Swansea tablet computer project boosts pupils' reading

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Media captionTeachers say they have never seen such a dramatic turnaround in pupils

A new way of using tablet computers in schools could change how children are taught in Wales, says Education Minister Leighton Andrews.

It follows a project using the computers developed at Casllwchwr Primary in Swansea.

When tested at another primary, Year Six children saw average reading ages leap from nine to 13.

Mr Andrews wants the teaching profession to see how the tailored learning programme could help others.

"We've had the input from Casllwchwr and other technologically advanced schools, both primary and secondary in Wales looking at digital classroom teaching," he said.

"We've rolled that experience out," said the minister.

But he said that the real issue now was for education authorities, education directors, and council leaders to grasp what had been done in Swansea.

"They need to see it at first hand had to understand the really transformational potential of what Casllwchwr has achieved," he insisted.

Teachers involved with the project say they have never seen such a dramatic turnaround.

'Self-esteem raised'

Sea View Primary in Swansea took up the Casllwchwr experience with help from pupils at that school. They started using the "Life" programme developed for the tablet computers last September.

"It meant that they quickly became confident. Their self-esteem was raised," said Sea View's head teacher, Dawn Philips.

"We noticed they were much more interested in learning, there was a lot more questioning, they were more interested in coming to school, so our attendance figures improved.

"Their parents were interested, so they wanted to come in and see what was happening."

The Life programme, which stands for Lifelong Intergenerational Furthering Education, has been a partnership between Swansea council and Casllwchwr Primary.

Simon Pridham, the executive head at Casllwchwr, said it was clear to him that the technology was becoming crucial in the classroom.

"I think it's totally unacceptable for a teacher today to say 'I don't do ITC (information technology)'," he said.

"They might as well say 'I don't do literacy' - because it's so integral to our learning.

"If you engage, enthuse and inspire a child, you can take him anywhere. But engaging, enthusing and inspiring the teaching profession is another thing.

"But that's why the children have to be at the centre of this. We can't preach to them."

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