Jerry Holt

27th January 2006 at 00:00
"It would never have happened without Jerry," says Neil Dennison, assistant head at Ansford community school in Castle Cary, Somerset. We know heroes make things happen in schools; they know their stuff, apply it intelligently and encourage others to turn ideas into reality. That's exactly what's occurred here.

Jerry Holt is a father of two and a parent governor; Joseph and Jasmine are in Years 8 and 10. Jerry is a computer programmer and has his own business working from home. He was certainly in the right place at the right time when Ansford community school, a maths and computing specialist college, began to consider having a "learning gateway".

A governors' committee, of which he was a member, looked into ways of "modernising school systems and the way we approach teaching and learning"

and made recommendations. Now the school is possibly the furthest ahead in the region with the Ansford Learning Gateway, an internet-based portal. A pilot project started before Christmas with five teachers and their classes; one idea is to have assignments and discussion forums online, creating virtual learning environments. New software needed to be rewritten and existing software adjusted; Jerry was the man to do it.

"He understands our needs and gets right inside how things work. He's patient, intelligent and a good listener," says Neil Dennison, who wants to thank Jerry Holt with our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "He's predicted the problems we might face and sorted them at a technical level.

He's also thought carefully about our admin and support staff needs. Most of his work has been unprompted. His goodwill and expertise have saved hours of work and lots of money."

The pilot was such a success that it's being extended to all students; pupils were spending significantly more time on their learning. "They seem happy to discuss things," says Mr Dennison, who only last week was running an online forum with pupils on how mobile technologies could be used in classrooms. "They didn't seem to mind that they were chatting to me at 9pm.

In a short time it's having a huge impact on learning."

Heroes are out there, but we need you to reveal them in all their glory.

Think of the person in your school - teacher, classroom assistant, governor, cook - who always goes the extra mile. Then tell us about them in a letter or email to Sarah Bayliss at the address above left. Go on, they deserve recognition. (Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer)

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