Stephenson Memorial Primary School in North Tyneside serves over 400 pupils in what is, historically, a very deprived area. Despite having incredibly hard working staff and a fantastic learning environment, they were still struggling to hit national averages, so they took part in an iPad purchase scheme to help whole families engage in learning. The result? A massive jump in Points Progress and APS.
In July this year, Stephenson Memorial became an Apple Regional Training Centre (RTC) so that they could share their learning and help other schools achieve similar results. Here’s what happened when we stopped by their 70s-themed RTC launch event…
Grafton Primary School is a large four form Primary School in Dagenham, a suburb of East London, with approximately 950 students between Nursery and Year 6 on the roll. Although the school is in the top percentile for deprivation, the teaching and managerial staff have created a well organised, positive and safe learning environment for the children, who are flourishing under their care.
Committed to the introduction and improvement of ICT within the school, Stephen Hawke, Assistant Head and ICT Coordinator at Grafton began overhauling the school’s IT resources two years ago shortly after joining the school. Impressed with new software and apps that can enhance children’s learning experiences in line with the curriculum, Stephen worked to upgrade the school’s server and install new PCs, robust interactive front-of-class touchscreens and iPads into the classrooms.
Clevertouch talked to Stephen recently about ICT at Grafton and how it has changed since he joined the school in 2012.
Why is good ICT so important in schools?
Because society relies so heavily on instant connectivity these days, schools have a responsibility to prepare children for the future and ensure that they have the necessary skills to join a digital workforce when the time comes.
What technology do you have in the classrooms?
The classrooms at Grafton Primary School have PCs running Windows 7, which are used with Clevertouch 84” interactive touchscreens at the front of the class. We also have a few 70”, 65” and 55” screens in the library and break out spaces. The students also have iPad and the school uses a variety of software and apps on both the front-of-class screens and the iPad devices.
In addition to the classroom technology, we have an ICT suite for specific ICT lessons and our code club, which takes place before school on a Tuesday morning and is very popular with our older students.
How do the children at Grafton surprise you?
When it comes to IT, the children here surprise me in a number of ways. Often as an adult we expect children to use things in a specific way because that’s what we do. Children pick a new device up and engage with it in their own way, they don’t need to be taught and navigate technology intuitively, coming up with their own solutions and uses.
What was it like when the children got to use to the touchscreen for the first time?
Their faces light up when they use them. It was amazing seeing them run in to class the morning after the Clevertouch screens had been installed saying “have you seen our screen, have you seen our screen?” They were really excited.
How has the touchscreen helped the staff to lesson plan?
Quite often the Clevertouch screens will be the starting point of a lesson plan. The teachers often look at the ways in which they can get the children to interact with the screens as part of the lesson to make it more interesting and engaging so that the children can access learning in a more stimulating way.
Has technology improved or enhanced the learning experience of kids with learning difficulties?
I think the technology in the classroom has improved the learning experience of the children across all abilities. For example, teachers can set different levels on the apps that the children are working with on their iPad without it being obvious to their peers.
Clevertouch screens work with the software Snowflake and Lynx, which enables teachers to change the background colours on the screen – great for dyslexic children. Snowflake also enables you to split screens so that children can work side by side or collaborate on work together.
The early-years team use the Clevertouch screens, iPad and other resources such as recording devices to help children thoroughly explore words so that they really know them inside out.
Ultimately, technology helps the children to access and engage on a more sensory level, which makes it more enjoyable and it helps information to penetrate.
What’s the main difference in the classroom since bringing in interactive touchscreens and iPad (e.g. more collaborative, interactive)?
One of the benefits of introducing iPad and the 84” interactive Clevertouch touchscreens into the classrooms at Grafton is that they have directed learning back to the front of the class and encouraged greater interactivity between teachers and pupils. Before we had Clevertouch screens we had projectors with visualizers, which often shadowed and required greater attention and input from teachers, keeping them behind the desk rather than in front of the children.
The old projectors would over-heat often and weren’t as robust as our new Clevertouch screens, which have been made for education and can withstand hard knocks. If the old visualisers were knocked or bashed by accident you had to recalibrate everything, which took time away from teaching and the pace of learning.
