When Ofsted evaluated Benhurst Primary School as “requiring improvement” in 2012, it was widely recognized that the school needed a change of direction.
Head teacher David Denchfield and the leadership team began work in 2013 to bring forward a new plan – a clear vision that would raise standards but also embrace their diverse learning community, awaken the passions and interests of children and create learning with a sense of fun. “In 2013, Benhurst did not have a sufficiently adequate ICT provision which enhanced the quality of teaching and move learning forward. We developed a three-year vision for our school to ensure we maximized every opportunity for our children and staff,” outlined Mr. Denchfield.
What are the top priorities for Benhurst?
- Enhanced, extended cross-curricular learning for sustained, accelerated progress
- A wide range of technologies embedded in classrooms, both new and established
- High quality skills-based curriculum to ensure success for all
- Relevant ICT knowledge imparted for life skills, including computing and coding skills
- Responsible users of ICT, in particular the Internet
- Continued high quality staff CPD
- Fun, engaging and inclusive learning!
Central to the vision was an “open door” culture to provide parents with a greater understanding of their child’s education. They wanted to better engage learners and cultivate a deeper trust in the activities at school – a true learning community.
“We redesigned and launched the school website which provides relevant and up-to-date information for our children, parents and wider community. In April 2014, Benhurst started a Twitter account to showcase our children’s excellent work and provide an informal method of communicating with our stakeholders. Last month, we also opened a You Tube account which we use to demonstrate key mathematical strategies. This has proved very popular and we plan to develop this further this year and introduce new subjects to support our parents and children at home.” – David Denchfield
The school’s culture is now more collaborative, where children take greater ownership over their learning, with the focus on facilitating cross-curricular, question-based learning – working towards individual goals within the framework of the National Curriculum.
The focus of the ICT program is aligned to the new school philosophy. They employ a mix front of room technology (interactive projectors) and a school supply of 32 iPads. There are also six laptops per classroom dedicated for children’s use and the school also recently implemented Google Apps for Education.
Teacher Stella McCarthy agreed to pilot SMART amp software which leverages Google Cloud Services and empowers pupils to collaborate with devices in self-directed, peer-collaborative spaces. Early lessons during the pilot have focused on brainstorms, collaborative writing and validating statements with child-friendly research resources at the ready.
To find out what Stella discovered and the year 3 children in her class thought please read the full article.