Hertfordshire education: the high-tech classroom

PUBLISHED: 13:59 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:59 14 September 2018

How ever-changing technology is used in the classroom

How ever-changing technology is used in the classroom

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With today’s pupils fully-immersed ‘digital citizens’, leading Herts schools discuss how ever-changing technology is used in the classroom (and beyond)

Abbot’s Hill School

Bunker’s Lane, Hemel Hempstead HP3 8RP

Founded: 1912

Pupils: 510

Ages: Six months-16

Boarding/day: Day

Girls/boys: Girls four-16, co-ed day nursery and preschool

At Abbot’s Hill School, we recognise that technology can greatly enrich the curriculum and help to assist pupils’ learning. We also realise that our pupils need to be aware of how to use technology safely.

Abbots Hill, Hemel HempsteadAbbots Hill, Hemel Hempstead

Our senior pupils are each issued with a Chromebook device which is used to enhance their learning through the use of Google Classroom and associated apps. These girls have recently completed an online safety qualification to ensure that they are aware of the online dangers and we have run sessions on how to engage with technology in positive ways.

The school council voted unanimously to ensure that all girls were issued with the same device to ensure there was no peer pressure to have the very best technology. We have seen positive results in both pupils and teachers working together through dedicated Google Classrooms. By using apps that enable teachers to assess learning, pre-teach material and complete assignments within guidelines that do not put pupils at risk of online dangers, Abbot’s Hill can ensure that technology enhances education where it is meaningful.

Duncombe School

4 Warren Park Road, Bengeo SG14 3JA

Founded: 1940

Pupils: 301

Ages: Two-11

Boarding/day: Day

Girls/boys: Co-ed

If you are reading this the chances are you are part of Generation X who sit in today’s digital world very much as digital migrants; learning to adapt and assimilate the myriad of information technology and its impact on our work, social life and beyond. Our children, however, are very much digital citizens with an almost intuitive understanding of the technological world.

At Duncombe we know it is critical that our pupils learn to balance the benefits offered by technology with a critical awareness of their own and others online behaviour. Our digital ambassadors programme enables children at age-appropriate stages to navigate the digital world safely, while preparing for and learning from all that technology is and will offer them for the future. Our experience shows quite clearly that where home, school and pupils are aligned, the best of the internet, social media and apps can be realised in an exciting and innovate way.

Duncombe SchoolDuncombe School

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School

Butterfly Lane, Elstree WD6 3AF

Founded: 1695

Pupils: 1,440

Ages: Five-18

Boarding/day: Day

Girls/boys: Boys

At Habs, today’s technology has helped create an environment in which independent learning, problem solving and critical thinking occur everyday. Using technology for academic purposes has seen great results. We promote the subject through guest speakers such as Microsoft’s Robert Epstein exploring the worlds of virtual and augmented reality. Our extensive science laboratories enable our boys to actively use the latest technologies, thus keeping pupils engaged and enthused with their learning across the board.

Problem solving day is an event which encourages pupils to use technology to complete various tasks, including cracking codes in foreign languages, trading shares in competitive and less competitive markets and using the Micro:bit to design cars for aerodynamic speed. Some boys even managed to build rocket cars reaching speeds of up to 60mph! This day is just one example of our commitment to developing confident learners who will be the creative, resilient and independent thinkers of tomorrow.

DT Green car being built by pupils at Habs Boys (photo: Adam Scott)DT Green car being built by pupils at Habs Boys (photo: Adam Scott)

Lockers Park

Lockers Park Lane

Hemel Hempstead HP1 1TL

Founded: 1874

Pupils: 170

Ages: Four-13

Boarding/day: Boarding, flexi-boarding and day

Girls/boys: Co-ed pre-prep, Boys-only prep

At Lockers Park, we believe that the latest technology, used judiciously, can enhance traditional teaching methods. It delivers a different and exciting learning experience and enables children to become competent and selective users of tools that form an important aspect of everyday life. The adoption of mobile technology, interactive whiteboards and tablets, plus the use of educational software all serve to provide a flexible learning environment.

As well as using technology to underpin the academic curriculum, all pupils from reception upwards have regular computing lessons, learning skills such as coding. The arts too benefit from the use of technology, an example being the music studio with sequencing software, which offers pupils the opportunity to learn skills commonly used in the music industry.

Technology at Lockers Park is part of a strategy to provide children with a balanced education and ensure they are challenged to develop their own ideas and undertake independent, analytical thinking.

