Newbattle High School aiming high

Wednesday June 6th 2018


From left to right; Councillor Jim Muirhead, Midlothian Council Cabinet Member for Education; Dr Mary Smith, Director of Education, Communities and Economy; Dr Grace Vickers, Head of Education (both Midlothian Council) and Alison Muckersie, Programme Director, DDI Skills, Edinburgh University.

As part of Midlothian Council’s ambition to create a world-class education system, a pioneering new Digital Centre of Excellence has been launched this week with the opening of the new Newbattle High School.

Part of the £38 million Newbattle Community Campus, the building includes a new public library, gym, sports facilities, a swimming pool and community meeting spaces. It also includes informal workspaces for self-employed people and which allow small businesses to be trained in the latest technology.

In a unique partnership between Midlothian Council and the University of Edinburgh, the new high school has been designed as a world-class hub of innovation, aimed at transforming learning and teaching and equipping young people with the digital skills they will need to meet the growing global demand for high level, 21st century skills.

The school will work with a wide range of businesses, colleges and universities to ensure the curriculum is up-to-date and that young people develop the skills they need to compete in the global knowledge economy. The focus will be on digital industries such as robotics, data science, informatics, digital marketing, graphic design, video and music production.

A key aim is to help tackle the cycle of poverty by providing equity of access to excellent learning opportunities. The school will also offer an enhanced curriculum and state-of-the-art IT provision, together with specialist teaching, dedicated resources and the highest quality work-based learning opportunities.

Activities within the centre of excellence will also be closely aligned with the Data-Driven Innovation Programme being led by the University of Edinburgh. A key element of the upcoming Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, the programme aims to provide the skills needed to support the digital and data economy of the future.

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for education, Councillor Jim Muirhead, welcomed the collaboration with the university and the opening of the new facility.

“Our ambition is to create a world class education system for our children and young people that provides them with the real life skills they will need throughout their lives,” said Councillor Muirhead. “The new school will provide staff and students with the tools needed to access the highest quality teaching and learning. Pupils will also be able to see how digital technology relates to the curriculum, to future jobs and the development of specialist skills.

“The new Digital Centre of Excellence provides state-of-the-art facilities and is an example of partnership working at its best,” added Councillor Muirhead. “It will also act as a regional hub so that students from other schools can access the specialist resources available through video links and online learning.”

The University of Edinburgh’s role in the project was led by Professor Judy Robertson, who praised the commitment of Newbattle’s staff: “As a digital learning specialist, it’s been a great pleasure for me to work with teachers and learners at Newbattle on this excellent project.

“Everyone involved in delivering the Digital Centre of Excellence is ambitious and enthusiastic to help pupils achieve their full potential, and the University of Edinburgh is proud to work alongside them. Both the University and Midlothian Council aim to provide excellent digital learning and teaching, and we can learn a lot from each other through collaborations such as this.”

With a school roll of 847 Newbattle High School is a non-denominational secondary school serving the communities of Mayfield, Easthouses, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, North Middleton, Temple and the surrounding areas.

The development is being part-funded by the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future Programme, which has contributed £19million towards the £38million project. The remainder is funded by Midlothian Council.

The Head Teacher is Mr Gib McMillan and the key aims and objectives of the Digital Centre of Excellence are:

“Our school will strive to become sector leading in the use of digital technologies to educate pupils; developing an understanding of how digital technology can enhance learners’ experiences and in creating innovative learner journeys that will equip students with the skills and expertise to thrive in a future work place. Our learning will be shared across the country allowing educators and learners from the local, wider and national communities to access our learning and curriculum.

“We will work towards reducing the inequities in gender and poverty that currently exists in the digital world. We will achieve our vision through an unprecedented investment in staff development, infrastructure and partnership working. Our partners are from a range of sectors in education and industry; these partnerships will support us on our journey by contributing digital expertise, providing staff development, investing in resources and shaping learner journeys.”

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