25 Jan

Wow, what a week!

We started our week by welcoming a new pupil, Theo, to Year 6. He has had a super week and has told us he is really enjoying being part of his new school. We are really enjoying having you here too Theo.

Monday night saw me heading off to Piccadilly station to travel down to London with the heads of New Bridge, Hollinwood and Hawthorns. The reason for this was so we could attend the Apple Education Leadership Summit and what a worthwhile trip it was!

Representatives from over 20 countries attended to see first hand the latest innovations from Apple. We had an amazing demonstration of GarageBand, highlighting all of the enhancements that have been made to this app – I’m not exaggerating when I say it was brilliant. We also saw two fantastic demonstrations of apps that use AR – Augmented Reality. One was to study the human anatomy, so from a starting point of seeing ‘a person’s skeleton’, we were able to ‘grab’ the heart and manipulate it so that we could see it in 3D from all angles. As if that is not clever enough, we could then strip away the muscle, then the chambers of the heart, to be left seeing how exactly the blood pumped through the heart itself. Very clever!

A similar activity showed us a frog, sat on the carpet in front of us! Of course, it was actually only on the iPad but looked so realistic. The user can walk around and get down to the level of the frog so that it appears like it is really there. You can see on the video that again the different levels could be stripped away to uncover extra detail. I cannot wait until our children can be using technology like this every day in school – it has the potential to completely change the way in which we teach and children learn.

Two things struck me particularly during the day; one was the speed at which technology is developing. It’s quite scary to think that the ideas we have seen this week will probably be old news in just 2 or 3 years, as things develop at such a pace. It will be so important that we keep ahead of these changes so that we can ensure all of our learners have the best opportunities. Sharon O’Mara, the Senior Director of Education for Apple, said that technology should be able to “unlock the genius in every learner” and that “every learner is a creator with the potential to change the world.” I have come back to school keen to explore the many ways in which we use technology to make a real impact to our children.

The second was having the opportunity to talk to many UK Apple executives who have been working closely with the schools within the New Bridge Group. They were keen to highlight that our schools are unique in that we are a group of special schools, catering for a wide range of needs/ages, that is rolling out the One to One iPad project to each and every one of those children/young people. I think that because of the pace that New Bridge ‘gets things done’, we just take this for granted a little? They were so impressed that Laura, the Head from Hollinwood, and Graham Quinn, stayed on an extra day to meet and share our progress with Doug Beck, who is the Head of Worldwide Education for Apple, and he wants to talk about what the New Bridge Group schools are doing with Tim Cook – the CEO of Apple in California!! Watch this space, exciting times ahead.

Back into school on Wednesday, we hit the ground running to start our review of the curriculum at Spring Brook. We are taking the opportunity to really consider what is important for our learners and what we want our curriculum to offer. It’s vital that we equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to take the next steps in their learning journey and eventually into the world of work. One fact from the conference was that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 800,000 computing professionals. We need to ensure that our pupils can compete in that market.

Our children have been super busy too, learning through our topic of “Around the World in 80 days.” Class 5 have been doing lots of cooking as part of their technology lessons, carefully following instructions..

They’ve made their own pizzas..

Last week they also made burgers which smelt gorgeous and today they have made salsa (with a kick thanks to Liam being in charge of the chilli!) and tzatziki which was lovely! Class 3 have had a wonderful day at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Class 4 headed off to Heaton Park where we discovered that Kobi “can talk chicken!” Photos to follow next week.

Finally, today we have been making the final arrangements for our venture to the Young Voices concert on 12th February at the MEN. 21 of our children will become part of an 8000 strong children’s choir performing a range of songs that they have been learning for the last couple of months. Excitement is building and it promises to be a great night. Class 5 came up to Medtia with me today where we ordered the t-shirts that we will be wearing on the night. They were fascinated to see all the work that the students there were doing – thank you to everyone at Medtia for making us feel so welcome..

We welcome two more new pupils on Monday, both girls which will be lovely. We also have a new class opening led by Miss Todd, who has brought two very cuddly guinea pigs to live in class!

Well, I hope that you all have a lovely weekend.

Miss Thomason
Head of School

You can find our all blog entries here

Click here to read this week’s news from Graham