Scotland’s best teacher works at a Microsoft Showcase School

A teacher at a Microsoft Showcase School in Scotland has been named the best educator in the country at a major awards event.

The prize for Jacqueline Campbell, who works at St Mungo’s High School in Falkirk, came as Kirkton of Largo Primary School in Fife, another Microsoft Showcase School, won the Learning Through Technology category at the Scottish Education Awards for the second year in a row.

Jacqueline Campbell, who was named the best educator in Scotland

Jacqueline Campbell, who was named the best educator in Scotland

The awards, which were first held in 2001, “recognise the achievements of people who dedicate their lives to children and young people and showcase the valuable work and innovation in Scottish classrooms”.

Campbell, a computer science teacher at the mixed comprehensive school, won the accolade after introducing cutting-edge technology into classrooms across the local area. She started using Office 365 and OneNote in her classes, and found that the children loved the Microsoft products. She then urged the headteacher to use them across the 1,300-pupil school.

“Pupils love it because all their resources are pulled together in OneNote classbooks that the teacher organises,” Campbell, who has been a teacher for 17 years, said. “All their homework, feedback, resources, links and revision sites are all in OneNote. The children like to learn using technology and OneNote, it benefits them.”

There are currently around 1.5 million jobs in the UK’s digital sector. It is estimated that there will be 100,000 new coding jobs by 2020, as technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning become commonplace in homes and offices. According to Cathy N Davidson, a professor at Duke University and co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, “65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t even been invented yet”.

As a result of her changes, Campbell has seen a dramatic rise in the number of children who leave her classroom with digital skills.

“When I came to the school I had pupils who couldn’t attach files to an email. Now we have integrated Office 365 across the curriculum, giving youngsters digital skills even if they haven’t chosen to study computer science.

“We take pupils to cyber security lectures and give them information on possible career paths. It’s about giving them digital skills whatever their destination is. As a result, we have definitely seen more kids going on to study computer science.”

Joe, 14, said he loved using OneNote: “To be at the start of a revolution of the way people are taught is amazing and I can only hope that more schools utilize OneNote.”

Brandon, also 14, agreed: “OneNote has been integral to my learning and I believe is one of the biggest advances available in education technology in a long time.”

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St Mungo’s High School became a Microsoft Showcase School in the past year. It joins a global network of educational institutions that engage in digital transformation to improve teaching and learning. Showcase schools emphasise personalised learning for students through the use of one-to-one learning devices and Office 365 for Education, Office Mix, OneNote, Skype, Minecraft and more.

The use of technology has been such a success in her classroom that Campbell has actively encouraged other schools in the area to embrace it.

“We have taken what we have learnt to the primary schools that feed into our school. We have done coding lessons with them and music technology lessons. We have trained teachers to use Office 365, so when they start using it, their pupils will use it and get a range of digital skills.”

Kirkton of Largo won the Learning Through Technology category

Kirkton of Largo won the Learning Through Technology category

In being named Teacher of the Year, Campbell won a trophy and £400 for her school, which they will spend on hardware for a coding club.

Meanwhile, Kirkton of Largo Primary School followed up its win in the Learning Through Technology category in 2016 with another victory this year. The category recognises schools who are “innovative in their use of technology and maximise the potential of information, communications and other technologies … to support effective learning and teaching”.

Kirkton of Largo Primary School is small, with only 33 children aged from five to 11 in two classes. However, Gemma Sanderson, one of its teachers, believes the award shows you can still “dream big and achieve things” no matter what size the learning environment is.

“Since we won an award last year, we have moved forward with technology and become a Microsoft Showcase School. We have held micro:bit lessons with our nine, 10 and 11 year olds; our four to eight year olds have been creating Sways on lighthouses and we have linked up with universities to study technology through the ages.

“We live and breathe technology at our school because we understand the benefits it brings.”

Sanderson agrees that the world is going through what Microsoft calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, where companies are digitally transforming themselves to appeal to more technology-literate customers.

“I don’t know what the jobs will be like when my five-year-olds eventually leave school,” she admits. “But I know they are going to be doing digital things, and it’s important that we start teaching that at primary school.

“We are half an hour away from Dundee, and that city has a huge video games history, including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto. We need to keep that going. Embracing digital learning is a positive thing; it’s important. This is how you support learning and increase digital skills. Look at what you can achieve.”

Sanderson is in her sixth year of teaching, and has transformed how technology is used during her time at the school However, she is keen to point out that technology only helps pupils and does not replace traditional learning. “It’s about balance. We still use pencils and jotters, too.”

Like Campbell, Sanderson won a trophy and £400 for her school, although the teachers haven’t decided what to spend the money on yet. “The main thing for me is the children feel really proud of themselves. It gives them a boost,” Sanderson added.