Shadow Schools Minister and MP visit The Portsmouth Academy

Shadow Schools Minister and MP visit The Portsmouth Academy

Shadow Schools Minister, Peter Kyle, and MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, visited The Portsmouth Academy last week to witness its new one:one device strategy in action and discuss the Portsmouth Education Partnership’s innovative vision to become an Edtech city.

The digital city-wide commitment over the coming year aims to improve student attainment and progress and engage parents in their children’s learning. Having sustained access to the internet and computers provides students with access to a much wider range of resources and educational programmes to improve their memory, creativity, make learning last and ultimately, build the necessary digital skills to help them succeed in the world of work.

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There is currently a digital divide1 in the UK with 9% of households with children not having access to a digital device which had a huge impact on home learning during the pandemic. Portsmouth Education Partnership (PEP) is passionate about creating an educational environment that is welcoming to all children and young people and not giving up on any child whatever their circumstance.

The Portsmouth Academy is part of Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) which is a high-performing academy trust of 17 primary and secondary schools in Medway, Kent, Plymouth and Portsmouth and is one of the key members of PEP.

All representatives of PEP are united by their vision to work together to ensure all children and young people make good progress through education which sets high expectations for them, is infused with restorative high support and high challenge, and which is supported through leading-edge use of digital technology, empowering them to drive their own learning anywhere.

TSAT partnered with the Portsmouth City Council and collaborated with schools across the city to create the paper, ‘Portsmouth as A Digital City’ which outlines the city’s ambition to produce a digital strategy for all 62 schools and colleges in Portsmouth to bring excellent practice to all young people in the area.

This September, the Academy launched its one:one device strategy to ensure safe, affordable and state of the art laptops are available to students to use in school and at home. All 250 Year 7 students at the Academy now have their own devices to support their learning.

Mr Morgan and Mr Kyle visited the Academy to see first-hand the impact of technology on students’ education. During their visit, they witnessed the Academy’s one:one scheme and how advanced technology was enriching teaching across a range of subjects, including maths, geography and science.

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The MPs also saw how using technology in schools give teachers more flexibility in the classroom, freeing them ‘from the front’ and increasing the amount of individual support they can provide to students, especially effective for those who need additional support.

During the visit to the Academy, Mr Morgan and Mr Kyle also met key members of the ‘Portsmouth as A Digital City’ team, including Natalie Sheppard, Director of Education at TSAT Portsmouth, Alison Critchley, Resources and Sufficiency Officer at Portsmouth City Council, Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and Chiara Fraser, Associate Leader for English and Literacy at The Portsmouth Academy to understand the progress being made and discuss the programme’s ambitions for the future.

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The day was filmed by Microsoft who are using The Portsmouth Academy as a case study for excellence in one: one device usage in the classroom.

Natalie Sheppard, Director of Education at the Portsmouth Hub, Thinking Schools Academy Trust, said:

“In Portsmouth, we are passionate about improving life chances for young people and know that technology is key to helping students gain the skills to thrive in a modern world. Schools across the city are working together to bring our collective vision of making Portsmouth an Edtech city to life. By collaborating and sharing our expertise and learning, we can use technology to enhance teaching and learning for all our young people across the city.

“It was fantastic to showcase to our MP and the Shadow Schools Minister how these concepts are working in practice and highlight some of the great work taking place at schools across Portsmouth. To be one of the key parties involved in leading such a ground-breaking project for the city is an honour and our team are driven to future-proof students for their careers by teaching them essential tech skills. With the programme gaining real momentum, we are greatly appreciative of the support of Mr Morgan and Mr Kyle.”

Stephen Morgan MP, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“I want every young person in Portsmouth to succeed at school wherever they are from, and whatever their background. Key to unlocking that potential is making sure all pupils have access to good quality and affordable technology.

“The pandemic has shown a spotlight on the inequality and unfairness we see in today’s society, with many young people falling through the gaps and victims of the digital divide.

“It was a pleasure to visit Portsmouth Academy to hear how they are addressing this, see first-hand how young people are benefiting as a result, and showcase this to the Shadow Schools Minister.

“I want Portsmouth to be at the forefront of a digital learning revolution. As online learning is becoming a daily reality for children across our city, I will watch with interest to make sure this scheme delivers both for the pupils who need it and struggling local families.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council said:

“It was fantastic to visit The Portsmouth Academy, to talk to students and teachers about the practical use of technology in the classroom, to see the difference it makes and how it is managed. The visit was part of developing a long-term strategy for digital learning in Portsmouth – to improve standards and progress, to give our children the skills that are being demanded by employers, for them to enjoy the feeling of being successful and to love learning, achieving and go on to have fulfilling careers and lives.

“The PEP ‘Portsmouth as a Digital City’ Project aims to ensure that the city and our schools will also benefit from the government-backed Local Full Fibre Network investment to provide ultrafast connectivity in the city and giving teachers and pupils access to cutting edge technology. All schools will have the opportunity to be connected by July 2022.”