Innovative practice - Ask the expert

24th February 2012 at 00:00
Bring in cutting-edge educators to inspire pupils and encourage teachers to make creative use of ICT

The background

David Evans, headteacher of the Dell Primary School in Chepstow, wanted to raise standards and improve teachers' levels of engagement and competence with computers. ICT coordinator Mark Davies had seen primary teachers Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild, both renowned for their innovative use of ICT, at a conference and was keen to bring them to the school for an Inset day.

"We are a high-achieving school, but we don't want to rest on our laurels," Evans says. "You can go to conferences and hear people talk, but often they can't do it themselves. Tim and Sarah are superb teachers and we knew they could also run workshops for the pupils to prove to staff that what they were saying could be transferred to the classroom."

The project

The school held a two-day event with Rylands and Neild in January, with workshops for pupils on the Thursday and workshops for staff on the Friday. Other schools from the local cluster were invited to send staff along and 130 teachers attended.

Rylands and Neild worked with 60 pupils from Years 2, 4 and 6, using innovative ICT programs and methodology to develop their thinking skills and creative writing techniques.

"Although (Rylands) had never met them before, he had them all in the palm of his hand straight away," Evans says. The following day, the visitors told staff more about the innovative techniques they use and highlighted some of the technologies that are available to schools.

Tips from the scheme

- Have a clear idea about what issues you want to address and what you want to achieve. Using expert speakers is good but, unless you have a focus, their expertise can be wasted.

- If you can prove to staff that what is being said can work in practice, they are more likely to believe in the training and remember it later.

Evidence that it works?

Evans says that feedback from staff was "amazing". He is hoping to see an improvement in his pupils' reading, writing and thinking skills. The literacy and ICT coordinators from the cluster schools are planning further meetings to discuss how to extend the project in the future.

THE PROJECT

Approach: Using expert educators to enthuse primary pupils and inspire staff in the innovative use of ICT

Started: 2011

Leaders: Headteacher David Evans and ICT coordinator Mark Davies

THE SCHOOL

Name: The Dell Primary

Location: Chepstow, Wales

Pupils: 412

Age range: 5-11

Intake: The school serves both urban and rural areas, and most pupils come from relatively prosperous homes - less than 3 per cent are entitled to free school meals

Estyn overall rating: Good (2007).

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