We recently had an absolutely superb visit to Clevedon School in North Somerset, nestled in the beautiful, green, Swiss Valley in Clevedon, and discovered a school that is far from hidden away.
If it is looked for, it is because it is now sought out for guidance, by an increasing number of other establishments, & offers advice and support on everything from finances, rolling out a 1:1 iPad program, through to inventive curriculum design.
Ofsted rated the school is “Outstanding” –what we saw certainly justified this.
We went with the aim of fact finding and filming.
The chance to spend some time investigating innovative use of technology, alongside the teachers and students there, was a great honour, and we are very grateful to them all for organizing a packed day.
One aspect, was how they school used a progressive form of vertical tutor grouping, and went way beyond that. Horizontal layers break up the standard structure of many organisations. So, vertical houses have been introduced in some quite daring ways. They have brought out competition but team work too.
Read James’ reflections, on his site, here.
So much was covered, and was backed up by two students, passing the office, yet up for the challenge of answering our questions at random.
They described the school as “Close”, inclusive, and their welfare and learning were considered paramount, with extra support given whenever it was needed. They were clear on the progress they, and the school were making, and were proud of the innovations in place.
In a tech filled ”House” assembly, we waited in anticipation of finding out who the “secret student” had been, and had they succeeded? And, so did every student in the hall. “Was it me? Did I do my bit?” This was no teacher nominated awards ceremony. Instead, a very clever strategy that impacts on behaviour, work ethics, presentation and so much more. A pupil is picked at random, by the digital hat, then observed, secretly, by staff, through the day. If they “come up to the mark”, prove themselves worthy, they win points on behalf of the house, and a huge bar of chocolate for themselves! Our lad today left with a beaming smile, and this year’s HUGE house cup was within their reach.
When asked by other schools to explain their policy for working alongside a certain “type of student”, that is very hard for them to answer as the school has an approach that supports each individual.
A “comment only” marking system begins with the student evaluating their progress first. Then the teacher’s thoughts and evaluations, and a further comment from the pupil.
The staff have also been actively involved in planning ways forward in many areas of school life. Vision groups have lots of volunteers: 76 staff, working in their own time.
A new 1:1 iPad project, is being inventively crafted. A network system has been designed (in a way seen only in Disney theme parks up until now!) in order for the handhelds to be able to be used, confidently, at speed, anywhere across the campus.
Supporting this are a team of extremely competent students, the ‘Digital Leaders’, whose main role is to support the teachers in gaining technical confidence.
In order to support the iPad project the team visited a feeder primary school who are already using iPads in lessons.
Despite some advanced technological thinking, it is evident that the decision to go with iPads is firmly rooted in the school’s focus on bringing learning alive. We talked about the simple aspect that laptop screens can form a shield, a barrier, a screen. iPads are more open, shareable, and collaborative.
We’d particularly like to thank Mark Anderson, (@ICTevangelist) for opening up so many opportunities for us.
More to follow on our chance to explore 3D printing and iPads in art. …soon.