Has classroom technology assisted with the assessment process?
The Clevertouch touchscreens and iPad have improved the efficiency of the assessment process in Early Years, where the teachers use the 2Build a Profile app from 2Simple to capture observations on the move.
Every teacher has an iPad which allows them to make informal observations and record oral and visual work by taking photos and videos of the children. These can then be used as evidence for Ofsted and provide a great showcase for parents to actually see what the children have been doing in lessons.
Clevertouch had the robustness behind screen, they had the software and now they have apps that are scaled for large screens. Clevertouch haven’t just built a good presentation touchscreen, they’ve built a screen for education and the software reflects that because it’s so easy to use and adaptable.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
The best part of my job is that I’ve had a positive impact on the 950 children that attend this school through our improved ICT – not just the children in my class.
Is it a good time to be working in education?
It’s a very exciting time in education at the moment, the technology is really pulling things together to enhance the learning experience in schools. When I first started teaching you had your Smart boards and could perform basic functions like writing on them, watching videos and moving a few shapes around but not to any degree of quality. Now we have 84” 1080 P HD touchscreens in classrooms, which you can mirror iPad to and pull in all sorts of online resources that you just couldn’t do five years ago. Learning should be a fully interactive experience for both teacher and learner. Technology today makes this easier and far more exciting.
Interactive touchscreen technology is great – you get to present content to your class in a more engaging way than with a whiteboard, and teach content in different ways for a more effective pedagogy. Think multitouch collaboration, integration with your mobile devices and feedback in exciting quizzes and surveys.
And the list of benefits is as long as your arm. As well as improved educational outcomes (for pupils, teachers and the school), better engagement between teachers and pupils, ease of use (it’s quick and easy to add content), touchscreens can support multiple subjects and are suitable for the whole secondary spectrum. While the possibilities are endless, we’ve come up with a few very basic lesson ideas to get you started…
Our top touchscreen lesson ideas
1. Pointless history quiz
If your students are anything like the teenagers we know, then they’ll be big fans of daytime quiz shows. As the questions on quiz shows take a format students recognise, we’ve found this can be a great way to really engage them in topics, and splitting them into teams builds on the collaborative aspect too.
As an example, take our current daytime favourite, BBC One’s Pointless (though we’re rarely home in time to catch it, unfortunately), and apply a history angle. Come up with sets of questions and answers based on the current topic you’re covering in the style of the quiz format, and get teams of students up to the front to answer them on-screen and compete to see who can get the lowest scoring answers, while you play joint Xander/Richard hosting duties. “We asked 100 people what the main causes of the First World War were”, “We asked 100 people if they could name these Elizabethan figures” etc.
2. Understanding imagery in poetry
Getting students to understand some of the often complex imagery in poetry and ballads can be difficult (it’s not really an onion, is it, Carol?), but using a more visual approach can really aid their comprehension so they can go off and start using more advanced poetic techniques in their own creative writing. That’s where an interactive touchscreen can come in useful.
A fun, engaging activity is to choose a variety of images that pertain to the imagery of the set of poems the class is currently studying (you could search stock photos or Google Images to download some free to use ones), then get students to think about what the image connotes. Get them up to the front of the class to annotate the images on the interactive touchscreen with creative adjectives. Go further by getting them to think about similes and metaphors they could use in their own writing.
3. Discussing drugs in PSHE
Interactive touchscreens are perfect for any topic where group discussion is involved, so they lend themselves perfectly to personal, social and health education lessons. This lesson idea uses students’ listening, answering and researching skills to discuss drugs, smoking and alcohol.
Split students into groups to answer as many questions as they can on the effects of drugs (how does smoking affect your lungs, for example). You start by running through the questions on the touchscreen, while the group-assigned scribe jots them down. Now get them to go off and find the answers themselves on their iPad, making sure they’re working together so that each group member knows the answer to each question. A good tool to use for this would be a mind-mapping app like BaiBoard for iPad, that lets students combine text, drawing and images to create a ‘mood board’ of ideas, connecting with other users to collaborate on a brainstorm as a group.
