Primary school's challenge to policy makers on innovative learning in global online debate
A rural primary school in Devon that hosted its own global enterprise project with schools across the world will share the learning at its own “Decoding the Future” conference next Monday (September 14).
The aim of this multi-media event – it can also be joined on Skype and Twitter - at Broadclyst Community Primary School is to help create a “world class education system for a 21st century Britain" and it has attracted the attention of Microsoft education boss Anthony Salcito who will be flying in from Seattle to take part.
He will be joined by regional school commissioner Sir David Carter (speaking on "When every child attends a good school we will be closer to a world-class education system"), director for teaching schools with the National College for Teaching and Leadership John Stephens (on "School Led System for Change and Innovation" – via Skype), and director of the School Food Plan Myles Bremner ("Putting the Child at the Heart of the School Day"). Broadclyst headteacher Jonathan Bishop will share the school’s experiences in his keynote, "Individualised Learning on a Global Scale". ((You can get a sense of his delivery from his headteacher videoblog for the school community.)
Long recognised for successful integration of ICT for learning
The conference title may seem ambitious for those who don't know about Broadclyst, but they only need to glance at the school’s track record – it’s built on high ambitions and achievement (Ofsted considers it “outstanding”). It has long been recognised for its successful integration of technology for learning. This has allowed it to push forward with the learning and pedagogy and collaborate on innovative projects with other schools across the world (see "Mumbai school wins UK primary's global pitch"). It was also one of the first primary schools to be granted Academy status.
In 2014, with strategic partners that include other local schools and Exeter University, it opened its own Cornerstone Teaching School which will also feature in Decoding the Future. The event, which takes place in the school's new state-of-the-art, multi-use hall. has already attracted 100 attendees. These include academics, educationists, school leaders, multi-academy trust leaders, government and local authority representatives.
It's also accessible online via Twitter and Skype so that online visitors can drop in for the keynotes and the various events taking place, including tours of the school, to discover how an otherwise ordinary rural school has been able to develop extraordinary practice.
"We want to engage school leaders and policy makers and education leaders driving policy in a lively debate," says headteacher Jonathan Bishop. "We can demonstrated how, using innovative practice supported by ICT, high standards of education can be achieved and measured while still ensuring a broad balanced education and rounded personal development for children.
"While there is a lot of talk about new freedoms for schools, it is not real curriculum freedom when the assessment and examination system dictates practice so strongly. We ant to explore how learning can be extended beyond the school day using technology, what equipping learners for the next generation of employment opportunities with relevant knowledge and skills might actually look like. And how that will also have high-quality outcomes that can be measured. That is the debate and the challenge for the global education community."
'I expect great discussion and the opportunity to learn'
The speakers are just as committed. Anthony Salcito is already well acquainted with with Broadclyst as it is a Microsoft's Showcase School (pupils and staff will be demonstrating its use of the latest technology, including 1:1 access to tablet devices, videoconferencing, digital ink and global social connectivity in the classrooms). “I’m honoured to join Broadclyst Community Primary School, the impressive group of other speakers, attendees and the community at the Decoding the Future conference,” he said.
“I expect great discussion, and the opportunity to learn, as together we challenge each other to create serious, real change in education.” HIs keynote will be on “Challenges and Opportunities: Expect More, Do More, Be More”.
Sir David Carter commented: “Broadclyst Community Primary School is fast developing a reputation for outstanding education delivered within a culture of innovation. My belief that we need our very best schools to support our wider education system in the South West is the reason why I am so pleased to be able to share my vision and ideas for the region at the conference.”
A former teacher and headteacher, the National College's John Stephens said, "I am delighted to be able to contribute to this exciting event, exploring the many possibilities that technology offers in a world class education system built on partnerships."
The school's new dining facilities are likely to be first port of call for Myles Bremner from The School Food Plan."What our children eat and their attitude to food really matters," he said. "Good food and good food culture in schools has been shown to lead not only to healthier, happier and more fulfilled children, but to improved attainment.
"The School Food Plan is here to support the headteacher to implement a whole-school approach and concentrate on the things that children care about."
Online visitors free to take part in event via Skype and Twitter
For educators and learners with the time and opportunity on Monday, Decoding the Future offers an opportunity to dip in and out – via Skype and Twitter – of what should be a fascinating discussion of classroom innovative practice. They are free to ask questions and take part in the proceedings.
The Broadclyst children will also be involved and will be working with the school chef for a children’s cook-off event to be transmitted live to the conference hall as part of a celebration of the new hall, the dining facilities and the Cornerstone Teaching School. Pupils will also interview the conference speakers in the school’s own TV studio.
It's a chance to look around a rural primary school where technology is no longer regarded as a barrier or a worry for teachers and pupils. There are surprises too, like the astonishing multimedia presentation theatre which can sometimes give the wrong impression in a static photograph (above) of possible techno overkill. A photo simply fails to capture the engaging and powerful multimedia experience and participation in this theatre which raises performance and expectations too.
It's something you'd expect at a university rather than a primary school. But despite the impressive technology, a visit to Broadclyst demonstrates it's just there for the learning. See you there.
Decoding the Future takes place on Monday, September 14 (10am to 4pm), at Broadclyst Community Primary School, East Devon
Decoding the Future on Skype (use Skype for Business on computer and Lync on mobile phone)
Broadclyst Community Primary School
Broadclyst Community Primary School on Twitter
Skype link for Decoding the Future
Twitter hashtag for Decoding the Future – #tctsevent
Broadclyst Facebook page
School Vimeo video channel
The proceedings at Decoding the Future and the Skype videoconferencing will be recorded so that they can be shared, along with high-quality photographs, at a later date. Cornerstone Teaching School/Broadclyst Community Primary School was designated a Teaching School in May 2014. It has a national and international reputation for innovative use of IT to deliver both high standards of pupil achievement and school-to-school collaboration. This allows it to work with schools locally, but bring in expertise from schools nationally.
Cornerstone Teaching School runs regular events – details at http://www.tcts.education.