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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
A recent rise in net migration has been considered bad news for the Government
voicesYet when we talk about it, the national media goes into a frenzy, says Nigel Farage
Life and Style
Miracle muffin: chemicals can keep a muffin looking good at least a month after it was bought
food + drinkThe alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers