Grange Primary is a larger than average school located in a suburb of Gloucester. The proportion of children with Special Educational Needs and are supported through school action is above average, as is those eligible for Pupil Premium funding. In its journey to becoming an outstanding school, the school was graded as ‘Good’ in its 2013 inspection – going from ‘satisfactory’ in its previous inspection.
The School was praised for its above average standards in reading and maths. Inspectors noted the enthusiasm of its pupils and the efforts made by teachers to ensure lessons are interesting and engaging. This echoes the school motto of ‘Growing and Learning Together.’
Before purchasing LearnPads, the school already had an ICT Suite with approximately 20 computers. Each classroom was equipped with one class computer, an interactive whiteboard and teacher’s laptop.
It was important to Chris Dunn, the ICT Co-ordinator at the school, that any new ICT solution should be portable, robust, easy to use, child and teacher friendly, customisable and have the ‘wow factor’ to engage children and capture their imagination. However, it was also crucial that the product would continue to deliver beyond the initial ‘honeymoon period.’ They were also interested in the range of tools a tablet device could offer – replacing a camera, dictionary, calculator etc. in one user friendly device.
The School had originally planned to finance 15 tablet devices but because the cost of LearnPads was so much less than competitors, they were able to instead purchase 30 devices along with peripherals for each device – including a keyboard, stylus and headphones. They added to their order a trolley to securely store and charge the devices.
The use of the LearnPads in class began by using some of the maths apps as a starter activity. The students have been using a times table app, which increases the children’s speed and accuracy. The School’s SENCO has observed this is working particularly well amongst some of the children with SEN. They observed a group of 6 children sharing a tablet to solve maths problems. It encouraged turn taking, the children were respectful of allowing the current child time to solve the question. The other members of the group would still be solving the question in their head and would give prompts if needed; all of the children in the group were involved.
The School had originally planned to finance 15 tablet devices but because the cost of LearnPads was so much less than competitors, they were able to instead purchase 30 devices along with peripherals for each device.
In Literacy the device was initially used as an eBook reader. The school is using features of the ebook reader to allow children to annotate text, for example children have been set the challenge of highlighting all the adjectives they can find. Chris recognises this is quite a simple use for the device that could be completed using photocopies of the text and highlighter pens. However, by completing this task on the tablet it saves money on photocopies.
Chris has also made use of the PSHE profile. In one particular lesson base around emotions, he had planned to show a presentation of a series of images for the children to suggest the emotion that the person was feeling. However, during the lesson he deviated from his original plan to make use of the camera facility of the LearnPads. The children were tasked with taking photos of themselves for a child to guess the emotion they were trying to portray. Instead of passively learning by looking at a presentation, the children had a more active approach to learning. Chris noted that ‘everyone was involved…. nobody could switch off.’
Staff at the school are changing their approach to teaching as a result of having the LearnPad devises at their disposal. They have been inspired to teach in a more creative way with greater opportunities for active learning. Some of the teachers have recently taken training to be able to build their own profiles and therefore personalise content for the needs of their classes. The teachers commented that it was ‘less complicated than expected.’ Chris adds that there is a good collection of straightforward support guides available on the LearnPad website to help teachers. The results of this is that students are more active in lessons. Through their observations the benefits have been particularly beneficial for children with SEN.
Chris has no regrets in deciding to invest in LearnPads for his school. When compared to other tablet devices he believes that it takes less time for the teacher to give students access to the resources on their device. Chris has a vision for using LearnPad in a broader range of subjects. Talking to him, his passion for using LearnPad shines through. He is particularly keen to support teaching and learning of PE in the near future. He can see how LearnPad can be used to develop skills through video examples and coaching apps to analyse and assess performance and technique.