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The proof is in the printing

Richard Smith, a Naace member and founder of Amazing ICT, discusses the use of technology at Dawley Primary School in Shropshire

Posted by Hannah Vickers | March 03, 2017 | Primary

By Richard Smith, founder of Amazing ICT.

In January 2017, the Prime Minister asked: “What is the shape of the economy we want for the future? What are the sectors that we need to look at for the future?” These questions formed the basis of the new Industrial Strategy, which intends to focus on the technical and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills required to keep the UK competitive in the 21st Century. 

Education will most likely play a huge part in this development. After all, as educators, we are constantly discussing how best to prepare young people for the world ahead of them. The 2014 introduction of computing in the curriculum showed an intent to foster these technical skills at an early age, but realistically, this is just one of the many things that we can be doing in schools to promote 21st Century learning. 

Technology will play a major part in the lives of young people in the future; indeed, for many pupils, technology is already part of their way of life, so teaching them how to use it effectively and fostering an understanding of how it works will give them the confidence to use technology not only to consume media, but to create new things. 

At Dawley Primary School in Shropshire, we have been using a variety of resources to enhance the learning experience for pupils. One of the most interesting examples is the students getting involved with 3D printing. 

By splitting the cost between the school and AmazingICT, the pupils now have access to a 3D printer in the school, and teachers and pupils can visit from other schools to get hands-on with the equipment. Using the Tinkercad software, pupils can build models on the screen using computer-aided design, and actually see the results come to life. Dawley Primary has an outdoor area which the pupils are creating themselves, building models and designing elements to be included in it, such as flower pots and benches. Not only this, the pupils also designed rockets for a lesson on forces, and have designed other creative items, like pencil pots for the classroom. 

The school has also undertaken a number of other projects, including game design. As part of her science lessons, eight-year-old Leila coded a game in which you can drop an apple onto Isaac Newton’s head. Not only does this consolidate learning in the field of science and physics, but it also gives pupils a chance to see their code in action in a very real way. When discussing the project, Leila said: “children in the future will be able to get jobs in technology”. Indeed, one of the main issues highlighted by Theresa May was that the UK could do more to expand science and innovation. However, there is already some incredible work being done on this in schools; Dawley Primary are already making headway in this by bringing these skills into schools in a practical way.

At Dawley C of E, everyone uses technology in the classroom in amazingly innovative and advanced ways. The children are acquiring skills that will equip them for the jobs of the future - Lucy Allan, MP for Telford

Following a recent visit to the school, local MP Lucy Allan said: "at Dawley C of E, everyone uses technology in the classroom in amazingly innovative and advanced ways. The children are acquiring skills that will equip them for the jobs of the future. I was so impressed by the aspiration the teachers have for each and every one of their children."

What I would like to see is a greater emphasis being placed on the great work already being done in primary and secondary schools across the UK in developing these skills and contributing to our national industries. By doing so, we will be able to share more of the best practice in technical and STEM learning and really give our pupils the confidence to take strides in their abilities, leading the way as they work towards the future.  

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