Star techie's bold venture

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
It is teachers who work miracles, but pound;900,000 of technology can help. Helen Ward reports

A paper-strewn office converted from a former girls' toilets in an east London junior school is an unlikely birthplace for a revolution. But that is just what is happening.

From there Matthew Goodyear is managing a pound;900,000 technology transformation at Warren junior in Chadwell Heath. But he knows already where the credit for success in the classroom lies.

"There is no point chucking technology into a classroom and expecting miracles," said Mr Goodyear. "Teachers produce miracles, all technology does is help them do it."

Mr Goodyear has been seconded from his job as the school's Year 4 teacher and ICT co-ordinator to spend the next four years as project manager for the Department for Education and Skills' Test Bed ICT scheme.

Warren junior is one of 28 schools in three local authorities: Barking and Dagenham, Durham and Sandwell, which are piloting the pound;27 million initiative.

The project aims to find ways that technology can be developed to help raise standards in schools.

For Warren junior it has meant pound;900,000-worth of technology being installed in the school's 16 classrooms and six other teaching areas. The oversubscribed 447-pupil school has bought 22 classroom screens, three plasma screens and 80 laptops but not one interactive whiteboard.

Gary Wilder, headteacher, is adamant that teachers do not use technology for the sake of it. He tells teachers not to bother if traditional methods work just as well.

Last year, inspectors were impressed with the "ground-breaking" progress being made in the school, where 4 per cent of the pupils are asylum seekers and 15 per cent are on free school meals.

Yet seven years ago, Mr Wilder arrived to find just five computers in the school and only two being used. An ICT suite was a priority. Then Test Bed came along. Now all 22 teaching areas have equipment which allows almost any object to be displayed on large screens to the class.

As with a whiteboard, teachers can show children images from their computer. Using an interactive slate and pen, they can operate from anywhere in the classroom or hand the devices over to the pupils to control (see right).


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