Come together, with London CLC

Sarah Horrocks, Director of London CLC, talks about working in community tech education, and the global outreach spreading innovation across the world

Could you give our readers a brief intro into what London Connected Learning Centre (CLC) is, and what you do?
We are a part of a not-for-profit called the Education Development Trust, and we’re based in South London, where we have a team of educators and technicians who support schools in all aspects of technology – teaching and learning, professional development for teachers, activities for students, technical support, etc. We do a mixture of support out in schools, and activities at our centre. So we have, typically, 120 children a day coming to our centre to do activities such as programming, computer science and filmmaking. We also run central CPD from our centre, but we also have really strong partnerships with schools who are part of the partnership programme. 

Could you expand on the term ‘connected learning’ and what it means to you?
We changed our name a few years ago; we used to be called the City Learning Centre. City learning centres were a Government initiative to support schools in the community in using technology. That initiative came to an end, and we wanted to reinvent ourselves, and work more widely, geographically, and we really liked ‘Connected Learning Centre’ because we’d come across that [term] particularly in the US, and there’s this idea of connecting community, home and school, and the idea of connectivity [within the name], and so we thought it really described us well. This idea of using cutting-edge technologies in a networked world, making connections between people; between students and teachers, and parents and industry, and in real-world contexts. Connections and relationships are very important for that. 

What does your ‘average’ work day look like?
I don’t really have an average day. If I was to give you some examples of things I’ve done in the last week: we’ve had a computing conference for primary school teachers, so I was running a session on using digital to support storytelling in primary education, and giving an introductory talk about critical literacy. We also had a visit from a teacher from the Lebanon, who is a teacher of refugees, in Syrian refugee camps, and I was talking to her about our family learning programme, and how we supported parents and children learning together using digital. We’ve got children in every day, so I’m interacting with the children and teachers – we’ve actually got a group who have just arrived, and they’re settling down to do their session on programming with LEGO robots. I also collaborate with the rest of the teaching team here and I’ll be talking to headteachers about their computing needs, about using Google Suite for education, talking about their infrastructure needs, and their technical support needs. So it’s really varied! And because EDT do a lot of international work, that’s the connection with the Lebanon. We have a lot of contact with colleagues who are working across the world; supporting girls’ education in Kenya, supporting inspection in the Middle East, supporting school improvement in Rwanda, and in India. I may be talking to colleagues about edtech solutions in other countries as well. So it’s really varied, from local London schools to this global perspective. 

If you could have any other job than the one you’ve got now, what would you choose?
Do you know, I think this is such an interesting job, I don’t think there is much that could beat it. That’s such a hard question because there’s so much that I get in this job; contacts with schools and children, teachers and headteachers, which is what I’m passionate about, being able to be involved in research. It’s local, really rooted in the community, and it’s global, so I can’t imagine a better job. 

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