Rokeby School had a vision to improve learning outcomes through the use of ICT. The intention was to introduce class sets of iPads across all teaching departments, in order to improve engagement and bring greater differentiation to lessons and homework. The school was aware that this was not a simple thing to achieve and they engaged 9ine to support them in developing a mobile learning strategy and a careful, phased approach to introducing the devices at the school. The first step in forming this strategy was to ensure staff were able to make the best use of the technology currently in place, before evaluating and investing in new classroom technology.
Crucially, the school wanted to be certain that teachers were confident in using technology to improve the quality of their practice. To achieve this, 9ine’s Digital Learning Programme was put into action. The regular evidence documented during the ensuing six-week, iterative coaching sessions with teachers revealed what worked well for the school’s own staff and students, as well as defining which type of technology should form the next step in their development and investment planning.
About the Client
Set in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, Rokeby school is an independent preparatory school for boys in the Kingston area and an important part of the community. The School have an ethos of 'Smart, Skillful and Kind', which are the three key attributes of character for all of their boys to achieve. The ability range of students is above average and the mixed cultures of the Kingston area are represented within the school.
Like many schools, Rokeby School felt it did not have a precise understanding of how technology was being utilised by teachers in the classroom. The initiatives previously taken to roll out systems had been implemented over time when required and it was felt that current staff required some training. As a result, there was a need for the school to understand how far the current technology was having a direct and positive impact the boys learning, before decisions could be made about new technology and training. In addition, it was equally important to identify whether staff had the skills to deliver the requirements of the curriculum using the technology in their classrooms.
Rokeby school ran 9ine’s Digital Learning Programme (DLP) for six weeks with a core of four teaching staff. The DLP is structured upon the principle of iterative, weekly sessions with nominated teachers, to review and plan an upcoming lesson with a particular pedagogic focus. Improvements in the plan are discussed in each session and the 9ine consultant is then able to support the teacher in using technology to strengthen that element of the lesson. The approach provides a methodology for teachers to reflect upon their lesson planning and choose the right kind of digital tool to complement their usual approach and resources.
As with all effective CPD programmes, the DLP is focused on evidence-based teaching practices and evaluates its impact on learning outcomes. For this reason, in addition to the weekly meetings with the teachers, 9ine conducted student voice sessions with student representatives from each of the classes used by the teachers on the programme. Here, the boys were asked a series of questions and invited to give their comments on the impact of the activities delivered by their teachers.
Evidence of Impact upon Teaching Strategies
Where training is delivered, it is of course critical to evaluate its impact. Over the course of the Digital Learning Programme, 9ine’s engagement at the school supported the teachers by developing their skills in areas that are commonly reported as being difficult in the classroom. These included, differentiation by task or by ability level, assessment using technology, creating an independent learning environment and coupling the technology to the curriculum objectives. As a result of developing new and enhanced skills in these areas, the group of four teachers are now able to apply the following to their own practice, as well as lead others in doing the same:
- Plan lessons that challenge boys’ varying abilities, using digital resource and other traditional forms
- Plan a digital activity to maintain the flow of the lesson
- Create structured, differentiated questioning using a variety of digital tools
- Plan opportunities for greater individual progress using digital tools
- Identify where planned tasks might risk low engagement and invigorate them with digital tools
- Create peer assessment activities to encourage reflection and evaluation
Following the completion of the programme, 9ine held individual feedback sessions with the teaching staff to reflect on their progress throughout the DLP. During these sessions, it was evident that:
- Staff greatly valued the time they spent with 9ine to discuss their lesson plan to identify how the existing technology can be applied to enhance the boys’ learning
- Staff were able to break out of old habits and practice novel, pedagogic techniques which provided immediate and measurable results in the classroom
- Staff knowledge of technology integration has greatly improved and as a result, they have developed greater confidence in understanding which tools and techniques are best suited to the needs of their classroom
Sustainable Staff Development
The DLP at Rokeby School was remarkably successful at creating a culture of collaboration among the staff who were involved in the programme. They reported feeling empowered to disseminate the skills and practices they gained during the programme to staff in their respective departments. Fast forward a few months and now the school have created a Digital Action Team (DAT). This team has the responsibility to ensure teachers at Rokeby School are incorporating technology into their teaching practice and review the impact upon boys’ progress.
Overall, the six weeks of the DLP helped staff instill new, highly effective habits based on the skills they practiced and tested. As a result, those habits have made staff more confident and more knowledgeable about the application of technology to their professional practice and to the practice of their colleagues. With a clear understanding of how to continue their development, they can now continue to refine and improve their impact on their colleagues’ practice and the outcomes for their students.