Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner - SOLE Central

  Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne

It hardly seems two years ago that George Stephenson High School opened the doors of the first School in the Cloud lab in the world. Head of Design and Art Amy-Leigh Hope, who was there from the beginning, shares some of her highlights below. You can also watch a new video of Amy in action in a SOLE session, filmed as part of Jerry Rothwell’s upcoming documentary The School in the Cloud.

Some of Amy’s highlights since the opening:

Interacting with other schools – UK and across the world

“I have been lucky enough to meet and work with many amazing people, from Newcastle University to schools in America, Australia and beyond,” says Amy. “We have Skyped into a SOLE session alongside schools in New Jersey, had visitors from Australia and shared many ideas, resources and experiences.”

One of her favourite sessions was linking up with a local middle school to take part in a joint science SOLE with Year 7 children around the Big Question ‘Can science solve world hunger?’. “Being pestered by the children for more lessons like this afterwards was a very proud moment.”

Seeing the room grow and develop

Amy says the room has gone from strength to strength since it opened – so much so that it’s now difficult to get in for a session as it’s often fully booked! “I know I am lucky to work in a school where teachers and senior management totally embrace SOLE,” says Amy. “Working alongside such a dynamic team has developed my own practice and created a buzz in the school among both staff and students.”

Skyping into India

Last year Amy’s Year 7 class Skyped into Phaltan SOLE lab in India, with School in the Cloud Research Director Dr Suneeta Kulkarni on hand to help translate. “It was fantastic for our children both to see their world view expand but also have it made to feel that little bit smaller by connecting with this group so far away,” says Amy. The children, who were all roughly the same age, chatted about cricket, football and chicken! “It was wonderful to finally see the children I have heard about and imagined across the other side of the world.”

Sugata taking part in SOLE sessions and teacher training

The school has strong links with Newcastle University and takes part in regular events and visits. Sugata has led several SOLE sessions and staff training across the teaching schools, which include local primary schools. “It is amazing to have this support,” says Amy. “It develops your love of learning even further and helps us realise how SOLE can continue to develop and inspire children.”

Inspiring me to push myself

“On a personal note as a class teacher, SOLE has inspired me to push myself to develop and let children lead the way – after all it is all about them,” says Amy. “I feel I have improved and developed as a teacher over the years I have been involved with SOLE. I believe it has improved my relationships and created enjoyment and excitement in lessons. Just sitting back and watching learning happen creates an understanding as a practitioner that you too can learn so much.”

The lab at George Stephenson High School is located in Killingworth, North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, UK and was opened on 22 November 2013.

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