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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 22:00 GMT
Classrooms of the present
computer room
Harrold Priory's not-so-swish computer room
School pupils have made a video to show "the reality" of their school today - in response to the government's sleek production featuring a hi-tech school of the future.

We hope that some time in the future, Harrold Priory will have the facilities the government believes all schools should have

Pupils' video
Five pupils at Harrold Priory Middle School in Bedfordshire were annoyed by the excerpts from the government's video that they saw on morning TV news bulletins.

When they got to school, Richard, Fionn, Tafline, Susie and Tanya asked if they could use their media skills and equipment to make their own version.

It shows life in the cramped surroundings of a school built in 1934 for just 200 pupils, which now has 420.


The computer room is small and scruffy. Other PCs are piled in a corner for lack of anywhere to set them up.

changing room
The crowded changing rooms are also shown
The toilets need refurbishing, the boys say.

Susie, standing in the cramped changing rooms, says the pressure on space is such that the showers have had to be sacrificed to store PE equipment.

In a "piece to camera" at the end, Tafline says: "Despite the poor facilities this is a wonderful school, due to the fantastic teachers who teach us.

"We hope that some time in the future, Harrold Priory will have the facilities the government believes all schools should have.

"It would be great if we had those facilities before we leave the school."

All their own work

The head teacher, Keith Atkins, told BBC News Online the idea had come entirely from the 12 and 13 year olds.

"They wanted to produce a video of our school to compare it to what the government had produced," he said.

"Mature and responsible young people" - Ofsted
The school did a lot of media work - it has its own studio to broadcast assemblies around the building - so the idea of making a video was not so out of the ordinary for them.

He and one of the governors decided to send the result, hastily edited, to BBC News.

In a covering note, Mr Atkins wrote: "The pupils thought it appropriate and opportune to show ... the reality of a not untypical school of today".

"We are a very successful school with very, very poor facilities," Mr Atkins said.

"The kids are great, the staff are fantastic, but we have battled for many years to get things improved."

He said the local education authority recognised the lack of funding, but had other priorities for its limited resources.

Liked by inspectors

It seemed the school's success worked against it, in that people thought it could manage in spite of its facilities, he said.

The schools inspectorate, Ofsted, also praises Harrold Priory as a school with well above average test results and many strengths.

One of those strengths was "mature and responsible young people with good social skills".

But a weakness was the use of computers - blamed on inadequate resources.

"Although used appropriately for specific topics, a significant number of machines are out of date," the inspectors said.

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, said earlier that she had been aware of the risk of producing the video.

"There's always a danger that people will accuse us of living in cloud cuckoo land," she said at the BETT 2002 technology show.

"I nearly didn't use the video. But there's nothing in it that isn't happening somewhere."

Government video
"The classroom of the future..."
Harrold Priory School video
"The reality today..."
See also:

09 Jan 02 | Education
Classrooms of the future
09 Jan 02 | Education
Future imperfect?
10 Dec 01 | Education
Digital plan for individual learning
08 May 01 | Education
Slow impact of school computers
04 Nov 00 | Education
Schools' 21m internet bill
10 May 00 | Education
Cash to sustain school technology
06 May 00 | Education
Teachers' computer concerns
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