The Flipped Classroom - Gonville Academy

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Overview of the school[edit]

Gonville Academy is a popular, over-subscribed community school and is a member of the STEP Academy Trust (Striving Together for Excellence Partnership) with one other school, and supports a third school. It is situated in Thornton Heath in the North of the LB of Croydon. The governing body also manages after-school provision as well as a breakfast club. It is a larger than average primary school with capacity for 480 and currently with 529 pupils including the Nursery. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is higher than the national average. The majority of pupils are of minority ethnic backgrounds; the largest groups are of Caribbean, African or Pakistani heritage. Approximately half of all pupils speak English as an additional language.

Description of ICT infrastructure and resources[edit]

The school has LGfL Broadband from Virgin with fibre optic connection. Filtering and monitoring is by LGfL (Atomwide) with anti-virus by Sophos. Both wired and wireless connectivity is throughout the school, including the extended buildings external to the main building. The server is 2008 R2 standard. Guest devices can access wired and wireless networks. The school has an ICT suite of 30 PCs, with 19 through out classrooms and 4 in the staffroom. There are 60 laptops available to yr3 – yr6 and 24 teacher laptops. The school has an ICT technition on site 4 days per week. In addition they have ICT support from the LA and when necessary from LGfL or Fronter (the VLE supplier)

Specific technologies[edit]

In the context of “Flipped Classroom” there is no specific hardware technology associated with the focus of the case study. This relies heavily on the provision and availability of the Fronter MLE to pupils who can have access to their work, guidance and support anywhere and anytime, and especially from home. Most pupils have home internet access, and special focus is given by the school to pupils and parents if they lack such access. As a school, Gonville have had to make sure that all children in the school can have access to a computer. They have provided before school and lunchtime clubs in the ICT suite for children who do not have access to the internet at home, and class teachers provide opportunities in the classroom. They have also provided parents with information about local library computer access. Their Assessment Manager holds information showing which children do not have computer access at home (currently less than 10% of students).

Case Study Methodology[edit]

The methodology used for this particular case study followed the Vital Case Study Methodology process as described here:Research_Strategy

Case study overview[edit]

Gonville has an MLE which is fully embedded and has been for some 4 – 5 years. The “Flipped Classroom” focus highlights on how this has been utilised and exploited by the school to evolve the way teaching and learning activities, and outcomes, can progress. This project was about making use of technology that was already there. The school didn’t want to spend lessons in school actually researching. Lessons talk about research, but the children are often asked to do research or homework projects online and upload their findings into Fronter, or bring the information into class, in order to use it in lessons. They have an online newspaper for which they do most of the research at home or during lunchtimes. They just edit and publish in school. Peer communication is encouraged and children are asked to comment on forums and share their prior knowledge via Fronter. Year 6 are currently making use of Fronterbridge to conduct an international learning project, linking with a Norwegian school. These activities save time in class so that children can apply what they have learned and the classroom activities can focus more on knowledge and thinking skills. Pupils have more time for evaluation and peer assessment, and by guiding different groups within a class to focus their research on particular areas of a whole class topic, the students take on the role of teacher by sharing their newly gained knowledge and insights. These developments have fitted well with the introduction of a “Discovery time” curriculum, where this is topic based with lots of subjects that tie together. The school like their children to be more independent and that is one reason why the “flipped classroom” has grown naturally. This of course changes the role, focus and activity of the teacher, which reflects in the lessons, planning and delivery.

Project Impact[edit]

  • Saves class time to get children to apply what they’ve learned and reinforcing what’s done in school
  • Makes children more confident and independent, with very high levels of engagement
  • Teachers are also more positive and engaged, working the same with staff as pupils
  • Real impact on the quality and quantity of work produced – extraordinary impact for some individuals
  • Each child has an Assessment Buddy and new children will learn from their assessment buddy as much as their teacher. Similarly new staff learn from existing staff. Both staff and pupils are collegiate towards others.
  • Using the MLE forums and e-mail has had a massive impact on improved communication for staff and pupils
  • Leaders share information, and using the MLE can be done safely and securely – no worries about having to use encryption for lots of documents
  • Big positive impact on parental communication and parental engagement using parent virtual classroom and parent forum. School posts links so parents can understand and relate to what their child is learning in the classroom. Parents can access their child’s virtual classroom, see what their child is doing and support them.
  • The “Flipped classroom” is changing the pedagogy from a few years ago when the model for a lesson was Starter, Introduction, Main bit of work, and Plenary. Now looking at different ways to organise lessons and structures based on “What do they need to learn?”, “What skills are missing?”, “Where are the gaps?” and “How are we going to fill them?”
  • Massive evidence of pupil engagement from login statistics (Highest in the Borough)
  • Evidence from steady upward trend in results and Year 6 progress last year was good

Key lessons learnt[edit]

  • This was an evolutionary process with no major barriers or obstacles
  • Teachers and support staff must learn first – the school staff spent 6 months with the technology before introduction to the pupils, and there must be a “No opt out” policy with staff which relies on good communication and a collegiate atmosphere
  • SLT buy-in is essential
  • Delivering effectiveness and efficiency to teachers supports their buy-in
  • Communicate frequently with staff (and pupils) as new initiatives or activities are rolled out – be prepared to discuss, evaluate and develop change as necessary. Make sure initiatives are carefully thought about and properly embedded
  • Where a training need is identified then pick up on it. This has resulted in teaching assistants taking ownership of some parts of the virtual classrooms.
  • The school has found Digital Advocates from Yr 6 pupils useful to support other pupils and some teachers
  • Use the technology to change the way pupils and teachers interact. The children trust more and are not scared to ask questions, are more confident and less scared of making mistakes. They use their forums and support each other, relying less on needing answers only from a teacher.
  • Pupils are requesting and practising independent learning and have, in some year groups, prepared and, once approved, delivered short lessons to their classmates. This is an extension of the group research and delivery to classmates that is a regular part of Discovery Time learning and the Flipped Classroom in class activities.