The Partners in learning community helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create, and share so that students can realise their greatest potential.
We chatted with Guy Shearer from Lodge Park Community College about his experience in the PiL programme.
Can you give an example of how being a Partners in Learning institution has directly had an impact on the employability of a young person and how the experience has enhanced the life of that young person?
Through our involvement in Partners in Learning we came into contact with a number of like-minded schools from across the UK. One area we identified early on that we had not explored, that appeared to be highly effective was the Microsoft Academy programme.
We took the decision, perhaps with hindsight a little boldly, to make it a core part of the school experience for all of our Year 9 students (aged 13-14) who we find need motivation and challenge in that difficult bridging year between compulsory courses and a growing level of freedom to select programmes.
Our students reacted very positively to the Microsoft Academy. They liked the independence of being able to work at their own pace and make decisions about when best to present themselves for assessment. They liked the chance to take a test, review their performance and within 24 hours have a second attempt. They liked the way that the content was very relevant to the world of work and didn’t feel like a simulation. The use of language that is aimed at adults, far from demotivating them actually made them feel that they were taking on something real.
“We quickly found ourselves appearing in the top 3 of the national “league table” for entries for the Office Pro courses”
Students by Christmas had secured one pass and were working to get further. Staff began to try the courses themselves and taking the tests alongside students. A few students found it allowed them to work at a pace and level well beyond that of their peers.
“One particular student, Chloe Logan not only finished all the core modules that equate to a GCSE in ICT but then went on to do a further three modules, appearing in local press.”
A year later a very high proportion of students have chosen to go on to take more advanced ICT related courses with more of a multimedia focus as well as a number of students for whom full time schooling has proven a challenge. Again the ability to direct your own learning has proven vital in building the very best study habits for our students.
What do you now achieve through the services of the Partners in Learning programme that you think could not have been easily achieved without it?
A number of our staff are working across our college and in other schools in our area developing ICT related projects with a loose Microsoft connection (although in reality this is just a starting point). They have gained in confidence and been retained by our school. Day to day ICT use at Lodge Park would already have been described as innovative. What PiL has done is raise the bar in terms of what you would describe as innovation.
We are seeing more fun, left-field and thought provoking ideas through our connection to other like-minded schools. We could always have taken on Microsoft Academy. PiL gave us the stimulus and encouragement to take a risk and accelerate two or three years of development into six months.
Can you describe how you feel the Partners in Learning programme has supported the skills development of your students and enhanced coursework and examination success?
The resources are simple to share and because they aren’t proscriptive are ideal to fire the imagination of the “can-do” teacher who wants to push themselves.
Microsoft Academy has already had a measurable effect on our examination results. For a number of students this year it will be the all important “fifth C”.
Microsoft Academy significantly boosted the confidence of a whole-cohort of children by exposing them to success in real assessment at an early stage in their school career.