14 January 2014

...The Havering-UEL ICT Partnership

I'm currently sitting in the ICT suite of Mawney Foundation Primary School during a school-based training day for trainee teachers. I'm surrounded by trainees from the University of East London (UEL) busily planning the lessons they're due to teach after lunch. There's a great sense of enthusiasm and some fabulous ideas are being developed. It's an example of the good that can come from schools and universities working in partnership in the development of new teachers. This post describes some features and benefits of this teacher training model, developed between UEL and four schools in the east London borough of Havering. 

Chris Knight, Mawney
Chris Knight guiding trainees' lesson planning.
The work developed from a UEL impact study on the development of trainee teachers' ICT skills on their school placements. It provides trainees with opportunities to learn about different schools' approaches to incorporating ICT into their curriculum. It also ensures that trainees observe the outstanding use of technology, regardless of the provision afforded to ICT during their block placements. However, trainees are also given the opportunity to apply their practical skills by planning and teaching a lesson, and reflecting on the experience at the end of the day. A sometimes tense but always valuable practical experience between block teaching placements.
At Mawney, the school's digital leaders show trainees around, confidently demonstrating the technology and resources at their disposal. (While the school's pupil-run radio station broadcasts the latest music around the building.) The school demonstrates the impact that having a strong vision for ICT can have, when supported and implemented by skilled, motivated, committed staff. Today, a group observed a year 5 lesson in which pupils were required to review a book, and were given the opportunity to choose whether to write, type or record their reviews on flipcams. They then set about planning their session, confidently utilising the approach of the class teacher. Such experiences, observing and learning from outstanding practice, are invaluable during the initial teacher training year.

At Scotts Primary School, trainees also have the chance to obtain crucial hands-on practice in using classroom technologies, such as visualisers, pocket computers, wireless slates and interactive whiteboards. Having observed class teachers using technology to enhance teaching and learning in mathematics and English, trainees then talk to the class teachers about the rationale behind resource choices. They then go on to plan and teach follow-on lessons. Trainees particularly welcome the opportunity to talk to digital leaders about their experiences and preferences of curriculum based technologies, as this develops their understanding of pupils' interests and needs.

Caroline Jacyna, Mawney
Caroline Jacyna showing trainees an online reading resource.
A couple of miles down the road, trainees visiting Scargill Junior School are able to observe how tablet devices are being used across the curriculum, and how applications like Morfo, Aurasma, and QR code readers can bring displays to life. Trainees are particularly impressed with how the use of handheld games consoles and Mathletics (an online learning platform) are used at Scargill, to engage and enthuse children in thier mathematics lesson. The digital leaders in the school, keen to share their expertise, run mini workshops for groups of trainees in the use of some of their favourite tools. This activity gives trainees a genuine insight into pupils' competence and confidence using technology.

Trainees visiting Engayne Primary School are always impressed with levels of engagement with different technologies (and how well behaved the children are using them). Interesting discussion takes place concerning the absence of interactive whiteboards, and why this may be a help rather than a hinderance to teachers. Trainees experience how the 2014 computing curriculum is being introduced in the school. They also experience using apps to make animated movies, as well as more traditional tools such as spreadsheets to assist with learning in mathematics.

The partnership developed between UEL and Havering allows trainee teachers to experience and reflect on teaching and learning in school settings where there is an established belief in the potential of technology. The schools involved are particularly committed to embedding technology across many aspects of school life. The experiences provide trainees with a deeper understanding of the creative potential of technology, and the confidence to utilise it in their teaching on their school-based block placements and beyond their training.


Thanks to the following people that have helped organize and run each day: Engayne - Sara Sankey; Mawney - Chris Knight; Scargill Junior - Karen Webley; Scotts - Jan Taylor; HSIS - Dave Smith

Thanks also to Gurmit Uppal and David Morris for contributing to this post.

Look out for the BETT Blog...

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Regards, DJA