Located in Fareham, Hampshire, Crofton Anne Dale Junior School aims to provide a happy and supportive environment for students to enjoy and develop their full potential.
As part of this happy and supportive environment, the school decided that tablet computers were the ideal investment to give each child a personalised approach to learning.
Kevin Thorns, ICT & DT Manager, discusses why they needed to ensure the chosen tablet was suitable for the schools’ needs:
“When it came to exploring our options, LearnPad were the most affordable on the market, which would instantly appeal to any school, I’m sure! The tablets also offered a good screen size and included all the features that we wanted, as well as providing access to an App Store, both LearnPad’s own, and the android one. However, what attracted our attention was the LearnPad Portal which was not available with other tablet devices, but means our teachers have complete control of the learning pathway of each child; a vital consideration with any tablet investment.
Something else that was of particular importance to our school was Flash capabilities, particularly for educational software; this was another feature that LearnPad could put a tick next to! Members of staff at the school, myself included, had all experienced the iPad and Google Nexus tablets, as well as the KindleFire. While we all agreed that these were good individual consumer pieces of hardware, we were concerned about their limitations as a school-linked set.
The winning features of the LearnPad were its compact design, handy stand cover, and swift internet response!”
“The set-up was handled by our ICT technician. The LearnPads were linked to our Ubiquiti Unifi network, and all of the updates transferred to the tablets very smoothly. The network continues to host the 30+ tablets very well.
There were teething problems, of course, and a couple of the tablets needed either support or returning to LearnPad, but the team’s assistance was great and they responded immediately to our support calls.
We set up an online timetable to ensure that every teacher, and therefore every pupil, gets a chance to use the LearnPads at some point; it enables staff to book the set out (or part of the set) during any session throughout the week. This process works well for us, and it also means that the tablets are being used in all year groups across a range of different projects and subject areas.”
“They have been used in Maths with apps and school software, as well as for web browsing in several sessions, for research topics and in Literacy; they have also been used simply as a class set of cameras for photography sessions!
The most important impact and value that they’ve had across the school is freeing up ICT time for the new Computing curriculum. Whereas staff used to use ICT sessions for research or investigative work, this can now be done in the classroom, on the LearnPads. The ICT suite can now be used solely to focus on the computing curriculum instead.
The LearnPads have been most successful in History and Geography sessions, where pupils can have their own individual LearnPad on their desk, supporting their learning. They can research a topic or a key fact instantly, at will, without direction from their teacher. Research on topics in History or Geography on nearby towns can be enriched within minutes as children follow their own lines of enquiry on the LearnPads. As teachers, we can even use QR codes, or the LearnPad Portal to add specific websites or points of reference, and this is something we are planning on using more and more.
The use of the LearnPad is never at the detriment of written communication either; we still consider handwriting to be extremely important and we do everything we can to get the balance right!”
“The staff are swiftly gaining in confidence and some are also using the LearnPad Portal now to add their own apps from the store for specific sessions. The QR codes, in particular, enable us to incorporate LearnPads into more and more lessons, not as the basis for learning, but as a tool to support it.
Children are very adaptable and can use any technology; the proof of the pudding is when the older, established staff, who are unfamiliar with the technology are willing to have a go!
The only minor challenge we face is working out an effective method for getting the children to put them away with every lead plugged in to charge overnight. Ensuring the staff remember to turn the switch on afterwards is another activity teachers need to get used to; aside from that, we have no complaints!”