This morning my school were lucky enough to be visited by Barbara Stone and Westley Field from MLC School in Australia. They talked us through their use of technology. It was very impressive. Westley showed me photos of children in the playground busily chatting away over their macbooks. It’s an independent school and every pupil is required to buy a macbook when they join the senior years.
They relayed the importance of WiFi to their technological development. They moved from PCs to macs as a school, all at once. They just worked better. Their budget is not as big as the equivalent state school in the UK. They have been creative. A flavour of this is that all school bought macs are replaced every two years. They sell the used ones with one year warranty remaining so they are still worth some capital cash to be invested in the upgraded equipment. Similar to what any tech savvy does with their personal kit.
They embrace creativity. Lessons are given to an entire year group with all timetabled teachers present. Pupils then turn to their tables (in the same large, relaxed open-plan space) and choose their tools to get on with the work where they decide is best for them. Teachers jump from table-t0-table (not limited to just their class) providing help and guidance where needed. Mobile phones are actively encouraged in class (facilitating photos mainly as all comms are available on their macbooks). Books play a huge part in the school and the libraries are seen as the hub of all knowledge and learning.
Inspiring classroom (or a new word) practice.
They have done quite radical remote work with the Broken Hill (<— great school site, pictured above, worth a read – check the planning section, there is even a ‘Teacher voice’ link) outback school (where MadMax was filmed).
Before they left, Westley asked to update the schools twitter account with a comment: http://twitter.com/mlcbrokenhill.
Now, I am not saying blueprint for the future. They are an independent all girls faith school, and, consequently, have many things blowing in their favour. However, Barbara has been a Headteacher driven by vision for 20 years and the work they are doing looked very impressive. What can I (we, you, me) learn from it?
Westley left stating five key things to sort out that encompass every problem he has ever encountered: