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School Of The Future!

Ysgol Bae Baglan in Port Talbot is taking education to a whole new level with fingerprint technology and laptops replacing textbooks...

The brand new Ysgol Bae Baglan campus opened to pupils aged from 3-16 for the first time in September 2016.

The £40million super school has been chosen by IT giants Microsoft as a 'showcase school' for their excellence in transforming its learning environment.

It's the 35th of it's kind in the UK to be labelled a 'Microsoft Showcase School', the 4th in Wales to be given this title BUT the first in the UK to be delivering digital education on such a huge scale.

The all-through school will see children as young as three having digital technology integrated into their everyday learning.

The campus integrates four former primary and secondary schools in the area: Cwrt Sart Community, Glan Afan, Sandfields Comp and Traethemelyn Primary.

Five members of staff have been trained up on all things Microsoft and will be on-hand to help teachers and pupils through the new technology.

They are known as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts.

The school is being recognised for using mobile and cloud technologies which aim to better prepare students for success in the workplace - giving them real-life digital skills which they can transfer into their working lives.

As a showcase school, Ysgol Bae Baglan will work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education.

It aims to communicate a vision for the future of education enabled by technology through hosting and mentoring other schools in the community.

This school 'with a difference' is providing pupils with not just academic skills but older pupils are also given the opportunity to explore more vocational subjects like: mechanics, painting and decorating, design and technology and acting. 

What's Inside?

Have you driven past and wondered what is actually inside that monster sized big new school building in Port Talbot?

Well our reporter Kathy Peart went down to scout out some best bits...

When you walk through the doors everything looks very new, shiny and clean.

In the main entrance is a rather interesting machine.

Here pupils can come into school in the morning and pre-order lunch and snacks using finger print payment.

That's right. Finger print payment. Parents will "top-up" their child's account online and then voila! Genius.

The main hall are has theatre style tiered seats looking down on a floor level stage with wings and high-tech theatre lighting above.

The wall at the back of the hall is removable to open up for assemblies so all 1,600 plus pupils can be seated.

There's also a projector screen that comes neatly down from the ceiling for presentations.

The year 9 classrooms are really something else.

Each pupil has their own personal laptop on the desk all of which are linked up to the "cloud" technology.

Everything they do is uploaded into a digital online space where teachers, pupils and parents can all access the work at home or in the classroom.

The technology allows the teachers to write on a tablet and have it seen by all of the pupils on the "board" (perhaps board is a bit of an out of date term now?)

Here, Year 5 teacher and Microsoft Innovative expert Joe Westermark shows us how it's done.

Parents can actually log into their child's "cloud" at home and see the lesson taking place!

There is a beautiful library, which actually DOES still have books in it, as well as many computers.

The staff wanted to stress the fact that the new digital technology won't be replacing all of the old fashioned teaching methods.

There's also a giant sports hall where I was told you can play a full scale game of basket ball and even bounce on olympic trampolines with room to spare!

I also spoke to Head of Upper School Stewart Davies - who is also the school's E-Learning Coordinator. 

He told me how it feels leading the future of education in South Wales, what sort of technologies are being used, the likelihood of teachers no longer being needed in classrooms and what actually happens when the internet crashes in a high-tech digital school?

Have a listen: