Darran Park Primary Celebrates Microsoft Showcase School Status

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Headteacher Mr Chris Coole with Microsoft Innovative Experts Mrs C Protheroe and Mr J Protheroe.

The pupils and staff of Darran Park Primary School are celebrating after becoming the first primary school in Wales to become a Microsoft Showcase School. Microsoft Showcase Schools are schools who can show how Microsoft technology has been effectively deployed and used to help support and transform teaching and learning.  Over the last four years the school has implemented major changes in the way ICT is used to drive the curriculum and engage learners. 

As a Showcase School, Darran Park Primary School will be hosting an event as part of Microsoft’s National Showcase Schools Tour. During this event the school will share its ICT journey and the effective ICT practices that it has developed. The school will also be showcasing the work of its excellent pupil digital leader programme. In addition, the Senior Director of Microsoft will be presenting at the event.

Darran Park Primary School became a Microsoft Academy as part of Rhondda Cynon Taff Local Authority’s unique partnership with Microsoft. As part of this partnership over 150 teachers in Rhondda Cynon Taff have taken part in Microsoft training, led by teachers from the authority. During the training, teachers have developed innovative projects that place ICT and 21st Century Learning at the very core.  As a result of the eLearning that takes place during the training, over 150 teachers have gained Microsoft Certified Educator status.

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Year Six pupils discussing their Minecraft work with Hwb+ Digital Leader Sonia McLaughlin.

In Summer Term 2015, James Protheroe, Senior Leader at Darran Park Primary School and Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator, was asked by RCT Local Authority to lead Black Gold 2015: the largest scale Minecraft project in the UK. The project which involved 16 Rhondda schools, both English and Welsh medium, was centred around using 21st Century skills to learn about the rich heritage of Coal Society in South Wales. Throughout the project the schools collaborated using Office 365 and a shared site on Hwb+, the All-Wales VLE. Whilst learning about Coal Society, the pupils worked collaboratively to build the Rhondda Heritage Park (a museum dedicated to the history of Coal Society). This was led by the pupil digital leaders of Darran Park Primary School who took the Minecraft server to each school as part of the Minecraft Roadshow. Please click to view the completed Minecraft world.

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The Minecraft Rhondda Heritage Park built during Black Gold 2015.

Each school also contributed to a shared wiki, on the HWB+ site, which was then used to create the animation ‘Black Gold’ with animation company Turnip Starfish.  Please click to view the animation.

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Welsh Government Minister Leanne Wood with the pupils of Darran Park Primary School at the Black Gold Showcase.

The school is really looking forward to the challenge of being a Microsoft Showcase and showcasing the exciting projects that will be happening over the next year. 

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Two Year 6 Digital Leaders leading the Minecraft Roadshow.
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