Now you can go through the set of questions gain, getting another member of each team to give their answers for each question. Students can annotate the questions and compare answers and bits of additional information they didn’t find, while another team member writes up the answers. These findings can then be shared with the class as a resource.
Once you’ve decided your school is heading down the iPad route, the next step is to find the perfect financial option for your scheme (one that’s going to help you get the most out of your budget, ideally). To get a better understanding of the range of options out there, we sat down with our finance partners Burnetts and CHG Meridian to ask the big questions concerning finance…
We’ve never heard of a contribution scheme. What are they and how do they work?
“A parental contribution scheme is a programme whereby the parents of pupils opt to pay towards devices their children are going to be using in school, whether that be in full or in part. For a lot of schools, parental contribution schemes are the only way to make a new technology investment happen. If you’ve decided to run a contribution scheme, the first question to ask is whether you have any budget to put towards the scheme or if you need to fund the whole scheme through contributions. Don’t worry, either way works.”
How does it benefit the school?
“It’s all about providing sustainable IT. We all know the advantages mobile device technology can bring to teaching and learning, especially in a 1:1 deployment, but they can be expensive for a school to cover the whole cost, so getting parents on board is key. If they can see the advantages iPad is having to their child’s progress, they will pay towards the technology needed.”
What does a monthly payment from a parent actually pay for?
“That monthly payment pays for: the iPad (along with any associated accessories, such as cases), warranty protection for the length of the lease, insurance against accidental damage, theft and misappropriation by an authorised user. It also covers parental contribution cancellation insurance to make sure the school isn’t out of pocket if a parent leaves the scheme for any reason. Also Direct Debit collection costs and all administration costs for managing changes of payment details, and all correspondence with parents if a payment is missed.”
How do we make sure we’re getting the most out of our budget?
“As the lease agreement is with your school rather than with individual parents, we don’t need to run any credit scoring or background checks. Instead, you can use public sector borrowing power to get lower finance rates, and students and parents pay you back a monthly fee based on that rate, rather than the higher one they’d be offered in the high street. You will need to pay the VAT upfront, but you can claim this back at the end of the scheme (to do this you need to prove the device is essential for learning, so you’ll need to offer it to all pupils within a year group or across your school to qualify).”
Do we have to organise all the admin side?
“Nope – Jigsaw24 have all the admin legwork covered, providing an exclusive digital portal, branded to fit in with the rest of your school website. Parents can log in to this using a secure username and password, then choose from a pre-selected list of devices and accessories. They then register their Direct Debit details so that Burnetts can administer their monthly payments on behalf of the school.”
How do we collect Direct Debits, and what happens if a payment bounces?
“When a Direct Debit collection fails, we know straight away. Burnetts will agree with you in advance how you would like this to be managed, then the team will contact parents on the school’s behalf and make alternative arrangements, all being discussed with you to make sure you keep control of your scheme. For example, you might want two collections to be made the following month, or might choose to spread the missing payment over the remaining period. If a parent stops paying, you can protect your school by taking out Burnetts’s Parental Contribution Cancellation Insurance.”
So who actually owns the devices?
“Good question. The leasing company technically owns the device, but the agreement is with the school directly. It is possible for school to pay a portion of the cost of devices (so things are cheaper for parents) and the monthly cost for parents can be adjusted to compensate for any extra investment from the school. The title to the devices can be transferred to parents by paying the residual value of the iPad as a one-off payment at the end of the scheme. Alternatively it could be built into the monthly contribution amount from the start.
“This can also be extended to staff. We’d advise setting up a separate login area for staff, showing a pre-agreed list of devices (which could extend to Mac notebooks and other additional devices) with options for monthly payments, but the mechanics of the system would be the same as the student purchase scheme. We can also offer salary sacrifice schemes for teaching staff.”
How do we get started?
“We can help you with everything from all the equipment, including iPad devices, WiFi, software and apps, to a compliant operating lease, theft and accidental damage insurance to make sure your devices are protected, as well as a system for collecting contributions from parents. If you’re looking to run one of these schemes, one of the Jigsaw24 education team can come to your school to have a chat about it with a representative of both CHG Meridian and Burnetts.”
