Guest blog post by Paw Kappel, Head of Department ICT P-12 at Bentley Park College
Bentley Park College is a P–12 State College in the southern corridor of Cairns, Queensland. The College’s socio-economic index is in the bottom quartile. In the past, the College did not have many high achieving students, few pursued a university education and many ended up unemployed. Overall QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education) attainment in 2011 was 55%, and only 25% for Indigenous students.
In 2011, our school decided to focus more resources on establishing a culture of excellence in technology and demonstrating the connection between improved student learning and our own improved practice with ICT. The goal was to be able to offer Bentley Park College students career options that would assist all students completing high school with a QCE and either get them into further education or employment. Through Certificate courses students would be able to attain QCE points and through qualified PD our teaching staff would be able to support our students in using the needed technology.
We decided to focus on certificates that would not only help our students attaining points for their QCE but also help them develop skills that made them employable after high school. Apart from setting up Cisco and VET certification courses, we decided to utilise the opportunities involved in being part of the Microsoft Imagine Academy. The focus was to enrol students in the Year 10 Cisco ITE course, Year 10, 11 and 12 Microsoft MOS certification courses, Year 11 and 12 Cisco CCNA subject, and Year 11 and 12 Cert I IDMT, Cert II IDMT and Cert IV IDM courses.
The other focus point was increasing our staff headcount to support these initiatives. We already had the necessary staff to run some of the Cisco and VET certification courses, but we needed more. Teachers were encouraged to develop their own technology teaching skills through the Microsoft Certified Educator course, and many have taken up the challenge. So far, seven teachers have achieved the certification and more are on their way.
Feedback from the teachers has been that the course gives them exactly what they need for their development. It is current, specific and full of very useful and contemporary ideas for integrating IT into the curriculum. The teachers have learnt lots of great ideas for helping educate their students utilising technology in their classes.
So, what has been the outcome of this focus on embedding technology in our school? Our QCE attainment for all students has improved from 55% to 100% over a six-year period. It is safe to say that the initiative has had a significant impact on the College and our students’ outcomes.
The achievements with Microsoft Imagine Academy and Cisco certificate courses have been successful. Our certificate courses have led to employment for many of our students through partnerships with local businesses.
The results from this initiative made Bentley Park College Regional Showcase Award winners for Excellence in Schools as Regional State School of the Year.
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