Microsoft IT Academy, our ready-to-deliver programme enables educational institutions to add Microsoft’s IT training and qualifications to their portfolio of offerings, proving popular with universities and further education colleges. Not only can they use it to develop their work with IT specialists, but also to provide extra skills and qualifications for students in any area of study.
Students who attend Sawtry Community College, start in Year Nine to boost their National Curriculum IT work with the aid of the online Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum (DLC) . This gives the ones who opt to go further a good start as they enrol into the IT Academy itself in Year 10. (“They hit the ground running,” is how Associate Principal Alan Stevens puts it.) In Key Stage Four, they can qualify as Microsoft Specialists in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with the option of moving on to expert level in the Sixth Form.
It’s difficult to overestimate the value to these young people of what is a globally-recognised industry-standard programme of training and certification. Alan, a real evangelist for Microsoft IT Academy (he presented on it at our stand at BETT 2011 and proved very popular with the audience), describes how the payback for students starts to show even while they’re still at school, going out on work experience placements,
“We’re having feedback from the Chambers of Commerce that employers are very surprised at the level of competence our students have with the software.”
As a result, says Alan, work experience students are able to use their knowledge of Excel, in finance departments, and some have used their expertise to help companies wanting to set up a database.
Students aren’t the only people who benefit from Microsoft IT Academy. Specialist teachers of IT at Sawtry can become Microsoft Certified Trainers, and in fact the Microsoft Academy Programme is well embedded into the Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme for staff which serves a community of schools, and has its own “home” at Sawtry.
Reaching further out, the school’s pool of experience and expertise is being used to deliver IT training to local business and parents who have their own Digital Literacy Club. As Alan says, “Parents need to be able to engage with our learning gateway along with the students.”
Sawtry takes it’s responsibilities very seriously as a school at the heart of the community with their commitment to an anywhere, anytime learning environment for staff, students and families. It then follows that they accept the responsibility for developing the IT skills of all their people, and Microsoft IT Academy, and the Digital Literacy Curriculum, are at the heart of making that happen.
Of what IT Academy is doing for Sawtry students, Alan Stevens says,
“It’s a high quality programme leading to a world class examination. It motivates students to go further. It sits beautifully alongside a student’s GCSEs, on a CV, making them very employable.”
This is a great example of Microsoft IT Academy preparing students and provide them with that edge to put them on a strong start whether it be in further education or their first role in the working environment.