The Welsh Government has extended an innovative programme which uses IT to connect schools in rural areas, making the programme available in schools in Powys and Carmarthenshire.
The ‘E-sgol’ programme uses video technology to connect classrooms so pupils from one school can join classes at other schools remotely, enabling students to access a greater range of subjects at GCSE and A level.
The project allows teachers to provide pupils with live feedback, while pupils can participate in the lesson as if the teacher were in the same room. The system can also create links with universities to provide enrichment sessions for AS and A Level.
E-sgol was launched in Ceredigion in 2018. Lessons are available in Welsh and English and allow more subject choice for pupils who may be limited due to the rurality of their school. Some of the subjects being taught via E-sgol now include Further Mathematics, Criminology, Politics and Mandarin.
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, will visit Llanfyllin High School today to meet students and teachers and view a live demonstration of lessons using the technology.
Kirsty Williams said:
I feel passionately that all school pupils in Wales should have the same study opportunities, be that at a city centre school or one in the countryside.
E-sgol uses technology in an innovative way that makes a real difference to students in rural areas by increasing the subjects available to them and broadening their career options after school.
Taking action to support rural schools has been one of my top priorities over this Government’s term. Along with our investment through our 21st Century School programme and the presumption against rural closures, E-sgol is another example of how we’re ensuring equity for pupils, regardless of where they live.
Dr Lewis Pryce, a Mathematics teacher at Llanfyllin High School, said:
Any apprehension I had about e-sgol quickly evaporated when the teaching started. The process of teaching multiple schools has been seamless and the pupils have enjoyed the lessons and been a pleasure to teach. By now, I see no difference between my video lessons and my traditional lessons.
It is also great to be able to teach Further Mathematics at A Level, something which, without this project, would be unlikely to happen.
Cllr Phyl Davies, Cabinet Member for Education at Powys County Council, said:
Providing high quality educational opportunities for all our learners is part of our Vision 2025 and the way we will achieve this is by using technology.
We need to embrace the challenges of being a large rural county and use technology to improve access for all our learners.
The E-sgol project will connect pupils and teachers across Powys and ensure that pupils are offered a wider range of topic choices while giving them the best learning experience.
‘E-sgol’ is available to all maintained schools in Wales via the Hwb digital learning platform.