Phew, after the hiccups at the end of the first day of this road trip, I’m still here and writing :-)
We awoke in Devon on Friday, to a sunny day and blue skies – and plenty of countryside. Friday’s visit was the polar opposite of Thursday’s , when we visited one of the biggest secondary schools in the country in Birmingham. Today we’re at a tiny village school in Broadclyst, just north of Exeter. The village still has red phone boxes and a thatched bus shelter. And a Victorian primary school that dates from 1810.
I’ve written about Broadclyst Community Primary School before, and you can also see their story in depth, told by the head, senior leadership team, teachers, pupils and parents in the Innovative School video case studies, so I’m not going to dwell in detail on their story. As this was my second visit, I wasn’t struck dumb as I walked into the main classroom, which closely resembles the Enterprise from Star Trek. Instead, I spent a lot of time talking with, and answering questions from, individual pupils. The thing that is very obvious is how independent the learners have become during their journey through Broadclyst school, and so each pupil seems to be working on a different piece of work. One pair were working on a flyer to save a local fictional wood, whilst the pair next door were working on the financial position of their fictional international business (and they wanted to know what a “good” profit margin was).
At one point the classroom started overflowing as the local BBC & ITV news crews turned up, and a photographer from the local press, but this didn’t seem to faze the class – they carried on working, ignoring the mayhem around them.
You can see the short report from BBC Spotlight here that was broadcast in their regional news (and the Exeter Express & Echo’s report). Anoop Gupta (right) our worldwide Vice-President for Education, spent 15 minutes happily answering questions from the pupils, as they went searching for Bill Gates house on the web, and talking about what it was like working for him directly (Anoop used to be Bill Gates Technology Assistant)
And if the interviews by the TV crews weren’t bad enough, Michael & Anoop were then shuffled off to the BTV studios (Broadclyst TV) run by the pupils. Without doubt, this was one of the most professional setups hat I’ve seen in a primary school, and they asked much tougher questions than the real TV crews. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a copy of the programme, and share the link with you.
Suddenly, two hours had gone, and we had to head back to the station – Annop, Michael & Stephen had a plane to catch back to Seattle, so there was no leeway for extra time. But the final journey of the trip was down to the station in the school’s minibus. (After two weeks travelling constantly around Europe, I’m not sure if our party looked quite as neat as the school’s own minibus photo)
Looking back, the two days had been really useful, to hear from others, and to see for ourselves, the reality of our model of ICT in schools, and to talk about how the UK approach differed from that in other countries. I’ll dwell on the thoughts for a few days before I share some of the discussion and conclusions!