Many people in the past have asked me how I got started with linking schools from around the world with my then school Oakington Manor.
My first encounter with an international school was during the late 1980’s whilst at university when I made my first visit to Ball State University, Indiana, USA as part of my teacher training. Whilst studying at this university, I had the pleasure of working at Southview Elementary School for a three month period, looking at the American system of education. This was at a time when our country was going through a transition with the first inception of the National Curriculum brought in by the then Secretary of State for Education, Kenneth Baker. My experience at Southview was so good that when I qualified, I set up my first letter writing project with the school during my teaching practice then again following my appointment at Oakington Manor.
My second opportunity of working with an international school, again came whilst at university, visiting a school in Holland to look specifically at how they integrate special needs pupils into mainstream education. This experience led me to study specifically how to support children with Dyslexia and how to use technology to support them. Back then I was using BBC B and BBC Master computers. Many drill and practice programmes were available for this purpose. These included programs that used specific colour to stop movement of words on a page for some Dyslexic children.
My third opportunity came in the 1990s following the release of Nelson Mandela, when I was ‘head hunted’ for a consultancy position with PARAG UK who had set up the Communal Information Technology Centre (CITC) in Welkom, FreeState, to teach black South Africans to develop ICT skills but also to become entrepreneurs. Whilst here I worked with Bronville Primary School. This consultancy position was to last seven years. Again I developed a programme of letter writing exchange, all before the advent of email and many of the technological resources we were able to use in subsequent projects.
My computing role at Oakington led me to continue developing projects which would enable staff to travel to various countries. I firmly believed that as teachers we needed to experience some of the countries where our pupils came from, first hand. Our learning like that of the children needs to be continuous!.
In 2017, I started a new project, working with two schools in Ghana; Kaneshi Primary School and Boso Anglican Primary School. Both schools received some initial training on using PurpleMash from 2Simple. During this period, my work extended to working with 418Designs to develop build and maintain the website of iTree International School, Nigeria.
This year I hope to travel to Nigeria to do some face2face computing CPD for the teachers and staff at iTree.