On a crisp Friday morning, my Newark Hill Academy colleagues and I came off the train and tube to KS Paddington. We were attending Microsoft’s Showcase School Summit to celebrate being awarded our Showcase School status. And there was no better way to thaw off than with a cup of coffee and some warming conversations from our fellow primary, colleges and further education colleagues on arrival.

Microsoft Showcase School award winners

What is a Showcase School?

A Showcase School is one which has used Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework to help increase student outcomes and focus on preparing students with future-ready skills. The school-wide transformation starts with a clear vision and is sustained through a culture of learning, innovation, and continuous improvement.

At Newark Hill Academy, we work hard to create immersive and inclusive experiences for our students that inspire lifelong learning. We are proud to equip our student’s with essential life skills. Skills that empower them to achieve more and prepare them for the future of work.

A day of collaborating and learning

Joysy John, Education Director from Nesta, started the event by sharing her manifesto on how we can support our pupils by preparing them for jobs that are yet to exist. Resilience is a key skill for our learners. We discussed what interventions we could use to develop pupils’ social and emotional skills ready for the world of employment.

During MIEE Teams calls, we were put in the shoes of our students as we all took part in #FlipGridFever. Being camera-shy was not an option as we all took part in the conversation. We shared our favourite Microsoft classroom tools and how we use them to improve outcomes. OneNote and Teams were firm favourites.

At Newark Hill Academy, OneNote has completely changed the teaching and learning experience. It has also fuelled teamwork and the sharing of resources as well. Each year group puts their planning, resources, team meeting notes, data tracking, and everything related to the cohort into a OneNote document. As a leader, this gives me a complete overview of everything I need and I’m able to dip in and out when needed.

We were blown away with the magical power of PowerPoint Preview and we cannot wait to start using it. Microsoft Education Solution Specialist Ian Woolner, showcased the wonderful accessibility skills of Dictate. He shared some new mystic powers within Microsoft Edge that will be released in the next update.

“More schools and colleges are unlocking the benefits that come with using technology in the classroom. Programs such as Teams can make learning more accessible and collaborative, as well as give students key skills they will need in the workplace. We are looking forward to supporting more schools and seeing students benefit from the Microsoft Showcase Schools Program.”

Chris Rothwell, Director of Education at Microsoft UK.

Two women and one man smiling in front of a Microsoft Education banner

The future of learning

AI is bigger than ever. Microsoft’s Director of Education Chris Rothwell encouraged us to think outside the box regarding how it can enhance teaching and learning to create a positive impact with our pupils.

Through a Teams Meeting, Dominic Williamson joined us from Seattle to share his in-depth knowledge of how we can use Teams with our pupils to improve learning and collaboration.

The day concluded with the Showcase School plaque presentations. We did some interesting photoshoots, enjoyed refreshments with networking before we headed off home for the weekend to celebrate our achievements. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful day hosted by Microsoft. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with other schools to help them inspire their students.

We’re extremely proud to become a Showcase School. We’e excited to continue our commitment to using technology across our school with a strong drive for digital literacy. Our students are preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet. It is important that we equip them with the skills they need to succeed in the digital workplace of tomorrow.

Find out more

Discover how the UK leads the way on using technology in schools

Become a Showcase School

Equip your students with digital skills

Sonia Kendal headshotAbout the author

Sonia Kendal is Principal at Newark Hill Academy, Peterborough. She is passionate about working to prepare children for the future by creating a 21st Century approach to learning through the use of technology.