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 Packwood Haugh School embraces the latest technology courtesy of Steve Rigby, Head of IT…

How does Packwood utilise technology in the classroom?
The interactive whiteboards in every classroom are a key part of teaching and learning at Packwood. As well as being an invaluable tool for teachers, they offer innumerable ways to involve pupils in lessons. In the main school, we also have three dedicated computer suites, a bank of laptops and a set of iPads. In the CDT department, pupils use CAD software attached to a cutting and making machine. The Art department has drawing tablets that the children use for some of their work. The PE department uses video to record and play back images of the children in action in order to help coach technique. The French department use iPads extensively with a range of fun and engaging grammar and vocabulary software, which pupils enjoy. The pre-prep children in Packwood Acorns have their own dedicated IT suite, with special colour coded, easy to use keyboards, and a bank of iPads. The children also love to use their set of Bee-Bots, through which they learn simple programming skills, without even realising it!

Perhaps less fun, but no less valuable, is the online testing of Maths and English that we do at Packwood, which gives instant feedback and analysis of a child’s progress.

Has technology had an impact on school life outside of lessons?
For Packwood’s boarders technology has meant communication with home is so much easier. They use Skype, FaceTime and email a lot. For the parents, communication with school is also simpler with the use of Clarion Call messages, and the online calendar. The parent portal allows them to keep up to date with events, to check the latest team lists, as well as providing access to assessments and reports. Our aim at Packwood is to go paperless as much as possible.

Other ways in which Packwood uses technology outside of lessons include the recording of cricket scores on the state-of-art electronic scoreboard, and in the school theatre, which incorporates a professional lighting, sound and projection booth. The equipment is computer-controlled and, once they have been trained in its use, is operated by the children. This means drama productions and concerts can be more creative in their use of sound effects, microphones, and lighting.

How do you teach children to use technology safely?
All children have Computer Studies lessons and the digital literacy section is a big part of the curriculum. This section teaches the children to use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly. We not only teach them how to behave online, but also where to get help if things do go wrong, or if they are just not sure of what is a good choice. They learn how to contact CEOP or Childline if they need help or want advice.  We also invite ChildNet International into school to run regular sessions with both the children and their parents. All teachers reinforce the correct and safe use of technology as part of their lessons, and the PSHE curriculum covers sections of this also.

What’s Packwood’s most exciting or novel use of technology?
A recent event springs to mind, in which the children clamoured to be involved. During a special off-curriculum day during the summer term, one of the children’s challenges was a treasure hunt with a difference. They had a wonderful time racing round school using iPads and QR codes to solve the clues.

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