Digital Strategy: Articulating our vision to the wider school community Reflecting on our 1:1 programme

Over the past year, we have been engaging with our students, parents and the wider school community to communicate our 1:1 vision using a variety of modern and more traditional means. As well as frequent references made using social media (the School manages over forty social media accounts), we have sent electronic communications, letters and newsletters outlining our plans to roll out iPads to our students, starting this September. Below are a copy of the latest article on the subject in our termly newsletter and a video we have made to help articulate our vision:

Surbiton High School is embarking on an exciting journey to become an environment in which all teachers and students have access to tablets on a one-to-one basis over the next two academic years.

This digital strategy has arisen from our research into what makes teaching and learning successful. From this it was apparent that every aspect involved in both teaching and learning can be supported by the effective use of technology in the classroom and at home, but also from the realisation that, in order to best prepare students for life in the future, they need to learn with the tools of the present.

The focus of our digital strategy therefore takes into account how lessons are most effective and aims to put in place the means and support to enable teachers to use technology, when it is possible and appropriate, in order to support and improve the quality of the teaching and learning that starts off in their classrooms. To this aim, our staff received their iPads at the beginning of the Summer Term, ready for a School-wide roll out of tablets that will begin in September 2014, when we will see tablets and bespoke Surbiton High covers supplied free of charge to every student in Year 7 and Year 12 (the rest of the School will follow in 2015-2016) and classrooms sets delivered to the Junior Schools.

Whenever researchers have canvassed students’ opinions about what teachers can do to best support their learning, the three things that top their list are: teachers with excellent subject knowledge; feedback that is delivered sensitively and effectively; and resources that are media-rich and engaging. From this perspective, and backed by the latest research in cognitive psychology, we are devising a School digital strategy that supports staff and students in achieving the best possible teaching and learning.

Our staff and pupils contribute to the development of our digital strategy in various ways. Earlier this year, we established the Digital Strategy Steering Group, consisting of 18 members of staff with different pastoral and academic backgrounds. This group has been crucial in the development of the new policies needed to manage mobile devices and ubiquitous access to information, as well as in the procurement of new digital resources to complement the use of tablets to support learning.

Our Digital Council, made up of 16 students from Years 6 to 13, have also been key in understanding the exciting potential but also challenges involved in a School-wide tablet implementation. In regular half-termly meetings, we have explored the different aspects of this implementation, so that we are able to realise said potential whilst mitigating the challenges.

By the end of this term, the Digital Council will have devised a list of rules and expectations governing the use of tablets in the classroom. Both groups of students and teachers have been pivotal, not only in the cascading of our strategy across the School, but also in the delivery of weekly staff training sessions, ranging from helping members of staff to set up their tablets to more advanced sessions about the use of tablets to support teaching and learning in the classroom. These sessions will continue throughout the Autumn Term and into next year and will be supported by the visit of three Apple Distinguished Educators, who will train our staff during INSET in early September.

We believe that technology works best when it helps us achieve things that we would not have been able to achieve without it. As such, we envisage that tablets will be used, not instead of other resources, but, rather, as well as, when their use is justified by outcomes that would have been otherwise inconceivable and only when teaching and learning would benefit from their use.

We are also planning information evenings for parents and pupils over the next two years. Any thoughts about our strategy so far and suggestions about taking it forward would be greatly appreciated.

Your feedback and comments are very welcome