A few weeks ago I went to visit three school that had entered the ICT Ambassador Award for this year’s Darlington ICT Awards. I have visited a lot of schools over the last few years as a judge and it is one of my favourite things to do, this time it was especially enjoyable because I was talking to pupils and finding out how they supported other pupils and teachers to use ICT. They made my job incredibly difficult because they were all truly ambassadors not just for ICT but also for their schools. If I had been judging the pupils alone it would have been impossible to decide on a single winner but I was also looking at how the school made use of these pupils to improve teaching and learning and the impact they had across the school.
In all of the schools the pupils, all of whom were in either year 5 or year 6, worked alongside pupils to help them to learn how to use technology, they also worked with teachers, suggesting ideas for activities and projects and training teachers to use new hardware or software. All of the pupils were able to talk knowledgeably and confidently about why technology is important and why they wouldn’t want to be without it. They were able to talk about the future and how the skills they were learning now would help them at secondary school and when they start work. I think it is important to mention the teachers as well who trusted these young people and gave them significant responsibility in school meaning that they learnt far more than just how to use ICT.
It was a difficult category to judge but I was able to decide on a winner and two highly commended runners up.
In Dormanstown Primary School in Redcar and Cleveland I met Taylor Cox whose personal interest in technology led him to approach staff with ideas about how they could bring technology into lessons, he not only supported the use of existing resources in school through a wide range of projects, he has also suggested new things they could try like QR codes. He also went to BETT the large education technology show in London and was able evaluate other products, talking to people from different companies about what they had to offer then deciding if they would meet the needs of the school before going back and managing to persuade the head teacher and governors that these resources would make an impact on teaching and learning and to purchase some of his recommendations. Dormanstown Primary School was highly commended in the ICT Ambassador Award.
At Firthmoor Primary School in Darlington I met the Apprentices, a team of year 5 and year 6 pupils who had become apprentices after applying for the job and having to demonstrate why they should be the ones to support ICT across the school. This is a sustainable project as at the end of the year the current apprentices interview applicants to replace the pupils leaving to go to secondary school. This is a very competitive process with nearly everyone in the class applying so pupils not only need to know about ICT they need to highlight their other skills on the CVs they produce and show they can work as a team. The Apprentices have supported pupils and teachers across the whole school and had worked on projects including iPads, animation, films and green screen often having to meet tight deadlines to get projects finished. Firthmoor Primary School was highly commended in the ICT Ambassador Award.
Finally at Moorside Community Primary School in Newcastle I met the Tech Knows another team of pupils, all in year 5 who as well as supporting teaching and learning in lessons and in school clubs were also responsible for maintenance of the technology across the school on a daily basis. They make sure everything is in order so that teachers and pupils can rely on the technology being there and working when they need it. Again the pupils had gone through an application process and understood the importance of being responsible and reliable. They talked about working in partnership with teachers who had come to rely on their expertise and these pupils were clearly able to influence teachers’ planning and how technology was used across the school. This was another sustainable project, this group of Tech Knows will train up the successful applicants for next year and in this case the success of the project has led to it being extended even further to their partner school meaning many more teachers and pupils will benefit.
The winner of the ICT Ambassador Award was Moorside Community Primary School.
More information can be found on the Darlington ICT Award Blog.