The Blog

Next School Trip, The Moon?

Long gone are the days of chalk and talk, when schoolchildren sat in rows and the teacher would stand in front of a blackboard and deliver knowledge.

Step inside your child's school today and you are more likely to find a place that has been carefully designed to encourage pupils to work together in a bright, friendly environment.

Schools are increasingly powered by state-of-the art technology too, transforming the experiences of our children as well as those whose responsibility it is to ensure they achieve all they are capable of.

A different way to learn

Some of the most innovative technology that emerges on to the market often makes its way in to schools. This means our children's experience of learning is likely to be almost unrecognisable from our own.

I've known of schools that use green screen technology - the kit that makes it possible for Harry Potter to appear to fly around on a broomstick - for example. The aim of this is to spark pupils' imagination and engage them in what they are learning. Using this technology, your child could be transported to the surface of the moon during a science lesson or experience the sights and sounds of an Amazon rainforest as part of a project on the environment.

Another much more common technology in use is tablet devices and when I visit schools I often see children walking around with them as they go about their lessons. Tablets can be used to create and store work, and take photos of class projects that can be shared with parents.

Some schools allow pupils to track their own achievement towards their targets on their tablets, using the latest assessment scores or behaviour points entered onto the school's computer system by teachers.

The boom in mobile technology - and crucially our understanding of what these tools can do for us - is changing school life in other ways too.

The age of the mobile teacher

A growing number of teachers are rarely seen without their tablets. They take the register on it in class, at the swimming pool or out on the playing field. They can record assessment marks as they go about the classroom and even press a button to text or email you to let you know that Emily got an A in her spelling test or Matthew did not turn in his maths homework today.

What this means is that as parents, we could soon be on the receiving end of a lot more information about our children's school life.

If your child is on a school trip, it is becoming increasingly likely that their teacher will have a full list of the children present, alongside their photo, details of any allergies and notes on any medication they are taking, all loaded up on their tablet.

It is always comforting for parents to know that teachers have instant access to the most up-to-date information on their child, no matter where they are.

Teachers who have tablet devices often find it easier to keep each other up to date with the latest information too. This means that teachers across the school can be immediately alerted if your child might benefit from having a closer eye kept on them that day because something unexpected has happened at home.

There are some real advantages to teachers becoming more mobile. But our children are also benefiting from the growing number of school leaders following the trend.

The flexible head

In a survey of school staff conducted at the Bett Show recently, a showcase event for educational technology, 42% of respondents said that senior leaders in their schools used mobile devices to do their reporting.

I find this particularly interesting. It means that when a busy deputy head has one of those 'let me just check...' moments while travelling to a school leadership event or preparing for a governors meeting from home, they could simply pull out their tablet and check if children doing lunchtime maths are making good progress or even find out if the recent visit from a guest author has resulted in more children taking books home from the library.

Some of our best ideas come to us when we are away from our desks, so our children could truly benefit from having a head who is not tied to their office when thinking about how to boost pupil achievement or making important decisions for your child's school.

A different picture of school life

Life is increasingly becoming a digital playground and technology is something our children have come to expect to see in school.

Whether the latest tools are being used to make lessons more exciting and engaging, save teachers time or give school leaders the freedom they need to make better decisions for their schools, it is ultimately the children who will reap the rewards.

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