Think about the words “digital” and “technology”. What do you see?

For many people these words conjure up images of devices. Perhaps you thought of your mobile ‘phone or laptop, perhaps larger industrial machinery, a production line, a bank of screens in an operations control centre or a robot?

When we integrate digital learning technologies in schools, we need to flip our mindset: it is important that we do not start with the devices. The learning of our students drives and shapes our use of technology, and the devices, infrastructure and software are selected to best serve the learning goals.

Our students benefit hugely from digital tools that enhance learning through:

  • access to high-quality learning resources
  • enhanced opportunities for communication & collaboration
  • new avenues for creativity
  • more effective organisation of work
  • connectivity for learning from home
  • development of students’ own digital skills.

Learning resources and opportunities range from electronic textbooks to virtual field trips, and from instant quizzes to the creation of digital products. Students at The British School in The Netherlands’ (BSN) Senior Schools engage with these via Canvas, our virtual learning environment, and a Microsoft Surface Pro, a two-in-one tablet and laptop device.

Paul Topping, Headteacher, The British School in The Netherlands, Senior School Voorschoten (SSV):

“Great teachers and engaging lessons remain at the heart of what we do. Pedagogy comes first, supported by technology.”

Excellence in education must be future proof

At the BSN, our vision is to prepare our students to be confident citizens and leaders in tomorrow’s world – constantly curious, pioneering and changing. Excellent academic achievement is a core expectation, but is just one aspect of success. We nurture young people as they develop their identities and values, learn to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing, find the confidence to stand up for the ideas they believe in and build character traits that will last a lifetime.

Digital technologies support and enhance all areas of school life, well beyond the classroom. Digital tools are used to manage and risk assess the wide variety of trips and adventures available to students, to facilitate staff development opportunities and to support hybrid learning for students who need to work from home. As students demonstrate positive character traits from the BSN Character Profile, their achievements are tracked, recognised and shared with parents via a digital rewards platform. And all the time students are building up their own toolkit of digital skills that will open doors in their future lives.

The British School in The Netherlands, a Microsoft Showcase School

The British School in The Netherlands’ Senior School Voorschoten is proud and delighted to have become a Microsoft Showcase School on 20 October 2020, joining a global community of pioneering schools. This accolade recognises excellence in leadership and policy, teaching and learning, the physical and digital environment and student success. It’s not just about technology; it’s a celebration of the culture and ethos of our school, our vision for 21st century education and our success in putting this into practice.

Microsoft Vice President for Worldwide Education, Anthony Salcito, explains:

“Showcase Schools create student-centered, immersive, and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential future-ready skills so students are empowered to achieve more.”

The Microsoft representatives who considered our application and visited SSV (virtually!) this week were particularly impressed by our collaborative working practices and shared sense of purpose, our commitment to inclusion and accessibility of learning for all students, our culture of continual improvement and the strength of our staff development programme. More than 100 members of staff are Microsoft Innovative Educators, and more than 20 have been further recognised as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts.

We have achieved Showcase School status thanks to the efforts, expertise, professionalism and passion of our whole staff team. Our concierges, nursing, IT support, administration, catering, learning support, pastoral, co-curricular and teaching staff make our school a community that I am proud to be part of. They have faced the challenges of this unusual year with selflessness and fortitude, remaining determined to offer our students the best possible educational experience. For me, this is what it means to be a Showcase School.

Nicola Bright
Assistant Headteacher, The British School in The Netherlands Senior School Voorschoten