Kingston School : Background and Introduction
This is a school-based case study about the development of electronics in Key Stages 3 and 4 at The Kingston School, Barnsley. It illustrates a school that has been able to produce good GCSE results for 'Electronics Products' courses without the advantage of much electronics work at KS3. The department is managed by Karen Franklin who has pioneered much of the electronics work with pupils. Few of her colleagues have experience in teaching electronics.
Staff experience has determined what can be offered at KS4 to achieve good examination results. As a result Karen has been the only teacher able to offer courses to GCSE level.
The school is an 11 - 16 comprehensive with 1300 pupils. The intake is considered to have a slightly below average ability and there are quite large numbers of pupils with special educational needs. The average FSM. (Free School Meals) provision is 23.6% against the national average of 16%. This year 38% of pupils gained 5 or more C grades and in design and technology 45% gained grade C or higher.
Few pupils come from ethnic backgrounds. The majority are white British.
The department has 10 full-time and 2 part-time teaching staff and the benefit of one full and one part-time technician. There are 9 teaching rooms two of which are used for food technology, two for textiles, 4 for resistant materials/electronics, and one for graphics.
The teaching team have access to a dedicated D&T computer suite, which is used in preference to having them directly available in the workshop areas.
My real interest in electronics stems from a science background but I gained a significant amount of knowledge whilst on a secondment at Leeds Metropolitan University back in 1989.
On returning to work I was immediately required to deliver a KS4 course in CDT Technology, which contained a module in electronics. Over many years my confidence to teach electronics has grown, although one is never on top of a subject such as electronics where new developments are constantly taking place.
At one stage all pupils tested circuits on breadboard and made up their circuits on vero-board but now we can simulate much more sophisticated circuits using ICT and then make printed circuit boards. Over the years there have been occasions when more pupils have opted to take Electronics than I have been able to teach and twice now I have supported colleagues who have volunteered to teach a KS4 course in Electronic Products.
Where Electronics has been part of a KS3 course all teachers in the department have had to deliver the subject. This clearly has had a limiting effect on what could be delivered in the past, but now we are able to do much more by using the projects from Rapid Electronics or TEP."