When it comes to how technology is used in primary schools, Mount Ousley Public School (MOPS) is officially NSW’s best.
But winning the Digital Lighthouse School gong at the inaugural Technology 4 Learning (T4L) Awards, didn’t come by chance or luck.
MOPS’ comprehensive, cross-curriculum embrace of digital learning has been years in the making.
Relieving principal Tiffany Sinton said a culture of innovation and trust set MOPS apart from the rest.
“A lot of schools are doing really great stuff and cool things with technology but I suppose our message or the way we approach it is more from developing a culture of trust and innovation,” she said.
“Our people are trusted to take risks. Not only the teachers, but the students as well.
“They can take risks in their learning and teachers are allowed to take risks in the things they might be trying in their classes.
“So because we have spent a lot of time and energy in developing this culture of innovation in our school, those cool things that we do come out of that and I suppose that's what sets us apart.
“That, and the way we put the learning into the hands of the learners as well. Learners are very much self-directed and there is a lot of student-driven learning.”
Mount Ousley also took home the Innovative use of ICT in Primary Award on Monday night, for its out of the box use of ICT to enhance the learning outcomes of students and teachers in a range of curriculum areas.
It was one of only 10 award winners state-wide and was selected based on a video entry showcasing how the latest technologies are being used to enhance teaching and learning at the school.
In the video students state that MOPS innovates with ICT to maximise learning for all students, enable truly innovate teaching and nurture positive relationships beyond school.
Ms Sinton said all of the 220 students at the school have access to a connected device, be it a iPad or MacBook, and MOPS uses a range of technologies including robotics, blue screen filming, drones and coding.
Mount Ousley has also partnered with the University of Wollongong on a virtual reality research program and brings the world to the students through global empathy projects and by connecting with astronauts on the International Space Station.
MOPS has also been a Apple Distinguished School since 2011, while Ms Sinton and assistant principal Laura Shorter are Apple Distinguished Educators.
“Recently I was at a global conference in Chicago speaking as an Apple Distinguished School,” Ms Sinton said.
“The school has been recognised within Apple Australia-wide and worldwide before but I suppose this is new in terms of the [Education] Department recognising what we do.
“We are very happy.”
In its first year, the T4L Awards recognised schools that are inspiring and leading change locally, as well as participating in online and physical communities that develop the skills of the teaching profession and inspire organisation-wide change.