Experts share their knowledge with students, teachers and parents
When assistant head, Tom Foster, joined Lark Hall Primary school in September 2015, he was excited to learn that the school had previously worked with London Connected Learning Centre (CLC). However, during that time, the school wasn’t in the best position to maximise the opportunities the partnership presented. As computing also falls under Tom’s remit, and having heard great things about the organisation, he decided it was time to revisit the partnership, and what he found was a supportive collaboration that truly benefits pupils, teachers and parents. Here, he shares the school’s story….
London CLC is an organisation that helps schools use digital technologies to improve learning. We began working with them again on a variety of different programmes, but most extensively for teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD), which has proved extremely useful. Last year, for instance, we had a lot of teachers using Purple Mash, although their understanding of it was quite limited. However, after just one session with the London CLC team, made up of expert teachers, computing and multimedia specialists, trainers, technicians, filmmakers, designers and family learning tutors, they had a far deeper understanding of it and shared these expertise with us.
Benefits beyond computing
But the technical benefits have also expanded beyond pure computing. A real difference can be seen in even the simplest of things such as the blogs we do for the school’s website; they’re now more engaging, and maximise our search engine optimisation (SEO).
Our teachers are also confident in using apps now to, for example, assess their pupils’ learning, which never would have been the case before. We also have network meetings for maths, literacy, music, and modern foreign languages (MFL), where London CLC provides days, resources, and ideas that, while may be linked to computing, have been applied to many different subject areas, across the entire curriculum. The sessions provide an opportunity to learn new skills that they can then bring back and implement in the classroom.
And all of our pupils, from Year 1 upwards, have access to the sessions. They have had workshops on data logging, computer programming, and animation; they’ve even done activities on the music and podcast creation system, Garage Band, during their time with the team. The fact that these sessions are delivered by teachers who are experts in computing has had a real impact on the pupils’ experience of the computing curriculum; they are covering a lot more ground now, which would ordinarily be difficult within ourschool setting.
They also provide our pupils with access to some of the most exciting technology resources on the market. Needless to say, some of these products would be too expensive for us to buy, but we’ve been able to access them on loan from London CLC. In a few weeks’ time, for example, we’re going to be getting some virtual reality goggles to use, and we’ve also been loaned some LEGO Education equipment in the past too.
The team has also online safety workshops for our parents. We do a lot of outreach work with our children’s centre, so they’ve also been involved with helping parents to develop simple ICT skills through that. For example, they’ve helped parents create CVs online so that they have a better chance of securing job roles where the application must be submitted digitally.
The new computing curriculum has raised expectations of what the teachers must teach and what the children must learn, which is quite difficult, and coupled with the fact that the support we used to receive from the local authority (LA) has been significantly reduced, means that we were in a challenging situation, and I’m sure so many other schools are in the same predicament. London CLC has been invaluable to us, and the relationship we’ve fostered with them is one that continues to benefit our pupils, teachers and parents; I’m excited to get started on our next programme!