Headmaster's blog at Newcastle School for Boys
I would like to use my first blog for some time to announce a new initiative to support the boys’ learning that we will be starting to roll out during the next academic year.
There seems no doubt that the ‘EdTech’ revolution – vastly accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic – has now taken place requiring schools to provide remote teaching and learning as well as other forms of online operation and interaction between various members of the school community. Student, parental and teacher perceptions and capabilities have changed significantly and irreversibly.
Nevertheless, we are delighted that boys have been back in school since March and hope that this will remain a permanent arrangement going forward. There really is no complete substitute for being in school.
We have all learnt a great deal about the opportunities and application of technology in teaching and learning as well as in the wider world including most workplaces. Schools and how we use IT will never be the same. I recently read a report that suggested that during the coronavirus pandemic the workplace had seen approximately seven years’ worth of technology development.
During the past year, we have spent a great deal of time speaking with providers and users as part of our research into how Newcastle School for Boys can and should respond to the changes in education brought about by the pandemic and the opportunity to enhance teaching and learning through the use of technology.
From the next academic year our aim is that through the rollout of a one-to-one device programme, the School seeks to harness further its use of technology as a tool to enhance our boys’ experience of school and to support their academic progress and character development.
Effective use of technology can support the delivery of a superior educational experience facilitating more individualised learning in a number of ways including, for example, through the use of differentiation and feedback.
We believe that the use of technology will remove some barriers to learning and boys will be able to access learning regardless of their location in school, at home or elsewhere.
Effective and appropriate use of technology will also help boys to develop digital literacy and other important skills highly valued by employers and society, such as collaboration and creativity.
Emphasis will be given to technology as a learning tool. Technology should enhance and serve learning, not vice versa. This sits comfortably with our existing approach and ethos.
The programme is seen as a whole school one, across all phases and sites, but to make its rollout manageable, it will be phased. It is envisaged that during the course of the next academic year boys in Years 7 and 10 and staff at the Senior School will be provided by the School with one-to-one devices. This would be followed in the next academic year 2022/23 with one-to-one devices issued to the remaining boys in the Senior School year groups 7 to 11. After this, devices will be rolled out for boys and staff at the Junior School.
In the Sixth Form, to allow for the differing needs of students across different subject areas, a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme will be operated.
In order to ensure that this is successful, it is crucial that the School’s IT infrastructure is in place to support the roll out of this programme, and starting during this summer, and again phased across sites, we will be working to upgrade our wireless network and other hardware to support such a programme.
We hope that you and the boys will share our excitement at this development and what it will bring to the School and the boys’ learning. There is also a great deal else that we are thinking about carefully and working on alongside this, including boys’ wellbeing and safety, insurance, data and a whole other host of important issues, but for now, I wanted to give you an indication of direction and flavour of what we are working on. We will keep you posted as we move forward.