Tech right now: Looking to Leicestershire

July 1, 2022

In this article, Kat Cauchi aims to shine a spotlight on some ongoing impactful EdTech projects to inspire schools in their teaching and learning with tech.

Tech right now Looking to Leicestershire

Schools are doing amazing things with technology. Some schools have tech embedded across the curriculum as a facilitator for teaching and learning, to enhance and support. Some schools are still on their journey to this point, and some may feel they aren’t sure of their next steps. The deep-sea of devices, software, apps, etc. can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get lost in these less important aspects and lose the ‘why’: the reason for using it in the first place. What problem are you trying to solve? What experience are you trying to improve? What teaching and learning are you trying to enhance or make more accessible?

So, in this article, I wanted to shine the spotlight on some ongoing impactful EdTech projects to inspire schools in their teaching and learning with technology and to help them see the bigger picture so they can find the right next steps for their individual settings. Intriguingly, both examples are in Leicestershire, so I would be interested to know if you work in this county and have any more EdTech stories to share!

Supporting pupils – and families

Firstly, I was contacted by Adele Darlington who recommended I get in touch with Matt Peet, the headteacher of Mowmacre Hill Primary School in Leicester, about how he has been using technology in his school. Here’s what he had to say:

“During the first lockdown, our main concern was keeping relationships and contact with our families. Mowmacre Hill Primary is situated in an area of increasing deprivation and poverty and therefore we needed to make sure our families were still supported in these difficult times. We chose Microsoft Teams as our platform and began the process of delivering live and pre-recorded lessons. We ensured that all our children from EYFS to Year 6 could log on and connect – EYFS did this through their platform of Tapestry linked to Teams. We needed to make sure that our pupils were visible from a safeguarding perspective, so expected pupils to log in for registration just as they would if coming to school. As we started to provide our families with internet connections, we found some parents still had barriers. We audited our families in terms of devices available at home – which was a small amount – and began to purchase laptops and tablets to complement those that we sourced from the DFE programme to support disadvantaged pupils. This was just the beginning of our journey.

“Over the next 18 months, we built our relationship with EdTech and our trainer, Jo Stone. Training for teachers and support staff became part of our regular staff meetings as we encouraged colleagues to simply have a go at the various apps presented by the Microsoft suite. We looked at lots of different apps and, once we had checked them for GDPR purposes, colleagues were permitted to introduce them to our pupils. Quickly, colleagues became empowered to deliver their lessons using tech. I knew that my teachers presented fantastic lessons, but we talked about ‘adding spice to elevate a delicious recipe’ and this is what teachers did by adding tech to elevate their teaching. Tech wasn’t used for tech’s sake but as a tool to develop and enhance pedagogy – and now, our practice is truly blended. I asked staff to become experts on particular apps so that colleagues could support each other – a supportive approach which has worked well in our school.

“Our children are now using tech every day, as teachers incorporate opportunities to ensure our pupils are curious about their learning. Socrative and Kahoot are great for ‘in the moment’ assessments, allowing teachers to provide all-important feedback. Different presentation apps, such as PowerPoint, SWAY and Publisher, give pupils the autonomy to choose how they wish to present their learning. Flipgrid is a fantastic tool which allows pupils to record their own ideas and thoughts. This has been really powerful for pupils to consider and assess how their oracy can translate to the written word.

“OneNote had been transformative – providing our pupils with a platform that not only shows their work but also provides an unlimited resource tool kit to support their learning. Teachers add mini recordings to OneNote that show models and scaffolds for the concept being studied, and pupils have the reassurance of knowing their teacher is there on the screen. These videos can be paused and accessed at the pupils’ own pace.

“This has been extended even to our youngest pupils, who are now proficient in using their devices to scan QR codes to access videos of the teacher, who, in turn, can speak one-to-one to each child. This works brilliantly for extending challenge and further deepening knowledge. By using this tech, teachers can now split themselves into multiple parts to give children the individual attention needed.

“The journey is still ongoing, and we learn something new every week. Despite the backgrounds our pupils come from, we will not allow anything to get in their way in preparing them for life in the 21st Century.”

Tech for wellbeing

I was also contacted by youHQ, a platform that allows schools and teachers to effectively monitor mood and wellbeing, while simultaneously giving users simple therapeutic strategies to support their own wellbeing. Using this unique platform, youHQ is changing the way schools care for their people. They wanted to share some information about their Student Mental Health Support Pilot Scheme with the Leicestershire City Council (LCC).

“Our partnership and pilot with Leicestershire County Council marks an exciting new possibility in the accessibility and quality of student mental health support. We’re working with LCC to provide universal support to secondary school pupils, helping them to access advice and guidance as early as possible via the youHQ app. As part of their healthy child programme, youHQ will work with LCC schools to target resources to young people and to aid in signposting appropriate services within the county. With youHQ, schools will also be able to intervene early to help deliver better health outcomes for children and young people, enabling them to lead independent and productive lives.

“The app:

  • tracks student health and emotional wellbeing
  • supports student health and emotional wellbeing with a growing library of remotely accessible resources
  • provides within the app a mechanism that allows young people to set ‘value-based goals’ for themselves
  • allows class tutors, safeguarding leads and heads of schools to see children’s well-being scores
  • provides safeguarding ‘flags’ (issues of concern) to class tutors and safeguarding leads
  • provides insight into young people’s behaviours (i.e., mental health and wellbeing) in order to improve pastoral support.

“This pilot has been running since February 2022. Six large secondary schools in the county are currently participating. All six schools have varying degrees of IT resources and flexibility in their timetables. Several schools have rolled the pilot out to the whole school using 1:1 devices, while others are piloting smaller groups using ICT suites.”

Over to you

Is your school or organisation using EdTech impactfully? Why not share your stories so others can be inspired in their own EdTech journeys.

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