After several years of trialling different iPad models, Wingfield Primary School rolled out a 1:1 iPad scheme for Year 3 and Year 4 students – just in time for lockdown. Luckily, experience with iPad, Showbie and other key apps meant students and staff were ready to tackle remote learning head on…
Wingfield had a slow and steady journey to their 1:1 deployment, taking four years to move from their initial trial to a full deployment.
“We trialled 2:1 iPads [one iPad between every two children] about four years ago, but we felt that wasn’t particularly effective,” explained Megan Brown, Digital Learning Leader at Wingfield. “We couldn’t personalise learning as much as we wanted. Instead, we got a set of 30 iPads for one class of students, and over the years we noticed that had a huge impact, which gave us the confidence to start rolling out iPad to whole year groups.”
As part of their preparation for a larger rollout, the school undertook our Vision and Planning training, a free consultancy session delivered as part of our Learning Innovation Programme, which is designed to help senior leadership and digital learning teams work together to come up with achievable goals and a realistic timeline for their device deployment.
“My headteacher, executive headteacher and I worked together to create a timeline, which was really useful,” Megan said. “It gives you a clear idea about what you have and how things need to change. And then we held a review session once we were well into the project and asked ourselves, ‘What have we done, what’s still not done? Where do we need to go next?’. Having that refresher was really useful.”
"We had incredibly high engagement during lockdown - 80 to 90% most days. The teachers having confidence with iPad really made a difference."
Part of the process involved putting a training plan in place that would ensure staff felt confident teaching with iPad. “I worked with the trainers at Jigsaw24 to trial different training models on the staff here and see how they worked with iPad. Now we have Jigsaw24 come in for a few days at the beginning of every year to do a big chunk of all-staff training, then I follow that up with a ten minute input every week about a different app or tip. I’m also released from teaching one afternoon a week so that I can team teach with other members of staff, and help them find apps and features that support their learning intentions.”
Now, classes with 1:1 iPad have gone “completely online” for all noncore subjects, with lessons carried out using iPad, collaborative apps like Showbie, and virtual reality tools like Google Expeditions. “We’ve also managed to go paperless, which wasn’t part of the plan but has saved us money. Whenever I find something new, I trial it and we go from there. The leadership team are very engaged and on board with me getting up at meetings to model best practice and talk through new ideas, which is the best way to make sure we’re all learning.”
Back in early 2020, a nationwide lockdown was not something the school thought they’d ever need a plan for. But as it turned out, the apps and techniques they were already using were surprisingly well-suited.
“We had always had Showbie in classrooms where the children had 1:1 iPads – that’s how we’d share our learning,” explained Megan. “As soon as I heard there was the possibility of a lockdown, I got every single child in the school signed up to Showbie and got all the teachers using it. We made sure that every child went home with an account and instructions telling their parents how to use it.
“We also got in touch with our local Jigsaw24 education manager really quickly and they helped us work out the best way to provide iPads for our children who didn’t have access to technology at home. We sent about 30 iPads home with underprivileged children so that they could still access Showbie and continue their learning, which meant we had incredibly high engagement – 80 to 90% most days.” In fact, among children who were already part of the school’s 1:1 scheme, engagement would regularly hit 100%, as pupils were already comfortable using the device and apps, and were used to multi-modal learning.
But Wingfield’s staff didn’t simply stick to Showbie. Using their iPads and apps like Clips, Pages and Books, they delivered a combination of video tutorials, voice notes and multimedia worksheets to keep students engaged and support parents who were struggling to balance teaching with working from home.
“We sent round some expectations for remote learning, saying that there should be some interactivity, because that’s how you get the best engagement, and that learning should be accessible for all. So our teachers have been sharing screen recordings of their iPads and using voice notes to make sure children who can’t read can access worksheets.
“I’m part of everyone’s Showbie class, so I monitored lessons at the beginning of lockdown and then gave individualised feedback to teachers, as well as sharing some of the great ideas I’d seen. I think that made everyone realise what other teachers were doing and raise their game – once we set that best expectation, other people climbed to meet it. We had one group go from using worksheets to using video to holding live class discussions, so things have become far more interactive and more like a lesson.”
This increased interactivity has made a real difference to parents, too. “We’re sending out a lot of tutorials for parents so they can sit and work with their children on Showbie or whatever else they’re using,” Megan explained. “It’s interesting because we’ve been calling them every two weeks to check in, and from our side, we feel like we haven’t seen them in so long but the parents all say, ‘Oh, we see you every day!’. So the video lessons help them feel more connected even if we don’t.”
As the school prepares to reopen, Megan and the rest of the staff are excited to bring the lessons they learned during lockdown back into the classroom: they plan to make video tutorials to support pupils who find certain subjects challenging, and switch to giving audio feedback rather than written because it’s “more personal” and gets more engagement from pupils. “If you write a comment, a lot of children don’t read it and take it in, but when they can hear what the teacher has to say they’re more effective at correcting.”
Teachers’ newfound comfort with video tools means that they’ve started making tutorial videos for areas like addition and subtraction, which children who are struggling in-lesson can rewatch rather than waiting for one-to-one assistance from a teacher. This is particularly important while schools are observing social distancing, as teachers aren’t allowed to sit and work closely with pupils but still want to make sure every student feels supported.
Following the success of their own iPad rollout and transition to remote learning, the Wingfield team are now working with other schools in the Royal Greenwich Teaching Schools Alliance to help. them develop their remote learning plans and find the technology that best suits them.
One of their main pieces of advice? You can never have strong enough WiFi. “I assumed we’d be fine because we had WiFi, but we’ve actually had to have ours redone three times in order to keep up with the number of iPads we have and make sure they’re working at the level we want them to. You need a really sound infrastructure in place to get the iPads working effectively.”
We’ve been helping the school keep up with the demands of their growing iPad estate with updated infrastructure solutions and Jamf Pro device management software. “I’ve loved working with Jigsaw24 – they’re really hands-on and helpful,” said Megan. “I’ve got really nice relationships with the team. If I email anyone with a question they’ll be right back to me, and whenever we need training, they’re here as soon as possible.”
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