Friday, June 24, 2011

Islay High School

Islay High School came on to my radar about six years ago. We were working with Adobe to build capacity in to the Scottish Education system to improve the delivery of the fundamentals of web design . We were working  well with Colleges from across Scotland but we were struggling to engage with schools. In the end @islayian turned up for the free weeks training from Anuja Darkhar  Head of Adobe's world education team. 

Interested in our soul teaching representative I was immediately impressed by what I learned about his reasonably remote island school.

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at their annual celebration of achievement and finally getting a tour of the school.

This is now not a new story - but I am still really surprised at how few schools have taken Islay's lead. Here is what makes them different.

  • Pupils all are provided with their own ultra mobile PC. They use these in class and at home.
  • The devices have been paid for by removing the school photocopiers and introducing the machines year by year - Islay High is now a paperless school at least on the learning side.
  • Teachers have their own Toshiba laptops with touchscreen functionality.
  • Classrooms have wireless projectors and a white painted wall - rather than whiteboards. As the teachers and learners all have their own devices they can interact through the wireless projector.
  • Beyond the technology they timetable 3rd to 6th year together - which leads to a great community feel in the senior school. This allows for personalised timetables over 3 or 4 years - this gives learners a large range of academic and vocational options and allows some to really stretch themselves - a few 5th years have achieved Advanced Highers.
At the end of yesterday's awards ceremony I met with learners , their parents and local employers . They were all content that sthe chool provided a platform for learners to follow academic careers and/or move into the local employment market.  I was impressed too by this year's school trip. The Headteacher is taking a group of 5th Years on an expedition to Madagascar for four weeks.

All this delivered cheerfully from a school stitched together from buildings from the 30's , 50's and 1970's

I know lots of schools are finding their own way towards a curriculum for excellence,  Islay High is a useful beacon.  Or can it be that island folks are just that liitle bit more resourceful ?


Sheila MacNeill said...

Great to hear about this Joe, really like idea of replacing photocopiers.

Slightly biased as I have strong family connections with Islay and my cousin is one of the group going to Madagascar this week.


Joe Wilson said...

I know was jealous - think we got to Millport in my day.

Their work on technology and curriculum planning really is way out in front.

Savings generated from not using paper makes whole thing sustainable .

They should bottle it and sell it .. they are good at dong this with the other stuff. Think they are too modest with their educational achievements

Islay is a great place sorry I had to go up and down in a day this time .

Unknown said...

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