DSH in review: highlights of 2021!

Author: Sophia Aker, programme coordinator

This year has been a year of firsts and we’re very proud of our achievements and those of our amazing Lead Teachers. It’s certainly been a year of perseverance through, but nevertheless we were really impressed by our own cohort of teachers and every teacher who has done their utmost to ensure that students are supported no matter what!

I always love this end of year wrap up because it really demonstrates the impact and the difference that a year makes. We want to celebrate our successes and we could do none of it without our brilliant Lead Teachers and our fabulous sponsors.

So without further ado, let’s delve back into our best bits of 2021!


Top Tips for Virtual Learners videos released

2021 started with a lockdown – so we created this playlist on YouTube to help teachers navigate online learning. In these short snippet videos, Estelle, our virtual teacher, guides teachers through everything from wink murder games in zoom, to the basics of setting up a lesson online. Almost a year on, our videos have thousands of views and we’re thrilled that teachers have found our videos useful!


Devices for all launch in aid to bridge digital divide in schools

Led by Shahneila, the Devices for All pledge was born out a real need -  74m families across the UK don't have access to a device to work on. The pledge encourages businesses of all shapes and sizes to commit to donating devices to schools to help close the digital divide. Less than a year on, we have no less than 15 pledge partners, including Nintendo, SEGA and Hi-Rez Studios. We’re hoping to continue to provide free devices for schools across the country!


Winners of the first Mobo Game Jam announced

In its pilot year, the Mobo Game Jam was created in partnership between edu360, Into Games, Kucheza Gaming and WaterAid, to encourage young people from across the world to design games imagining a future where everyone has access to clean water.

Over 1000 registrations from the UK and Nigeria were whittled down to 12 finalists, with submissions competing in a range of age groups in the final showcase on no other than World Water Day.


New OMM’s for Games Career Week

As part of Games Careers Week, we set out on a mission to get at least 50 new videos for our One Minute Mentor library. This was important for us not only because we want to provide a plethora of videos showcasing the multitude of roles that exist in the industry, but also so that we really show the rich diversity that exists in this space. We want to make sure we inspire all students, and show that the Games industry exists for everyone.

We stand by the fact that no matter your passion, there’s a role for you in this industry. We now have over 80 videos and 17,000 views across the library – and next year we hope to grow even more!


New Schoolhouses announced

In May we finally announced our new Schoolhouses. We were really pleased to receive so many amazing applications in 2021. Each year we welcome the new impressive Lead Teachers to our community and it’s just the best being able to see their enthusiasm for delivering playful Computing workshops and inspiring pupils in their local area.

This year we welcomed our first Schoolhouse in Scotland, Tinderbox Collective.

With School recruitment opening up again this January, we’re hoping to expand our network even further.

Our expressions of interest form is now open if you would like your school or college to apply, or if you know someone that is interested in joining the programme in the next academic year.


We hosted our Summer Boot-up Camp

The Digital Schoolhouse team always come away from the training & CPD days buzzing. It’s such a great time (spanned over 3 days!) to connect with new and experienced teachers alike, to share ideas, best practice, achievements and what we’re looking forward to in the academic year to come! Despite having to host the Boot-up Camp virtually for a second year in a row, we didn’t let that dampen our spirit!

Some of the best bits from the day included Banana-pokemon robots, playing virtual wink murder, a virtual Game Builder Garage demo from the Nintendo team, and announcing our Lead Teacher awards!

Safe to say, it’s a day we always look forward to!

In June the team also got together to make our very own LEGO miniature figures! Which was bliss after so long not seeing each other. 
In June the team also got together to make our very own LEGO miniature figures! Which was bliss after so long not seeing each other. 


Get Smart about Play resources launched to teach playing games safely

Just like we’re serious about play, we're serious about staying safe and playing responsibly. That’s why we launched the Get Smart About P.L.A.Y resources! In collaboration with Ask About Games, these teaching resources aim to raise learners' understanding of safe and sensible play.

