There is something about Saltash.net community school that is really special. From the moment you walk in you know that it is a special place – it’s funny how schools just sometimes ‘feel’ like that isn’t it?
I’ve known some of the teachers and saltash.net school leadership team for a while now most notably Dan Roberts (Assistant Headteacher) and Dave Garland (Depute Head). I was delighted to finally get an opportunity to visit them at the school and ask them and some of their students questions about the school.
As Dave told me three things that Saltash has always done is take risks, try new things and do things on the cheap! He gave the example of Skype in the classroom. Saltash have been using Skype for years, they use it well and therefore have never bothered investing in expensive video conferencing technology. Skype works and it works well.
The school is a strong believer in the use of free web tools and open source solutions. There Moodle Learning Environment is well developed and well used by students and staff.
Saltash has also invested heavily in its network they have wireless throughout the school (and they have for a while) and students are allowed (in fact encouraged) to connect their own devices to the school network. The school manage all of this themselves.
As well as technology Saltash is probably as famous for its school farm. The farm is in the middle of the school and contains a pig and a load of rescued battery hens (that still produce the school eggs!). You can check up on the Saltash livestock area at just about any time as it has web camera access available 24/7 – check out the cameras here. Livestock are not the only types of animal that you see around the school – they also have a school dog!
One of the other things about the school that I found interesting was how the school use students to support and up-skill staff. Called the ‘a-team’ this small group of year 8 students have been equipped with a net book from the school and have their own emergency email address. If you’re a member of staff who is having problems with their PowerPoint transitions, editing a video or cropping an image then you can email the ‘a-team’ and they will come and give you a hand.
I saw lots of other things during my visit to Saltash including teachers experimenting with 3D to teach shape, Microsoft Multi Mouse and some pretty impressive photoshop skills in a media class. I also had an opertunity to hear about some of their staff ICT conferences where past speakers have included John Davitt, Russell Prue, Stuart Ball and Prof. Sugata Mitra.
A huge thank you to the staff and students at Saltash.net for supporting my visit.