Welcome to Ferguson Intermediate School
Ferguson Intermediate School
Learning Set to Accelerate in Two Auckland Schools
Jenny Leach, Principal of Ferguson Intermediate School says that these tablets will help excite her students about learning. She sees implementing up to date technology as a way of addressing digital inclusion and supporting the school’s broader community. “The best way we can prepare our students for success in our digital world is by giving them hands on experience with up to date technology. For most of them, their jobs will incorporate technology and it’s important that they know how to use it and how to collaborate with other people via technology,” says Jenny.
Mike Leach, Principal of Botany Downs Secondary School, agrees most tablets are designed for people to passively consume information, like watching videos and reading current events. In contrast schools need devices that allow students to learn by creating things independently, as well as working together. We've got lots planned for our Surface RTs. Every one of our students will benefit from using programmes like PowerPoint and Word on a portable tablet and it allows us to actively engage them in enjoyable way,” says Mike.
Evan Blackman, Microsoft Education Sector Manager, says bringing technology into the classroom isn’t a nice to have anymore, it’s fundamental to learning. “This gift is tied into a much broader commitment Microsoft New Zealand has made to the education sector and these two specific schools. We’re working with teachers around the country to show them how to use technology in the classroom to make learning better. This means actively engaging students, giving them access to experts and getting them to collaborate with each other.” says Evan.
Surface RTs are used throughout the education sector, including by tertiary students, because they have all the features people expect in a laptop, like Microsoft Office and a USB port, but remain small enough to easily carry around.
Ferguson Intermediate School a world leader
The following article appeared in the Manukau Courier on 3rd April:
Principals, professors and teachers from around the world have come to Otara for a lesson on how to run a school.
Two busloads of educators showed up at Ferguson Intermediate to inspect the facility and the way teachers engage students as part of Microsoft's Partners in Learning network conference.
Pupils escorted visitors from 19 different countries from class to class so they could see the way the kids learn.
Paulina Pannen from Indonesian Teacher Training College Sampoerna School of Education was impressed by the learning environment.
Students teaching each other what they know, is very different to how she's used to doing things, she says.
"In our country we have a culture where the students have to be standing or sitting nicely and that can sometimes be a constraint to active learning," she says.
"Culturally we are bound to that but, apparently, now we have to change."
The same struck Professor Yoneo Yano from the University of Tokushima in Japan who says the Otara students' independence was very different to the teacher-led learning in his country.
"In Japan the students take many tests and study, study and study," he says.
"Teachers give the reading materials to the students and they just study and study so there is not as much independence."
But he was also struck by the children's access to and proficiency with computers.
Contrary to many impressions of Japan, not many schools in his country have computer suites like the ones at Ferguson Intermediate and some have only one computer to share among entire classes.
Classrooms at the Otara school have active whiteboards, iPads and e-readers, giving the pupils access to technology they might not have at home.
Ferguson's e-learning specialist teacher Imteeaz Mohammed says technology helps level out the inequalities society throws some kids and keeps them up to date.
"We're trying to emphasise that knowledge isn't only papers, pens and what the teacher says. Information is everywhere and it's our job to guide the students to these sources," he says.
"Education doesn't stay in four walls, it is now virtual learning. The students come here and enter a different world."
Which is why Principal Jenny Leach, is applying for Ferguson to become a Microsoft Pathfinder school which she says will "bring it in line with 21st century learning".
That status will open the gateway for teachers and students to connect with other partner schools around the world as well as attending conferences.
Ferguson will become only the third school in the country to achieve that status if successful and will be the first intermediate and decile 1 school to do so.
"I think it just reminds a school like Ferguson that we are part of a global society," she says. "It's showing the world that decile 1 schools in New Zealand are just as good as any others anywhere else out in the world."