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Technology school to sell online courses


A City Technology College in the West Midlands has expanded into online learning, in a move which could generate millions of pounds for the school.

Thomas Telford school in Shropshire has implemented a number of innovative teaching methods such as an extended teaching day, electronic whiteboards in classes and online curriculum resources which have helped it to achieve a 100 per cent pass rate at GCSE level and outstanding school status awarded by OFSTED. The school, which receives some sponsorship from Tarmac Plc and the Mercers Company has being developing the use of online learning for its pupils for sometime, which has resulted in the launch of an online IT course for GNVQ students. Interest from other schools in the new course has grown as news of the schools achievements has spread.

The course, which has been taken by around 40,000 pupils around the country so far, was originally developed in April 2000 for GNVQ Information Technology students aged 14-16, and was designed from the start to be delivered online. Initially the course was made available to 40 other schools, but this has expanded to 500, with around 40,000 students starting the course in September 2000. To take part, schools pay an annual Licence fee of £3,000 which allows an unlimited number of students to participate from each school. A delegate from each attends a short training programme over a period of 5 terms as the new course is launched in their school. Thomas Telford School then provides ongoing online technical and curriculum support for those with students taking the courses.

The school aims to use the money generated from the sale of the course to help develop both its own students and those in the wider area. Future plans include the expansion of the GNVQ ICT programme to include a further 320 schools to start in September 2001.

Headmaster, Kevin Satchwell, comments; "The overwhelming interest in the Project is, in part, due to the success that Thomas Telford School has had with Vocational Courses. It is important to remember that CTCs (City Technology Colleges) were established with the express purpose of undertaking research and development at the leading edge of education and to spread this practice amongst other schools in the main sector. In essence (this project) is doing exactly this. I also believe that, within the near future, many schools will consider entering into commercial educational initiatives online as it is a simple and effective way of sharing quality learning materials. However, I would stress that the essential ingredient in making (this project) attractive to schools is the ongoing provision of training and the rapid response online support to help teachers in the delivery of the course."


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