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Derwendeg Primary and Gwent Police collaboration sees Minecraft used as learning tool

Collaboration between Derwendeg Primary school and Gwent Police has seen a new approach to teaching and promoting community safety – by using Minecraft.

As part of the educational pilot, pupils at the school have been building a new 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 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 and engaged in conversations about community safety.

In setting up the project, Gwent Police’s NXT GEN officers, Alex Donne and Deke Williams, became the first police staff members in Wales to be accredited by Welsh Government and Minecraft as part of their education programme for Wales.

Alex Donne, a community support officer (CSO) working within NXT Gen said, “The training developed by Welsh Government and Minecraft 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 to build a digital world that is both 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 the pupils 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 local concerns.”

Lynsey Wangiel, Head Teacher at Derwendeg Primary School commented, “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 our 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 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 added, “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!”