Interview with Emma Williams, Assistant Principal Academic, Wyedean School in Gloucestershire, UK.
Wyedean School is a mixed comprehensive school, with 1,250 students, including 300 in the Sixth Form. The school is located in Gloucestershire, and falls within the English, not Welsh, education system. However, it is right on the Welsh border and caters for both Welsh and English students.
Excellence in academic and pastoral provision has consistently been the driving force in Wyedean’s identity. A keynote of the school’s success has been the determination to ensure that pupils of all abilities strive to achieve the very best they can. It has always been important to encourage students to achieve the strongest examination results possible, and at the top end of the academic scale Wyedean has consistently proved able to achieve outstanding examination results and to gain for its students’ access to the best universities including Oxford and Cambridge.
What were the school’s computing technology needs?
In 2003, as part of the government’s Specialist School initiatives, Wyedean was part of the first tranche of schools to become Specialist Mathematics and Computing colleges with a successful first-time application. This brought considerable prestige, another building programme and wonderful computing resources. When the new Coalition government of 2010 opened the Academisation programme to all schools, Wyedean was quick to see, and to be awarded, the resource benefits of this new independent status, without having the constraints of being part of an Academy chain of schools.
In 2018, Wyedean School became a spoke school within the NCSC Cyber Schools Hub project. The Cyber Schools Hub (CSH) is a project that fosters collaboration between local schools, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), companies and organisations who share the aim of encouraging young people to engage with computer science and cybersecurity principles.
The CSH works with local industries to excite, enthuse and inspire students into considering careers within the industry. The project aims to use cybersecurity as a way to:
- Encourage a diverse range of students into taking up computer science
- Support students throughout the course
- Develop new content and resources to be made widely available for teachers
I like the pi-top  as it was simple to use and produces results. I liked that I was able to see my achievements straight away and learn and develop. It caters for so many age groups and allows everyone to learn
Noah M , student. Age 13
What challenges were you looking to overcome in the classroom that led you to look for a solution like pi-top?
The key challenge for me was bringing learning to life with creativity. The pi-top  really does show the diversity of Computer Science and connects learning to the bigger picture and across many different subject strands across the curriculum.
How did you use pi-top ?
The challenge I set for students was to develop their own projects and use the online resources on Further. They built nearly all of the projects on Further and also designed a car garage using the sensors in the kit.
What was the objective for the lesson/project?
I let the students develop their own project and they used the online resources from pi-top's online learning space, Further. We have 40 students regularly attend Cyber club for two hours each week.
What was brilliant about the product was that they all went their own ways following their passions. Some groups created games, some coded the sensors, some created investigative experiments. The students developed the products and then in the second half of the club they were keen to look at each other’s creations and learn from each other.
I liked how the online resources were easy to follow and I felt I could understand how the code fitted together. I understood each line of code and this allowed me to develop my knowledge
Alex, student. Age 13
What were the project's main outcomes?
All outcomes were different based on the projects they undertook. They all developed programming skills and advanced in Python. Some developed understanding of circuits and sensors.
What learning outcomes were you looking to achieve? Did you achieve them?
My aims are always for the students to have fun, be creative and learn about Computer Science, programming and cybersecurity. These objectives were achieved.