The heart of our community
THE PRIMARY CAPITAL PROGRAMME VISION
Major investment in ICT across the education sector has seen technological developments spiral in primary schools. This apparent soar in progress has helped overcome historical concerns such as the lack of provision and limited access. In recent years the government’s emphasis has shifted to a strategic approach to facilitate a long-term view of modernising education. It is unquestionably an exciting time for primary schools.
The initial waves of funding from the Primary Capital Programme were introduced at the start of 2008. With an investment totalling a hefty £7 billion, subject to future spending reviews, primary schools are on track to experience a colossal transformation over the next 15 years.
A large number of today’s primary school buildings were constructed over 25 years ago, and hence are rapidly becoming unfit for modern teaching and learning purposes. The Primary Capital Programme aims to ensure that at least half of the 18,000 primary schools and primary special schools across England are rebuilt or refurbished to create state-of-the-art educational facilities at the heart of our communities. No less than five per cent of primary school buildings that are in the worst physical condition are designated to be rebuilt or completely removed from use, along with 20 per cent of the worst condition buildings in the most deprived communities.
Back in 2006, ministers selected 23 local authorities as pathfinders for the Primary Capital Programme to develop and test the programme structure and systems ahead of the national roll out. These local authorities are set to receive funding within the next 12 months. They have also road tested the requirement to prepare a Primary Strategy for Change and helped develop this guidance. The pathfinders are ready to share funding of £150 million in 2008/2009 to deliver exemplar projects and share good practice within each region. Local authorities should use the Primary Capital Programme funding to supplement existing capital investment for primary schools, not replace it or divert it to other priorities.
It is mandatory for all local authorities to prepare a Primary Strategy for Change and secure agreement from the DCSF as this approach has already proved effective in the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The Primary Strategy for Change must consider the needs of all eligible schools across the whole primary school estate including primary age special schools, voluntary aided, foundation and trust schools.
Every primary school can be reassured that its local authority has the lead role in preparing the strategy. This is because, as commissioner of local services, the authority reflects the needs and aspirations of the local community and also contributes to national and local priorities. Therefore local authorities are more suitably placed than primary schools to plan strategically and join up planning and funding so that the total capital investment is focused on services for children and families.
Supporting national agendas
This is an ambitious programme, which as well as meeting local needs has a significant impact nationally. It builds on existing success, and helps achieve a number of other national strategies currently in progress. For instance, the Primary Capital Programme supports the new Children’s Plan, which provides a road map for the delivery of world class services that enable every child to achieve their full potential and have a happy, healthy and safe childhood.
The Primary Capital Programme supports the delivery of the Children’s Plan by creating primary schools equipped for 21st century learning, at the heart of the community, with a range of children’s services in reach of every family.
Not only will the aesthetics of primary schools completely change, but the pattern of educational provision will be remodelled through a comprehensive overhaul of the ICT infrastructure and services. As such, a crucial part of this initiative is the technology aspect. According to the DCSF: “ICT touches all areas of school management and is used by learners, and all staff. It should be considered in all elements of the educational environment, including life-long learning opportunities for the community as a whole.”
For primary education, the DCSF is currently focusing on using ICT to raise standards, particularly in areas of work where it is believed that ICT will have the most impact: literacy and numeracy; underperforming groups; and enhancing the teaching and learning of ICT.
Primary schools are becoming increasingly adept at responding to the needs of its young people, and have recently made enormous progress in improving the attainment, achievements and wellbeing of pupils. Standards are increasing and pupils are certainly reaping the benefits.
The Primary Capital Programme provides fresh opportunities for primary schools to reassess how access to technology is provided, and ascertain the results they aspire to. For instance, this may be as part of large-scale building refurbishment, or through smaller projects such as ICT improvements.
The initiative offers enormous potential to assist with the next step-change in teaching and learning through the intelligent and effective use of technology and access to innovative solutions. Schools are invited to work in close partnership with their local authority to design learning spaces that support innovative, flexible approaches to learning. ICT will be fully integrated into the design of all schools and this will shift primary schools from being fixed and inflexible, in terms of ICT and buildings, to new high-tech learning environments boasting mobile, wireless and personalised technologies.
Helping pupils excel
Primary schools are on course to work in new and exciting ways through the successful application of technology. A greater range of tools and creative techniques available for teachers will, in turn, help pupils excel. Personalised learning is one area that will escalate due to the effective application of technology. This will increase motivation and involvement for learners, parents, carers and extended families – the whole community.
Providing access to ICT will create an environment that encourages wider community involvement as technology successfully positions primary schools at the centre of the community. This creates many benefits, for instance it helps widen inclusion thus reducing the number of people who do not have access to adequate digital resources, and promotes greater parental involvement.
The primary school of the future will undergo major developments in terms of pedagogy, curriculum, management, pastoral care, hours of opening, staff demographics, and locations of learning. In time every school will provide first-class ICT facilities so pupils can study in a way that is best suited to their needs. The challenge is to provide attractive, imaginative and stimulating environments, which are also safe and secure places for learning, inclusive and open for wider community use.
World-class learning centres
Young people are growing up in a technology-rich world and expect the highest quality in the resources they use. Technologies in use in the primary school sector will continue to become increasingly integrated and revolutionary. Under various initiatives, world-class, 21st century learning centres will be created, which will inspire pupils and staff and even provide facilities that entire communities benefit from.
The Primary Capital Programme continues the Government’s commitment to record investment in education. Technology will change the entire educational experience. The future will be lifelong learning: anywhere, at anytime, for anybody, covering any topic.
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