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Improving the use of ICT in the Foundation Stage: Halton

Case study evidence 1: A pre-school case study

  • Date: Feb 2007
  • Focus: Using ICT to create transition passports for children from pre-schools to Reception Year.
  • Number in series: 9
  • Phase: Early Years
  • Key Stage: Foundation Stage
  • Local authority: Halton

Focus of enquiry in using ICT in the Foundation Stage

We were invited to take part in a transition project from preschool to reception class. Through the process the children would develop their computer skills and gain confidence in using the digital camera which could be continued throughout the foundation stages.

All the members of staff were committed to the project although the preschool manager and I were to take the lead. Parents were keen to see children have access to the equipment.

Here are the children experimenting with the laptop moments after setting it up.

Three children looking at a laptop

Process

We attended the initial meeting where the equipment was given out and basic training was given on how to use it. We used this time to discuss with our reception teacher how we could make best use of this opportunity. We decided that individual children's learning stories would be a good way of recording and passing on information from one Foundation Stage to the next. These documents could also be used on open days as a point of discussion with parents.

I took the laptop home to familiarise myself with it over the weekend. The supervisor took the camera home to play with. We needed this time to learn as the session was not sufficient to become familiar with the equipment. Monday morning came along with a great deal of excitement from the children when they saw the laptop.

We gave the children the camera and asked them to take pictures of things they enjoyed doing in school. Here are some of the results.

Pieces of jigsaw A young child

We explained to the children how important it was to focus on their subject and to look carefully through the 'television' and also to hold the camera steady. They started getting results like this.

Two children reading book

Barriers or problems encountered

We have had initial problems with the equipment provided. Words were disappearing when typing, the printer refusing to print, and then suddenly springing into life after half an hour, also running out of ink after printing three pages. We received technical support and got the printer to work.

We have also found the short time-span a problem while taking part in this enquiry. Finding the extra hours in the daily routine to complete this piece has been difficult, especially as we have had staff off at different times due to illness. This has also made contact between ourselves and reception class difficult to arrange. We have tried to overcome these problems by staying behind after school has closed. This in itself holds its own problems, as we all have family commitments that can't be changed at short notice.

I feel it would have been beneficial for all concerned to have been given non-contact time so that preschool and reception staff would have the time to work together.

The ICT skills of the preschool staff are very limited and it has been quite difficult at times to access the programmes provided. We feel that with more training we could have used more of the resources for this project. We are aware that the camera can take short video clips; we stumbled across this by accident whilst trying to take a photograph. Having the knowledge of how to use this and add to a PowerPoint program would open up a wonderful new world of technology to the children and staff. Since having written this piece I believe that this point will be covered at a later training session; unfortunately this will not happen until after we have submitted this report.

Practices

During the short time I have spent working on this document I have found my own skills have increased. Prior to this I had difficulty in turning a computer on. After three weeks, I feel confident about inserting pictures in a document and writing text.

Not only has it enabled the children to learn new skills but it has also offered the opportunity for staff to develop their knowledge of ICT. The children have grown in confidence and skill in using the camera.

The equipment provided has made the recording of individual children's development much easier to monitor and the digital camera has meant staff will be able to look at a snap shot in time at a later date and gather more information than they would from normal observations during a hectic session. Recording day-to-day activities in this manner will also make information much clearer to parents about what their child does during their time with us. We have always had good links with the school but our involvement in the project will ensure that the transition process is a smooth one. The staff from both settings have met on an informal basis but plan to meet at a later date and develop further ideas for the staff use of this equipment in monitoring and recording children's development.

Possibilities – next steps

What we originally intended this program to cover has been met. The children and staff are developing skills and confidence in the use of ICT. Our initial thoughts of using the equipment to make the observation and recording of children's behaviour easier has started to make an impact on our planning and evaluation. This is due to us studying photographic evidence and video clips; we can see at glance skills children have developed which we may have overlooked during a normal session.

All members of staff, even those not involved directly with this project, are very keen to take part in further training in the use of the equipment. This may prove to be difficult as there are fewer and fewer courses available due to the loss of most of our support network.

We intend to pursue 'learning stories' for all of our children and share with the parents. As yet we have only produced a couple as we are still in the learning process and trying to work out the best way to do this. Parents who have seen these are quite excited to learn about the things their little ones have been doing during the normal day-to-day activities in preschool.

With further training we intend to produce presentation slides which will include video clips for use during open days and for sharing information with the reception teacher.