Innovative practice - Creating a stir

2nd March 2012 at 00:00
Add spice to cookery lessons by broadcasting them in the classroom and over the internet using Google Apps

The background

Gowerton Comprehensive in Swansea decided in 2006 that it needed to upgrade its outdated email system. Darren Long, ICT teacher and school network manager, was looking for alternatives and decided to try the newly launched Google Apps, a totally online cloud service offering email and other business programmes.

In doing so the school became one of the first secondaries in the UK to use the system. Pupils can now access timetables, school work and learning resources in and outside school through any internet-enabled device. They can collaborate on projects over the internet without having to be sitting together at a desk, and online marking makes results instantly available.

The project

When food technology lessons were being revamped two years ago, Long was keen to expand the use of ICT and particularly Google Apps. The school purchased a #163;600 "visualiser", a combined webcam and projector, to record cookery lessons.

Teachers now record their lessons in the style of a TV cookery programme and either broadcast them in class on the flat-screen TVs or upload them to Google Apps' secure video service, where pupils can revisit them on their computers at home or on their mobile phones.

Evidence that it works

Gowerton has become the first secondary school in Wales and one of just 15 schools in the UK to win a prestigious Third Millennium Learning Award for harnessing technology to help boost learning.

Last year, Estyn inspectors said ICT skills in the school were "excellent", with sector-leading use of internet applications.

Staff say pupils now enjoy cookery lessons more and are more engaged.

The project

Approach: Making cookery lessons feel like TV food programmes

Started: 2006

Leader: Darren Long, ICT teacher and school network manager

The school

Name: Gowerton Comprehensive, Swansea, Wales

Pupils: 1,200

Age range: 11-18

Intake: The whole ability range. Below-average free school meal uptake. Very few pupils come from Welsh-speaking homes

Estyn overall rating: Good, with excellent prospects for improvement (2011).

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