City’s Academies to use virtual tours to help transition from Primary to Secondary Education

Aberdeen City Council’s Academies are using virtual tours to help P7 pupils through the transition stage to Secondary education, it was announced today (Monday 1 June).

The Education Services team, praised recently by Education Scotland for the way in which online resources have been used to maintain home learning, are going digital again to counteract Covid-19 restrictions and allow pupils making the step over in August to familiarise themselves with their new schools.

The virtual tours are also being used by Special Provision schools and Primary schools to help younger children either going to school for the first time or who are moving schools.

Using Google Tour Creator, a small team of staff has been taking 360 degree photos of the schools’ exteriors and interior rooms, classes and halls for an immersive experience simulating an actual visit which would normally take place during the transition period.

Easily accessible and suitable for all learners, the immersive visual experiences will help children become familiar with their new social and physical school environments.

Councillor John Wheeler, Education Operational Delivery Convener, said: “Once again, our resourceful Education Services team have devised an ingenious online method of helping our children and young people.

“While we cannot hold induction days at the moment, we can give pupils a real sense of what their new environments will be like. This a technology that is used widely in the USA and I’m certain it will prove a success in Aberdeen too.

“Given the advantages of virtual tours such as the learner being able to go on tour at their own pace and using technology such as iPads, laptops smartphones - and even VR googles - that children are familiar with, we will continue to use the tours beyond lockdown and into the future to support transition”.

Some of the tours have commentary guides and there are plans to expand on the audio experience. Donna Polson, Acting Head Teacher at Airyhall School, said: “We see this as being a resource which will be used in years to come too and we look forward to adding sounds that we can capture when children are in school. There is a buzz about a school that you can’t capture in pictures alone. “

Alex Priest, Depute Head Teacher at Northfield Academy, said: “The current situation has made ensuring all pupils experience a seamless transition a real challenge. To achieve this Northfield Academy is using technology to support the transition process. he Northfield Transition Website has been designed and is aimed at P7 pupils with the hope they can use it before they start S1 to answer their questions.”

A spokeswoman for One Stop Shop Autism in Aberdeen, said: “Given that the usual transition processes are understandably unavailable, this is an excellent way to allow pupils to explore their new settings safely and at their own pace. We wholeheartedly support this project and would encourage schools to keep it up to date every year to use in addition to traditional transition processes. Many autistic pupils may want to spend more time familiarising themselves with new settings, and this allows the opportunity to do just that”.

Two of the virtual tours can be viewed below:

https://poly.google.com/view/5wRIxoFgDVk - Hazlehead Academy virtual tour

https://poly.google.com/view/dKWvODNlO4T - Airyhall virtual tour