Fulfen Primary School
A Staffordshire primary school has hailed lockdown learning “a great success” thanks to a collaboration with Apple Authorised Education Specialist, KRCS. A timely iPad roll out, partnered with the implementation of a custom-built IT strategy, ensured teachers now have all the tools they need to prepare their pupils for a bright future in the modern world.
With only a selection of out-of-date laptops available in class, Fulfen Primary School in Burntwood was struggling to engage creatively with children and parents. School leaders were keenly aware that technology in other sectors was moving fast, but that schools in general seemed to be standing still. A solution was needed which would allow teachers to deliver interactive and engaging content to improve pupils’ creativity, confidence, and problem-solving skills, giving them the best possible start to their education journey.
Fulfen worked with KRCS to develop a personalised IT strategy that would both meet, and exceed, the school’s teaching and learning goals. The old laptops were quickly replaced with up-to-the-minute Apple technology. A comprehensive and on-going training programme was also put in place, to help teachers understand and embrace the opportunities that iPad had to offer, both in the classroom, and remotely. With a pandemic looming just around the corner, this move turned out to be a very timely one…
Children are gaining skills, confidence, and are being well-prepared for the future. Parental engagement has improved, with some saying they have been amazed and reduced to happy tears when shown the work their children have produced. Teachers have embraced the change and report a reduced workload and an improved work-life balance; as well as relief that lessons were, and are, being delivered without interruption during lockdown, and subsequent pupil absences from the classroom.
Delivering learning throughout lockdown has been of the most memorable periods of my teaching career. The bond I formed with the children through the activities we delivered and enjoyed together is stronger than you can ever form in school. That time will always be very special to me.”
Fulfen Primary’s Digital Lead, Jenny Malcolm, was introduced to KRCS in 2018 when she first began the search for a more up-to-date and innovative IT solution. With only a selection of old laptops and a handful of iPad devices available throughout the school, she says she was frustrated they weren’t being used to their full potential. “I attended a KRCS education leadership event back in 2018,” she explains. “I was really impressed with what I saw and heard. So I invited them to the school to discuss what could be delivered using our existing iPad [devices] and also what could be improved by implementing future iPad projects.”
The school invested in 30 iPad devices. “They were stored in my classroom at first,” says Jenny “I began to play about with them and was amazed at what I discovered. I’d never actually seen anything like it before and was really excited about what we might be able to achieve with the technology on offer.”
Jenny and Headteacher, Jane Davies, visited other schools to see how technology was being used. “We found lots of inspiration,” says Jane. “But we wanted to take things further – to develop more creativity and innovation to make learning really come alive.”
Jenny and Jane spoke to Sean O’Connor, Education Development Manager at KRCS, about their vision for change. “We met with lots of different providers,” says Jenny. “However, Sean’s attitude and in-depth technical knowledge really impressed us. We could tell he wasn’t there just to make a sale and it was obvious he was very keen to develop and help implement an IT strategy that was exactly right for our school.”
With her interest and enthusiasm all fired up, Jenny and her Headteacher booked a KRCS Planning Essentials workshop. Which is a key part of building a long-term vision and strategy, to support the deployment of Apple technology across the school.
During 2019, Fulfen embarked upon a 1:1 project for Key Stage 2 and the steady roll out across the school began. A parental contribution scheme soon enabled the addition of two sets of class iPad for Year 3. “Most parents were really supportive of the roll out, but a few were a little concerned,” explains Jane. “Some were worried their child was too young to take on the responsibility of having their own iPad. One parent of a 7-year-old came to see me in quite a panic, saying he was far too young. However, he went on to surprise her and she later said she couldn’t believe the positive change in his attitude. Charging his iPad every night and looking after it had given a sense of responsibility and really boosted his confidence.”
Some of our greatest opposers have become our greatest advocates. This is mainly due to the time invested by Jenny. She has really put in a tremendous effort to engage with parents and include them in the process.
When Covid-19 arrived early in 2020, Jenny and Jane say they knew a lockdown was imminent and that they had to prepare for it. “We began our contingency plan in early March and worked closely with teachers and parents to ensure we were ready,” says Jane. “We needed additional devices and many parents were keen to opt into the scheme early, while children were still in Key Stage 1. KRCS configured and delivered them very quickly and, when lockdown was announced and the school closed its doors, we’re proud to say we hit the ground running from day one.”
“Our teachers went above and beyond to ensure a seamless transition to home learning. Parents were engaging and communication was brilliant.” she adds. “Creativity was at an all time high and everyone was actually enjoying the online classes, which included interesting and fun activities from sign language, to baking and juggling. We even got together for bedtime stories which was wonderful. All in all, lockdown was a great success.”
Fulfen got a lot organised in a short space of time and we’re very impressed with how it’s been handled.
