This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

The Building Schools for the Future programme

offers schools the opportunity to completely re-kit their ICT suites. Chris Parr finds out how one school made sure they made the right procurement decisions

deliver the key targets of the e-Learning Strategy. It is perhaps just as well that there is already a

wealth of best practice examples available to schools in the early stages of BSF procurement, given the new government’s recent announcement that Becta was the first quango to be consigned to the scrapheap. Of course, there are rumours (still unconfirmed at


the time of writing) that the building programme itself could suffer severe cutbacks, with experts claiming that any projects that have not yet reached the “preferred bidder” stage could be axed in order to fund so-called “free” schools. However, even if this does come to pass, there are

still a large number of schools for whom funding is guaranteed, but who have yet to finalise the details of their ICT provision. The good news is that Becta and PfS have already

developed an ICT Consultancy Framework, which offers advice and guidance on procuring ICT, and has been used by many local authorities. There are also plenty of good practice case studies that schools new to the BSF process can draw on. A selection of these case studies was published

on the PfS website last year, and they include details about the “Pilot Zone” trialled by Teddington School in Middlesex. The new school building is due to open in September,

but long before that, staff and students have been able to road test an array of new technology and furniture which could be used in the new premises. For example, a range of different seating and table

options which give students choices about how they want to complete a task – from chest-height tables where students can stand for quick interactions, to the possibility of sitting on stools with laptops on their knees – have all been put to the test. Other features trialled in the Pilot Zone, include:

printers capable of scanning and copying, commonplace in offices, but still rare in schools for use by students; servers, ICT supplier RM installed a server for the school to trial; interactive whiteboards; projectors; and computer systems. Ed Hui joined the school as network manager with a

specific brief to work closely with teaching staff and to look ahead to the needs for the new school. Combining

HE WEBSITE for Partnerships for Schools (PfS) – the organisation set up to administer the Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF) – states that it works closely with Becta to ensure that the huge capital investment in ICT is used in ways which help to

Getting the most from BSF

his experience as a scientist, in computer sales, and as a teacher – as well as his current role – Mr Hui has played a pivotal role in bringing new technologies in for trial. He said: “A lot of what we find out is what goes

wrong as well as right, and the Pilot Zone means we are able to do that without risk. “It’s not feasible to build a new school without

researching it properly, so if your school is not resourcing the research part of it then you’re going to get a bad school – it’s as simple as that.” Mr Hui acknowledges that pressure on staff can make

it difficult to ensure enough time is spent on research, but it is something he feels the senior leadership team (SLT) has to make sure of. “If you are going to research properly, and you find

you can’t do the rest of your duties properly, that’s a matter for the SLT – that’s a resourcing issue. “But if the SLT don’t want to get the best school

they can, that’s just a short-sighted decision. You’re planning a school for the next 50 years, how can it be that a few hours of your time is not worth it?” Kevin Watling, assistant headteacher and project

director of the Pilot Zone, said the trials represent the “groundwork for the new school”. Staff have been given an opportunity to see what

new ideas they can employ, and how this will affect lesson planning and delivery in the future, something that Mr Watling says is crucial for staff confidence. He said: “When you move into a new build

you’re empowering students to learn differently and empowering teachers to teach differently, so we need to do a lot of groundwork in advance. So what we decided to do in the existing building, for two years before the physical move takes place, is give teachers and students the chance to use the equipment, and have a room set up that mirrors what will happen in the new school.” Tim Byles, PfS chief executive, claims there

is “a growing body of knowledge and experience from across the BSF community which could help

inspire and inform those in the early stages – or yet to start – their own transformational journey”. He continued: “This isn’t about PfS telling BSF teams what to do – this is about us encouraging schools, local authorities and the private sector to share the approaches they have taken and the tips they can pass on so that there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has

their own experience of choosing an ICT provider, how they got students and staff involved in the design process,

or how private and public sector are working together and learning from each other within a Local Education Partnership, but there will be many common themes that echo across the BSF programme nationally.”

SecEd Further information

To access a range of case studies detailing how to get the best ICT provision from the BSF process, visit jsp and click ICT

Let the games begin

Kieron Kirkland from education innovators Futurelab continues his look a new technology in the classroom. This week he talks computer games

THESE DAYS it is hard to deny that games are a significant cultural force in the modern world. The stereotypical image of geeks playing alone in a room just doesn’t hold up against the modern gaming industry where games consoles like the Nintendo Wii and DS are marketed to anyone but teenage boys, and the Facebook game Farmville is making players out of people who normally run a mile from a Sony PlayStation. There are increasing numbers of projects in

schools and universities that are exploring the potential of games to support learning and teaching in the classroom. Games are a diverse field – using a simulator to help students understand town planning is a world away from students writing their own characters for an adventure game. So to understand this broad field it is useful to break down four different ways that games have been used in schools. First, there are teachers using commercial off-

the-shelf computer games to support learning in the classroom. This includes the work done by Learning Teaching Scotland which has seen schools using a range of games including Brain Trainer on Nintendo DS to develop maths skills, or Guitar Hero to inspire students’ work across the curriculum (planning a world tour for your virtual band anyone?). Second, there are games designed specifically

for education. Early examples of these games were often “drill and skill” titles where the gaming element was frequently a “bolt-on” reward for spelling a word or doing a maths equation correctly. However, gradually titles have appeared where the experience of game playing is educational in itself and an integral part of the learning. The Global Conflicts series, for example,

Tried and tested: Kevin Watling, assistant head at Teddington, runs the BSF ‘Pilot Zone’ 10

compels students to explore a range of themes and issues through immersing themselves in conflicts situations (such as playing a reporter in Palestine). These types of games are known under a range of names including “serious games”.

Third, there is the idea of “game authoring”

where students can create their own games. This is becoming more and more accessible as new software means students no longer have to learn a complex programming language (unless they want to). Immersive Education worked with the Institute of

Education to create Mission Maker where students create virtual worlds, Microsoft has released Kodu, a 3D environment that can be programmed with an XBox controller (or work on a PC), and MIT’s Scratch has been popular for a number of years. Game authoring can link into a variety of curriculum

areas as students write storylines, develop ideas for games around geographical or historical themes, or draw on maths skills to write rules for games. Finally, there are mobile games, where

Smartphones or PDAs are used to create outdoor and mobile games experiences. One example from the US had students trying to discover the source of a virtual “toxic spill” combining virtual information on the handset with real-life locations. So, with all this effort and activity from developers,

teachers and researchers, it is clear that there can be a significant role for games in education. However, if games are to be a useful tool for teachers and students, they need to be integrated into teaching practice. This means having frameworks to identify the skills and knowledge that can be developed through game play, time for teachers to experiment and get comfortable with the technology, and using flexible assessment practices that can recognise and value the work students do with games. Games themselves can only support what teachers

want to do, but for those who are willing they can open up a (virtual) world of opportunities for students and teachers.

• Kieron Kirkland is a learning researcher at Futurelab, which is dedicated to transforming teaching and learning by using innovative practice and technology. Visit

SecEd • June 10 2010

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16
Produced with Yudu -