The use of 1:1 computing at Brooke School, Rugby
The methodology used for this particular case study followed the Vital Case Study Methodology process as described here: Research_Strategy
Overview of the school
- All age 2-19 special school: 156 pupils, around 100 staff
- Relatively modern building with extensive grounds including a Forest School.
- Close to town, catchment area Rugby and surrounding villages
- Almost all pupils are White British and a small minority are eligible for FSM
- The curriculum provides a broad and balanced experience that reflects the individual needs of pupils
ICT infrastructure and resources
Overall infrastructure and resources
The local authority provides fibre optic broadband, and virtual technical support as well as a fortnightly visit by technician. There is secure wireless access and wired network points throughout the school, separate curriculum and admin networks, with students and staff having access to the curriculum network by means of a personal logon. The ICT room has 16 networked computers, and each classroom has a networked curriculum computer, linked to an IWB, and a standalone computer.
There are 5 laptops and 11 tablet computers (iPads) available to meet pupil’s individual need and a bookable class set of netbooks.
Overview of the initiative
Brooke School has long recognised the value of ICT, particularly on a 1:1 basis, to help meet pupils’ individual need. To increase this a year ago they purchased a set of tablet computers, to support two specific groups of learners:
- Pupils at the early stage of learning (P1-P4 level) and,
- Students with dual-exceptionality not reaching expected levels in ICT.
The ICT Champion attended a local authority event and enthused by the possibilities of tablet computers persuaded the school to purchase a set. She led awareness sessions in school, and with the ICT team introduced iPads to staff that used them to support individual pupils in their classes.
The tablets privacy settings were set up to ensure e-safety requirements were met; Apps appropriate for individual need were installed, and iPad usage guidance developed. A dozen tablet computers were allocated to support individual pupils with one in most of the classes.
The assistant head teacher in one of the KS2 classrooms is trialling a pupil led learning approach for the school. She uses the iPad to support the development of communication and interaction of her pupils, many of whom are on the autistic spectrum and non-verbal. They use 1:1 computing when they need it, both in pupil and teacher led learning: a laptop, a tablet, a networked or standalone PC with access technology, any time from a minute to half hour duration.
One KS3 teacher at the school focused on raising the ICT and literacy skills of her students through increased 1:1 use of desktop computers. This included working on creating online games, in the ICT room. Each session concluded with students making constructive comments on how the games could be improved.
The use of 1:1 computing is enhancing the schools teaching and learning approach, as everything is individual. The senior leadership team has iPads and uses them in team meetings, whereas they wouldn’t have used a laptop in meetings a year ago! ICT now plays a fundamental part in the continuing professional development for the all school priority areas and is unlikely to be delivered as a separate activity, and there are direct references to iPads in the School Learning Plan 2012-2015. Parents’ interest in iPads is providing a further opportunity to increase parental engagement around technology and e-safety issues.
Teachers and the wider staff seem more willing to suggest or ask for new software in the knowledge that it is free or low cost. Pupil use of 1:1 computing has visibly improved, with individuals using the tablet computers very well, and ICT used more in class to support learning. Where pupils are in the early stage of learning, increased motivation and enhanced communication has been observed, with 1:1 computing making it easier for teachers to take the pupils lead.
An examination of Assessing Pupil’s Progress levels, and the work that students in the KS3 class produced, shows they can now do independently work they couldn’t do before, or in some cases work they’ve tried that they wouldn’t have previously had the ability to try on their own.
There has also been increased small group or individual work with the older students being able to pass the iPad around for each to take a turn.
Key lessons learnt
Providing individual support is at the heart of teaching and learning at Brooke School, and 1:1 computing is a key element of their provision.
Research is an important part of any new initiative but does not need to be time consuming. The school was convinced of the potential of tablet computers, with practice developed through use.
Detailed planning is essential to any new implementation particularly to fully engage parents.
Technical management and support issues need to be planned and implemented to ensure safe and effective use. The staff benefited from the commitment and encouragement provided by the ICT Champion and her colleagues.
The impact of tablet computers was quicker than expected and highly visible. It has positive impact on motivation, engagement, behaviour and achievement. The ease of use, portability and speed with which they start up, increased the opportunities to capitalise on communication and learning activities, particularly with pupils at the early stage of learning.
Tablet computers are prone to damage and need appropriate protection both physical and through adopting and enforcing usage policies.
Finance makes a real difference to a school’s ability to invest fully in 1:1 computing, but may be affordable over time if implemented in a staged and managed way.