Teachers at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern train to ensure they are aware of the latest digital developments to support pupils in using ICT. At every opportunity, digital devices are used across lessons to develop pupils’ knowledge. This has resulted in improved standards and teachers confidently share their good practice with other schools.
Date of inspection: November 2017
Context and background to the effective or innovative practice
As the school was newly opened in 2012, staff had the flexibility to make far-reaching decisions about the kind of school that they wanted to establish. Teaching and learning issues have been at the heart of all decisions. Staff decided to focus on purchasing mobile technology rather than spending heavily on classroom computers in order to promote teaching and learning of the highest standard. As a result of this, it was decided to provide all pupils at Bro Edern with tablet computers.
Description of nature of strategy or activity
The vision at Bro Edern was to incorporate information and communication technology seamlessly into all lessons, and use the latest technology as an additional tool for both pupils and teachers. Since the early days, the use of technology has been adopted across the subjects, and the arrival of the Digital Competence Framework has reinforced this mindset.
The confidence and digital competence of staff are key to ensuring that digital has a positive effect on teaching and learning. The aim is to try to ensure that staff are well informed about the latest digital developments, and regular training has been provided to equip the school’s teachers. As a new school that grows significantly each September, a number of new members of staff join each year. In 2017-2018, all new staff had a personal digital mentor, also a member of staff, as well as a personal ‘Digital Leader’ from among the pupils. Pupils apply each year for the role of ‘Digital Leader’, and the successful group receives training, holds meetings to discuss digital issues, mentors staff and provides training for new staff. This enables them to learn from pupils what the digital learning experiences are across the curriculum at Bro Edern. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, a training evening was held for all members of staff, and a choice of 16 sessions were available. Sessions were provided by members of staff and pupils from the school on a number of digital teaching and learning techniques, and useful new apps and software were introduced. With the freedom to choose their sessions, this enabled staff to take responsibility for their own professional development and to spend an evening refining their skills in line with their individual and subject needs.
On Thursday mornings at 8am, the school holds a ‘Good Practice and Pain au Chocolat’ session. These voluntary 20-minute presentations are extremely popular, and are a means for staff to receive weekly training on a digital idea or a practical aspect of good classroom practice. The tasty ‘pains au chocolat’ from a local bakery are an effective incentive. All staff training presentations are made available on the school’s internal Teaching and Learning website, so that staff can refer to them at a later date. The website is now a useful store of digital training resources for existing staff and any new members of staff who join the school.
The School Improvement Working Groups also have a digital focus each year. All of the teachers are members of one of the school’s working groups. Whether it is the ‘Flipped Learning’ working group or the ‘Responding to Targets’ working group, there is constant digital input. The Responding to Targets working group has devised a whole school system, whereby pupils in all departments scan a QR code at the end of tasks in order to complete further exercises in response to targets. All departments have created a bank of purposeful resources for this, and this enables pupils to work independently and take their next step in their understanding of their subjects. Planning commenced in the school’s first years, with activities across the curriculum that would develop suitable digital skills for pupils in the twenty first century. With the arrival of the Digital Competence Framework, existing provision was mapped to the new framework’s headings, and departments planned additional activities that would enrich pupils’ understanding of their subject, while continuing to improve their digital skills.
What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
The effect of digital learning can be seen in all lessons across the school. The fact that technology is accessible to all pupils in their bags means that they have a powerful tool to enrich their learning. Departments provide iTunes U courses for their classes, which means that pupils are able to access any resources immediately on the iPad, whether they are in class or at home. The daily homework club until 5pm is a means for pupils to stay at school to complete all kinds of tasks, but they are also able to access the school’s wireless network and the support of one of the learning coaches.
In the classroom, scanning a QR code to see a video in a physical education class happens completely naturally. Filming scientific experiments, taking pictures for art, composing and recording songs in music lessons, and recording conversations in German and French lessons mean that pupils learn in various ways across the school. In particular, the ability to record and film across the curriculum in order to improve pupils’ oracy skills means that a variety of new tasks are possible as pupils submit or review their work.
At the outset, the school looked at the SAMR model (‘Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition’) of adopting the use of technology at Bro Edern. This is an effective model for incorporating digital work into education. At Bro Edern, the R or Redefinition, is achieved constantly as staff redefine what is possible for them to achieve with pupils. Pupils are given specific experiences in handling data, using spreadsheets and suitable graphs when solving equations. Pupils have an increasingly sound understanding of different kinds of coding programs in order to create various activities. An example in key stage 3 is the use of computer programs in order to promote number skills. They create a surface area program using suitable software, as well as creating a mathematics engine in a spreadsheet in order to solve equations. The climax of the work can be seen in the Year 11 Baccalaureate work, as pupils handle and present data in their individual projects.
In terms of adopting the Digital Competence Framework, pupils at Bro Edern are given a variety of different experiences in their lessons, including creating promotional videos for the Health Service in science lessons, sending German videos to promote Cardiff to their exchange partners in Germany, and creating documentaries about the flooding of Tryweryn in Welsh lessons. In geography lessons, classes have worked together on one central document to plan a trip to Italy. When adopting the citizenship strands in relation to safety, identity, reputation and cyber bullying, the school has been very fortunate in their community police officer, who visits regularly in order to help convey important messages to pupils and their parents.
How have you shared your good practice?
As a Digital Pioneer School, Bro Edern is working with the consortium and the Welsh Government to implement the Digital Competence Framework. All of the digital pioneers have been welcomed to Bro Edern in order for them to observe lessons and discuss good practice. The school provides training courses on different aspects of the Digital Competence Framework through the consortium for English-medium schools, and through Gyda’n Gilydd (the professional development network for Welsh-medium schools in the central south consortium) for Welsh-medium schools. Teachers have given presentations in a number of meetings in Wales and England, and the school has provided Inset sessions for a number of other schools, including sessions on raising staff’s digital confidence and planning for the arrival of the Digital Competence Framework.