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The School was looking to raise engagement and attainment, in what is classed as a relatively deprived area of Birmingham, by giving all children access to the latest technology. It also needed to streamline its own internal systems to cut down on paperwork, improve efficiencies and enhance staff performance and monitoring processes.
Teachers were given their own iPad and received comprehensive training and support prior to the roll out of a 1:1 program for Year 4 pupils. iPad is now also used throughout the school - from reception children simply using them to take photographs and make voice recordings - to Year 6 pupils using them for research purposes as they prepare for their SATs.
Pupil and parental engagement is already much improved and the School has reported an impressive leap in attainment results. Staff performance monitoring processes have been streamlined and the School is even in the process of writing its own assessment platform to ensure information will be available instantly, at one source, accessible from anywhere.
Working with KRCS
Back in 2011, the technology available to pupils and staff at Prince Albert Junior and Infant School in Aston, Birmingham to support learning, included a small bank of MacBooks, digital cameras, a bank of laptops and an ICT suite. As demand to use them was high due to the size of the school, this, combined with a proportion of regular breakages, meant the School was struggling to satisfy the demand.
The School was keen to ensure every pupil had access to the latest technology which would help improve their learning experience and enhance engagement across the curriculum. It was also looking at developing its internal databases to bring its own various operating systems together - from simply booking a room to completing performance management reports. The School’s ICT Leader, Chris Shotter turned to Apple Solutions Expert; KRCS, for advice. “KRCS really took the time to listen to our exact needs before suggesting a tailored solution.” explains Chris. “I already knew them quite well and was comfortable with the working relationship that had developed. And although, as part of a Trust, the School is obliged to obtain three separate quotes, luckily KRCS was competitive on price too.” Chris says the School chose Apple because it soon realised there really was no competition.
Introducing iPad to the school
The School initially purchased an iPad for every teacher in order to help them get to grips with the technology before introducing a 1:1 program for Year 4 pupils. KRCS delivered comprehensive training which allowed them to gain the confidence to use them in the classroom and they embraced the new technology quickly and enthusiastically.
“They were really motivated.” said Chris. “They saw the iPad as a luxury item so it really gave them a sense of value and worth to be given one of their own. The pilot took off very quickly with teachers keen to get started. However, it wasn’t very easy to manage in the beginning as they were perhaps a little over-zealous and were asking for so many different Apps, it was difficult to get hold of them quickly enough. KRCS really helped us to handle the process better. They supported and advised on a core range of Apps and delivered Apple Professional Development training to help teachers use them effectively in the classroom.
KRCS also helped the School sign up to Apple’s Volume Purchase Program which gives them the opportunity to buy discounted Apps for each iPad, along with access to the Mobile Device Management solution to best manage them.
Following the pilot, a 1:1 deployment was made for Year 4 pupils and the same children have now taken them through their studies into Year 6. “In the beginning, we allowed the children to take the iPad home as we thought this might help improve parental engagement.” said Chris. “Whilst this certainly was the case, pupils would sometimes forget to bring them back into school or bring them back uncharged which led to some disruption in the classroom. So, this year, we have decided to keep them in the School. The good news is, even though the iPad stays in School, the use of them in parent workshops has really seen an improvement in attendance.”.
Pupil engagement and motivation in the classroom is much improved and the School attributes this to the accessibility of the iPad and its vast array of educational Apps which cater for a range of learning styles. “iPad has also been used in parent workshops for a range of subjects allowing parents the opportunity to work alongside their children using a variety of Apps and websites. Through this increased engagement, parental understanding of how technology can be used to support learning at home and how to keep their children safe online has been much improved.” said Chris.
As well as the 1:1 program, iPad is used throughout the school during specific events such as Literacy Week, where it is used as an alternative to books. “Using them to read allows children to read the same thing at the same time, as there aren’t always enough copies of the same book available.” Chris explains.
iPad for all
There are many languages spoken in the school and, if English is not easily understood, pupils can use a translation app so they don’t get left behind. iPad is also helping the Inclusion Team communicate with other language speakers as it is more visual and can be programmed to satisfy a range of abilities. “We actually have six different ability groups in Year 6 alone.” explains Chris. “So by programming the iPad accordingly, we can differentiate and really personalise their learning experience for them.”.
Chris says because different staff use them for different things, it has encouraged them to share their experiences with each other using Apple TV, which has subsequently been installed throughout the school. “Often, teachers take responsibility for planning a subject for the year group, but the iPad and Apple TV has enabled them to do this more collaboratively. It’s great to see them working together like this.” he said. Year 6 Teacher, Alex Webster says one of the most popular apps she uses in the classroom is Showbie. This free educational app makes creating and completing tasks, providing assessments and storing grades easy. “With Showbie, I can quickly and easily assign, collect and review each child’s work on my iPad and feedback by adding annotations, text notes or voice notes.” she explains. “The children love working with it. They can work at their own pace and find it really easy to use. In fact, some of them can use it better than I can!”.
Results show an impressive leap in attainment among current Year 6 pupils. At the end of Year 5, the previous cohort (without iPad) scored the following based on national expectation: Reading 73% | Writing 76% | Numeracy 77%. Whereas, the current Year 5 cohort (with iPad) scored: Reading 90% | Writing 93% | Numeracy 94%
Sharing the success
The School is part of the Prince Albert Community Trust, along with its sister school, Heathfield in Handsworth. Such has been the success of the 1:1 iPad programme, Chris and his team have been asked to support Heathfield’s technology development and KRCS has been advising on the deployment of iPad which have now replaced Heathfield’s ageing staff laptops completely. “Heathfield had a much smaller budget, an ageing infrastructure and ageing products, so KRCS’ advice was invaluable.” says Chris. “They now have a much more solid infrastructure, all the teachers have an iPad with an Apple TV installed in their classroom. We are also looking to migrate to Office 365 which will give staff access to more familiar software including Word, PowerPoint and Excel that can all be stored and accessed in the Cloud which, to be frank, will be a Godsend!” Chris is now working with KRCS on the next phase of this project, which will see iPad rolled out for pupils.