Rosie Hayes
Rosie Hayes
09 November, 2022

d'Overbroeck’s becomes a Microsoft Showcase School

d'Overbroeck’s is thrilled to announce we have become a Microsoft Showcase School! The award means that we are now part of a global network of schools that have been formally acknowledged by Microsoft for excellence in digital innovation for teaching and learning.  As of this date (November 2022), we are 1 of 78 Showcase Schools in the UK, and 1 of 600 Globally. We are the first Nord Anglia Education school to have received the award.  What are Microsoft Showcase Schools? The Microsoft Showcase Schools Program is an opportunity to engage with Microsoft and like-minded school leaders around the world to deepen and expand education transformation. “Microsoft Showcase Schools are a global community of K-12 schools using digital transformation to create immersive, inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning and empower students to achieve more. The diverse members of this program have leveraged Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework to drive a culture of learning, innovation, and continuous improvement. Their hard work is reflected in improved learning outcomes for their students and an increased focus on future-ready skills. It has also provided them with the resiliency and agility needed to effectively transition to remote and hybrid learning during disruptions such as the COVID-19 crisis.” “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.”  - Microsoft As a school with a spirit of continuous development, d’Overbroeck’s was laying the groundwork for major improvements to digital transformation pre-pandemic. When the pandemic happened, digital learning became a strong focus, and it was decided that we would embrace the challenges and start implementing innovations rapidly.  Whenever changes are made at the school, we exercise prudential judgement and ensure that they are appropriate for who, where, and when they will be implemented. Rather than rushing to follow the latest trend, we make sure any changes are truly an improvement for our students and staff.  The rate of change required during the pandemic was extreme and often challenging, but it reinforced our belief that digital transformation was necessary and left us in no doubt that further embracing technology would be key to ensuring the preparedness of our students for life beyond our walls.  Our Director of Computing, Dom Hunter, discovered the Showcase School concept in 2020 when he was researching options for staff and student digital devices. He got in touch with a Microsoft consultant and was led to explore both the Microsoft Educator program and the Showcase School program. He knew, as an experienced educator, that both programs would fit the ethos of the school.  Our school has a vision to equip students with the skills not just for the moment but for the future. The development of students’ Digital and 21st-century skills is key to our ethos and that of Nord Anglia. The Showcase School program is very much about the same thing. d’Overbroeck’s is a modern, forward-looking school. The way our students learn, the way we teach, and the way our staff work reflects this.  We develop and promote 21st-century key skills: Collaboration, Knowledge Construction, Skilled Communication, Self-Regulation, Real World Problem Solving and Innovation, and the use of ICT for Learning. We know that our students will be facing a very competitive world ahead of them, so we stay agile and on top of developments in the educational sector. We implement innovations wherever they are appropriate and demonstrably effective to give our students the best possible preparation for further study or work. Today’s students need new strengths and unprecedented versatility to navigate their futures. The technology we use, the spaces in which we learn, and the systems we use can all help develop these skills and reflect these aims. During the covid years, the school made great strides in digital innovation, upskilling staff, and preparing students with 21st-century skills. We were already using some Microsoft products at the time, but not the full range that was available to us. Keen to tap into all of the potential that was there for us as a school, the journey to more effective use of technology was a road that we were already on.  Dom said, “The school’s navigation of difficult times, its embrace of digital technologies, and our willingness to push forward rather than roll back, was something to be celebrated; acknowledgement via the Showcase school program seemed like a good way to do this.” So, we began on the exciting journey with Microsoft, initially as an Incubator School, and they helped us further our digital transformation. The rubric and planning materials have been invaluable in terms of structuring our journey, identifying our objectives, and quantifying our successes; as has the support of our designated Microsoft partners at 'Hable' and 'Turn IT On', and the wider Showcase School community. Dispelling any concerns  This isn’t a branding exercise or a commitment to push a Microsoft ethos on our students. This is Microsoft promoting us, not the other way around. In the simplest terms, this is an award for excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Digital innovation. At this moment in time, Microsoft’s vision aligns with ours, and that is why we became a Showcase School. A Showcase School is a school that Microsoft thinks is doing a great job, it is not a school that has jumped through hoops or signed up to be a corporate stooge. Why we received Showcase School status Our dedicated staff was excellent in demonstrating why the program was right for us. They had to submit an application that included three main parts. We had to meet some basic quantifiable baselines:   We had to demonstrate that we were Advancing or Leading in the areas set out in the Showcase School rubric:   We had to create a Digital Sway (a detailed report online) Showcasing our Transformation Journey. The application was successful because we met all criteria and had an interesting story to tell. And, fundamentally, we are doing a great job in preparing our students for life beyond our walls, not just in terms of their academic performance but also in terms of developing their 21st-century skills. Preparing students for their futures in a well-rounded way beyond just academic performance has always been a priority for us, so that they can have a competitive edge in their applications, but also so that they can explore their passions in as much depth as they want during their time with us, and become resilient, productive members of society. What being a showcase school means for our staff Our staff has access to masses of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) that has been developed by educators for educators, as well as support on how to leverage technology to best aid our students. Also, they have the potential to collaborate with colleagues around the world. What being a showcase school means for our students Having our staff trained by the best in the business enables them to implement effective methods including in their teaching and students’ learning.   There are opportunities spread out over the year such as the Microsoft Student Summit where students from around the world can come together to share their ideas about education and technology, as well as gain advice and support on how to succeed in the real world. How this will benefit our school across the 3 sites We get to share insights, best practices, and engage in local and global Microsoft events. Last half term the Senior Leadership Team was invited to attend an online presentation featuring schools from around the world and a guest speaker with Dylan William. We gain access to Microsoft partner offers and product support, digital transformation guidance, and access to resources and the latest research. The partner offers allow us access to pieces of software that we might not otherwise be aware of and typically we get access to that software for free. We get to help shape the future of Microsoft education products and programs, contribute to the vision of schools and students around the world, and elevate our school’s visibility and role as a leader. Looking ahead Digital transformation never stops; there is always another tool or digital capability to explore, always a new way to innovate, and always something amazing just around the corner. Engaging with Microsoft and the Showcase School program is keeping us current, keeping us fresh, and keeping us exciting.