The possibilities offered by ICT are ever increasing. To exploit today's technology fully, schools and colleges, and dedicated ICT providers such as RM Education must maintain a partnership to evolve effective solutions together. We speak to Assistant Head Teacher and ICT Manager, Peter Haynes at Hazelwick school, to learn more.
Situated in the busy town of Crawley, West Sussex, Hazelwick school is representative of many urban comprehensives in the challenges it faces. The school specialises in technology and humanities, with some 1900 students in total. What sets it apart is the way it has adapted to changing times, using partnership with RM Education to help remain at the forefront of modern education. ICT has played a key role in this growth, with the school constantly striving to maintain the highest standards for its learners.
Assistant Head Teacher, Peter Haynes explains how ICT has evolved at Hazelwick school: "We've seen an enormous change over the last ten to fifteen years. We started with two rooms of thirty PCs, where we taught basic ICT skills, GCSE ICT and A-level computing. Now, all subjects use ICT in one way or another. We now have a network of over 900 machines, which has become an integral part of life here."
Such rapid expansion may not be unusual in today's classrooms, but Peter decided to work with RM Education to help manage all of these changes. He feels that the main advantage for the school has been having the confidence to evolve in the way they wanted to, with the full backing of RM Education. "The biggest benefit of working with RM is the reliability of having a partner who is always there. As teaching and learning evolves, we need to be sure that our partner is evolving with us."
This ongoing relationship allowed Peter and his colleagues to take part in the development of RM's new network solution Community Connect 4. By acting as a field trial site, they were able to communicate what they wanted to see from the new solution, as well as providing day-to-day feedback. This first-hand data was invaluable to RM Education, seeking continuous development of an innovative new network solution for schools.
Peter feels that moving to Community Connect 4 will do a great deal to ease pressure on technicians: "I've always said that Community Connect is worth the value of one technician. The amount of time saved in managing users will be enormous. Technicians will be freed up to be able to be more proactive, rather than simply managing users."
Peter is keen to emphasise freedom and flexibility as the keys to Hazelwick's development, adapting its use of ICT to its changing needs. He feels that RM Education's range of Curriculum Choice packages, designed to allow particular software titles to be quickly and easily added to the network, have provided this.
Learners are also seeing the benefits of freedom and flexibility in ICT. "We've found that students are enthused by the ability to do things well, and want to show what they can do. Technology is now helping them to achieve this."
With green issues higher on the political agenda than ever, Hazelwick school is adapting to this new climate. In the longer term, the possibility of installing wind turbines in the school is being investigated. Peter is also looking at issues around heating and lighting in an attempt to reduce emissions. RM Education has already been able to help by supplying PCs with ecoquiet® technology, its own response to environmental concerns in schools.
Hazelwick is already seeing and feeling the difference: "When we bought the RM Ones with ecoquiet® technology earlier this year, we had installed ventilation and cooling systems in our ICT suite in preparation for the summer; but with these new machines, the rooms are so quiet and the energy emissions so low, that its actually made those systems redundant."
Pondering future ICT development for Hazelwick school, it's clear that Peter's plans involve personalised learning for students, in an 'anytime, anywhere' environment. For this to happen, he feels that the school will need to exploit technology that learners already possess, such as laptops and mobile phones. "Now that they have these technologies available to them, students expect to be able to access their school resources from home. We need to keep up with that demand."
Hazelwick school is already laying the groundwork for an improved future with the addition of a Managed Wireless network. It allows both students and staff to take full advantage of mobility; a method of gaining secure, controlled access to Hazelwick school's ICT resources and the internet whilst on the move. "We're able to set up guests to the wireless network. Any user with a device that can access wireless can come to our technicians and ask to be connected - we're happy to oblige."
The school is now nearing completion of two brand new state-of-the-art buildings. Once ready, the new classrooms will allow Hazelwick school to expand its ICT provision still further, ready to face the challenges that lie ahead. We look forward to being there.
See how Hazelwick School are using Community Connect 4.