We set out on a journey a little over 5 years ago. At the time IT spend was high and vision was non-existent. IT rooms were created on a whim and the network manager ruled the school…. if he liked you, your machines worked, if not…. well!
The network manager left and we slowly set out on a path to bring a messy infrastructure up to date. Printing solutions were consolidated and new servers / cabelling was installed. The first year was mostly invisible to staff but it was critical to get the foundations right before moving on.
I put this vision before staff:
We will be at the cutting edge of the use of new technologies to enhance teaching & learning and will gain national recognition for its contribution to student outcomes. Our teachers will be some of the best trained nationally and will all confidently use appropriate technology as an intrinsic part of the learning experience in their lessons
Ambitious for sure, but where there is a will, there is usually a way. We set out to bring staff on side and integrate IT use into pedagogy across the school. The vision was clear, it was to consolidate machines and rooms and move slowly but surely to a mobile strategy and 1:1 access.
Along the way we have brought governors (initially very doubtful), parents (suspicious and worried) and students (easy) with us. We tried a range of tablets and encouraged staff to test them by setting up a Wednesday morning free breakfast, over which they provided feedback and talked about machines. Some of these staff were the biggest doubters in school and are now our digital champions.
Today we have tablets in place across the lower school and are introducing Chrome books to Sixth Form students next week. A ‘pincer movement’ will see these two strategies meet in the middle in a couple of year’s time. All of these working across a new Meru wireless network.
We are creating our own digital content and our Digital Leaders across lower school and soon in the Sixth Form run a lot of the training for staff and students. The results? Motivated students and an almost 100% improvement in exam outcomes. The journey is not over but it sure has been interesting so far!
Written by Tony Ryan, Head Teacher Chiswick School.