Running Digital and Computing Strategies for schools and families in Islington

Written by Katy Potts, Computing and E-safety Lead for Children's Services, Islington Council

I am passionate about Computing in the schools of Islington where I work. We have created a mission statement for our work in the Borough that says “Passionate about empowering every child and their family to be at the heart of digital transformation; to maximise the potential of technology in their learning, skill set, equipped for future career choices, as happy and successful citizens online and offline”

Bold aims I know, but I am also responsible for it facilitating and leading an education strategy and highly subscribed service in Islington and across other parts of London. We work in partnership with clusters of lead schools. I am of course supported by a team of fantastic lead teachers and ‘digital leader’ pupils; providing weekly support in the classroom, plus resources and training for the whole school community.

We work with leaders, teachers, teaching assistants, parents, children and young people in mainstream and special schools, PRUs and the private sector.

Partnerships are central to the strategy and Islington work closely with technology and educational organisations including BT, Microsoft, Twitter, BBC, Cas, Barefoot, LGFL, Childnet, Safer Internet Centre, Besa, Nesta, Rising Stars  and many Edtech companies to name a few. We are also supported by experts including Miles Berry and Maggie Philbin.

This year we have had real success. Our digital leaders and their parents were judged Best at Bett show 2017, or when an Islington Lead Teacher, Donna Shah  helped launch Nesta’s Rocket Fund.

We deliver regular “Tech and Parenting” sessions in place of tradition E-safety parent sessions.  These promote creative and purposeful technology for use at home, as well as online safety, with digital leader pupils helping run the sessions and demonstrate tech and tips. An example are our Parent Breakfast Training “TechFast” led by Lead Teacher Dan Ferry.

We also hold events for pupils to showcase their digital projects (from class, code clubs and home) provides a platform to celebrate  learning, achievements and a chance to engage and collaborate with their peers and the surrounding industry. A good example of that has been the Islington Computing Celebration, Emirates 2017  – where 500 children from 40 schools, supported by over 30 edtech and tech organisations and supporters got together.

Our strategy has a core strand around young people’s resilience and understanding of digital safety and security being a  critical part of digital transformation.  The service has played a lead role (via the LGFL safeguarding group) in the development of many online safety resources.

I have been thinking about what helps our team’s work to be so successful and I believe the key to our success is a commitment to CPD and utilising what we call “sharing good practice events”, which have been hosted in Tech City and the likes of Google.

It also helps that my employers LB Islington genuinely believe that raising the aspiration of all parents, children and the wider community is key to digital transformation. We are narrowing the skills gap.

Please search “Islington Computing”  or #IslingtonComp on twitter and Google for many articles, images and a timeline of activities.

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