Sawtry Community College is a year 11-19 school, situated in the heart of the pleasant village of Sawtry in Cambridgeshire. There are approximately 1400 students at the College, including a Sixth Form of about 250. The school has recently been recognised as a Prodigy Learning Centre Of Excellence following its delivery of over 250 Microsoft Office Specialist exams.
Interview with Alan Stevens, Associate Principal
Why did you decide to offer Microsoft Office Specialist?
When we got involved with Microsoft, right at the beginning, as part of the "Anytime Anywhere" Learning scheme we were very conscious of needing to accredit our student's IT skills. Their diet of the normal ICT curriculum and other courses within it weren't really challenging the students enough. They felt they wanted to go further with their IT skills and I was keen for them to get the recognition. If they are going to be world class with their IT skills they should be accredited to worldwide standards.
What do you like most about Microsoft Office Specialist?
I love the way it can enrich and enhance what students are doing, not just in their ICT lessons, but in the curriculum generally, where they are showing fantastic IT skills and applying it. It is great to see that application and recognition of I.T. skills.
Why do you think Microsoft Office Specialist is important?
The important part of this programme is accreditation. I have had so many students come in and say I'm good at Word, I'm good at PowerPoint. I say how do you know? The MOS accreditation gives a way of measuring that and offers an opportunity to progress on to different levels. What we want to do is give people the confidence to say I've got these IT skills and now I can apply them to gain further knowledge in Geography, History and Science. Therefore the IT skills and qualifications are an integral part for every learner. The academic and vocational divide doesn't apply to IT skills because every learner has to develop a whole range of IT skills at different levels.
Does Microsoft Office Specialist attract students?
There was certainly a real buzz when we announced we were partnering with Microsoft here at the college. Listening to the students they really enjoy having this facility here. The students enjoy it, the parents see the success and then want to have a go themselves. It's become part of our overall I.T. package we would certainly be a lot weaker without this offering. I think it does have a big impact and we are very keen to build on this success.
Interview with Pam Kitchen, Microsoft Certified Trainer
Has delivering Microsoft Office Specialist had a positive impact?
Undoubtedly - Parents love it! My year 10 classes after school are by invitation. They are invited by their ICT teachers to take part. I have to run two classes a week now because of the numbers of students who want to do it. Parents can recognise the Microsoft name, they might never have heard of OCR or Ed Excel or AQA but they know who Microsoft is.
How do you deliver Microsoft Office Specialist?
I've tried all sorts. I've tried using the books with the excellent lesson plans and the PowerPoint presentations that come with the Tutor Resources. But really the students just like using the interactive GMetrix Practice Exam Software. From my side GMetrix is great. If we have a student who fails we can print off the score sheet and address the weakest sections in the score sheet with a customised GMetrix practice exam.
Has the new Exam Pack been beneficial to the School?
It's fantastic. It takes away a lot of the headaches and makes running the programme a lot more cost effective. It used to be a very expensive programme to deliver with having to pay for every exam the students sat there was a cost implication. That has all gone away now.
What is the secret to your success in becoming a Centre Of Excellence?
We have great kids. They are very enthusiastic about Microsoft Office Specialist and they have seen their brothers and sisters go through and we have a good record in the worldwide MOS competition which is held each year. We have a history with running the courses and the students now expect to be able to do them.
How would you describe the support you receive from Prodigy Learning?
It is outstanding. I always know if I have a problem I can call someone on the end of the line who will sort it out quickly if it needs to be sorted out quickly. Very supportive, very professional and very knowledgeable.