Creativity in the classroom
Jenny points out that iPad has enabled Fulfen to inject some serious creativity into the school’s curriculum. “Children are so motivated by the variety of learning tasks provided, whether it’s a video, website page, documentary or an animation, children go the extra mile to produce a high-quality outcome,” she says. “These types of creative tasks really change the dynamics for our pupils and redefine the way in which they learn. They’re no longer just focusing solely on ‘subject content’, but developing their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills at the same time.”
“The more confident pupils become, the more autonomy they have with tasks and this, in turn, further deepens their learning. It really is an upward spiral!” she explains. “Regular use of green screen within activities also brings that magical element to learning and further broadens the type of work pupils can produce. In fact, they’re now creating pieces of work that would have been totally unimaginable a few years ago!”
Jenny says using iPad has brought huge benefits for children with special educational needs because of the many accessibility features. “All our children, whatever their needs and abilities, are growing in confidence because there are no barriers,” she says. “They can decide which tools they want to use to present their work – by writing, video, audio etc and this is helping to build self-assurance.”
Seesaw for teaching and learning
The school chose the Seesaw platform for iPad. The app empowers pupils to demonstrate and share their learning using a choice of powerful tools and Jane says it has become an intrinsic part of the teaching and learning process. “iPad is truly interactive and Seesaw is fantastic at making learning more personalised,” she explains. “The app has empowered pupils by removing the fear of getting things wrong. For example, pupils can move answers around until they have got them right. No more rubbing out on paper and starting again. This has increased their confidence to give things a go, as mistakes are more easily rectified.”
[Seesaw is] great for parents too, as they can log in on their own devices to see what their children have created and the work they’ve achieved each day and comment on it. It’s a great communication tool which has definitely helped to increase parent engagement.
Continued remote learning
Even though they are no longer in lockdown, the school says it is still able to deliver uninteruppted teaching for children who may be out of school because of isolation or other reasons. “All the work is on the school website,” says Jenny. “The children can submit their work for assessment in Seesaw and teachers are able to give immediate feedback, so no one gets left behind. This quick feedback actually encourages children to carry on and do more. And they’re so enaged, and enjoying it so much, that they very often put extra work in, which is really encouraging.”
The videos explaining the work are brilliant! They’re easy to understand – it’s just like being in class! We love the positive nature of the teaching.
Support for teachers
Jane says she is very proud of the very supportive culture which runs through the school. “Jenny works very closely with teachers and teaching assistants and is always enthusiastic and supportive,” she says. “iPad comes with access to all the latest training and updates and Jenny is always passing these new features on. Teachers are really enjoying the creativity iPad affords them and say they would not want to be without it. Indeed, many are working towards Apple Teaching qualifications themselves. Staff retention is good and supply staff are always impressed with the technology and are able to pick it up really quickly. Many have said they are really impressed with how independent the children are while using it.”
Teachers report reduced workload too, including far less time spent standing at the photocopier and having far less books to take home and mark. “We haven’t done away with books completely,” says Jenny. “We think it’s very important to have a balance, but iPad makes marking easy and effective with the use of typed or voice comments and videos. Even written work can be marked via iPad and this type of assessment has seen improvements in this area too.”
Mobile device management
To help keep everything running smoothly, the school are using Jamf MDM alongside their Apple School Manager account. This mobile device management solution is purpose-built to empower teachers, parents and students - in school or at home - to communicate and collaborate effectively. By using Jamf and Apple Classroom, students are equipped with the learning resources they need the minute they turn on their device. Teachers can quickly identify which pupils may need help and allows them to keep the children focused on their education, regardless of where they are learning.
All my experiences with Jamf have been very positive. It helps to keep pupils safe too. We can manage the websites and apps that children use in class and it gives us all the tools we need to make sure our devices can only be used by the children we assign them to. I have to confess to being a bit of a control freak and Jamf keeps me in control, which is very reassuring.
Support from KRCS
Jenny says the school chose Apple technology because it is seamless. “The basic suite of apps that come included with iPad has had a huge impact,” she explains. “It’s extremely user-friendly and very rarely goes wrong. But if I ever do have a problem, Sean is always there for help and advice. He’s very hands on and quick to respond whenever I need him.”
“The support from KRCS has been fantastic,” she adds. “I’m always inspired by the speakers at the events I go along to but a particular mention has to go to Apple Professional Learning Specialist, Chris Smith, whose iPad and workflow training has been invaluable. With his background in education, he really understands the issues and is able to find solutions to the challenges the school faces.”
In a survey of 120 Fulfen families, 95% of parents said that teachers gave excellent feedback which included positive reinforcement, yet giving further challenges where needed, and that their child looks forward to hearing from their teacher.
99% of parents were impressed with the way home-learning tasks were designed and presented.