Coping with an ageing and cramped PC suite which doubled as a busy thoroughfare to other rooms, the school was finding the use of technology in lessons both difficult and distracting. Staff were eager to move away from the confines of the PC suite and integrate learning into the classroom in order to both enhance the curriculum and improve pupil engagement through more creative learning.
The school has invested in 94 iPad, 8 iPad mini, 5 Mac, 2 Apple TV and 40 iPod Touch. Working alongside Apple Solutions Expert in Education KRCS, who also provided advice, installation and training, staff at Holme Valley have ensured pupils now have access to the best and latest resources available.
Every child is now benefitting, not just in computing lessons, but across all subjects on the curriculum. Pupils are better engaged in lessons and have become more confident through collaborative working. Peer to peer learning is encouraging knowledge sharing and even teachers are more confident and creative about using the technology to plan and deliver their lessons.
Holme Valley Primary School in Scunthorpe had been struggling with a dated PC suite which was too small to accommodate a whole class of pupils. This meant lessons had to be split between two groups, resulting in a loss of teaching time. Slow start up by the PCs also meant children were getting fidgety before lessons had even begun.
The school was eager to integrate mobile learning into the classroom and around other areas of the school in order to engage the children in new technologies whilst encouraging creative and collaborative learning.
Assistant Head, Anna Barrow, along with Higher Level Teaching Assistant, Claire Robinson, began to look into newer, more adaptable technology solutions that would give them the flexibility they needed.
Claire explains: “We needed to make sure we were offering our children the very best and latest resources available. The majority of our children now have access to an Apple device at home through their parents, so it’s only fair they should be able use Apple technology to enjoy and enhance their learning in the classroom.”
Working with KRCS
By chance, a member of the computing staff had come across KRCS at a workshop and, following further investigation and a visit to BETT - the world’s leading learning technology event - the school saw the potential to totally change the way it created, presented, investigated and used technology in the classroom.
“Watching how easy it was to get approximately 30 Apple novices to confidently use three different Apps in a 25 minute KRCS workshop made us realise just how much the technology could benefit our school.” said Claire.
The school carried out some research into other technologies but Apple was a clear winner. She explains: “We felt Apple was such a trusted name and the quality and reliability of its products were second to none and we definitely made the right decision. Everything has gone extremely smoothly with no problems or faulty equipment at all. Plus we have a fantastic range of educational apps to choose from.”
KRCS met with the school a number of times to talk them through the process of purchasing the iPad. At the time, staff had only personal experience of the technology through their own iPod or iPhone so initial training was delivered by Apple Distinguished Educators who worked alongside KRCS to deliver curriculum-led, classroom-focused training, helping teachers to discover apps and develop simple lesson plans aimed to trial every feature of the iPad.
“We did talk to some other Apple educational suppliers,” said Anna, “but having seen the KRCS workshop we were keen to work with the company as it was apparent its people were very knowledgeable about how the technology could be deployed to improve education. We wanted a company we could build a long-standing relationship with and KRCS has certainly met that criteria.”
Less than six months after the iPad integration, the school gained the prestigious NAACE 3rd Millennium Award that recognised it was providing 21st century skills and learning. “The difference the technology made to learning was almost instant.” said Claire. “It was astonishing to see how quickly both pupils and staff became confident users. There were very early examples of peer-to-peer learning seen across the school and we appointed some of the more gifted children as ‘digital leaders’. These mini experts helped both fellow pupils and teachers alike to get to grips with the technology and the numerous apps which were being used.”
Such was the success of the iPad integration, the school quickly realised the advantage of having a 1:1 device for older children in Years 5 and 6. “We chose iPods due to cost implications.” said Anna. “The lower cost of the iPod meant we could purchase enough iPods for all our older KS2 children. Being smaller, it also saves on storage space, however, our children have an ‘always there’ technology with them in their lessons.
Whether they need a calculator, dictionary, note book or need to research particular websites, the tools are instantly available to them. We also installed Apple TV and that’s been a great benefit by taking away the ‘teaching from the front’ approach and putting the shared learning into the hands of our children.”
Learning outside the classroom
Younger pupils are also enjoying using their iPad outside the classroom. Mini gardening club members are learning how to grow particular fruits and vegetables by scanning QR codes placed next to the relevant plant out in the school allotment. This then leads them to a pre-programmed website containing all the information they need
Claire is particularly enthusiastic about some of the more physical aspects of the apps available such as Dot and Dash Robots and Bee Bot. “The younger children in particular need something physical to really capture their interest and imagination.” she said. “These fun and colourful tools are enabling hands-on play which I believe is the key to understanding the concepts of coding. They are definitely helping to unlock creativity and bring their imagination to life.”
Popular apps in use across the school include Explain Everything, iMovie, Garageband and the programming apps; Bee Bot and Dot & Dash Robots. Book Creator is also widely used across the curriculum.