Windlesham House School
The Key To Successful Technology Integration
the story so far
Windlesham House School are an Outstanding Independent Prep with 360 pupils and 60 teaching staff. It is one of the leading co-educational Preparatory Schools offering world class day and boarding for children aged 4 to 13. Windlesham House was established in 1937 and is one of the top schools within the Independent Association of Public Schools. The School recently invested in iPad for it’s superior operating systems and to transform learning experiences by providing the children with engaging content that can enable them to learn at their own pace.
For Windlesham House School, the impact of their Vision and Planning can be seen in two equally important ways. Firstly the technology was seamlessly embedded into their existing infrastructure and has been technically supported successfully ever since the deployment. Secondly, with previously planned training, the iPad has been integrated into day-to-day classroom practice and has been embraced by all of the teaching staff. With the correct underpinning of a clear plan the devices were introduced as a teaching and learning tool and have not presented the pupils or staff with any unwanted issues.
Whilst the school’s vision was well established, how to achieve the goals is not always as clear. Every detail of technological embedment has to be addressed. The technologically confident pupils need to advance their skills and become better digital citizens. Likewise, the teachers must acquire the skills to confidently teach with mobile devices. On top of all of this, the infrastructure behind the devices needs to be robust and provide unwavering access for teachers and pupils alike. All of these ‘future proofing’ qualities must be thought about and directly tackled before any iPad arrives on site.
The apple vision of an outstanding prep school
Windlesham House School have high expectations of their pupils and are focused on educating children holistically. Christopher Roache (Head of ICT and Apple Distinguished Educator at Windlesham House School) explains, ‘We provide children of all academic abilities with an opportunity to reach their personal potential in subjects and activities in which they show promise, from maths and science, languages, the arts and sports. And whilst academic excellence and success are a high priority, we think that it is important to maintain a very caring, family atmosphere at Windlesham through our unique pastoral care.’ The school’s vision for embedding Apple technology is just as well rounded. The ethos behind their vision is conveyed by Christopher, ‘The proliferation of technology has changed the way educators teach, how students learn, and the way teachers and students communicate. With the growth of Learning Technologies, students now want to learn with such technologies as it allows them to learn at their own speed (anywhere/anytime), provides engaging content, allows students to create as part of the learning process and have learning experiences transformed. Students at Windlesham are extremely confident with technology. Using such tools as part of their learning provides them with numerous opportunities to enhance and extend their learning.’ Gifting their children the means to become better independent learners is a clear and positive vision. However, many solutions around the vision have to be planned for and deliberated over.
Creating the environment
Before any of the Apple devices entered Windlesham House School it was important to build the perfect environment. The iPad is a mobile device. Therefore it is important that the wifi is equipped to support the technology. Christopher Roche explains, ‘We have implemented a support system which sees all areas of ICT at the School supported and maintained by experts in relevant fields. This has led to ensuring that our chosen tools are more readily available for all’. Christopher continues to clarify that, with our help, the school increased ‘...the coverage, capacity and reach of the existing Ruckus wireless solution’. This resulted in continuous connectivity. Planning for this infrastructural upheaval is absolutely essential if you wish to ensure that there are no negative connotations associated with the new technology. All of the staff at Windlesham House School must experience seamless access to the iPad if they wish to understand it’s full potential. Christopher explains the importance of planning for this technical environment, ‘In order to support this project, it is essential that we ensure the ICT infrastructure and technical support provides highly accessible and efficient use of ICT for learning, teaching and administration.’
creating the team and community
Building the perfect environment is just one piece of the puzzle. It is also important to ensure that everyone is involved in building the environment in the first place. Involving all the stakeholders in every step of the planning is something that we would always recommend. Windlesham House School took this advice and built a comprehensive community and team around their Apple project. Firstly, the school shared their vision with the Governors and presented their costings with key individuals. Crucially, they help whole staff meetings and parent evenings to share their strategies. They also imparted their vision to the Children. Keeping everyone up to date with the planning ensures that the school are able to integrate the technology with the appropriate blessing of all involved. Christopher Roche echoes are own thoughts on this, ‘The Road Ahead is designed very much to be a shared vision, it was vital to allow all stakeholders to contribute to the different stages of the program.’ But what about the actual integration of the technology? In order to smooth the transition, Windlesham House School created a team to help with the roll-out of the technology. Christopher explains ‘A Learning Technologies Action group has been formed. The group will be working on: a roll- out time frame for the 1:1 Pilot, iPad Acceptable Use Policies, Application purchasing and deployment’. All of these elements have been planned in line with the school’s overall vision and have ensured that the technology has been met with positive attitudes.
