Bob Harrison accompanies Spanish educationists on a visit to Everest Community College
More than 35 Spanish government officials took the opportunity of their visit to BETT 2011 to also check out how technology has been used to engage and motivate pupils and help Everest Community College, Basingstoke, raise standards and levels of achievement.
Everest Community College is one of the Toshiba Ambassadors network of more than 20 schools and colleges who use digital technologies as a vital element of their improvement strategy.
“We have high expectations of all our students,” said headteacher Julie Rose. “We emphasise the importance of reaching high standards and we believe digital technology can help motivate and inspire pupils.”
Education secretary Michael Gove MP is not the only Government minister worried about a national slide down the PISA tables. The Spanish Government is also under pressure and taking action. The fundamental difference, however, is that Spain, like the US (see "US schools head for ICT revolution, not evolution"), believes that digital technologies are part of the solution.
Warm words induced from minister for children and families Tim Loughton MP when opening BETT – and the answers from Nick Gibb MP to John Galloway’s questions – may be an encouraging indication that ICT awareness levels are beginning to rise within the DfE. That's a welcome step forward, albeit awaiting practical demonstrations of commitment.
Ed Vaizey MP, the DCMS minister who opened the Games Based Learning day at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in BETT Week would have been as impressed as the Spanish officials by the newly opened Everest “e-pod” learning facility. “The e-pod looks totally different to a normal classroom and the children are really inspired,” said Julie Rose.
Everest has also invested in the Digital Leaders programme and the pupils have been trained to support digital learning with staff, pupils and the community. “These pupil ambassadors have been critical,” added deputy headteacher Jamie Perfect. “Working in media, design, technical support and leadership, they have made sure that ICT is at the heart of learning across the college.”
“It was difficult to get the Spanish group back on the coach” said Len Daniels, head of education and public sector with Toshiba Information Systems (UK), “as they were so impressed with what the pupils were doing and how digital technology was central to their learning. I am pleased that Everest Community College, one of our Toshiba Ambassadors, can help visitors from other countries and promote UK Plc.”
Bob Harrison is an education consultant who works with the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services and Toshiba UK. You can read his blog on the Futurelab Flux website. He runs Support for Education and Training.