Southcote Primary School has over 340 pupils, ranging from reception to the end of Key Stage 2. Based in Reading and serving an ethnic mix of pupils, the school has achieved Key Stage 2 results significantly above the national average. The school is justifiably proud of its latest Ofsted report, which noted that “achievement is good and standards are above average by the time pupils leave the school”.
Southcote’s motto, chosen by the pupils, is ‘Soaring to Success’, which reflects the school’s drive for pupils to achieve their best. A key factor in helping them do this is the school’s investment in ICT.
“ICT is an integral part of our teaching environment,” explains Sue Wilson, ICT Technician, Southcote Primary School. “There are whiteboards in every classroom and every child has a PC designated to them in our IT suite. It’s amazing to see children who aren’t even five confidently using PCs. It’s so important because it is the world they are growing up in.”
A significant addition to Southcote’s ICT equipment has been the introduction of fourteen AVerVision 300AF visualisers, which enable teachers to capture images of documents or 3D objects and display them via their PCs and interactive whiteboards. “The Head visited another school that was using visualisers and was impressed with how enthusiastic the teachers were about using them,” says Sue. “What attracted us to them initially was how easy it was to showcase and share children’s work.”
Sue contacted Smarter Interactive, a specialist in providing education solutions. “When a technology is new to you it can be difficult to know which products to look at and weigh up the cost against the specification,” says Sue. “The people at Smarter Interactive were very helpful. They recommended two or three AVerVision models and clearly explained the differences between them.”
Smart Interactive also arranged a demonstration of the AVerVision 300AF visualiser and Sue was very impressed. “The quality and specification of the AVerVision 300AF visualiser was so much better other makes I had seen,” she says. “The build quality was good, which is important. In crowded classrooms there is always the chance of equipment being knocked. In addition, the AVerVision picks up much more light, making images easier to see and read.”
The next step was a demonstration at a staff meeting, which went very well and Southcote initially bought four of the visualisers. “Our idea was to allocate the four visualisers throughout the school so that we could begin to understand all the things we could do with them.”
Easy to use
However, demand for the visualisers soon outstipped supply. “They’re so easy to use,” enthuses Sue. “You just plug the USB in, switch on and that’s it. Once the teaching staff realised how easy the visualisers were to use and the range of things they could do with them, they were fully booked out all the time and we realised we had a winner.”
Today AVerVision visualisers are a standard feature of all of Southcote’s classrooms. As expected, they were initially used to showcase children’s work. “The positive reinforcement aspect of being able to instantly show children’s work is invaluable,” says Sue. “It really helps to build their self-esteem and confidence.”
In addition, the staff have found other innovative uses for the visualisers. “Teachers can display one child’s work and involve the rest of the class in discussing how it can be improved,” comments Sue. “A child with a particular skill can show it to the rest of the class. Some teachers have created small clips that demonstrate a particular technique, such as drawing an angle, which run continuously on a loop, so the children can refer to them while they are completing their work. There are just so many ways the visualisers can help.”
One innovation Sue is particularly proud of is using the visualisers to stream images throughout the school. “One of the teachers asked me if it would be possible, so that an activity could be streamed to the whole school at the same time,” says Sue. “After a bit of thought we found it was relatively easy to set up. By using microphones attached to the PC we’ve also been able to add sound.“
“We have activity days, when children get involved in a number of arts and crafts such as pottery and cooking,” continues Sue. “With the broadcast facility we can quickly show the whole school what everyone is doing. It’s a very exciting development.”
There is no doubt that ICT is having a positive impact on the learning environment at Southcote School. “ICT is fundamental to the modern teaching environment and we are investing heavily in it,” says Sue. “It’s very satisfying to see the improvement adding the AVerVision visualisers has made and we are still discovering new ways to use them.”