A south London school has teamed up with one of the city's livery organisations, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT), in a bid to boost grades through increased use of IT.
Lilian Baylis School in North Lambeth aims to become the most improved school in the UK by doubling the number of its students achieving more than five GCSE grades A-C to reach the London average of 40% by 2007. It also aims to become a national showcase for the potential transformation of education through technology. The immediate challenge is for the school to achieve Technology Specialist status by October 2003.
The WCIT will provide an initial £25,000, help with raising further funds and provide a four-year technology development plan. A WCIT member will work closely with the school's teachers to develop a focused career programme aimed at highlighting the wide range of career opportunities within the IT industry and the City of London. This will see IT career fairs held at the school, a series of workshops between students and successful professionals and a mentoring programme. The idea is that presenting pupils with clear and achievable career paths will encourage them to work harder and achieve better grades by giving them something to aim for.
The charity chose the Lilian Baylis School after a long selection process. It was looking for a school located in a disadvantaged community in inner London with a strong leadership team committed to using IT to revolutionise the process of learning and the potential to match its ambitions for raising levels of achievement.
A concerted attempt to turn the school around had already led to improved attendance rates and a reduction in pupils excluded from the school. It was clearly time for the longer term process of increasing the percentage of students achieving five-plus GCSE grades A-C, which was 19% in the last statistics from the Department for Education and Skills (for 2000).
Headmaster Gary Phillips says being chosen by the WCIT was a real recognition of the work put in by students, staff and governors over the past two years. However, while the funding has obviously been well received, "The most exciting element of the partnership is the ongoing commitment of the WCIT, and the opportunity to benefit from the members' knowledge, expertise and resources," he says.
The school is also in the process of finalising a private finance initiative deal that should see a new school being built by 2004. The new building will include a large community learning centre that will enable local citizens to learn in an open access environment. The WCIT will provide ongoing support throughout the planning and implementation stages of the project.