Case Study: Roundwood Park School, Hertfordshire
Roundwood Park School is an 'outstanding' Ofsted rated secondary school and sixth form with approximately 1,200 pupils. One of the first schools in the county to convert to Academy Status in 2011, the focus is providing access to mathematics, computing and languages that inspires excellence and supports a passion for creativity.
A key area has been the development of a music department supported by innovative ICT for students from Year 7 to Year 13. Alexandra Rowbotham, head of music, comments: "A lot of music today is based around technology, which is a natural step for development in the 21st century. At Roundwood Park, we wanted to be able to provide an insight into this for our students."
To enable this, two years ago Roundwood Park installed a suite of Apple Macs into the music department. The system came from their existing school IT supplier as this appeared to be a natural progression. However, it arose that the company had little experience of working with Apple Macs and the specialist needs of a music department, and as a consequence the network system failed to work to properly. Alexandra explains: "This failure caused much frustration and was exaggerated with a lack of consultancy, follow up care and help with the related issues."
Seeking a Solution
Increasingly frustrated, Alexandra turned to Counterpoint on the basis of a recommendation from another teacher, and immediately found the reconfiguration of the network system a smooth and supportive process. Remote access means that any issues with the suite of Apple Macs can be fixed quickly and easily:
All classes now have the support of effective ICT to extend learning or provide help if facing difficulty. The school uses it with children of all abilities, opening opportunities for Gifted and Talented students and supporting those with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Alexandra explains: "A typical lesson example would be using GarageBand for Year 9 'music and media'. Pupils compose music to fit with a short MP4 media clip imported from Wallace and Gromit's 'A Close Shave'. Before our computers were reconfigured, the program would often crash before opening or would suddenly close for no reason. The computers were configured so poorly it was impossible to record live sound onto the computers - work would halt for sometimes up to an hour. We now have a system that allows the pupils to record live samples into their work."
Alexandra adds: "Our students had previously failed to understand the true significance of ICT to the educative process, but now are much more confident. In today's multi-media environment we believe it is vital to enrich each student's experience to stimulate their learning. The commitment we expect from children should be reflected in our presentation of their learning experience. We also offer extensive cross-curricular music opportunities such as numerous bands and choirs that are supported by and benefit from innovative ICT."
"Working with Counterpoint to facilitate this innovative music department has seen a rise in interest in music throughout the school. We hope to move towards ICT performance and recording so the children can perform and record their performances; heading towards live music using the medium of ICT. We are looking forward to the opportunities this provides for music education at Roundwood Park."
- Alexandra Rowbotham, Head of Music
Following the success of the support from Counterpoint and subsequent benefits for staff and students, Roundwood Park is expanding its offering to include Music Technology A-level. The school is in discussion with Counterpoint to install a music studio for the use of all students to learn about the recording and production of music. Alexandra comments: "Now is the time to take advantage of the way children entertain themselves today, to employ those same media and thinking habits they foster for the betterment of learning outcomes. Because so much of students' experience is shaped and surrounded by technology, highly interactive activities have truly become the new currency of learning."
"It is like having a technician in the room! I can now say to pupils that if there is an issue, we can have it fixed by tomorrow and mean it. However, as it is now installed and configured correctly, few problems arise."
"Working with Counterpoint has been really easy. They are very approachable - I can phone them at any time and never feel like I am interrupting them which is important. It is clear they have a vast amount of experience and as a result, I always feel like they are on my side, which has provided peace of mind."
- Alexandra Rowbotham, Head of Music