Building staff confidence and knowledge across a MAT in how to use technology to attain a common approach to enhance their learning and teaching model
Forward As One CE Academy Trust supported by United Learning
Forward As One is a Church of England Multi Academy Trust, non-profit making educational charity based across the North West of England – primarily, Bolton, Bury, Tameside and Lancashire. Their charitable purpose is the advancement of education for public benefit, working closely with local authorities, maintained schools and other Academy Trusts to advance education for all.
They wanted a common approach to staff development to enable their practitioners to reduce workload and flourish with the use of technology. Staff at the Trust had varying experience, confidence and knowledge in how to use technology and attaining a common approach would support and enhance their learning and teaching model.
Forward As One received support and input that was bespoke to their MAT’s and schools’ needs, commenting that the help was well placed within previous professional development and sequenced well within their existing model. Elliot Costas-Walker, Director of Learning & Specialist Leader of Education at Forward As One, explained that United Learning were a good fit for their needs as, ‘The expertise of Gemma Gwilliam enabled us to support schools at differing starting points - to move them closer to our MAT digital vision, recognising that individual schools needed bespoke support’.
As a result of the support, Forward As One are now in a strong position to merge their Digital Strategy with their Learning & Teaching Strategy – into a single strategic approach. Elliot commented, ‘We are keen to do this as we see technology as a tool within our pedagogical toolkit, intrinsic to lesson and curriculum design. Our staff are confident with utilising their iPad Pro’s to model and display children’s work - the blended learning approach is becoming embedded within our schools and children are becoming more confident in utilising iPads to support and enhance their own learning’.
Forward As One are now moving into the space where they can offer bespoke support developed through the EdTech Demonstrator Programme. For example, working with all our SENCOs and Learning Mentors across the Trust with how we can remove barriers to learning (including language barriers) through the use of iPad and Apple. The Trust has launched a ‘Digital Champion’ network to focus on strengthening Learning and Teaching and reducing teacher workload, to build capacity and ensure their strategy is sustainable and makes a real difference and impact on outcomes.
For others thinking of joining the programme, Elliot shared some advice: Be clear on what you want to achieve; share your barriers and challenges (in order to seek solutions); and be aspirational and creative in your thinking!
Elliot Costas-Walker, Director of Learning & Specialist Leader of Education
It was second to none - we have moved forward at such pace, the programme has been exactly what we have wanted and more besides. Our gratitude goes to the Ed-Tech Demonstrator programme.
Michelle Ridsdale, Trust School Improvement Lead, Forward As One CE MAT
The tailored input for us has been key in helping us define and refine our digital strategy to encompass teaching and learning across our school both during lockdown and bubble closures and now as we enter our phase of blended learning and flipped learning in a post pandemic world. The Edtech Demonstrator programme is allowing us to be forward thinking and exploratory in our approach to addressing teacher workload, ensuring our curriculum and quality of education is inclusive for all pupils, develop the knowledge and understanding of our staff and provide us with new approaches in communicating with our parents and meet the needs of our vastly different school communities.
We look forward to our continued collaboration with Gemma and United Learning.