Apple professional learning
Ongoing training for teachers and pupils
Of course, you can build a perfect environment with the involvement of the stakeholders. However, you have to ensure that you also plan to equipt everyone within the environment with the skills to thrive. This is why a training plan is so important for both Teachers and Pupils alike. By shaping and planning a bespoke training plan around the specific wants and needs of Windlesham House School’s vision, we are able to provide relevant CPD that can be simply timetabled into the school’s diary. Classroom Modelling sessions enable us to teach classes with the teachers so that they can see the full impact of the technology within the context of their own classroom. IIts also means that the training does not have to dominate INSET days.
Christopher explains why our training plan sat in line with the school’s vision, ‘JTRS were able to offer a professional training plan for our teachers - At the heart of The Road Ahead is CPD. As well as INSET and internal training, it was felt JTRS would be able to add value to these programs.’ The members of school community who will experience the most hands-on time with the iPad are the pupils. Therefore, it was important for Windlesham House School to plan for the empowerment of their pupils as well. They decided to introduce pupil Digital Leaders. Christopher explains the concept. ‘A Digital Leader is a student who is part of our Digital Leaders Team within Windlesham School, their role is to support the use and to further the development of Digital Technology ICT within our school. Digital Leaders are given the necessary training and support to develop specific areas of Digital Technology expertise. These areas of expertise can be self-determined, or may be a particular request for a specific item of hardware or software’. This not only supports the overall progression of the Apple project but it also sits perfectly with the school’s overall ethos as Christopher conveys, ‘Student voice is highly valued at Windlesham. We have a range of opportunities and forums for them to do this. With our learning technologies, students have been instrumental in developing various initiatives.’ We provide our own Digital Leader Programmes and we recommend that educational organisations of all kinds think about the empowerment of their pupils during the planning stages of their projects.
Finally, it is imperatively important for a plan to include practical future-proofing strategies. If a school wishes to make future investments, they must first establish a good understanding of how the technology is making an impact in the first instance. Measuring this impact is something that Windlesham House School planned for in advance. Christopher explains how the plans have now been executed, ‘Our first stage of this process involved a series of learning walks. These learning walks aimed to provide a snapshot of how students are using the iPads as part of their learning. Our observations demonstrated that there were some excellent learning experiences happening in the School. The iPads were being used as a tool to support various areas of the curriculum and pedagogical approaches.
We were all very impressed with the good practice that was occurring. For the next stage of the evaluation, we collected data to provide more detailed information. This stage of the evaluation measured a range of areas associated with the effect the iPad has had on teaching and learning.’ Christopher goes on to explain how this data included ‘How often students used the iPad in school, how often students used the iPad outside of school, what activities the students used the iPad for. In addition, we were able to ascertain Students perceptions about the effects the device had on their learning, motivation, achievement and progress’. The school also opted to measure, ‘How often teachers used the device in lessons, for what activities the device was used and their feelings as to how the device has impacted on their practice and student motivation, achievement and progress.’ An accurate understanding of the overall iPad use and the impact of the devices enables the school to build a solid case for further investments in the technology.
Planning is an absolutely key part of any technological project. It is important to acknowledge ‘Changeability’. Ultimately, any progressions within Educational organisations will bring about ‘change’. Managing that ‘change’ is essential. What effects will a technological change have on a school’s current infrastructure? How will pedagogy shift with the introduction of new devices? What support will there be to help all of the stakeholders adjust to this change? All of these questions have to be planned for and addressed in accordance with an overall vision. Adapting and shaping the plan to fit perfectly with a school’s vision is our speciality. Christopher Roche endorses this claim, ‘JTRS offered a professional service which we felt complimented our vision for technology with a commitment to making technology work in order to enhance and transform.’