Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tecnology In Schools Isn't About Digitising Textbooks

In ‘A Day In The Life’ The Beatles sung about the news story of 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, but The Telegrapgh gave us a different sort of news story from there today.

The Redeemer Church of England Primary School has been voted top ICT (information and communications technology) primary school in the country with the judges remarking that ICT had been "totally embedded" in all aspects of the school experience, there was "exceptional practice" at foundation stage, and pupil assessment was "exemplary, not least through self-assessments".

Four of the school's brightest 10-year-olds have won a nationwide computer-engineering competition, which required them to programme a Lego vehicle to perform precise manoeuvres against the clock. Educationalists from all over the world now stop off in Blackburn to see what's been achieved at The Redeemer, and with what equipment. Most significantly, the school has been declared a regional training centre by computer giant Apple, whose products proliferate throughout the classrooms.

In 2005, Ofsted rated the school among the bottom 10 % in the country; now it's in the top 10 %. The school is only five years old and has spent as little as £40,000 in making its transformation.

So what is different and how did this school transform itself?

They not only have embraced technology but have built it into the learning experience. instead of geography and history, pupils study "knowledge and understanding of the world" and instead of art and crafts, they do "creative development".

Head teacher Alison Ashworth-Taylor says, "While teaching children to operate within the present pen-and-paper examination system, we are at the same time training them for a future in which technology is going to play an ever bigger part. Quite what form that will take, no one knows. But at least our children will be ready for it."

Not every school has the knowledge or the talent to be a Redeemer, but it’s refreshing that they are not merely replacing textbooks with screens but using technology to enhance and engage the children in learning.

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