FAR from the teachers pressing chalk on to blackboards and pupils scribbling notes into dog-eared exercise books so familiar to previous generations, today’s classrooms are increasingly becoming fully digital domains. We find out how Royal Hospital School embraces the latest technology courtesy of Hamish Mackenzie, Head of Digital Learning…
Mobile learning has been a key element of the teaching and learning environment at the Royal Hospital School, Suffolk, for over six years. The coeducational boarding and day school for 11 to 18 year olds is an Apple Regional Training Centre that shares good practice, facilitates training opportunities for teachers and helps to develop digital learning throughout East Anglia.
All pupils in Years 7 to 11 are provided with a leased iPad, which is designed to be an educational tool – not a toy. They have access to an agreed suite of educational apps for use in the classroom and are supported by a secure network, well-resourced Information Systems department and on a peer to peer level though our Digital Leaders.
We do however recognise that access to the digital world can come with some risks and we believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that our pupils, parents and staff are provided with support and advice on good practice and on-line safety technologies.
In January this year the School, invited assessors from the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) to review its online safety provision. The assessors interviewed staff, parents and pupils and conducted a review of the curriculum, systems, policies and support in the context of digital learning. As a result, the Royal Hospital School received the 360 degree safe Online Safety Mark and named a national ‘Beacon of Good Practice’.
The prime benefit of applying for the Online Safety Mark is that it does not focus on the individual aspects of online safety such as technological solutions, but instead it integrates online safety into school policy and the curriculum, challenging teachers and leaders in the school to think about their provision and its continual evolution.
We were delighted that the Royal Hospital School demonstrated a high standard of online safety education and awareness for all staff, pupils and also for parents, ensuring that all users of digital technologies can be safe online – whether they are in school, at home or out and about using mobile devices.
Preparing our pupils so they can use technology safely, productively and responsibly is a strength of the Royal Hospital School and to achieve this National Accreditation is a reassuring endorsement of the efforts and processes that we have implemented. Achieving this in the context of a boarding school where pupils are using technology for both work and recreation is particularly pleasing given the additional challenges this poses.
Further acknowledgment of the Royal Hospital School’s commitment to online safety is our involvement in a video commissioned by the Headmaster’s and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC). The video, due for launch in October, highlights the proactive approach we have taken with our pupils and the fact that we recognise the benefits and upsides to their digital lives as well as educating against the risks.