Here’s our final discussion topic from BETT 2015: why we recommend Apple for education. Here’s a breakdown of our top five reasons why we think Apple in education is the way forward.
Yes, we’re an Apple Solution Expert for Education: so obviously we wear the Apple nerd hat with pride. But, when it comes to education, you really can’t get any better than Apple. Here’s a breakdown of our top five favourite Apple features that we think make them top of the class.
1. iTunes and the App Store
There are currently over 75,000 education apps on the App store, with a large proportion of these being available as free downloads. With the introduction of the new Computing curriculum seeing students learning about coding in lessons, what better resource to make use of than the App Store? Incidentally there’s a great range of apps both free and paid for to help children of all key stages learn and practice their coding skills. Its not all tech based though – there are apps to help with all subjects from maths and biology to music. Keep an eye on our education app of the week blog to see our pick of recommended apps.
2. iTunes U
iTunes U is a dedicated destination within iTunes solely dedicated to education content. It’s packed with resources like lectures, videos and books, all available for free for both teachers and pupils to take advantage of. Educational institutions including Stanford, Yale, MiT, Oxford and the New York Public Library all have material on iTunes U that is free to browse. As well as looking at existing content, you can also use iTunes U for free content hosting for lesson materials and creating your own course – a service which we can help you with. Teaching staff can assign students homework to do via iTunes U, with students being able to log time and complete tasks as they do them.
3. Volume Purchase Programme (VPP) for Education
VPP lets you purchase App Store apps and interactive books that are great for education, at educational institution special pricing. Buy apps in volume for both iOS and Mac through the VPP store and distribute them to individual users with redeemable codes or distribute to groups using a mobile device management (MDM) solution.
Schools can get a 50% discount when purchasing apps in quantities of 20 or more through VPP, with iBooks also being included in this.
4. Continuing professional development training (CPD)
When new technology is introduced into education, it’s important to make sure that your staff are clued up on how to use it. Through our e7 iPad scheme, we offer continuing professional development (CPD) training which focuses on giving SLT, teaching staff and technical team the chance to explore the potential of iPad in the classroom, and feel confident about using it in their subject areas.
5. iBooks Author
Available free on the App Store, iBooks Author allows anyone to create iBooks textbooks for iPad and Mac. iBooks Author provides teaching staff with the opportunity to create their own textbooks, which can easily be edited to keep up with the changing curriculum. Using iBooks Author can easily save your school money too – by eliminating the cost of buying new textbooks every year.
If you’re certain that a 1:1 device scheme would help your students and staff, but need to run a proof of concept trial to show teachers, parents and governors that you’re right, you want to get in on the ground floor of e7 with our 1:1 pilot scheme…
For a whole term, we provide you with everything you need for a 1:1 ‘proof of concept’ to explore how you will use iPad, and to show the full benefits to the whole school, governors, parents and key stakeholders. You get access to:
• 40 iPad (in cases) preloaded with chosen learning apps and resources, and pre-configured to your school’s network so that they work as soon as you turn them on.
• Full support from our e7 team and experienced tech support engineers.
• Teaching and learning guidance so you get the maximum benefit from the devices.
• Technical advice on iPad management.
• Apple TV.
To take part in the trial, you must…
• Have a headteacher and SLT committed to rolling out iPad on a 1:1 basis to all pupils.
• Have a dedicated e7 champion (or group of champions) who will promote the benefits of the scheme to pupils, teachers, parents and governors.
• Understand that a significant amount of time will be needed to ensure the pilot is a success.
• Acknowledge Jigsaw24 as your partner of choice.
Extra services: Ask us about…
• Essential teacher training, including Vision & Plan for SLT and basics for staff, from Apple Professional Development accredited trainers and former teaching staff.
• Technical consultation on app licensing, Apple IDs and VPP to ensure your school is legally compliant.
• Technical handover training to make sure your IT team are fully up to scratch on equipment.
• iPad configuration with network settings and learning resources, and pre-enrolment into a trial MDM solution.