Why we adopted ECDL, and why we would do it again

Paul German and Matt HuntAs Headteacher at Wyvern College secondary school for boys, I am reminded daily what immense privilege I have in educating other people’s children. My first priority is to equip our boys with the skills and tools they need to prosper in the future.

I believe the sky is the limit, and Wyvern College exploits every opportunity possible to get the best for our students. That’s why, a year ago, we made the decision to abandon our existing ICT qualifications in favour of the BCS Level 2 ECDL Certificate in IT Application Skills, which focuses on the digital vocational expertise young people need in everyday life. While the course equips learners with practical computer skills, it also enhances problem solving and boosts confidence in using digital tools across the curriculum.

We didn’t make our decision lightly. We were already running an existing Key Stage 4 ICT option, and parents and governors were justifiably wary about making the change. We needed an ICT course that would provide increased practical benefit for a wider cohort of students. The course would need to deliver both rigour in its own right and a set of skills that would accelerate academic progress in other subjects.

With a practical focus and the promise of a widely acknowledged accreditation that would be accepted by employers and further education institutions, ECDL made a compelling alternative. So we went for it.

We were fortunate to have support from our parents and governors. Once they understood that ECDL offered a digital skills benchmark that would equip our boys for the future, they were of one mind - a valuable qualification in its own right, and one that improves employability, has got to be a good thing.

The support from BCS was absolutely superb. We had email and telephone support and someone from the BCS team came to the school. We were able to work with them on a day-to-day basis, discussing the nitty gritty detail, right through to the broader strategic planning. And when the grades started coming in, we were delighted!

In our first tranche through, over 60% of students achieved Distinction or Distinction*. The support and planning from BCS enabled us to carry out automated examinations at the right time, carefully judging our students’ ability to succeed. This has yielded the success we’ve enjoyed so far. Clearly, this has not just had a significant impact on the boys’ lives, but on results for the school.

Student feedback has been overwhelming - the boys are genuinely excited to discover the level of detail they can go into using word processing and spreadsheets, and have started applying their newly discovered presentation skills across the curriculum.

I’ve received complimentary feedback from teachers too. At the minimum, students have started using computer technology in a consistent, disciplined and effective way, across all subjects.

Our most recent decision has been much easier. We’ve decided to roll out ECDL as a core subject, not just as an option. Improved self-esteem, enhanced IT skills, better grades and reduced marking time have all been major contributors to this decision.

Preparing our students for the future has been - and will always be - Wyvern College’s top priority. Whether they wish to pursue further education, enter employment, or start businesses of their own, I can confidently say that adopting ECDL has been the right decision. Our boys are now equipped with the digital skills they need to flourish in the real world, and as an educator, that makes me very proud.

Paul German, Headteacher, Wyvern College

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Supporting the government’s ‘Digital by Default’ strategy we’re keen everyone has the skills and confidence to use IT. Here, we share thoughts on a variety of digital matters.

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