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Foxhills Technology College (FTC) is a co-ed community technology college in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.
It has an excellent local, regional and national reputation for the quality of its educational provision and facilities, offering its 850 students an exciting and challenging education.
FTC recently invested in the Viglen Learning Platform VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) as it wanted to push the boundaries of traditional teaching methods and encourage a more personalised mode of learning. As a school specialising in maths, science & technology, investing in a VLE had been part of the school’s development plan for a while. The Viglen Learning Platform has allowed the school to extend opportunities for its students to learn beyond the physical confines of FTC and it has a clearly defined role in the schools personalised learning agenda.
The school was delighted to receive funding via their local Excellence Cluster — where they bid for specific funding for the purchase, set-up and first-year running costs of a VLE.
Choosing the right VLE
As FTC had no experience of VLE’s, they carried out extensive research into the range of VLE’s available, eventually shortlisting a handful of companies.
As part of this research all shortlisted companies where invited in to the school to present their products. When asked what impressed most about the Viglen Learning Platform proposition Paula Fenton, FTC’s ICT department head replied:
Viglen listened to us, they allowed us to experiment, and gave reference sites for us to visit. We could see that the system seemed easy to use, had great potential and would enable us to grow and develop staff’s confidence within a short period of time.
They also supported our ideas and were quick to respond when we needed assistance. I am really pleased with the company, they offered us the personal approach. No heavy sales – no pushing, they were just polite and really believed in their product.
Through their research FTC could also immediately see the future benefits of the Viglen Learning Platform, and once they had signed up to the system, it didn’t take long for them to take full advantage of it’s unique features and embed them into everyday school life.
Initially we were looking at e-portfolio storage, and information about the Pathway courses we have developed. However, as soon as we researched the Viglen Learning Platform we recognised its potential:
- We could instantly deliver off site provision materials for excluded students meaning that staff can keep in contact with students, maintain progression and encouragement which, as you can imagine, makes re-integration much more successful and no one falls behind.
- Year 6 Transition:
the use of VLE to host all materials and information about Moving to ftc has been a real bonus - interactive maps, courses, questionnaires and forums means we know our new students much better than ever before.
- Trips and visits:
Many of our students have completed extension work relating to the educational visit they have taken part in, giving students much more ownership and responsibility to complete all requirements of the visit. We have even used the VLE for some of the standard letters that parents need to fill in prior to any off site visit.
- Many of our courses are now on-line:
students not in school can access the materials and stay in touch. Students can pre-prepare for lessons or catch up by using the materials, this new style of giving materials is one that students really enjoy and understand.
showing progress on a much more regular basis is great, parents love it too.
- Contact with staff:
email, returning work completed or just asking a question on-line is a facility that everyone enjoys.
A change for the better
Despite the clear advantages of using the Viglen Learning Platform, when the school first adopted the VLP, as with any change, a few staff members were initially sceptical about the new software, however the Viglen learning Platform soon won them over! As Paula Fenton goes on to explain:
The software is extremely easy to use. Some staff had been initially cautious, however this has evaporated as soon as they have started to use the system and seen the benefits to them and to their teaching. All staff have received training: teachers, support TA’s, outreach staff, admin staff just everyone.
Having been using the VLP for a while now, FTC can clearly see which features have made a real difference to life at the school. One of the features they are particularly impressed with their ability to give the school a framework to help develop its liaison with their partner primary school.
They are currently working together to agree how the Viglen Learning Platform can be used to improve their collaboration. As Paula Fenton explains:
All the features are really good. In particular we have found the ability for students to complete an on-line questionnaire and take part in Forums has been very beneficial. It has meant that we were able to get an overview of our new intake: their likes, dislikes, personal achievements and activities they are involved with in and out of their primary education.
This will enable FTC to build on their success, give staff greater knowledge of each new student so enabling greater personalisation both via the curriculum and enrichment activities. This is just fantastic.
The school also particularly like the ability to keep students who are not in school progressing and motivated has been a real bonus. I would anticipate that this will have an impact not only on an individual’s progression but also on school attainment.
FTC has also developed cross curricula initiatives within Personal and Social Development classes. This includes a personalised recording course called My Learning Journey whereby students will record and reflect on their ongoing achievements throughout their time in secondary education. Paula Fenton concludes:
We are particularly pleased with its ease-of-use, the ability to keep emails securely within the ftc environment, web file hosting, online marking and assessment to name just a few.
Our Transition programme for Year 06 students using VLE has been outstanding both; parents and new students were wowed. It has enabled staff to keep in contact with new students over the summer break — giving advice and answering questions prior to students joining us in September.
Our partner school has been impressed by the possibilities of its-learning and feel that the use of a common VLE framework opens many more possibilities for students and staff.
(We’re) really glad we moved to the Viglen Learning Platform, very good value, excellent support and advice all in all a real transition for the school. Thank you.
FTC has really embraced the Viglen Learning Platform and in a short space of time can already see the great changes it has made to education at their school, I’m sure that they will continue to make great use of all of its unique features in the future.
Chief Executive Officer, Viglen