Moat students were praised for their use of ICT by Professor Stephen Heppell at the Nothgate BSF “Engage, Evolve, Excel” ICT innovation showcase.
So then we come to the Excel theme. Courtesy of Moat Community College, I learnt quite a lot about programming robots using PICAXE and one of the first things I discovered is that projects which used to be part of a first year degree course are now quite routinely used as part of the Edexcel Diploma.
The engineering option is a fairly new venture for the school. The first group has just finished: with seven grade As, three Bs and two Cs. Nilesh Patel, one of the teachers responsible for the course said, “It has lots of variety with a mix of practical and theory. It offers interesting mini projects and it definitely plays to their competitive edge.” Next year the school will start the course with Year 7s and he also hopes to get a Girls into Engineering project off the ground.
Fronter has allowed children out of school to stay in touch with learning
Moat Community College is a Science Specialist College and its virtual learning environment, Fronter, has helped to raise standards. Many of the pupils are from Indian and Somali backgrounds and may be absent from school on extended holiday or on pilgrimage. So long as they can access a computer, they can keep up to speed with the rest of their class. Nama had tonsilitis and was ill for many weeks but thanks to Fronter and the teaching materials he got an A* in his January exams. It proved especially useful when volcanic ash grounded the planes last year just before the summer series of GCSEs.
Gulbanu Kader teaches science and has been pivotal in rolling out Fronter across the school. Unlike other schools where a VLE has been brought in across the board, Moat Community College and Northgate looked at a phased approach where staff feel more ownership of their part of the service. Science teacher Subrina Johal feels that science has benefited a lot from the Fronter approach. There are obvious advantages for pupils: they can read up on a topic before the lesson and this is especially useful for children who have English as an additional language (EAL) or those who need more time to grasp the concepts. But it can also make teaching more consistent too.
The template pages have reduced planning time and instead of watching a 20-minute video pupils might now be offered a very carefully targeted 45-second video clip. The children are also actively engaged in their learning, sharing ideas and knowledge via the discussion forums. They can pose and answer questions and a teacher checks once a day to correct individual misconceptions and identify problem areas which will need a revision class.
“Children don’t all learn in the same way,” said Subrina Johal, “but our science pages contain everything they need from videos to software. They don’t have to wander off to find the resources they need. All the searching has been done for them so they know exactly what they have to do and that is reflected in improved results.