Validators

Victor McNair

Victor is the Digital Schools Award Validator for Northern Ireland. He was a senior lecturer at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland with responsibility for Postgraduate Technology and Design students at the University’s Jordanstown and Coleraine campuses. With 17 years’ prior experience in teaching technology and design, four of these years as Head of Department, his challenge has always been to enthuse learners, to provide a positive and constructive atmosphere and to create the spaces in which learning can flourish. He derives a great deal of enjoyment from watching this happen, striving to encourage learners to develop resilience, autonomy and innovation in their learning.

Victor’s research included the strategic deployment of ICT, e-portfolios and effective teaching strategies. He has been involved in teaching Masters and PhD students in a range of disciplines and in supporting professional development of teachers and lecturers.


Avril Allen

Avril is a Digital Schools Award validator for Northern Ireland. She has worked in education in NI for more than 30 years, initially as a teacher and more recently within C2k as a Senior Manager with responsibility for delivery of C2k services to schools.

C2k provides infrastructure, resources and services to support the use of ICT in schools in NI. The delivery and embedding of e-learning solutions appropriate to each school sector and enhanced use of the Management Information solution provided within the C2k service were her key responsibilities. Avril has also worked closely with the Department of Education in several key area such as eSafety, personal data sharing and teaching and learning projects.

Although recently retired, Avril maintains an active interest in the education sector in Northern Ireland and is currently serving on the Board of Governors in a local school.


Jen McKay

Jen has worked in education for 26 years beginning her teaching career in a primary school in East Lothian. Having been asked to be the 'ICT Coordinator' for the school, Jen developed a passion for technology and using it to enhance childrens' learning. This passion saw Jen taking on the first ICT Development Officer role in East Lothian working with early years, primary and additional support needs bases.

From here she went on to work on the national Tesco SchoolNet 2000 Millenium project and then NOF training across Scotland. Then as a contractor with Learning and Teaching Scotland she had the opportunity to work on the successful online communities Masterclass and Heads Together.

This lead to a role working on Glow as a Development Officer, a role which allowed Jen to work across Scotland helping enhance teaching and learning for both practitioners and young people. Laterly in Education Scotland, Jen worked in the Digital Learning and Teaching Team managing Glow TV and ePortfilio implementaion in Scottish schools.

Having recently left Education Scotland Jen has set up her own private tutoring business which she feels has taken her back to her roots!


Catherine Cunningham

Recently retired, Catherine has been a teacher for 41 years, 18 years of this as a Head Teacher and the last 18 months as Head Teacher of two schools. Catherine has always been interested in digital technology, as have her staff and as a school they have wholly embedded technology across the curriculum and as a result they were one of the first schools to gain a Digital Schools Award. Catherine’s school also received three Scottish Education Awards, two for Learning through Technology and currently hold Microsoft Showcase School status for the second year running. They have also been successful in the First Lego League, getting through the UK and Ireland final. Central to all their technology use in school is Glow, Scotland's digital environment for learning.

As a school leader, Catherine set and shared the vision for technologies with the school community. Catherine ensured staff had access to effective training to enable them to feel confident, skilled and capable of providing rich learning experiences for all pupils. With careful budgeting and succeful bids for external funding, Catherine ensured children had access to appropriate technology and exposure to appropriate applications so they could become digitally competent, with an awareness of digital safety and etiquette.

Catherine is currently working as a tutor, which takes her back to her roots. Catherine loves unpicking learning, identifying gaps and misconceptions and building on strengths and interests. Catherine has a particular interest in additional support needs and likes to introduce technology, particularly assistive technology, as a tool for all learners.


Alan Yeoman

Alan is now in his 30th year working in education. His career began in Argyll and Bute as a primary teacher and he soon moved on to a variety of promoted posts including Education Officer with responsibility for supporting ICT across the Local Authority with a particular focus on Video Conferencing and developing a Local Authority Intranet – one of the first of its kind in the UK.

This led to a permanent position with SCET – now Education Scotland – as a Development Adviser creating, delivering and evaluation staff development courses using ICT across the curriculum, co managing a NOF programme across Scotland, day to day delivery of the Masterclass and Leadership for Learning projects and responsibility for the uptake of Glow

Since leaving Education Scotland Alan has worked in the software industry as an education adviser and more recently set up his own Education Consultancy business working with education providers to develop their Professional Development portfolio and QA trainers.


