Dumfries and Galloway

At a Glance

  • Achieved international collaboration
  • Improved teacher integration and resource sharing
  • Increased creative, engaging and comprehensive
  • Increased student engagement

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Scottish students learn to create music through Polycom video conferencing solutions.

Dumfries and Galloway Council in Scotland invests in video conferencing to bring music education to over 120 schools


Dumfries and Galloway Council in Scotland invests in video conferencing to cover the wide area and number of schools that the education authority is responsible for and has put together a new programme for teaching music to students in its smaller remote areas. The education authority proposed the idea of installing videoconferencing in some of the smaller remote Primary schools that allowed students to access instrumental lessons using a technology grant provided by the Scottish Government. The 120 schools in the council are spread over an area of approximately 3,000sq kilometres. Through using Polycom solutions the council are able to streamline teaching resources and create an international network.

Video conference in Judiciary

The council continues to invest in expanding their Visual Teaching programs through Polycom video solutions after a pilot scheme that began in 2005 with videoconferencing over IDSN and centred on music lessons using 5 installations. Four schools in the area were provided with videoconferencing equipment along with one centre in Dumfries to provide teaching staff with the tools they needed to teach music lessons to the 4 remote schools in the region. In 2009, this model migrated to broadband to further improve the sound and vision along with reducing costs associated with line rental and call charges. Following a further grant in 2011, the council was able to equip an additional 10 primary schools in the area. Each school in the network has now been equipped with a Polycom HDX 6000 Series HD RealPresence system and EagleEye director Cameras along with a 42-inch (106 cm) plasma screen to display the lessons in high definition and allows the schools to continue providing high-quality lessons and the opportunity to meet and work with students from other regions.

The model of having local teaching staff in Dumfries providing lessons to many remote schools over videoconference has helped to cut down on the need to travel from school to school and the costs associated. Not only has it freed up teachers to allow them to focus on teaching, but it has allowed them to be more creative with lessons.

Teacher Integration

Through videoconferencing, the schools have been able to communicate with schools across the globe– piloting language lessons with a school in France, holding ecology and environmental studies with a school in the Caribbean and holding music lessons with the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

The school team also encourages local students in the Dumfries and Galloway area to meet and share ideas by working on other joint projects in subjects, including poetry and science.

Alan Cameron, Education Officer for Dumfries and Galloway, says, “Through Polycom’s solutions, we’ve seen teachers sharing ideas, we’ve been able to facilitate Continued Personal Development sessions with staff between schools, and have also developed excellent international links. One school has linked up to home economics lessons in Poland and another of our schools has been linking with a school in the Caribbean. It has been very successful, and, looking to the future, it would be fantastic to have all schools kitted out with videoconferencing solutions. 

“Teaching via video conferencing encourages students to become autonomous learners. A child who is in control of his or her environment is more likely to take responsibility for their learning.  Empowering children in their education leads to more responsible students who are aware of the need to learn and are more likely to make the effort to engage with the teacher. In addition, the benefits for teachers are significant. Videoconferencing has enabled teachers to meet at the end of the day to go through the curriculum, discuss specific students and help them to develop their own skills.”   

Pupils from St Michael’s Primary school in Dumfries linked with students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow over video-link. The students ran a brass teaching performance workshop with pupils in Dumfries. A question-and-answer session followed and when the groups of pupils performed they were given immediate feedback from the musicians.

“It worked fantastically well,” says St Michael’s head, Denise Sommerville, “because pupils are well-versed in video conferencing facilities and enthusiastic about learning from experienced professional musicians. It was inspiring for the children and a few of them are now talking about the possibility of going to the RSAMD in the future.”

Videoconferencing is bringing communities of teachers and students together both in the UK and across the world. Students continue to benefit from first-class lessons, drawing not only on their own resources but sharing with other schools and institutions to provide the best possible education for young learners.

About Polycom

Polycom is the global leader in standards-based unified communications (UC) solutions for telepresence, video, and voice powered by the Polycom RealPresence Platform. The RealPresence Platform interoperates with the broadest range of business, mobile, and social applications and devices. More than 400,000 organizations trust Polycom solutions to collaborate and meet face-to-face from any location for more productive and effective engagement with colleagues, partners, customers, specialists, and prospects. Polycom, together with its broad partner ecosystem, provides customers with the best TCO, scalability, and security for video collaboration, whether on-premises, hosted, or cloud-delivered.

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