For the last 5 years we have been running a programme, called Partners in Learning, to extend and expand the development of learning, and especially the ways that ICT can support learning in schools. Globally this programme has invested £125 million into projects run in partnership with governments, and government education agencies. In the UK, we have invested £3m, and have been working in partnership with organisations such as the Training Development Agency for Schools (TDA), Futurelab, Childnet and Becta.
As these first projects head towards their conclusion, the next stage of Partners in Learning was announced by Bill Gates at the European Government Leader's Forum last week. This is a further investment of £120m over the next 5 years, and over the next few months we'll be developing the UK programme plan, again in partnership with government and education agencies.
The next five years
There are three streams for the PiL programme going forward:
- Innovative Schools, which is a programme to help schools to move beyond the limits of the classroom and traditional learning models. The Innovative Schools programme assists 12 schools worldwide by providing intellectual property, technology expertise, experiential knowledge, and the support of the Microsoft community. We work with them to inspire big thinking and discover best practices. Through our shared experiences and goals, we are creating models that any school, any system, can use in the future, to prepare children for success in the 21st century. The Innovative Schools worldwide include Bowring Community Sports College in Knowsley.
There's plenty of information on the Innovative Schools programme on our global education website, and a short video on Bowring's involvement with Innovative Schools.
- Innovative Teachers, which enables teachers to connect across the UK, or globally, through the Innovative Teachers Forums and Innovative Teachers Network. It gives you the opportunity to network within a global community interested in education focused on 21st century learning, and be recognised for your efforts to prepare students to become productive 21st century citizens.
The Innovative Teachers programme is described on our global education website, or you can hop straight over to register for the Innovative Teachers Network.
- And finally, Innovative Students, which is a programme specifically designed to support government purchasing of PCs for students. Microsoft has developed the Microsoft Student Innovation Suite for governments seeking to improve students' access to PCs and transform education, and offers reduced price software directly to governments where they are providing access to PCs for underprivileged households.
You can read more about this programme here.
And the last 5 years?
Since 2003, the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme in the UK, has reached over 2.4 million students, as well as providing training materials and resources to around 134,000 teachers, in the UK alone. This amounts to a UK investment of £3 million to date. Through working in partnership with organisations such as the Training Development Agency for Schools (TDA), Futurelab, Childnet and Becta, the focus in the UK has been on building teacher confidence to integrate technology into the learning environment, as well as providing training that has helped foster the innovative use of technology in schools.
As Steve Beswick, Director of Education for Microsoft UK, explains
“Technology underpins the key developments and policy directives that will affect UK education over the next five years. Whether it’s providing the kind of world-class education outlined in the Children’s Plan or ensuring that young people leave education with the skills that equip them for life and work in the world today, ICT is playing an increasing role in the learning environment.
“Microsoft realises that technology alone is not sufficient for true education reform. We need to ensure that teachers and students are confident in using ICT if they are to reap the full benefits. It’s also about inspiring schools to think more creatively about how technology can make learning more exciting and relevant for the 21st Century”
Partners in Learning initiatives in the UK have included:
- The Gateway Project – a ‘virtual’ school environment created to allow schools in England, France and Spain to work collaboratively on a shared curriculum. Developed in partnership with the TDA to support the teaching of modern foreign languages (MFL) in primary schools. The programme also helps support teachers’ continued professional development (CPD) around technology integration into teaching.
- Enquiring Minds – a £1 million joint research and development programme led by Futurelab aimed at developing ways in which schools can develop curriculum and learning methods appropriate for the needs of young people in 21st Century. The programme aims to place students at the centre of their own education, encouraging more personalised and enquiry-based learning, in line with recommendations made in the Gilbert Review of teaching. Browse the Enquiring Minds website for more information on the programme, and find out how you can get involved.
- Know IT All – resources for trainee and practicing teachers, developed in conjunction with Childnet, the TDA and Becta, to support educators in dealing with e-safety issues in the school environment. The initiative helps teachers to better support and educate children around a wide range of e-safety issues in line with the Government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ programme. Take a look at the resources available on the Know IT All website, which also includes resources for parents.
Stephen Sayers, Director of Operations and Planning at Futurelab, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to innovation in education, comments: "Microsoft Partners in Learning has been of vital importance in supporting the Enquiring Minds programme of research. Without their resources and support, it would not have been possible to bring the outcomes of this ground-breaking research to such a wide audience of teachers.”
Tim Tarrant, Head of ICT at the TDA, adds: "Since 2005, Partners in Learning has provided the TDA with new opportunities to have a positive impact on schools in the UK and abroad. Microsoft's support for our jointly funded projects has been a great asset, as has the ICT expertise it has also enabled us to access."