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Virtual reality supporting pupils’ transition to new school

Despite the current restrictions, pupils, teachers and parents alike have been able to see inside their brand new Queensferry High School before it opens next week, as a new virtual reality model of the school has gone live.

Developed by infrastructure experts the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) and Queensferry High School, the virtual model provides a floor by floor and room by room navigation, ensuring everyone is familiar with their new surroundings before the school opens next Thursday (13 August).

For many pupils, the change from their old primary to a new secondary school can be stressful as they move to an unfamiliar and much larger school.  Additionally, for current Queensferry High pupils who have missed their orientation visits prior to the summer due to the school closures, the new school building is as much an unknown to them.  With the current restrictions imposed by COIVD-19, SFT working with the City of Edinburgh Council and Queensferry High School explored the value of technology as a way of making pupils comfortable with their new surroundings that will also support their wellbeing and ability to enjoy and apply themselves within their new school. 

The virtual model is easily accessible via a phone, laptop or tablet device and uses the latest technology in creating a data-rich visual model. 

Kenny Manson, Deputy Head of Queensferry High School said: “The model will provide a really important asset to our school community.  We are excited to showcase our fantastic new facility within this digital environment and support our young people and staff in the short and long term.”

The virtual model will provide additional value to the school and its users, by:

  • Its reuse to engage with future intakes of primary 7 school pupils in an engaging way
  • To develop it further for educational purposes and to supplement the existing curriculum
  • As Queensferry High School contains facilities for the public to use, the model will be used to help the local community navigate the building
  • Using the model, maintenance teams can carry out pre-site visit checks to improve efficiencies in how maintenance works are delivered

Paul Dodd, who leads SFT’s Infrastructure Technology team, said: “The application of this technology will go a long way to support the wellbeing of pupils as well as the help teachers and the wider community. The lessons in how to implement and apply this new technology will be shared with other local authorities to support wider adoption.

“New infrastructure technologies, such as this virtual reality model are emerging at a rapid pace. We are embracing and championing their use as they are changing and improving how we develop and deliver building like Queensferry High School, which in turn is helping make them more sustainable, effective and efficient.”

To ensure a sustainable approach, as part of the project, training was provided to staff at the school and CEC’s facilities management team in how to create and maintain the visual model to respond to future needs of the school.  

Councillor Ian Perry, Education Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This virtual reality model is a great way for our young people, staff and parents to see inside the new school before it welcomes back pupils next week. 

“Moving into a new school can sometimes be quite daunting, especially given the impact of Covid-19, but this virtual tour means they can all be familiar with their new surroundings before the new school opens to pupils next Thursday. Both this model and the school itself are great examples of our ambition to create a sustainable and digitally-enabled education estate.”

You can access the virtual transition model here