Blackpool Sixth Form College is the only specialist A Level College in the Fylde, and is the only Sixth Form College in the UK that's powered entirely by Macs and other Apple solutions.
The college currently uses 500 Macs of various kinds to teach 1,200 students across multiple subject areas. The college's 80 teachers all use notebooks, while its 30 support staff all use desktop Macs. There's also an AirPort network.
The college campus consists of a large main building and a number of annexes including the sports hall, a concert hall (also used for examinations) and a purpose-built music and performing arts suite.
The college developed its own registration system using FileMaker software, tutors take registration in the mornings and this data is despatched directly to a central administrative server using the wireless network.
The main strength of the electronic register is the rapid distribution of vast quantities of information concerning a student to anywhere in the College. At any time a tutor can see information about any student they teach, such as patterns of attendance, reasons for absences and overall attendance percentage, the college claims.
Alan Lloyd, assistant principal, Information Systems at the college explains: “We have used FileMaker to run our entire management information system for many years. More recently, we added a complete tutor management system, written in FileMaker, which we call Alliance. Tutors are using laptops with FileMaker-based Alliance Client software that can be used to register students, send messages, record marks, handle progress reviews and send disciplinary referrals if required."
Every student also gets a FirstClass account, furnishing them with email, message boards, eConferencing, calendars, college information and learning materials for each course.
What matters at Blackpool is that the college has seen its Ofsted results improve every year since it made its switch to Mac.
The college is also developing new network-based education solutions and experimenting with the dual-boot functionality of new Intel Macs in an attempt to field it Mac-based technologies as part of a cross-platform educational solution.