Digital technology and improved learning outcomes

Written by: Steljes | Published:
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Pheasey Park Farm Primary School

In the past 15 years, the use of technology in education has increased dramatically. The majority of UK schools now have at least one form of interactive technology in their classrooms.

Nevertheless, classroom technology is under-utilised. Often this is simply due to lack of expertise, which means teachers never unlock the potential benefits. Sometimes technology is underestimated and is perceived as a barrier, rather than a facilitator.

Time for change

One example is Pheasey Park Farm Primary School, where interactive technology was available, but not used as a viable learning tool. It was only after Ofsted placed the school in a "Requires Improvement" category, due to low achievement rates and "dusty" teaching quality, that things started to change.

The school appointed a new headteacher and one of her main goals was to focus on interactive technology and use it to improve learning outcomes. As part of this initiative, SMART Technologies and Steljes supplied the school with a range of SMART Interactive Displays and tablets.

Steljes and SMART are passionate about delivering classroom innovation and this was the ideal opportunity to examine the impact of technology on learning and performance. So they commissioned a one-year case study with the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning at Lancaster University.

Improvement Plan

The School Improvement Plan emphasised the need for a realistic strategy, with several small and achievable milestones. The first, crucial, step was to choose the right technology for the school and decide how it should be implemented

An external consultant was brought in to help with this process. For the plan to succeed it was imperative that the teachers felt confident using the technology, so the school appointed a digital leader who would ensure all staff were provided with training.

Students

The gradual integration of technology into lessons brought about lots of positive changes. The flexibility of the new lesson structure encouraged students to learn, both individually and in groups, in an effective and natural way. Performance improved, attendance rose to its highest level ever and the students' expressed their enthusiasm:

  • "The technology makes me want to go to school more."
  • "... it helps us get involved in lessons and learn more."

Teachers

It was not just the students who were affected by the innovative approach. Teachers also started to see how stimulating content and great visuals were making their lessons more engaging and getting students involved. This in turn improved staff morale and motivation.

One said: "The technology helps all learners to be involved and engaged in lessons. It also encourages learners to interact with each other and challenge ways of thinking as well as understanding the opinions of others"

Parents

Even parents noticed some changes. A number said that their children not only seem to be more focused, but were also learning valuable life-skills.

Here is just one comment from a parent, but there were many others on a similar theme: "The difference in my son's attitude to school is amazing. He is eager to start lessons and when he comes home he talks about the day's activities. He seems to concentrate more and is more tolerant of his classmates."

Results

The introduction of technology into Pheasey Park Farm Primary School has brought real benefits and tangible results:

  • Attainment increased, especially in maths and English.
  • Absenteeism levels reduced by 71 per cent.
  • Teaching became more diverse with a more flexible, creative approach to lessons.
  • Learning outcomes were easier to monitor.
  • Students became engaged, active listeners and were more eager to discus.
  • Teaching quality improved significantly, with greater interaction between teachers and students.

What Next?

The correlation between improvement and the introduction of technology is clear. However, technology alone did not bring about the change. It was part of a bigger strategic plan to implement the right technology, support teachers, and set clearly defined goals for what the school wanted to achieve.

Pheasey Park Farm Primary School has come a long way and they plan to become a teaching centre, helping other schools in the area to integrate technology and replicate their amazing results.

The headteacher feels that technology is now so embedded within the school that removing it would have a negative impact on teaching and learning. The effect it has had is best summed up in her words: "Technology is the 'magic' that transforms the school".

A compelling educational white paper about Pheasey Park Farm Primary School is now available to download from www.steljes.com/whitepaper/pheaseypark


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