School helps pupils develop independent IT skills

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Boys use ICT tablet in class

Pupils at St Julian’s Primary School have become more independent in their use of IT, thanks to the school’s digital competence framework. Pupils are using IT more purposefully and are better applying their digital skills in class. The culture of digital learning is increasing with pupils using IT more effectively inside and outside of school.

Number of pupils: 687 
Age range: 3-11
Date of inspection: October 2018

Information about the school

St. Julian’s Primary School is a large primary school in Newport local authority.  There are 687 pupils at the school aged 3 to 11, including 75 pupils who attend the nursery part-time.  The school has 23 single-aged classes.  Around 18% of pupils are eligible for free school meals.  Most pupils come from homes where English is the main language spoken.  Around 20% of pupils have additional learning needs, including a very few pupils who have statements of educational needs.  The school is a Digital and Professional Learning Pioneer School.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

St. Julian’s Primary School has been working with other schools within the region and across Wales for a number of years, offering support around the innovative use of technology to support teaching and learning. Although technology was being used extremely well within the school, the school wanted to increase the number of opportunities for applying skills and knowledge across the curriculum in meaningful contexts.  The introduction of the Digital Competence Framework (DCF) and the greater establishment of the new curriculum for Wales provided a good opportunity to think more carefully and critically about what and how technology was being used.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The school has developed a number of strands to lead the developments of this strategy, such as:

  • DCF Lead – Several years ago, the school appointed a 21st century learning lead who was given oversight of the implementation of the Digital Competence Framework throughout the school.
  • Staff Skills & Knowledge Audit – Each year, all staff complete a self-evaluation audit of their skills and knowledge relating to areas of the DCF and their competence with various hardware and software.  This was devised by the school using an electronic form.  The results are imported into a spreadsheet to analyse progress and colour coded to outline common areas of strength and weakness.
  • Professional Learning / Sharing – The audit identifies staff who have the skills to support others and also areas with which staff may need further support.  As a result, in-house professional learning is developed and provided to staff.  This is delivered through: whole-school training, group training, coaching (colleague-to-colleague support) and online tutorial videos created by staff and pupils.  This presents staff with the skills to develop pupils’ learning across the curriculum.
  • Vision / Action Plan – The school created and shared a vision for digital learning and an action plan with goals for teaching, learning, equipment and infrastructure.
  • Staff Organisation – Staff who are particularly competent in using technology have been strategically assigned to different year groups to share practice and support colleagues around them.
  • Digital Leaders – Pupil Digital leaders are given as many opportunities as possible to apply their skills around the school and share new skills with others.  They meet weekly to plan actions, test new hardware and software and develop others’ skills.
  • Knowledge and Skills – Skills ladders, outlining the path for pupils to develop their skills, and the Digital Competence Framework are used to ensure that learners and staff know how to build and progress digital skills.  DCF statements are mapped to ensure appropriate coverage throughout the school.  Digital lead staff have been provided time to support each phase in developing further opportunities within curriculum planning for pupils to apply digital skills meaningfully across learning themes.
  • Equipment & Infrastructure – The school has carefully invested in infrastructure to improve network reliability.  The school has also invested in a range of devices to ensure that pupils are exposed to as many different platforms as possible to help them to be able to make decisions independently about the best software or device for the task.
  • Digital Toolkit – The Digital Leaders devised a ‘digital toolkit’, which includes a common range of web tools.  This is shared on their website and updated regularly for all stakeholders to use.
  • Website – Staff and pupils have worked together to create tutorial videos, which are shared with parents and other stakeholders through the school website.  These videos are also used by staff and pupils to refer to in lessons.  The school has recently developed online courses for teachers to develop their competence, which has been particularly helpful for newer teachers when they join the staff.
  • Rich Learning Tasks – The school has produced and shared case studies and ideas for applying digital skills across the curriculum.  For example, pupils in Year 2 created stop motion animations during their space theme, to demonstrate and explain how the Earth has night and day.  Pupils in Year 5 created their own business, used spreadsheets to manage the income and outgoings, produced business proposals, and created podcasts and jingles to advertise their products on the school radio show.  They filmed and edited movies to advertise their product, e-mailed successful company directors for advice, designed a company logo, created flyers and posters to attract customers, and created presentations to persuade a panel of ‘Dragons’ to invest in their company.  Whilst learning about Uganda, pupils throughout the school coded step-counters using BBC Microbits and used heart-rate monitors to track the number of footsteps they took each day.  They then input this data into spreadsheets and used formulae to add up their steps to see if they could virtually walk the 12,000,000 footsteps from Newport to Uganda.  Pupils also created currency converters using spreadsheets to convert between British Pounds and Ugandan Shillings.  They have also created e-safety apps and websites, which the school has shared publicly via its website to promote online safety.  Pupils throughout the school use virtual reality and augmented reality to explore inside the human body, our solar system and national parks.  Pupils throughout the school use video calling platforms to discuss their learning themes with experts, such as a wind-turbine engineer, national parks warden, and an RNLI worker.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

Pupils have become far more independent in their use of IT and in the choices they make about which software or devices to use in order to complete task.  They are using IT far more purposefully and are applying their IT skills in authentic contexts for learning.  Teachers’ confidence and competence in using a range of software and devices are increasing and all staff are keen to keep developing their use of technology.  In most lessons, the use of IT to support learning is good or excellent and its use is purposeful.  The culture for digital learning within the school is increasing and pupils are beginning to use IT independently more effectively inside and outside of school to direct the pace, place, path and time of their learning.

How have you shared your good practice?

St. Julian’s Primary is a Digital and Professional Learning Pioneer School.  As a result, it has supported schools across Wales in using the Digital Competence Framework.  Recently the school has been working within the AoLE (areas for learning) groups in the development of the new curriculum for Wales, offering ideas, advice and guidance about the use of digital technology within the new areas.  It also works with the regional consortia to support a number of schools within the region and across Wales, particularly with the use of HWB.  

St. Julian’s Primary School often shares ideas and practice online through its website and social media.  Teachers and pupils have also led sessions for teacher training students at Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales.