Innovation through collaboration

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In it’s publication “Realising the potential of technology in education: A strategy for education providers and the technology industry” the DfE set out a long term vision for EdTech in English schools and colleges. It’s a thought through, welcome and long overdue report and details the steps to be taken to ensure that the sector can reap the benefits education technology can bring.

A prominent aspect of the report was the introduction of EdTech ‘challenges’ to foster innovation. More encouragingly these are set against a social mobility context to help identify how using cutting-edge developments can close the attainment gap and support disadvantaged pupils. The Challenges are designed to support a partnership between the EdTech industry and education sector to ensure product development and testing is focused on the needs of the education system and on what has most impact. The Challenges are to industry, the education sector and academia to prove what is possible and ultimately to inform the future use of EdTech across the English education system.

We are pleased that the DfE is building upon the work we are already undertaking in fostering collaborative learning innovations in a Cheshire primary school to improve attainment. Since the start of the 2018/19 academic year we have been integrating EdTech into the DNA of the school to help find new ways to engage pupils and reduce teacher workload. The ‘shared goal partnership’ we have curated brings together a school (Shireland Collegiate Academy), academia (EdTech Impact) and lead players in the education sector (Microsoft, Discovery Education and HP) to effect a digital transformation.

Eaton Primary is a DCMS school and so has the good fortune now to be on superfast broadband. Our main effort in the Autumn term has been to focus upon digital capability and skills, and specifically the internal infrastructure to support teaching and learning. In essence we wanted to make sure that the technologies we intended to deploy worked seamlessly, and that every child had access to a device. We leveraged the outstanding HPFE scheme to maximise our investment.

In parallel we started to engage with the teaching team and SLT to ensure that EdTech was a part of everyday learning. This meant upskilling IT skills and ensuring appropriate PD for teachers whilst baking a digital vision into the school’s 3 year Development Plan alongside. After all, this is all about measurable improvement and targets need determining and reviewing for this to be validated.

Now that the foundations are in place we have moved in the last term to integrate the proven resources and pedagogy deployed by Shireland. The programme has meant that we’ve integrated a digital curriculum deployed on sharepoint and linked into rich resources available from Discovery Education. The aims are to improve planning, reduce workload and increase our assessment capabilities by moving to a real time dashboard powered by Microsoft tools (Power BI). This stage is now completed.

As we move into the summer term our plan is to start to deploy a series of collapsed timetable days to deliver cross-thematic learning. These initiatives will be assessed using the EdTech Impact tools to monitor impact, and to show how close we are to achieving our targeted goals. We will also move the to a new Governance platform (again deployed by Shireland) so that oversight can be improved and senior leadership time made more effective.

Once we have determined best practice we will start sharing our innovations with others using the Gluu framework model. The DfE will also be working with us to produce a “Digital Transformation case study” which will be made available in 2021.

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