Harrogate Grammar School

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About Harrogate Grammar School (HGS)

  • 11-18 Specialist language and technology college status
  • Teaching school
  • Serving Harrogate and nearby villages
  • 1840 pupils, 550 6th form, 115 staff
  • Mostly white British, few on FSM, few SEN.
  • Founded 1903
  • Ofsted judgement: “Outstanding”.
  • ICT not taught discretely beyond Year 7

Description of ICT infrastructure and resources

  • Original infrastructure replaced because of iPads programme.
  • Wi-fi can accommodate 30 students using iPads in each classroom simultaneously.
  • Philosophy: people should be able to access anything, from device, from anywhere in the school, regardless of how many are being used simultaneously.
  • Broadband: 100Mbps Fibre
  • 800 PCs, of which 650 available to students
  • 80 classroom laptops

Specific technologies

  • Improved wi-fi
  • Based on concept of “redundancy”: if one connection fails, other takes over automatically
  • iPads (version 2): 150 for staff; 1,000 for students – treated as personal device
  • Up to 2000 to be catered for

Overview of work/activity/project

The school looked into having a 1:1 mobile learning programme because of a desire for improved teaching and learning, higher student engagement and a wish to keep pace with the changing world.

These comments should be seen in context: the school is “Outstanding”, and has a very high commitment to improving teaching and learning, as evidenced by its Teaching and Learning Communities (TLCs), Learning Walks, and lesson observations.

Key people:

  • Assistant Headteacher i/c Teaching and Learning, because the primary goal was to improve teaching and learning;
  • Network Manager, to ensure the school’s infrastructure could cope;
  • Finance Manager, because the solution had to be affordable, both by the school and the parents.

Work undertaken:

Extensive research from March 2011, including:

  • Drawing on experience of previous laptop scheme
  • Academic research
  • Blog posts
  • School visits from experts
  • Visits to schools
  • Improvements to wi-fi etc
  • Trials with iPads
  • Decision to adopt iPads
  • Negotiation with E-Learning Foundation
  • Development of Purchasing Framework
  • Population of iPads with a number of pre-installed apps
  • Money for staff to purchase apps
  • Whole school discussions on, and contributions to, a Responsible Use Policy for iPads policy, subsumed under existing e-safety and other policies, and encapsulated in iPad Agreement signed by pupils and parents
  • RUP linked to school’s rewards and reprimands system
  • Establishment of iChampions on staff
  • Establishment of pupil iChamps
  • Decision to allow staff to use iPads how, and how frequently, they liked, in order to see what worked
  • Focus of TLCs on iPads
  • The above included extensive consultation with parents, from November 2011, which also led to:
  • FAQs to allay people’s concerns
  • Provision for parents unable to afford monthly payment

“The SLT are always looking to the future.” (Teacher )


Evidence of impact largely anecdotal, as the scheme proper has only been running for a few weeks. So far there has been no change in the curriculum as a result of scheme’s implementation. One difference is that teachers are emailing lesson objectives etc to pupils in advance.

“Pedagogy will change, you can’t help it: strategies to engage learners will be found.” (Teacher) One teacher uses iDoceo for immediate access to students’ grades, while another uses Socrative at start and end of lesson, and for AfL purposes. One teacher uses an app to give audio feedback on pupils’work.

There is a sense of discovery: teachers (and pupils) enjoy finding new useful apps; teachers report being innovative, and being more organised. Technology is more embedded in practice: more natural than disruption of booking computer room and/or waiting for laptop to start up.

“For students this isn’t a technology, it’s a natural part of their lives” (Teacher)

Finding apps provides an opportunity to discuss teaching and learning.

Impact on school: move towards paperless office model by SLT. iPads used to carry around all documentation, and facilitates instant and spontaneous research.

“Having the internet in your pocket is really good, because you can be more spontaneous” (Teacher)

Impact on pupils: mainly independence and motivation: “Pupils never used to be enthusiastic but now we look forward to lessons. The iPads make people want to do the work.” (A pupil)

“We have more independence: we can do the work how we like” (Another pupil)

Key lessons learnt

The experience proves that the following are crucial for success:

  • Extensive research and consultation
  • Headteacher’ support and involvement of key people
  • Existing ethos of striving for excellence

Issues to be addressed (all known about and acknowledged):

  • Training in using Dropbox, for pupils
  • Central place for file storage: at the moment people are saving work in email, Dropbox, Evernote and elsewhere. This is not a huge problem now, but in future, when there are many files, it will be challenging to either find the one you want, or to share it with others.
  • Assessment of iPads-based learning in a more formal way (at the moment it is largely anecdotal)
  • Continuing to determine what is good practice ie what works really well...
  • ... and then continuing to share that across departments and faculties
  • Keeping parents informed in order to retain their support
  • Existing structures, eg for CPD, can be adapted for new situations: the technology may change but, in a sense, good teaching and learning practice doesn’t.
  • “The iPad shifts responsibilities: if a student is doing something s/he shouldn’t it is now a class management issue rather than a technical issue”.


The methodology adopted for this case study was almost identical with that prescribed in Research_Strategy. However, it differed in the following respects:

  • At HGS it was the Network Manager rather than the Head of ICT who completed the technical questionnaire.
  • The Finance Officer also completed an Adult User Questionnaire.
  • One of the teacher adult users kindly provided me with many examples of work from her Year 8 English class.
  • One of the members of the Pupil Focus Group was unable to provide me a portfolio.