For the first time in the nine year history of Microsoft sponsored global education forums, students were invited to attend. Previously an adults only domain, this time, in the beautiful city of Barcelona in March, four young people from the UK were given the chance to present their views on the future of new technologies and how they can continue to enhance learning and progress.
The four students selected by Microsoft Worldwide were none other than Amy Donovan, Rowenna Hoskin, George Seymour and Jack Wickham, who are currently in Years 8 and 9 at saltash.net community school. saltash.net’s reputation for the innovative and pioneering use of technology brought the students to the attention of the organisers of the 2014 Global Forum. Along with their teachers, Scott Wieprecht, Dan Buckley, Grant Taylor and Samantha Owen, they travelled – all expenses paid – to Spain for a week from Monday 10th to Saturday 15th March.
Once in Barcelona, the students showcased work as ‘Offperts’ – experts in the use of Microsoft’s Office 365 to an audience of educators from around the world, as well as government ministers and Spanish royalty.
The week culminated in a superb gala dinner, at the end of which saltash.net community school was presented with one of just nine awards given for student led projects.
Teacher of Maths, and Microsoft ‘Expert Educator’ Scott Wieprecht, said, ‘It was such an honour to attend the Global Forum with the students; they were awesome. To win one of the ‘cutting edge use of new technology’ awards was the icing on the cake! Everyone is very proud indeed and the young people were a credit to the school and to their families.’
Microsoft Partners in Learning lead for the UK, Stuart Ball, added,
“I manage the Partners in Learning Programme for Microsoft in the UK. I have been involved with Microsoft for the past 7 years and had a long standing working relationship with saltash.net community school. I have always known that the students and teachers there were very special. But your children have taken that awareness to a whole new level.
When the request came from Microsoft Corp in Redmond, that could we find a group of students that could attend this high level conference. I immediately thought of Saltash. I know Microsoft were expecting older students, but together with Mr Wieprecht and Mr Buckley, we were able to convince Microsoft that these were the right students. They proved us all so right. Amy, Rowenna, Jack and George were outstanding. Not only with what you would expect from young people representing their school and project, impeccable manners, politeness, getting up on time, but in the way they talked to people, especially those from around the world. You would have thought that four young people in a global event , with over 300 teachers , Education Minsters, Royalty and High level business people would be overwhelmed. But not these students. They not only talked in great detail about their project, but they talked with passion and enthusiasm for their learning. They were also interviewed, what seemed to be like everybody. Their reputation is now truly Global. But, what was really impressive was how they turned the tables and became the interviewers, challenging teachers and Microsoft to make the global changes to education they talked about. They had no fear in standing up and speaking to a room of 200, or offering a constructive comment when judging teachers. They did all of this with a maturity that is beyond their years and with a smile on their faces They were also fantastic in social situations, ordering in restaurants (not just McDonalds J) and wanting to try new foods and experiences, they were a joy to spend time with.
In my 20 years of teaching I have never met such a group of remarkable young people. They are a credit to you, themselves and the school, and it has been an honour and a privilege to spend time with Amy, Rowenna, Jack and George.”