I arrived at the Newman Special School event 10 minutes early to the sound of singing. The sound was very professional, with full orchestral backing. I thought I had come to the wrong place. When I got to the hall, there was a large audience listening intently to a beautiful singer, and Jack on some sort of digital music device. No, this was Jack’s dissemination event for the Deft project. There was an eclectic crowd there- pupils from Newman, their parents, student from Hallam, and teachers. The tables were arranged in the hall cabaret style, so there was lots of opportunity to socialise during the breaks, between cups of tea and pizza. But when the show got on the road, we were entertained with a magnificent performance hosted by Jack , with Simon working on an array of digital equipment, showing the films that Newman pupils had made and helped others to make.
I sat at a table with someone who turned out to be one of the film stars. Her smile radiated with pride, joy and something else- that I realised later was -ownership. This glow of pride echoed around the hall. It was almost tangible. This was their work on show, and boy were they proud of it! I managed to speak to some proud parents in the break whose feet hardly touched the ground. Their son, who featured in one of the films and was relatively new to Newman school, had taken full advantage of the digital literacy opportunities afforded by Jacks methods of teaching. In one of the films shown that night, there is a shot of him laughing with a fellow pupil while using a tripod and camera.
“There is not one day he comes home unhappy” said his proud father. His mother was just as proud. She told me that her son had amazed her by his competence in handling the digital equipment. She wants to come in for lessons now. “If he can do it” she said, “then so can I”.