Lockers Park, Hemel HempsteadLockers Park, Hemel Hempstead

Merchant Taylors’ School

Sandy Lodge, Moor Park, Northwood HA6 2HT

Founded: 1561

Pupils: 890

Ages: Three-18

Boarding/day: Day

Girls/boys: Boys

Recently a Merchant Taylors’ Year 11 pupil came second in an international design competition after constructing a remote-controlled mounted camera which can, for example, be used on a sports field for analysing players’ performances. It is no coincidence that this has happened after the construction of the new design centre at Merchant Taylors’, opened by The Duke of Gloucester in 2015. It is equipped with the latest technologies and the design and technology department can place great emphasis on computer-aided design in lessons. The fact that pupils have easy access to 3D printers and other cutting-edge technology enables them to be far more ambitious in what they create. IT provision at Merchant Taylors’ is exceptional across the school (there are several specialist IT suites and a music technology classroom) and the IT department is itself highly ambitious – in fact three Year 11 pupils were finalists in this year’s University of Oxford Computational Challenge. We look forward to seeing pupils thrive even more as further advances are incorporated into the fabric of the school over the years ahead.

Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood (photo: Paul Broadrick)Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood (photo: Paul Broadrick)

St Albans High School for Girls

Townsend Avenue, St Albans AL1 3SJ

Founded: 1889

Pupils: 1,040

Ages: Four-18

Boarding/day: Day

Girls/boys: Girls

All of our students have powerful technology in their pockets but who is teaching them to keep these secure and their data safe? At St Albans High School for Girls, our curriculum is a living entity – it shifts and changes on a regular basis, but is designed with the student at the centre. ICT and computer science work hand-in-hand to bring new experiences and ways of thinking to our students. We explore the ethics of driverless cars, we test out drones, and a new unit on AI has been introduced.

We have written our own informatics course, comprising modules in device management, software fundamentals, cyber security as well as computational thinking and coding, to prepare them for today’s increasingly digital, tech-greedy society.

Ultimately, we use a range of technology throughout the school, but it is the skills the students develop, the thinking they do and the resilience they show, which means they will be adaptable enough for any modern workplace. As with technology, we do not stand still at STAHS.

St Albans High School for Girls (photo: Matthew Andrews)St Albans High School for Girls (photo: Matthew Andrews)

St Columba’s College

King Harry Lane, St Albans AL3 4AW

Founded: 1939

Pupils: 840

Ages: Four-18

Boarding/day: Day

Boys/girls: Boys

Technology has greatly changed in the world of education over recent years and it now provides the heartbeat of any educational establishment. The traditional approach to IT in education has been static PCs in classrooms but this has evolved into a far more mobile approach through the use of iPads, tablets and laptops. Mobile devices allow for greater differentiation of learning in the classroom, which allows teachers to integrate different styles of learning easily into a single lesson to the benefit of all the students. Technology is now used both in the classroom and outside – virtual leaning environments allow students to access resources and pick up key information across any device. Online homework systems allow staff to both set and track the progress of their students and provide a portal for parents to check the progress of their children. Technology helps to deliver greater data tracking for both academic success and behaviour, allowing teachers to provide the best learning environment for their students to achieve and develop a holistic approach to their learning.

St Columba’s College, St AlbansSt Columba’s College, St Albans

St George’s School

Sun Lane, Harpenden AL5 4TD

Founded: 1907

Pupils: 1,350

Ages: 11-18

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Co-ed

Technology in schools has advanced rapidly over the last few years. The rise in low cost 3D printers has allowed schools to access rapid prototyping equipment at a rate we would not think possible. This is allowing our students to quickly prototype their own designs and reflect on improvements with more haste. Cloud-based systems such as Google allow students to access classroom materials and share work with teachers more effectively. Group projects become more collaborative and engaging and easier to manage.

Westbrook Hay Prep School

London Road, Hemel Hempstead HP1 2RF

Founded: 1892

Pupil no: 300

Ages: Three-13

Boarding/day: Day

St George’s School, HarpendenSt George’s School, Harpenden

Girls/boys: Co-ed

Classrooms are beginning to change, and it is thanks to technology that the change is happening. As an increasing number of pupils are being given personal devices, be it a tablet or laptop, the need for the traditional model of teaching is beginning to be eroded. Children need to know less, thanks to the ever- present Google, but must be better at presenting their ideas and working collaboratively. Indeed classrooms are becoming more of a shared space where the teacher is increasingly taking the role of facilitator rather than the single point of information. Subject knowledge will always be hugely important to educators, but showing children that they can access knowledge wherever and whenever they want and then teaching them how to use it, whether it be through presentations, video editing or virtual reality is the aim of the best educators. The connected world we live in allows teachers to give children an amazing interactive experience – a whole world away from the dusty textbook that is typical of the classroom of the bygone era.

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