A GIANT dome will be landing on the car park at St Julian’s School today, looking like a UFO stopping off on its interstellar journey.

The 12-metre wide structure will tower over vehicles on the road outside, but parents don’t need to fear aliens are taking over lesson plans.

It is designed as a ‘classroom of the future’, and will be visiting Newport for two days as part of an education roadshow organised by Google.

The school is already planning to link up with a French school via video connections in the dome to allow language club members to chat in real time to learners across the channel, something which would have seemed futuristic 20 years ago.

St Julians is one of only six schools in the UK to host the dome, and the only school in Wales. They were selected for their innovative use of technology in the classroom, with all students able to access and update class documents in the ‘cloud’ (an online storage space) meaning they don’t need to transfer documents between computers. Staff from across the country will flock to the dome to learn from St Julians about how they can develop their own teaching methods, and talk to Google about using technology in education.

Dave Beesley, who coordinated the visit, said working online had transformed the way students worked, with email already becoming old fashioned compared to the new way of everyone being able to access documents in one place.

He said incorporating the latest technology into the school had “drastically” changed the way teachers organised their work. “We’ve now got much more collaboration within our site,” he said. “It means all our processes are more efficient. Rather than emailing something to a particular person and thinking, ‘Did I send it? Did I get a reply? Which version are we working on?’ our documents are on the cloud which means as a school we can save money on licensing fees and students can access their work anywhere, anytime, 24/7, on any device.

“Last time we looked, 95 per cent of students had internet access at home. We are discussing if we could put something in place for those students that don’t have internet connection, possibly buying wireless dongles or extending the hours in our library.”

Assistant head teacher Ryan Owens said: “Hosting the dome is an exciting time for us. We’ll have lorries turning up, we’ll need to cordon this off and do that, that and that. It will be visible by the public and will fill the car par. Feeder primaries and senior leaders from other schools will be coming along.

“I feel like a big kid – I can’t wait to go in the dome myself.”

Mr Beesley said the school was previously managed by Newport City Council but wanted to change their working model to become more cutting edge with technology. “We employed a network manager and now run everything in house. That allowed us to buy more mobile devices for the students. We bought 400 Chromebooks and 250 iPads”, he said. We’ve now got more devices in the hands of the students.

Rather than pupils getting their own device to take home, each computer or tablet is assigned to a specific subject so they can be used easily during lessons.

He said Google approached the school just before Easter after noticing the high level of usage coming from the site, asking if they wanted to become one of 24 reference schools in the UK.