Loughborough High School in Leicestershire, part of Loughborough Endowed Schools, held a special conference called ‘A Tablet for Every Pupil’, to share some of the issues and experiences involved in 1:1 iPad deployment to all staff and pupils. More than 60 delegates from 37 schools across the UK attended the one-day interactive event.
School leaders and staff shared their own experiences, while a keynote speaker from Apple offered thoughts on the importance of engaging a new generation. The school’s key partners for IT infrastructure and device management were also present to offer advice and guidance.
Delegates including teaching staff, network managers, bursars and governors, took part in interactive sessions, giving pupils from both the high school and Fairfield Preparatory School the opportunity to share their first-hand experiences of iPad learning. Attendees then moved on to a series of workshops which focused on the technical and the financial aspects of the roll-out and the subsequent deployment of iPads at the prep school.
Gwen Byrom, headmistress at the school, explained that they found the iPad deployment a positive and exciting way of enhancing the girls’ education. She said: “It has helped to close the gap between what pupils expect from technology outside school and what they see in school. Now all 600 girls in the school have their own tablet, as do all our staff.
“To achieve the roll-out of iPads there was a significant amount of work to do on our IT infrastructure. We also worked to establish our philosophy regarding filtering and use of devices in the classroom.
“A term in advance of the girls being given iPads, they were handed out to all staff. This was along with our reassurance that the school would offer support and training while also giving staff a chance to explore their iPads for themselves. This worked very well, and in no time teachers were sharing ideas about how they could use the devices.
“Another important factor on our journey was keeping parents informed. We developed a good communications plan so they would fully understand the scheme, our philosophy and the rules and policies for usage.”
She also highlighted the importance of pupil involvement, and explained how a former study area at the high school has been transformed into a student-led iPad help facility called the Genius Bar.
A group of pupils are on hand during lunchtimes to provide device and app support to pupils and staff. Known as the Genii, they helped set up iPads during the roll-out, led workshops for parents and provide support for teachers and students in the classroom.
Dr Sue Jackson, director of studies at the school and iPad project leader, said the school’s vision for the iPad deployment is now becoming a reality: “We wanted the use of iPads in learning to evolve and be used as a new tool to change the way we worked but not dictate it. IT is now a seamless part of lessons where the iPads can be used spontaneously and then put away, and learning can take place anywhere from the bus to the library.
“Teachers and pupils work in partnership, sharing expertise and ways of working. Teachers are experts in education and we don’t want them to feel forced into becoming IT experts as well. We can learn from each other.”
Mrs Byrom concluded: “Technology won’t stand still, and we have chosen to embrace and move with it rather than feel that we are not preparing our pupils for the technology-heavy lives they already lead outside of school and when they enter the world of work.
“Where we go next isn’t set: six years ago we could not have contemplated doing what we achieved last year, so who knows where it might lead? It’s going to be an interesting journey!”