Meadowdale Academy, a middle school in Northumberland, wanted to roll out a 1:1 iPad scheme in order to challenge their high achievers and encourage creativity across the curriculum. The problem: their WiFi network was a decade old, their staff were sceptical, and they didn’t have the budget to buy their devices outright. Keen to get things right first time, Head of Computing Jordan Graham got in touch with Jigsaw24…
“We originally bought a 30 iPad class set, which teachers could book out for lessons,” said Jordan, “but because no one owned them, we had issues with people never charging them, or keeping half a set when actually the next class needed them all, or people struggling to manage shared devices. We thought the best way to solve these problems was a whole school 1:1 scheme, but we couldn’t afford to buy that many devices at once, and as our WiFi network was over 10 years old, we knew it wouldn’t support that many devices.”
The school knew that diving into a 1:1 without doing the proper groundwork would doom the scheme to failure. With that in mind, Jordan and his team set out to update their WiFi network.
“I attended a Jigsaw24 event at the BALTIC centre, where they were showcasing Aruba networks. Their advisors were able to show me what their setup was and how it was being managed, and then Rob, our local Jigsaw24 education manager, came into the school to show us how we could do the same,” Jordan told us. “We had looked at WiFi setups from several different brands, but the Aruba solution was coming in at a significantly lower cost, despite being as good as or better than the others, performance-wise, and we trusted Jigsaw24 to deliver what we needed.”
Meadowdale were so keen to get things right first time that they installed Aruba a year ahead of their 1:1 rollout, in order to give themselves time to get through any teething problems before the devices arrived. However, Jordan says that “Aruba’s been absolutely fantastic in the school. On a day to day basis, I don’t have to do anything. The network runs itself and the WiFi has gone from being a problem to something the school technician and I never have to worry about.”
“Our Regional Education Manager, Rob, really did everything for us,” said Jordan. “He explained what we needed to do and put us in touch with all the right people. Getting the scheme set up was seamless.”
Before rolling out iPad across the school, the Meadowdale team embarked on a rigorous training programme with Jigsaw24’s Apple Education Trainers, both to make sure the staff as a whole understood the school vision for iPad, and to make sure individual teachers could make the most of iPad in their own lessons.
“Initially Jigsaw24’s trainers did a vision and planning session with our senior leadership team, which made it very clear what we were looking for and how we could go about it. It really gave us a clear path,” said Jordan. “Since then, we’ve had eight training days with teaching staff. We started off with whole school training, then started to target the training toward specific subjects, or staff who were at different levels of ability with the iPad.”
Once staff were prepared, Meadowdale trialled iPad with their Year 7 group for one year before rolling out a whole school programme. “Every year the Year 5s who join the school get given their iPad, and we should be whole school by the end of this year,” said Jordan. “We’ve started doing year group-specific training with staff, because some of the teachers are about to receive their first 1:1 group, who’ve already had iPad for a year or more, and we want them to feel prepared.”
“Jigsaw24 have been fantastic for the school. The training is always of excellent quality, their advice is outstanding and they’ve ensured that everything we’ve talked about has happened."
But how are Meadowdale affording this wider rollout? They’re using a ‘subscription scheme’, where the iPads, accessories and support are all included in a single leasing agreement.
This is more cost-effective for the school and parents than buying everything outright, as their collective buying power reduces costs, and Meadowdale have reduced the cost further by inviting parents to contribute to the scheme, paying off the iPad month by month over their child’s time at the school. Because the pupils keep their iPad when they leave the school, the scheme also doubles up as a way for parents to spread the cost of buying an iPad their child to use at home, rather than having to find the full amount for an expensive one-off purchase.
While the school bought their initial 30 devices, they switched to a leasing agreement for their main rollout. “As a small school, budgets are quite tight, and by leasing we can make sure that the school has minimal financial output for the devices themselves, and can spend that money to buy things like Sphero robots and green screens that can enhance the students’ learning, while knowing they have a device that can do anything we want them to.
“Leasing also means we can afford to give students the latest devices. That means the devices are closer to what they’d use in the world of work, and that they always have access to the latest apps. For example, since we started the rollout, augmented and virtual reality have become a major part [of learning technology], and the earlier iPad minis don’t support that. But thanks to the scheme, we can make sure all our pupils are on the newest model, and are able to access that sort of content.”
"It’s helped us engage teachers who didn’t take up iPad straight away, and show that it does make a difference. We can prove that there is an impact on lessons, and we’re reaping the benefits of that now. Teachers and students are being more creative, and we’re seeing a deeper understanding of subject matter more quickly."
While most schools pay off their iPads over three years, Meadowdale have opted for a two year lease period because “the feedback from parents was that they’d rather have the option of replacing the iPad with a newer model at the end of their child’s first two years at the school, then pay off and keep that model, rather than the older one.” To accommodate this, we came up with a custom leasing agreement from our finance partner, CHG Meridian, to ensure Meadowdale’s scheme adhered to Department for Education guidelines.
“Our Regional Education Manager, Rob, really did everything for us when it came to setting up the lease,” said Jordan. “Getting the scheme set up was seamless.”
Early in the winter term, the school used an app to time how quickly pupils answered times tables questions, and infer their confidence with each set of sums. “The first heatmap was mostly orange and red (low confidence) except for the five times table, but by January the heatmap was almost all green (high confidence). In reading in the same period, pupils were making a whole year’s worth of progress. We’ve always had steady attainment, but with iPad – and staff who are confident using it – we’ve been able to see significant growth in the same period.
“It’s helped us engage teachers who didn’t take up iPad straight away, and show that it does make a difference. We can prove that there is an impact on lessons, and we’re reaping the benefits of that now. Teachers and students are being more creative, and we’re seeing a deeper understanding of subject matter more quickly.”
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