Gwent Police use Minecraft: Education Edition to build sense of community in primary school
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Gwent Police has become the first police service in Wales to use Minecraft: Education Edition as an educational tool to inspire future generations to take pride in their community, share community safety advice and increase online safety.
The force has partnered up with Derwendeg Primary School in Hengoed to take a new approach to teaching and promoting community safety – by using Minecraft: Education Edition.
As part of the educational pilot, learners at the school are building a creative digital world that reflects their own community, one including local landmarks like their primary school and playground.
The result will be a fully interactive and safe online world in which players/learners can interact with non-playable characters (NPCs) – created by Gwent Police’s community support officers (CSOs) – to learn more about things like staying safe online, how to report crime and knowing the signs of county lines exploitation.
Learners have used knowledge picked up in their maths lessons to build buildings to scale, learned to code lighting sequences for their school’s corridors and, during lessons, engaged in conversations about community safety.
In setting up the project, Gwent Police's NXT GEN officers, CSO Alex Donne and CSO Deke Williams, became the first police staff members in Wales to be accredited by Hwb and the Minecraft: Education Edition team as part of their education programme for Wales.
CSO Alex Donne said:
“The training, developed by Hwb and the Minecraft: Education Edition team, has allowed us to get a better understanding of the power and potential of games-based learning to inspire future generations.
“Working with subject matter experts, we’ve been able to use Minecraft: Education Edition to build a digital world that is inspirational, safe and educational.
“By using technology like this, we can build great links with young people across Gwent, and highlight how the police and the community can work together to increase safety in our neighbourhoods.
“The project’s enabled us to deliver community safety advice in an engaging and fun way – something we hope sticks with learners in Derwendeg Primary School.
“Throughout the project, learners have been encouraged to take pride in their community, think about how their streets could be made safer and speak about any concerns their neighbours may have.”
Lynsey Wangiel, headteacher at Derwendeg Primary School, and Louise Jones, teacher at the school, praised the project:
“We have been delighted to work with Gwent Police as part of this exciting and innovative project.
“Our year six learners have been fully engaged in the project through this term's topic ('How can we keep our community happy, healthy and safe?'), focusing on their role and responsibilities as members of the local community.
“The project has allowed learners to develop in the four purposes of the Curriculum for Wales and has fulfilled many of the statements of what matters across the Areas of Learning and Experience.”
Once the project has been completed, it’s hoped the Minecraft: Education Edition world will become available to more than 100 Gwent schools, building an online community of learning, networking and support.
Sarah Snowdon, Hwb Minecraft Learning Centre Programme Manager, said:
“It is fantastic to see how technology, community and policing can be brought together and come alive in a really relevant way to the benefit of so many learners and adults.
“To think that Minecraft: Education Edition and creative young people can change perspectives on how policing and community have common aims and share similar ambitions is incredibly powerful!”
Gwent Police’s NXT GEN team work with schools across Gwent and manage the force’s police cadets and Heddlu Bach initiatives. If you want to find out more about the team, follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GPNxtGen.