This scheme of work is bursting with expertise and insightful information to equip learners with information about key topics around modern games - including age ratings, in-game spend and managing screen time - to ensure they are ready to play in a healthy way. And as a teacher or parent, you’ll learn some incredibly useful tips alongside your learners! Download the resources here.


Diversity & Inclusion report shows DSH effectively engages with diverse range of students

In August, we were really pleased to release the diversity & inclusion report, which examines participation across student demographics and makes recommendations on how to further improve diversity in the programme.

The study, researched and written by third-party academics and our trusted Regional Academic Leads; Dr Irene Bell, Andrew Csizmadia and Dr Yota Dimitriadi following an online survey and virtual interviews with DSH’s Lead Teachers, focused on four areas of Diversity and Inclusion: special educational needs or disability (SEND), ethnicity and race, gender and socio-economic inequality.  

Some amazing key takeaways from the study included

  • 96% of the lead teachers indicated that the resources and lessons were appropriate for delivery to pupils irrespective of their ethnicity and background. 
  • 91% of lead teachers agree that the DSH resources appeal equally to both genders. 
  • Over 95% of the lead teachers indicated that pupils on ‘Free School Meals’ were able to engage with the resources and lessons.

We were pleased with the findings which suggested that the DSH programme did effectively engage pupils across all four areas of diversity and inclusion. 


Digital Schoolhouse, Nintendo UK and Outright Games launch first ever national junior tournament

Last year we conducted a pilot of junior esports with a selected number of our own Lead Teachers. This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time and we were finally ready to make it happen! Off the back of the pilot’s success, we were so pleased to be able to open up the junior tournament with Nintendo UK and Outright Games.

The junior esports tournament is an immersive careers experience for pupils aged 8 to 11 years that brings industry careers to life in the classroom with the help of competitive games on Nintendo Switch.

The tournament allows aspiring learners to take part in real job roles within the video games industry through a range of lessons and activities mapped to subjects on the curriculum such as Computing, English, Maths, Design & Technology (DT) and Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE).

We’re now proud to say that we offer esports for both primary and secondary students alike!


Lead Teachers receive world exclusive Discovery Tour: Viking Age Demo by Ubisoft

Our October Ingenuity Day was made that much brighter with the news that the full suite of discovery tour experiences would be provided free to all 52 Schoolhouses as a teaching resource aligned to the UK national curriculum.

This wonderful news came as a result of Ubisoft building upon its commitment to support education initiatives, through the expansion of its partnership with Digital Schoolhouse in the UK.

Via the provision of over 5000 PC codes to 52 schools, the full suite of Discovery Tour releases covering Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and most recently the Viking Age, will be integrated into lesson plans to inspire, engage, and educate pupils on historical culture!

As part of the rollout Digital Schoolhouse will aim to work with teachers from across disciplines such as History, Computing, English and Art to explore how cross-curricular teaching can be enhanced by the use of the Discovery Tour tools.

This initiative is a wonderful example of how video games can be used in the classroom to engage students through a medium they can relate to. We can’t wait to see what our teachers achieve in the classroom with this amazing resource!


The esports tournament kicks off and tournament coordinator Luke joins to support us

The annual esports tournament returns! This year we have 46 schools and colleges taking part in our second year of competing for the Super Smash Bros. title.

With school heats just having kicked off, schools will be whittling down their teams until they get to their school champion – who will then go on to the regionals!

It’s great to have a trusted team member of Belong join us for the esports journey – which is where our tournament coordinator Luke has come on board to help us run the esports tournament! Luke has worked for Belong Gaming Arenas for over two years and has now stepped up to help Digital Schoolhouse alongside his current role at Belong Preston.

We’re excited for another year of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle!


International Mobo Game Jam returns to promote cleaner air through the power of play

After last year’s success, Mobo Game Jam is back! We've teamed up with Kucheza Gaming to bring you another jam of global proportions, engaging children and teens with current climate issues.

This year’s theme is clean air – creators are encouraged to combine creativity, compassion and computational thinking to find a solution to cleaner air across the globe.

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