The benefits of implementing edtech incrementally for pupils, parents and staff to enable strong engagement levels and learning outcomes during the challenges of unplanned absence
St Mary’s CE Primary School supported by Elizabeth Woodville Primary School
St Mary’s CE Primary School in Rawtenstall, Lancashire is a Church of England, voluntary controlled school in Rossendale. They are one form entry and cater for around 210 pupils split across seven classes. Around 27.8% of these pupils are eligible for free school meals. They were rated 'Good' by OFSTED at their last inspection in 2019.
During the very first lockdown, and before the school implemented Google Workspace, work for pupils was distributed via paper packs, emails and work on the school website. Parents would have to collect, and drop-off work and engagement was low.
The school accessed the funding for Google Workspace, and this was set up in July 2020. The Headteacher (Neil Gurman) then accessed the EdTech Demonstrator Programme in September 2020 from the DfE links on briefing emails.
Two teachers from the school were allocated the role of ‘learning leads’ and they worked with Elizabeth Woodville Primary School during the autumn term of 2020 to implement Google Classroom. These teachers then cascaded the knowledge across to other teachers in the school.
Parents were very positive about the change to Google Classroom and the school had very high levels of engagement from every class. It was used initially in all classrooms with a teacher present and for homework, so, by the end of autumn term 2020, all children could access their Google Classroom and had the skills necessary to complete and submit work.
The school accessed the EdTech Demonstrator Programme again for a second year in May 2021 with a focus on staff development and pedagogy.
There was a 90+% engagement in online lessons during the lockdown of January 2021 across all classes. Children completed and submitted work on Google Classroom every day and three live lessons were scheduled a week.
All children could access their accounts and the school loaned out 30 devices from the DfE scheme for those struggling with access.
The impact on school data has been positive. At the end of academic year 2021, EYFS, Year 2 and Year 6 were above LA standards in reading, writing and maths. This year's projection shows that the school is on target to achieve the same standards as pre-pandemic in both key stages and EYFS by July 2022.
Devices are used regularly and are in demand by staff. The future aim is that, by the end of this academic year, the school will have enough devices for one per child.
At the start of term in January 2022, there were eight staff members absent in the school. Google Classroom proved invaluable for resource sharing, planning, and having everything set for lessons. It is all in one place and the covering staff know where the learning is and can follow it instantly. Work is quickly, and seamlessly, set for pupils who are absent, and engagement remains high.
The school reports that the biggest impact for staff was the quality of training given by the team at Elizabeth Woodville. The Google Classroom training in 2020 meant that staff fears of a ‘new way of teaching’ were alleviated by the mini tasks and training set. During the autumn term of 2021, two staff had specific Google Coaching on using technology to support reading. The staff pedagogy development was invaluable and now technology is embedded within everyday teaching across all key stages.