Technology at your fingertips at Knockloughrim Primary School

TECHNOLOGY takes centre-stage at Knockloughrim Primary School where pupils from as young as four are becoming experts in the use of ICT.

On a recent visit to the local village school, the Mid-Ulster Mail was given a guided tour of the modern educational tools that have long replaced the blackboard, chalk and duster. Principal Mr Keith Wysner explained how they have created a world of interactive learning for little ones.

Each classroom has an interactive whiteboard connected to a computer and a plethora of laptop and desktop computers linked by hardwired and wireless networks. Other technology in the school includes computer controlled and programmable vehicles and robots, a mixture of digital, web, video, microscope and long neck adjustable cameras, and an electronic class voting response system called Qwizdom (similar to that used on TV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire).

“There’s technology everywhere within everyday life” said Mr. Wysner, “and so it’s really important for our children to use it appropriately from the minute they come through our doors. We have strategically developed valuable partnerships with schools and organisations throughout Northern Ireland, Europe and the wider world, including valuable partnerships with Queens University, Belfast, the University of Ulster, Coleraine, Armagh Observatory, several schools in the Republic of Ireland and most recently we have introduced a global link with a Primary School in Trinidad in the Caribbean. These partnerships give our children an insight into life beyond the confines of school in their own country and around the world.

“An example of this is with modern languages, with thanks to the support of the Department of Education and the British Council, Knockloughrim Primary School offers all their children the opportunity to learn both French and Spanish languages.”

Speaking on the benefits of using the range of equipment, Mrs Heather Clarke Foundation Stage Teacher and ICT Coordinator within Knockloughrim Primary School said: “As computers and related technology have become more affordable we have embraced the technology and adapted their use for the benefit of all our little learners.

“The new revised curriculum now makes the use of computers and ICT statutory in every classroom in every school in Northern Ireland and in Knockloughrim Primary School we are delighted to be in an advanced position to offer our children experienced and competent teachers proficient in the use of modern technology.”

Using their technology skills the children at Knockloughrim Primary School regularly contribute to their school website www.knockloughrim.org with snaps they have taken themselves as part of class investigations or as part of their after school care programme that includes activities like digital photography, internet and ICT clubs.

The school is also part of a Lottery-funded project to establish an online archive of local rural history and the written and spoken word over the next few years with the help of neighbouring schools.

Literacy Coordinator Mrs Rebecca McIntyre said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to establish and begin to archive and distribute our words and pictures online for the good of the whole community to be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone now and in the future.”

Highlighting the benefits of the modern equipment Key Stage One teacher Miss Grace McClean said she believed it helped the pupils gain a greater sense of independence at a young age. “Our children become much more independent learners. They begin to evaluate their learning more and I definitely think the integration of ICT in a meaningful way, improves not only achievement in learning, but also enhances our children’s thinking skills and personal self esteem. Adults don’t give children enough credit for just how quickly children can take new ideas and technology onboard and use them for purposes we as adults never first intended.”

Adults can also take advantage of the high-tech resources at the school as it has established itself as a base for adult learning with The Living and Learning Together project in Magherafelt and has already held a number of courses ranging from gardening to food hygiene and ICT.

Knockloughrim Primary School will be holding an open morning this Saturday 26 November at 10am. Parents of prospective children will be made very welcome and will have an opportunity to meet staff and get to see at first hand the opportunities on offer to everyone in Knockloughrim Primary School.