The former Head Teacher was acutely aware that the schools’ ICT suite was simply not fit for purpose. Immobile, unreliable, slow and expensive to licence, the equipment was not enabling teachers to engage with pupils in a way that would give them a keen interest to learn.
The schools installed a bright and modern Apple ICT suite and are now using a mixture of iMac, MacBook Pro and iPad to deliver the curriculum in a more exciting, interactive and mobile way. Pupils are now benefiting from using technology at an early age, giving them a good grounding for future studies.
Young children are arriving at Key Stage 2 with the basic ICT skills to enable them to start learning from day one. Pupils are enjoying classes much more and are engaging with teachers in a more positive and creative way. They are learning new skills and studying independently at their own pace. The schools’ online learning platform ‘Frog’ has even made homework ‘more fun’.
Albert Pritchard Infant and Wood Green Junior in Wednesbury, West Midlands were struggling along with an old ICT suite which was hampering, rather than helping, their young pupils’ learning experience. Determined to improve things and, with the help of Assistant Head and ICT Lead, Laura McGee, they set out to find a solution to the problem.
Following in-depth research into available products and technologies, Laura soon discovered Apple was coming out on top. “The technology is so easy to use,” explains Laura. “The range of multi-media apps that are available are perfect for enhancing the learning process. Plus they can be tailored to Key Stage 1 or 2 so everyone can benefit from them and enjoy using them.”
The schools attended a one-day event hosted by Apple Solutions Expert in Education, KRCS, and were impressed with the options available. “We were particularly interested in iMovie,” said Laura. “We knew this would really grab the children’s attention and encourage them to be creative. Plus, we were encouraged with the range of numeracy and literacy support options available, particularly those which would help to engage our pupils who have special needs.”
Following the event, MacBook Pro was deployed across the two schools, initially to help teachers get to grips with the technology. “Some teachers were resistant at first,” said Laura. “This was mainly due to a lack of confidence and knowledge but, following two days of training by an Apple specialist, they soon embraced the changes and realised the benefits they would bring.”
Working with KRCS
The schools invested in a number of iPad devices and installed a modern ICT suite comprising 31 iMac computers which is situated at the infant school site. “We chose KRCS to supply the equipment because the training and support was second to none,” said Laura.
“As we didn’t have an ICT Manager at the time, KRCS helped us specify the equipment, set everything up, including the WiFi enhancements, and spent a day going through the basics. They even helped us to choose the most appropriate furniture for the ICT suite.” A number of iLife/iWork apps are now being utilised to deliver the curriculum including iMovie, GarageBand, Keynote, Pages and Numbers. Teachers report that pupils are much more engaged and are having fun whilst learning vital skills that will help them in their future learning. Plus, with the installation of WiFi, the children are able to continue their learning outside the classroom walls.
Laura said: “The children particularly love iMovie and GarageBand. They can record their own music and add it to video footage they’ve taken around the school site. We have played their movies in assembly and they really enjoy showing off their creations.”
Scratch, is also proving very popular. This coding app enables pupils to create their own games, giving them variables as they progress which teaches them to make their own choices.
Laura added: “The technology is enabling us to put the fun into education. Engagement is not always easy at primary level but this dynamic way of learning is really helping the children to grasp the basics they need which will help them in their further learning.”
The schools have now appointed full-time ICT Manager, Craig Lowe, who works alongside Laura to support pupils, teachers and even parents. “Laura and I run regular, informal drop-in sessions,” explains Craig. “These encourage teachers to come along and have a chat and learn about any new apps. I also run safety sessions for parents to ensure they have the necessary tools to keep their children safe on-line while they are at home.”
Head Teacher, Carla Clarke, said: “Thanks to Laura and Craig, teaching has been totally transformed. “They are passionate about continually moving along the technology and their enthusiasm has rubbed off on teachers. The equipment has proved so popular, everyone wants to use it.".