diggle primary school pupils

Year 5 pupils at Diggle School with their American virtual visitor, Heather McDown

Earlier this week, Diggle Primary School pupils enjoyed a live hi-tech lesson with a difference.

They learned, using Skype, about the damaging effect of tornados direct from people living in Tornado Alley, North America.

Using a live Skype connection the Year 5 pupils were able to talk directly to a tornado survivor living in Oklahoma. They asked a range of questions and heard fascinating first-hand stories about life and survival in Tornado Alley.

The school’s virtual visitor was Heather McDown (28), whose hometown of Moore was struck by a massive tornado in 2013. This natural disaster was devastating with peak winds of 210mph, more than 20 people killed and entire neighbourhoods destroyed.

Diggle Primary School’s deputyhead teacher, Stephanie Moore, said, “The children had a wonderful experience using Skype. Not only was it fun and exciting, it supported our curriculum and they learnt so much from speaking interactively with Heather.

“At Diggle School we work really hard to bring learning to life. We make our lessons as interesting as possible so that our pupils enjoy being at school. Although we received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted last year, we constantly strive to develop our teaching and learning.

“Lessons about extreme weather, such as tornados, used to be based on books, videos and finding information on the internet. Skype offered our children a personal conversation with someone thousands of miles away. It’s the kind of new technology that we embrace at Diggle School.”

Pupils spent an hour ‘Skyping’ with Heather, who described what it’s like to be in a tornado and explained all the steps that are taken to protect lives in Oklahoma.

Heather is a former college friend of Diggle’s Year 5 teacher Kate Wilson. She said, “It was a fantastic experience to help educate school children who are over 5000 miles away. Their questions were really engaging, and you could tell that they would remember the experience for years to come. Technology is a fantastic avenue to fully explore teaching capabilities. This was the first time I’ve used Skype in the classroom and it was great. The session was completely child led and they asked questions that they were interested in and got truly honest answers. It really opened their eyes to what goes on in other parts of the world.”

Following the lesson, the children wrote down their thoughts and their comments included “awesome”, “amazing”, “the best lesson I’ve ever had” and “can we do it again please?”



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