Pupils to take on IT teaching role

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A Newtownabbey primary school has received an early Christmas present from the Big Lottery Fund.

St Mary’s on the Hill has received £9,758 through the small grants programme.

The grant will be used to run ‘An App a Day, IT’s the IT Way’.

This is an innovative project that will involve school children in Newtownabbey teaching ICT skills to their parents, grandparents and others.

Awards for All offers community, voluntary and statutory groups the chance to apply for small grants of between £500 and £10,000 that will have a big impact on local communities and the lives of people most in need.

The grant to St Mary’s on the Hill PTA will be used to buy 22 iPads, which school staff and all pupils from primary one to primary seven will be taught how to use.

Primary six and seven children will then take the lead in teaching groups of adults in a series of evening classes in the new year.

The project will also include internet safety training.

Danielle McAllister, an ICT and primary one teacher at St Mary’s on the Hill Primary School, said: “It just comes so naturally to the children. They are the perfect teachers.

“We’ve had internet safety meetings and the parents are saying that the children are teaching them how to block things and heighten security.

“The children are the ones that are going to be the driving force behind this. It is getting to the stage where they’re better on the iPads than me.”

Mrs McAllister said that iPads were the perfect learning tool for children of all ages.

“It just makes learning so much more fun, rather than saying, here is a text book.

“They are doing everything for themselves so they are taking ownership of their learning.”

Emer Little, from the school’s PTA, added: “The pupils will take the lead with the support of the teaching staff at the evening classes.

“They will be teaching other adults that they won’t have been in contact with.

“It’s easy enough to teach their parents or friends but they will have to deliver this to groups that aren’t directly involved in the school.”

She said the experience of being mentors would increase the pupils’ confidence and skills.

The classes are expected to run from February until May and will involve St Mary’s on the Hill’s partner school Ashgrove Primary, as well as community groups including a boxing club and a GAA club.

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s NI Awards for All programme funds health, education, environment and community projects that help people bring about positive change in their lives, improve health and well-being, develop skills and create safer communities.

“The application process is simple and accessible and shall remain so, making it easy for applicants to successfully apply for small pots of funding that can have such a big impact on local communities and lives.”

Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk. For more details call us on 028 9055 1455, or e-mail us at enquiries.ni@biglotteryfund.org.uk