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School prepares its pupils for 21st century jobs

Apr 2nd, 2015 | By | Category: Latest News, Uncategorized

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KILBIRNIE SCHOOL has received funding of $200,000 and half of it will be spent on preparing pupils for jobs that have not been invented yet.

School principal Mike McGimpsey says the funding will help create a Modern Learning Environment (MLE).

The school has already undergone structural changes because children are wired differently today than what they used to be Mr McGimpsey says.

What was taught in the 1960s or 1970s no longer works with these children.

“They require something different, they need something different and they expect something different.”

The Ministry of Education’s funding agreement introduced in 2010 allows schools to improve three priorities; Health and Safety, essential infrastructure and MLEs.

Kilbirnie School’s first priority is to improve the toilet facilities (under Health and Safety) which have not been looked at for years and is expected to cost $100,000.

“It’s not a very exciting spend but it’s an important spend,” says McGimpsey. Principal 400px

Mr McGimpsey hopes to use the remaining $100,000 to enhance the schools learning environment to accommodate a changing curriculum and new technologies.

MLEs are learning spaces with less-conventional tools for learning and teaching such as bean-bags, high-tables and stools, iPads and laptops to support different new ways of learning.

“Who knows what the current generations of 5-year-olds at Kilbirnie School are going to be doing. They could be software engineers, they could be something we’ve never heard of.”

“It’s no use teaching them the knowledge for their job, what we’ve got to do is teach them how to learn.

“They need to read, they need to write and they need to count so literacy and numeracy are still important, but we need to teach them how to co-operate, how to think critically [and] how to work as a team-member.

McGimpsey has attended workshops on MLEs and has considered ways of implementing the idea with limited resources.

He considers the school lucky.

“At this school I have very, very good parents because they are very good fundraisers and they are very keen to raise money to make the learning environment as nice as we can.”

The school has just purchased 30 Surface Pro laptops for the senior students to share.

They will work as a tool for the students, not a teacher and will allow students to Google questions on the spot.

“You have an inquiry method of learning so part of that is using these electronic gizmos.”

Kilbirnie School will use a lease-to-buy plan, leasing the laptops for $12,000 a year instead of paying one lump sum of $36,000.

The junior building is the school’s main MLE. It consists of four classrooms with a shared learning space in the centre of the building enabling the students to work as a class, in groups or independently.

“[It’s] got all the bells and whistles, fantastic insulation, acoustics, you name it.”

Part of MLEs is building teacher’s competence with electronic devices.

“The teachers who have been prepared to change their way and get out of their own box, they’ve really rejoiced in the idea of a new way of doing things.”

McGimpsey reminds his staff to get over the fact that a six-year-old can use technology that they perhaps cannot.

“Often they’re reading something, a book, and they try to swipe the bottom of a page thinking that’s how you turn the page, and you’ve just got to smile and get on with it.”

McGimpsey plans to keep adapting the school to an MLE with limited resources.

“It’s really exciting, as long as you keep up with it. And not worry about the fact that they’re [children] far better at it than I am.”

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