A VILLAGE school in County Durham is one of the first in the region to pilot a new initiative that places cutting edge technology at the heart of classroom learning.

Lanchester EP Primary School has signed up to take advantage of a £250,000 investment in the region that will see children given tablet computers and access to instant marking.

Education charity SHINE is investing more than £150,000 into 50 North-East schools, in a project aimed at significantly boosting pupil attainment and giving teachers more time to teach.

The charity has teamed up with classroom technology innovator Learning by Questions (LbQ) to deliver the project. LbQ, which is funded and operated by the Bowland Charitable Trust, has also committed £100,000 to the initiative.

Schools will receive tablet computers for every child in the class, plus the LbQ app, which comes loaded with 66,0000 questions.

Pupils answer sets of questions on their tablet screens and the app automatically marks them as they go, giving immediate and constructive feedback to every answer. The teacher can keep track of every child in real-time, meaning they can swiftly pinpoint any areas of weakness.

Lanchester is one of the first 10 schools in the region to sign up for the scheme. Mark Stephenson, Year 3 teacher at Lanchester, said the new way of learning has already “made the teachers’ job a lot easier.

“The children love the interactive side of it,” he added. “They love that nobody’s looking over their shoulder, or if they’ve got something wrong, that it’s not the end of the world.

“We can watch who is doing what particular question and if they’ve got a particular difficulty, we can go straight to that child, so it’s very centred towards their learning rather than the children themselves feeling under pressure.”

Mr Stephenson said staff who were originally wary, had quickly taken to the new teaching methods and he urged colleagues across the region to join the project.

He said: “I’d certainly say to anybody, try it, get somebody out, have a look at it, try it yourself, because you will be amazed at just how easy the children pick it up, but also, how easy it is for staff as well.”

Children at Lanchester say they are enjoying using the new digital teaching methods.

One pupil saids: “I like how Learning by Questions encourages everyone to have a go at it so you know that if you get it wrong, you can always retry it and have another chance to get it right.”

“Even if you get an answer wrong, it’s not like a test where you don’t know if you’ve got it wrong or right. You know if you’ve got it wrong so you can keep retrying and retrying,” said a second.

Fiona Spellman, chief executive of SHINE, said: “As a former teacher myself, I can personally attest to the huge number of hours that teachers must spend on setting questions and marking books.

"Learning by Questions uses technology to reduce workload while improving outcomes in the classroom. It would have made a huge difference to me when I was teaching, and I hope teachers across the North East will take up the opportunity of trying it in their classrooms.”

Schools interested should visit www.lbq.org/shine