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Microsoft's boost for Broadclyst school

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: January 24, 2009

Microsoft executive Steve Beswick, centre, is shown by Broadclyst Primary School pupils Jodie Booth and Paul Cranston, both 11, how their computer classroom works LAURENCE UNDERHILL EE230109_LU01_02

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IT is one of the biggest companies in the world, worth more than £230bn and employing 90,000 people in 105 countries.

But pupils of Broadclyst Primary School still reckon they could teach Microsoft a thing or two.

The school was the only one in the UK selected by the global firm, founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen back in 1975, as part of an international case study of best educational practice.

Using high-tech equipment, Microsoft has helped transform teaching at the school and, in turn, the teachers and pupils are helping the software giant understand how technology should be used around the world.

A top-level delegation of senior executives from the Microsoft Corporation in the USA visited the school yesterday to check on its progress.

Broadclyst is one of the oldest schools in England, dating from 1810, but it now has what is thought to be the most technologically-advanced classroom in Europe.

The former school hall has been converted into a Nasa-style computer suite complete with widescreen projection systems, surround sound and dozens of audio-visual teaching aids.

There is a four-metre projection wall and planetarium, and every child uses a PC with a broadband internet connection.

The information technology suite, which cost around £250,000, was developed in 2006 with the help of local companies and Microsoft.

The aim is to make Broadclyst a "school without walls", allowing the school to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world.

To demonstrate this, the technology employed at the school was used as the basis for Microsoft's stand at the prestigious BETT Conference in London last week, the world's largest educational technology show.

During each day of the BETT show, the school's head teacher, Peter Hicks, and deputy Jonathan Bishop demonstrated a live video conference between the students in their school's lecture theatre and a pupil who, despite being ill and in hospital, is being educated remotely by Broadclyst school staff.

The primary was also praised during the conference by Government Schools Minister Jim Knight.

Mr Hicks, said: "We were proud to welcome Microsoft, who wanted to see for themselves what can be achieved in education with an imaginative approach to the use of ICT."

Yesterday's delegation at the school included Microsoft's corporate vice president Anoop Gupta, and Michael Golden, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the education products group.

Steve Beswick, education director of Microsoft UK, said: "By bringing our senior directors from the US to Broadclyst Primary School, we are ensuring that they can get a clear appreciation of the best of leading edge UK education."

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