Paper may soon be a thing of the past at Myddelton College

The innovative new day and boarding school in Denbigh has embraced technology in the classroom, allowing pupils to work on tablets, using stylus pens.

The college has done away with all but one of its printers, switching to mobile and cloud technology to underpin learning. Instead of using handouts, teachers put work online and can even mark ‘live’, in real time, with pupils watching. Students log in to OneNote the day before a lesson to see lesson plans and materials in advance.

By making the switch, the school estimates it will save around £100,000 a year on paper, pens and printing, which goes a long way towards off-setting the £150,000 set-up cost of a paper-free environment.

As a Microsoft showcase school, the first one in North Wales and only one of the 34 in the UK, Myddelton benefits from 5GHz wireless technology and will soon boast a high speed internet 100/200MB line coming in.

Five teachers at Myddelton are designated Microsoft ‘innovator experts’, in recognition of their forward- looking approach to curriculum development – they help train wider staff to introduce technology in their classrooms and improve learning outcomes.

Headteacher Mark Roberts, said: “We have observed marked improvements in pupil performance and engagement with the devices and software. Our ability to feedback using text, annotation, video and audio represent a much more dynamic set of tools than would be available in a traditional school.

“At any point of the day or night, we can see what students are working on. If our athletes are away competing on training camps or away on expeditions, they can still do schoolwork, because they will have the device on them at all times.

“They can’t ever say they haven’t been able to do their homework!”

Myddelton opened in 2016 on the site of the former Howell’s School (1859) and is currently the fastest growing independent school in the UK, with fees of £9,000 – £32,000 per year. It has its sights set on becoming totally interactive, working with Ten Ten Systems, in Chester.

Myddelton’s Senior Deputy Head Stuart Ayres, who has responsibility for 21st Century Learning, said:

“We aim to produce students ready to go into a 21st century world, well equipped with all the skills they need to succeed.

“This is an extremely progressive way of working for schools. Only a handful of UK schools now use the fully interactive (‘flipped’) methods to the extent that Myddelton does. Every student uses OneNote in almost every lesson and all our teachers fully engage with the interactive, collaborative tools that 1:1 device deployment offers, giving students access to a truly 21st Century education. It would be the equivalent of adding five new IT suites to the school!”

He added that there were a few hurdles to overcome:

“When we arrived, there were racks of very old servers and a microwave broadband system that slowed to a halt if it was windy, with a 10-year old wireless access point that kept disconnecting. Ten Ten helped us to upgrade to a super-fast fibre-optic system, replace wireless points with an intelligent 5G setup and upgrade to state-of-the-art servers.”

Steve Birks, managing director of Ten Ten, said:

“Any school can go paper free. Set-up costs (of up to £100,000, depending on the current infrastructure, devices, size of site and coverage requirements) are recouped very quickly, if you consider the high cost of printer cartridges alone. There’s the added bonus of reducing the carbon footprint. These children will leave school ready to enter the digital world and every child should have that chance.”

source: Yes Magazine North Wales, Dec 2017  –  Jan 2018

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