Top of the class in technology

Teachers have been finding fresh, new applications for ICT in their lessons and classrooms

Independent schools are among the most creative when it comes to finding new applications for information and communications technology (ICT). In addition to technology-enabled classrooms with their banks of desktop PCs, some schools are also introducing handheld devices, which are cheaper and more flexible.

Repton School in Derbyshire uses ICT throughout the curriculum. Besides data projectors and whiteboards in every classroom, it also boasts several special applications, such as a music recording studio, a language lab and a computer-aided design and manufacturing suite. Widespread ICT use means learning can be customised to proceed at a pupil's own pace. "ICT is enabling us to move from traditional classroom-based teaching towards individualised learning," says Lee Alderman, director of ICT at Repton School.

Elsewhere, ICT at Harrow School is, "ubiquitous and pervasive" according to Christopher O'Mahony, director of IT. With 822 boys, all of whom are boarding, the school has installed a PC in every study bedroom with filtered internet access. On top of that, the school has specialist ICT facilities for design technology, music, languages and physics, as well as in the library.

Harrow School has wireless intranet and a Microsoft SharePoint virtual learning environment (VLE) that provides an academic database and email service. Pupils can access SharePoint from their houses during term time and from anywhere in the world during school holidays. To ensure reliability, Harrow has a service agreement with Viglen to provide and maintain all of the school's 1,500 PCs.

Independent schools are often more willing to experiment and quicker to adopt radical solutions than their opposite numbers in the state sector. For example, ACS International Schools group initiated a policy of giving each pupil an iPad a year ago. ACS Hillingdon teaches to an American and IB syllabus. Today, 650 pupils from Key Stage 4 up to the sixth form regularly use iPads to research information from the internet, interact with teachers and make audiovisual presentations. "Our one-to-one iPad programme has allowed us to bring extra resources into school," says Sue Wakefield-Gray, the mobile technology co-ordinator. "Pupils can create their own materials and structure their thoughts better. The result is personalised learning. The individual student is taking more responsibility." Although iPads are not appropriate for all lessons, Wakefield-Gray estimates that they are used in two-thirds of lessons, on average.

One aspect where the technology has proved invaluable is communication. Around 90 per cent of the pupils come from overseas and more than 40 different languages are spoken. As well as translation apps that are available for the iPad, pupils share books online and develop confidence in speaking about their learning.

There are other advantages to issuing everyone with their own personal unit, Wakefield-Gray explains: "The iPad is a professional device which demands respect. Students need to learn when to use it and when it is not appropriate. It's not a replacement for the laptop or a pen. Students still do traditional writing and reading."

Each class and teacher will use the tablets in different ways. In English, students build libraries of books they have read. In languages, they might use it to record and practise speaking, while in drama, pupils are using them to write, edit and film scenes.

ICT is also playing a major role in communicating with parents. Two years ago, Seaton House School in Surrey introduced a software solution, Call Parents. Linked to the school information management system, Call Parents can be programmed to send out automatic emails or text messages to parents and carers.

"It's especially useful if we want to make urgent contact with parents – if the school needs to close because of snow, for instance," says Val Matthews, marketing manager at Seaton House. "It has cut down the amount of time office staff have to stand at the photocopier duplicating and distributing notices and newsletters. It cuts down our paper consumption and saves money. Our parents appreciate this system as it can often prove more reliable than sending a message home with their child. We often get replies and acknowledgements back from parents within minutes."

All in all, ICT is set to bring major changes and efficiencies to the independent school sector.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living