Rhona Mackenzie

Rhona started primary teaching long before computers appeared in schools. After a career break to start a family, she returned to find that, during her absence, BBC computers had appeared in schools. This started an interest in ICT in the curriculum which lasts to the present day. While still in the classroom she gained a post graduate certificate in Educational Computing in 1991. After working in various primary schools in Central Scotland, she was seconded to be an area ICT coordinator in South Lanarkshire where her role was to support primaries in embedding ICT into the curriculum. It was at this time that she started to deliver CPD both in schools and centrally. A year working for an educational training company in Glasgow was followed by 6 years as an Educational Support Officer for ICT for West Dunbartonshire Council.. During this time she worked closely with the QIO to implement Glow in all schools in West Dunbartonshire. Microsoft and other software manufacturers. She ran a peer coaching group for staff interested in Glow, following a week long course on peer coaching with Microsoft. This resulted in an enthusiastic group of practitioners who then implemented Glow in their classrooms and establishments.

Rhona is a CEOP ambassador and along with WDC’s child protection officer has delivered many online safety sessions to staff and to parents.

Rhona is now a freelance educational consultant and enjoys the flexibility that this offers. During her time as a consultant she has worked with young people in WDC’s choices programmes which was designed to give 15/16 year olds a final chance to have a positive experience in education. She currently delivers training for various software providers, travelling all over Scotland in the process.


Peter Heaney

Peter is one of the Digital Schools Awards validators for Northern Ireland.  He retired in 2012 after 40 years’ experience teaching in both primary and secondary schools.  During this time, Peter was seconded several times to work with DENI, CCEA & C2k to support the implementation of ICT across the curriculum. Peter’s interest is in the application of ICT across the curriculum and its potential for developing thinking skills and creating learning links across communities particularly with the use of videoconferencing and VLE.


His classroom work attracted a number of awards including:

  1. JA.Net UK national award for innovation using videoconferencing, (this initiative linked his own class with schools in Africa, Scottish Highlands, England and Poland)
  2. PITCOM (Westminster Parliamentary IT Committee) NI regional winner award
  3. BECTA UK National ICT in Practice (Primary) award (Runner up)
  4. Oracle / Think.com European Teacher Award (ICT)

He was a member of the UK national judging panel for the BECTA / BETT ICT awards from 2005-2007. 

During the UK City of Culture year in Derry, at the invitation of Oracle USA, Peter lead a number of ICT initiatives that used videoconferencing and VLE to link learning between schools in Derry and Kentucky. This initiative also involved local schools in creating story telling presentations using digital media.

From 2001-2014 he lead an initiative for the Pushkin Trust (A NI based arts development organization) to develop and use a VLE platform where children from NI, ROI and Russia could collaborate and share learning. This was a literacy, creative and cultural experience for the children and teachers involved.

Peter has published a number of articles and support resources on the use of ICT in the primary classroom for CCEA, most recently a Key Stage 1 & 2 support package on how coding and specifically LOGO can support the development of shape and space concepts within mathematics.

In collaboration with Dr Linda Clarke (Director of School of Education, University of Ulster) he co-authored a study of classroom practice on using asynchronous conferencing to develop literacy skills for BJET (British Journal of Educational Technology).

He has also published articles for Oracle / Think.com on the use of VC and VLE to support the development of literacy and encourage cultural awareness between school in NI / UK and South Africa.

Currently spending a lot of time on the river Foyle enjoying renewing my rowing skills now that retirement has presented the time and opportunity.


Andy Pendry

In addition to being a DSAS Validator, Andy is currently consulting in the Learning Technology sector at home and abroad using wide experience gathered from various roles in the commercial and public sector. They include ...

Scottish Government: Chief Technology Adviser at Education Scotland. Supporting Learning Technology across 32 Scottish Local Authorities, developing Learning Technology policy and providing Glow cloud services for every pupil and teacher and associated partners in the Scottish Schools sector.

BBC Jam: Scottish Learning Adviser with the BBC Jam team based in London and general BBC Scotland Education adviser. The Jam team designed and developed over 100 new digital learning resources, tagged for use in the four Nations’ curriculum.

Apple UK: Education business development manager in the Apple UK learning team, also supported learning technology projects in Europe and US.

Teaching: Principal Teacher of Computing Science in Edinburgh secondary schools from 1982 to 2000.