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Mere Green Primary School

 

Mere Green Primary School

A West Midlands primary school is enjoying the benefits of a collaboration with KRCS, Apple Authorised Education Specialist, following the deployment of 400-plus iPad and on-going support from an ‘invaluable’ Managed Service subscription.

Challenge

Although Mere Green Primary School in Sutton Coldfield had been recording results above the national average for a number of years, there was still room for improvement. Case studies had identified key children who needed extra support. The school needed to develop a vision to improve engagement and increase creativity to help prepare its pupils for the modern world.

Solution

KRCS worked closely with the school to create a whole vision for teaching and learning. Comprehensive sessions of Apple Professional Learning (APL) enabled teachers to understand how iPad makes a difference both in and out of the classroom. A subscription to KRCS Managed Service ensures the school receives full support across all devices, saving money and reducing teacher workload.

Results

The school is fully committed to teaching and learning through technology. Results remain outstanding and the progress of pupils identified as needing extra support has accelerated. Teachers are happier with their work/life balance and teaching through lockdown was a seamless transition. With the range of assessment methods available, feedback and pupil engagement is much improved.

The whole school has really embraced the introduction of iPad into the day-to-day curriculum. Teachers have told me they simply cannot imagine going to another school that doesn’t use iPad for teaching. In a climate where it is difficult to recruit and retain, this is not a benefit we were originally looking for, but it’s certainly an added bonus.

Kristal Brookes, Headteacher

Mere Green Primary began its journey with Apple and iPad in 2012 with the purchase of 10 devices. Three years later, the school invested further, equipping each classroom with 15 iPad devices - a ratio of 1:2. A ‘Bring Your Own Device’ initiative for Year 6 pupils had very little measurable impact and staff enthusiasm was low. The school realised it needed to make its mobile technologies work more efficiently for teachers and enable work to be more easily accessible for pupils.

“We felt we were sitting still,” explains the school’s former IT lead, Terri Coombs. “Although we had iPad, we had not realised a full vision for teaching and learning. I knew we could achieve so much more but didn’t have a clue how to go about it. It’s very true to say that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ but KRCS showed us a path we weren’t even considering. Their advice was invaluable. They took me to other schools to see what could be possible, showed us opportunities we’d not considered, and helped us to create our own model and vision.”

“KRCS could do everything from end-to-end,” adds Terri. “After starting us off with a plan and vision, they supplied the hardware and software, facilitated trade-in and helped on deployment days. They also delivered many sessions of Apple Professional Learning which enabled teachers to understand the workflow and how iPad makes a difference in the classroom.”

Because the school has had the Apple programme for some time, they were able to pick up their iPad and carry on pretty much as if they were still in school.

Parent

The school chose the Showbie platform for learning and assessment which helps teachers manage classroom workflows and increases collaboration and communication with students and parents. The school’s head teacher, Kristal Brookes says the key benefit is immediate feedback. “Showbie is an excellent app for assessment,” she explains. “It allows teachers to give feedback quickly and effectively, allowing pupils to respond and make good progress. Using Showbie has completely changed our feedback policy.”

Kristal says the adjustment to remote teaching and learning during lockdown was surprisingly easy. “All our teachers are qualified Apple teachers, so they already had all the skills in place to hit the ground running,” she says. “The children were also completely familiar with iPad so there really were no barriers to learning. The majority of children could access their work straight away and receive timely feedback from teachers.”

Terri agrees. “Lockdown was surprisingly seamless, and iPad was key in connecting students,” she says. “We held live registration twice daily and teachers pre-recorded their lessons, making it easier for families with working parents as they could do lessons at a time to suit them. Showbie was the vital ingredient. The final tick. It’s so easy to use, makes complete sense and it allowed us to carry on teaching the full curriculum.

It’s helped us as parents to work as a team with the teachers and learn how to do things better to help our children.

Parent

Richard Anderton, the school’s Enhancing Teaching and Learning through Technology lead, says Showbie allowed teaching to continue as normal. “We are able to post content that students can easily access,” he says. “And marking is made easy with a range of assessment methods available including live feedback, highlighting tools, and voice notes which are great for younger children where written feedback might not be so easily understood. Having iPad available for them to take home and continue their learning has effectively taken down the walls of the school. We call it their ‘digital pencil case’. Engagement is amazing and iPad really is an embedded part of school life.”

 

iPad supporting SEN

The school says iPad has been key in supporting children with special education needs. “A pupil in Year 3 was really struggling in the school environment,” explains Richard. “However, being able to work on his iPad from home during lockdown has been much less stressful for him. Since he has returned to school, his confidence has grown and we have noticed a distinct improvement in his behaviour.”

Terri says engagement is amazing. “One Year 6 pupil has made fantastic progress since she began learning with iPad,” she says. “She refused to speak to adults which was making teaching and feedback very difficult; but she began recording her voice at home on her iPad and was happy to play that back in the classroom, allowing teachers and other pupils to listen. Having her iPad as support has really brought her out of her shell and now she is talking out loud with confidence.”

Improved work/life balance

Everyone agrees teacher workload has reduced since the iPad deployment and the Managed Service subscription. “Photocopying costs are down, and marking is more efficient,” says Terri. “One teacher who has a young family told me Showbie makes her life much easier. She said she has everything she needs all ready to teach and her work/life balance is much improved.”

“This way of teaching has become the norm,” adds Kristal. “Gone are the queues at the photocopier, staff can work remotely, and they are not having to sit marking 30 books at the end of a lesson as assessment and feedback is given in real time.”

 

KRCS Managed Service

The school previously had IT support that did not really understand how to manage iPad properly, and there was a mismatch of devices across the school, leading to an inconsistent use of the technology. “We used to have countless issues with devices,” explains Terri. “It could be so stressful, but the implementation of KRCS’ Managed Service was a life-saver. The friendly, reliable, and highly professional technicians are invaluable, and queries get resolved quickly and efficiently. As soon as the school took up this service, there was a notable reduction in my workload related to device issues. It was the best decision ever.”

Richard agrees. “I’ve worked closely with KRCS since 2017,” he says. The Managed Service is the company’s real selling point. It’s speedy and effective and has had a huge impact on the quality of teaching and learning.”

Learning for life

The school, in collaboration with Apple, runs a Regional Training Centre which delivers free courses to other schools across the region, on topics such as ‘reducing workload’ and ‘writing through technology’. Richard also runs eight courses a year teaching trainee teachers to become qualified Apple teachers. “We also have a vision to expand our training offer to external stakeholders and enable Mere Green to be a real hub of the community,” he says.

The school, in collaboration with Apple, runs a Regional Training Centre which delivers free courses to other schools across the region, on topics such as ‘reducing workload’ and ‘writing through technology’. Richard also runs eight courses a year teaching trainee teachers to become qualified Apple teachers. “We also have a vision to expand our training offer to external stakeholders and enable Mere Green to be a real hub of the community,” he says.

Richard says the whole school is committed to teaching and learning through technology. “Our collaborative approach and sharing of best practice, ensures we are constantly making improvements,” he says. “As an Apple learning leader, I have worked with 17 teachers so far to enable them to become Showbie certified educators, and my aim is to make all staff so qualified.”

Terri has now left the school but has been busy on a personal development plan of her own. In 2019 she became an Apple distinguished educator, and subsequently an Apple professional learning specialist. “I’m incredibly grateful to all the support and encouragement I’ve received from KRCS,” she says. “Without it, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.”