Broadclyst Community Primary School (BCPS) in Exeter, part of the Cornerstone Academy Trust, is known for its innovative and immersive use of IT and digital media. As one of the only UK primary schools established as a Microsoft Mentor School, a one-year programme created to recognise schools worldwide who are using education to transform education, the school’s motto is “Fortune Favours the Brave”, which is centred on supporting children to feel confident to try new things, take risks, and reach their full potential.
Part of Broadclyst’s ethos is to have respect for other religions and cultures; something which staff at BCPS are always keen to promote and explore how this can be achieved beyond the four walls of a classroom. The result was the creation of the Global Enterprise Challenge (GEC). The GEC is a business enterprise initiative run by the school, open to pupils between 9 and 15 across the world, teaching them a variety of necessary skills for the future including design, market research, manufacturing and marketing. Headteacher, Jonathan Bishop, took the GEC project to the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum, and successfully put forward the idea to make the GEC a global challenge, connecting schools and children using technology across the world.
This year, children from over 20 schools across the globe have worked together in teams to select a product which they then have to develop and eventually take to the market. Each school has to create a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate their plans, which are then used for judging by the three excellent GEC panellists!
Genee World has proudly been involved with the GEC project. Last year, Genee World supported BCPS with funding for the last awards ceremony, which allowed the winning team from Israel to fly out to Seattle and meet Anthony Salcito, vice president of education at Microsoft!
Also, Ranjit Singh, Genee World’s CEO, is a judge of the GEC, who understands the importance of such a competition for global communication in education. Ranjit, alongside two other judges, makes the tough decision of crowning the top three schools in each category based on their marketing plans for their product – not an easy job!
Connecting children globally
During Bett, the world’s largest education technology show, pupils from Broadclyst School joined the Genee World stand, as way to facilitate and showcase the next stage of the challenge: advertising their products to the school and the wider community. Matt Pike, teacher at Broadclyst School, highlighted that during their time at Bett, “the main goal was to teach some life lessons around how children can market their products.”
Collaborating using a live lesson
Using Genee’s interactive hardware and software technology, including Project Flow, pupils from the school were able to conduct a live lesson with a class of students in a different location.
Matt found that Genee World’s technology enabled children to collaborate together in more than just the traditional way. At the show, the idea was to be able to demonstrate that collaboration can occur across two classrooms, regardless of their location.
During the live lesson, children were able to use the multi-authoring functionality, helping them work together on the same projects. Matt said: “By multi-authoring on the same touch screen, and then being able to share it with other groups in different time zones, you’re starting up that dialogue around solving a problem.”
Broadclyst are renowned for their use of technology within the school. Matt highlights that the school doesn’t simply teach IT lessons. He says, “We don’t teach IT lessons at our school, we never have. Instead we use technology as a tool for integration with other subjects instead.” Technology is mainly a support tool to deliver the curriculum more efficiently or to allow collaboration that the school wouldn’t be able to do without it. With the benefits of technology for global collaboration highlighted at Bett, Matt believes that multi touch and multi authoring tools such as Genee World’s touch tables and interactive displays, as well as the integrated software, are essential to encourage discussion between children. He says “it’s really powerful when it comes to getting children to explain their ideas to other children. Technology can provide a really nice framework for organising discussions even when it’s using things like social media.”
Matt concludes, “Technology for us is about engagement. It’s about outcomes. It’s about supporting normal curriculum as well. So, one of the useful things that we use with any of our multi authoring tools is that we value anything that allows us to get our ideas as teachers across to children.”
Highlighted in their ethos, technology should enhance the lesson, and when schools are choosing technology, they need to consider whether it is beneficial for their lessons and how it can be applied across the curriculum. And this doesn’t always mean the newest piece of kit! It’s about what’s best for the school. For Broadclyst, Matt emphasises, “We basically create an environment where if the children want to log in at home to continue something they can… developing it to make sure learning isn’t restricted to 9-3.30pm.”