Supporting and developing a primary academy on their first year iPad deployment
Developing a sustainable 1:1 iPad project at primary school level
Leighton Academy is a large Outstanding primary school in Crewe. The school focuses on developing a wide and diverse curriculum for students, and specialises in teaching computing, design technology and food.
We began working with Leighton Academy in September 2014 to support and develop their first year deployment of iPads to Key Stage 2 students. Initially the iPads were going to be as a bookable resource throughout the school, however following a consultation process we recommended that they be allocated individually to students starting in Key Stage 2. This enabled us to pilot the use of iPads within the classroom with a smaller number of teachers, and support and develop those teachers to a higher degree.
1. Staff Training
We took a mixed approach to training teachers at Leighton Academy. Staff in the school had very little experience with mobile devices within the classroom, and there were no natural iPad champions on launch. The first phase of the training was focused on developing confidence with the device, to ensure it would be used frequently in the classroom. These training sessions took a whole school approach, covering all the basics of using the iPad, and demonstrating the core apps that would be used throughout the school. Once staff became comfortable with the device, iPad champions began to appear within the year groups. Two teachers from each year were chosen to make up the iPad Team, and our subsequent staff sessions focused on working very closely with this group. The focus was to ‘train the trainer,’ delivering high quality development to four teachers who could share that knowledge with the remaining staff week by week.
Leighton Academy wanted to begin using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) as their preferred workflow solution. High on the priority list at the start of the project was to increase collaboration within school, both between students and staff. This made GAFE an obvious solution as it ticked all the boxes the school were looking for. James Hannam, LearnMaker Director, spent a number of days with the school in the first term setting up and developing their GAFE drive. This included getting all teachers set up, developing a shared drive space, and training on how to create collaborative documents between staff. Having trialled it for the first year alongside their current Microsoft system, in year two Leighton Academy are making a full transition across to it.
Leighton Academy has over 30 classroom staff at any one time, so whole school training sessions would be ineffective for developing this team. Early on we selected and developed a team of teachers to make up the iPad Team, which was headed by Joanna Young, Headteacher at Leighton Academy. Between these five people we were able to accelerate the rate of training for the school by focusing on developing the pedagogical skills of each. Approaching the project from this angle rather than a curriculum app-focused method, enabled those five staff to start becoming self sufficient within a few terms. This meant that they could train other teachers, troubleshoot issues within school and begin developing their own content and resources for teaching. With year one now complete, Leighton Academy have promoted a member of staff who will now lead Digital Development within the school. From September 2015, we’ll be working on the next steps for Leighton Academy and how their iPads can begin impacting on attainment.
Through their first year deployment, Leighton Academy faced very few challenges. Staff across the two year groups are using the iPads consistently within lessons, reflected in the increase in student attendance figures (attainment is being closely watched with figures to be reviewed this summer), and the iPad Team is coming into it’s own as time progresses. The pilot with GAFE was a success, and from the next academic year Leighton Academy is reducing it’s reliance on Microsoft to transition to the Google ecosystem.