Our visit to The Minster School was organised at short notice yet still enthralled and informed the visiting group.
Paul (Stevens) and John (Partridge) shared with us their experiences ghaving been through a period of chage; consolidation; review and with further changes in school pending as Phil Blinston prepares to leave in 2014. In spite of these pressures, as an outstanding school and teaching School, The Minster continues to impress.
ICT and Computer Studies remain very popular to students; the Minster is leading developments locally, as the Nottinghamshire region hub school for computing. The Teaching School Alliance consists of 23 schools with links into Leicestershire and Lincolnshire and supports learning communities projects based on themes.
In terms of investment, the school has not recently made extensive purchases and a reasonable amount of equipment dating back to 2007, continues to meet need and serve their purpose including projectors. Across the school, laptop are extensively available, there is renewed interest in iPads and moving to visualizers. Their approach sees desktop sharing apps across many devices.
New developments include a new web site, developing student voice digital leaders, blue-sky thinking for CPD/performance management and extending networking events. Their approach to student engagement sees Year 11 students running e-safety sessions, acting as (technology) advocates across the school and supporting e-safety activities for contributory primary schools and parents. Students have used technology to support others including an accessible film on how to use lockers and video conferencing with primaries (student led).
They have reviewed the use of Moodle and like the new feature (with chrome) to drag and drop files is solving many issues for teachers. Lessons are now released on the website and new approaches and software is used to reinforce and supplement lessons content (as help students who have missed sessions) including Memrise, screen recording software and support for access via a wider use of portable devices including Kindle, iPad. He school is moving toward a 1:1 approach and are investigating iPads and other BYOD options including getting a handle on the broader management issues.
The school recently ITEM award (Naace) and from December 1st 2013, will make MS Office free for all students to use at home.
We had an open and ‘free’ visit around the school enabling us to see teaching across subjects, meet and talk with staff and observe two fantastic teaching sessions with different year groups.
In Year 9, we saw students working to a purpose, clever use of screen control tools by teachers, an encouragement for students to focus and revisit tasks (“try and retry”) all backed up by subsequent access to lesson and video resource via a shared drive (available beyond school too). In Year 7 we saw a great logo lesson that demonstrated pace, progressive tasks and cross-curricula learning (one student said”…it was both Maths and IT”
As always, all staff were a delight to meet, open to discussion and the students were a credit to themselves and the school. Paul and John gave their time and attention freely and have made available additional resources to support colleagues – you can access the files and a recent BETT presentation here.