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Pen-Y-Dre High School support their community with Digital Drop-ins

Pen Y Dre High School is an 11-16 comprehensive situated on the Gurnos Estate in Merthyr Tydfil. The school has recently won the inaugural Professional Teaching Award Cymru in the category of Whole School Award for Promoting Relationships with Parents and the Community. DCW approached the Welsh Baccalaureate Co-ordinator at Pen-y-Dre High School in November 2016 to see if the school would be interested in participating in the Digital Heroes project.

The school was very keen to take part, with the year 10 pupils becoming Digital Heroes as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate Community Challenge. Working closely with the ICT tutor, DCW trained 19 pupils in January 2017. The pupils were really enthusiastic and brought a lot to the session. It was good to be able to highlight to the young people how their digital skills could significantly benefit others. As digital natives, using technology has always been a part of their lives so it was really valuable to be able to give the pupils an understanding of why people are not online and how as a result they are missing out on many of the benefits that many of us take for granted.

DCW linked the school with Merthyr Leisure Trust – library service to organise and run some digital sessions in the newly opened Merthyr Library Hub. The pupils worked closely with the library staff to plan the sessions and design the flyers to publicise the events. The Digital Heroes ran 2 “Gadget Guru” sessions on 20 and 27 March 2017. Both sessions were well attended and people were able to seek help on a variety of different things. During the sessions, a few short films were shot, featuring members of the public and ICT tutor.

Once the busy exam period is over, the ICT tutor and the Digital Heroes intend continuing to provide digital support to members of the local community.

The pupils involved gained experience in face to face communication with members of the public. They completed the community element of their WBQ course by planning, delivering and then reflecting upon the Digital Heroes sessions. The result has been improved WBQ results due to the level of engagement shown by pupils and the vast array of evidence gathered throughout the process. The members of the public who were involved in the Digital Heroes project all seemed to gain from the experience, both in terms of finding a technology based solution for a day to day problem and in speaking to young adults about technology in general.

Many of the pupils involved in the project felt there was a positive outcome as a result of their work and felt encouraged to put on more sessions in the Summer term. Individual pupils produced work that exceeded their target in WBQ and felt comfortable reflecting about a project that they played an active role in. In the end of year schools awards, a pupil was chosen from the Digital Heroes group for his ‘fantastic’ contribution to the WBQ enterprise course and for making continued progression.

Irene attended the drop-in session at Merthyr Library Hub for help with downloading photographs and how to use cloud storage. Irene said, “The Digital Heroes were very, very patient. Something I found impossible to do, they were able to easily help me with as they have grown up with technology. I found it very helpful and would recommend attending one of these sessions to anyone.”

Bev attended the drop-in session at Merthyr Library Hub for help with a mobile phone. Bev had never had a smartphone before and she needed very basic help. Bev said “The Digital Heroes were able to show me how to send a text; they also showed me how to send a photo and how to download and use Whatsapp. This is a big change for me and the boys have been ever so polite and are very knowledgeable and approachable. The help they have given me will make a big difference.”

This video was taken during a digital drop-in session at Merthyr Library Hub, where pupils from Pen Y Dre High School helped local people to do more online.

Bev and Irene attended the Digital Heroes session at Merthyr Library Hub. Watch these videos to see what they thought.