the staff and in particular IT Coordinator Ms Yvonne O’Connor and our students, who have shown great dedication to the areas involved in digital literacy. While the provision of state-of-the-art equipment and resources, along with dedicated support has long been a feature of teaching and learning in Our Lady’s Bower, we are very excited to continue building on the momentum created by our involvement in the Digital Schools Award programme.”