Norris Bank Primary School Case study
Overview of the school
Norris Bank is a primary community urban school in Stockport with 343 children between 4-11 years old. The school is mix gender, and the proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is well below average. Most pupils are of White British heritage with around 10% having Asian or Caribbean backgrounds.
Description of ICT infrastructure and resources
There are 10 desktop computers connected to Apple TV and either large screens or interactive whiteboards. All teachers have an iPad and there are 13 iPads that can be booked for a class. The school has an ICT suite with 31 desktop PCs. There are also 33 netbooks stored in a trolley.The school have fibre optic broadband with full wireless covering the school (inside and outside) and considering moving to a wireless intelligent networking.
1:1 iPod Touch for years 5/6 that are stored and charged in the school in an iPod trolley.
Case Study Methodology
The methodology used for this particular case study followed the Vital Case Study Methodology process as described here: Research_Strategy
Case study overview
The school was motivated by the “need to think differently” and driven by the enthusiasm of the headteacher they wanted to move from a traditional approach to education, to a “21stcentury approach”. The new approach focuses on ‘motivating and inspiring’students through the personalisation and giving them ownerships of their learning, through the use of devices that were already in some ways familiar to them. The school have already tried netbooks, but they were not convinced, as they realised that they take time to set up and are not very reliable forconnecting. The head teacher was the forerunner of the initiative, attending a conference on digital technology and learning. He was very enthusiastic about introducing digital technology initiatives, visiting other schools in which the use of iPads and iPods was part of the daily practices. Following this first approach, the head teacher met external consultants, to discuss possibilities, and then worked closely with the ICT co-ordinator to implement a plan. “We were very inspired…and we Googled and we Youtubed, and the more we found out, the more we were hooked” Before the implementation of the initiative, the ICT co-ordinator carried out a pilot study with her Year 6 class using 6 iPod Touch. The feedback from students and teacher was good and it helped build confidence for the broader implementation of the initiative. The school met with parents to introduce the initiative to answer questions and to overcome concerns such as the activities on new technology pushing writing and work in books into the background. Children were introduced to the iPods in September 2012 and were shown how to set them up and personalise them: “The iPod guy came in and talked to us about how to do simple things, change background…”
Staff reactions to the initiative were generally enthusiastic, especially from the ones who had visited other institutions. Some concerns were for maintaining the quantity of writing and for the quality of the artefacts the children would produce using the devices. The iPods have made setting up potentially complex activities a lot simpler to the extent that the teachers feel that “everything is there, I don’t have to get anything out”. The time saved can be used to move quickly from the teachers’ input to the activity, and enable them to spend more time with individual children.
The initiative has inspired the movement towards a whole school focus on 1:1 technology though this is still indevelopment and they are keen that they do not abandon traditional learning resources. The initiative is also beginning to have an impact upon the school environment. One teacher explained how she had bought different desks for herroom (see photographs) to facilitate collaborative working. The tables are curved and can be reconfigured in several different ways. The impact on children’s engagement and motivation has been considerable with children of all abilities working ontasks for a more sustained period: “Children were very engaged straight away, even the unconfident readers managed to navigate really well, they were not afraid of the unknown” “Knowledge at their fingertips, they love it and they ask more questions because they know they can find the answers immediately”
Key lessons learnt
From the planning process they have learnt that not knowing all the answers is not a problem and that teachers “shouldn’t be frightened to have a go even if they are not confident”. Pilot studies and testing with small numbers of devices was very important in the early stages, and whilst sharing devices was not a problem it is important to move towards complete 1:1. The school found that guidelines for children on acceptable behaviour with the use of iPods was understood and adhered to, and that setting up these guidelines was useful. The school underestimated how quickly the children explored, investigated, and picked up using the apps, very soon they knew several ways of completing tasks. The involvement of parents was of key importance at all the stages as this developed a shared learning culture in which they could understand the uses of the devices in their children’s learning and contribute their thoughts and ideas. Such initiatives should also work towards Cloud based approaches to sharing and communicating as this integrates personalised technology with relationships and learning throughout the school. Lastly the value of external advice and inspiration cannot be underestimated in this context and this should continue after the initial launch.