Bowes Primary School Case Study

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Overview of the school [edit]

Bowes Primary School is an outstanding 2 form entry inner city London primary school. It has 623 pupils aged 3- 11 and a higher than average number of pupils both on free school meals, and for whom English is a second language. It has 83 staff, including 30 teachers. Bowes is an extended school with an integrated Day Care Centre.

The curriculum is organised into cross-curricular themes called Learning Journeys in which pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning. Classes are mixed ability but streamed for literacy and maths at KS2. Students generally work in mixed, flexible, groups of between 4 to 6, and often have some choice in who they work with and how they work.

Description of ICT infrastructure and resources[edit]

Overall infrastructure and resources [edit]

Bowes has 9 Mac Desktop for staff, and 25 for student use. It also has 4 PCs for administration, in the office. It has 60 Mac student laptops and 31 Mac teacher laptops linked to an interactive whiteboard. There is 1 full time onsite technician who works very closely with the assistant Headteacher on ICT support and training. They also have a contract with an external company for 6 half days of server support, which they use for more advanced technical issues. They have a 10Mb broadband connection via LGFL2 and wireless throughout.

Specific technologies[edit]

Bowes has heavily invested in 1:1 devices, first via a netbook computer scheme, then an iPod touch scheme, and most recently in an iPad one. They have 120 iPads for 1:1 student use in years 5 and 6, plus 8 for general student use and 7 for the Senior Leadership Team. They still have 60 iPod touches for student use for a numeracy project to start next term, and 28 for staff to use in their assessment scheme Take a Look in key stages 1 and 2 and Look @ Me in Early Years. This involves staff photographing and recording student work for their online portfolio which is also shared with parents. There is also 1 Wii used for games such as Guitar Hero by the after school club.

Overview of project [edit]

Bowes first embarked on a 1:1 project in 2008 involving Apple Macbooks with year 6, led by Gulev, the then ICT Co-ordinator who feels that the best way to get children interested in learning is to encourage them to take responsibility for it and give them access to tools they love to use. She notes “We see an amazing effect on language learning, and development of all the basic skills across the age range”.

She then introduced an iPod touch project in 2010, primarily around boosting maths skills, and the current iPad project with year 5 and 6 students in 2011. The aim of this latest project was to again to boost confidence, motivation and independent learning, but also to raise levels of literacy, particularly in boys.

Each year 5 and 6 student has been given their own iPad housed in trolleys in their classroom. They make extensive use of the iPads for research and use them for taking notes and creating presentations in KeyNote and Book Creator. Staff and students have noted positive impacts on motivation, attainment and behaviour. Students spend longer making their work perfect and benefit from using grammar notes and spell check. Being able to produce professional looking presentations had a very positive impact. As one student noted “I love KeyNote – if I had an iPad at home I would use KeyNote all the time.” Students appreciated their iPads and felt they had improved dynamics in the class as they could more easily work in groups. They found showing their work via the projector very motivating.

Impact [edit]

Staff felt that the iPads had enabled them to work more closely in joint planning activities and enable more student group work in their classes. Staff felt that their ICT skills had significantly improved over the project and they liked sharing new skills with their students. They particularly liked the fact that the iPads were linked to a central server so they could access joint resources, and students could upload their work and demonstrate it to the class via the whiteboard. Staff also noticed they printed off worksheets and other handouts much less as students accessed resources on their iPads instead.

Staff noted significant benefits to all students, particularly in terms of their motivation, focus and independent learning skills. They felt that their literacy had improved by better access to a range of texts and literacy tools such as spellcheck and individual vocabulary and grammar documents. There had also been an impact on maths skills, primarily on aspects such as times tables as students would spend much longer practicing these via the iPads games, and particularly enjoyed challenging each other. Staff noted that parents were enthusiastic about the project. Students proudly showed parents their work at parents’ evenings and other events. Staff felt that once the iPads started going home with students next term this parental involvement would increase.

Staff felt the most pronounced effects were on the confidence of SEN students, particularly on an autistic boy who was able to work with a group for the first time.

Key lessons learnt [edit]

Bowes has successfully implemented this 1:1 iPad project due to the enthusiasm and vision of the ICT co-ordinator, the support of the school leadership and the open and collaborative ethos of the school. Staff have felt supported at all stages and able to ask questions and experiment for themselves. All staff involved have been given responsibility for an aspect of the project and have felt able to contribute and learn from each other. Extensive training, both formal and informal has been vital.

Bowes has extensive experience in implementing 1:1 projects and has learnt the need to involve everyone in the planning, to start with a small pilot and then expand, and to give people time and space to experiment. Having excellent technical backup and the flexibility to make changes to timescales when needed is also key.

Students have been involved in the planning of this project and are able to make suggestions about new apps and demonstrate their new skills to their peers, but also to their teachers and parents. They show evident pride and care in their iPads and behave responsibly with them and appreciate the impact they have had on their learning.