Pinewood School is located in Shrivenham, between Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. The school offers a quality, family-based co-educational day and boarding environment for children aged three to thirteen.
Ruth Hall, the school’s Director of Education discusses how they decided which devices the school would invest in, and why.
“We knew we wanted to head down the tablet route, but with children at Pinewood ranging from three through to thirteen, we needed something that would cover the breadth of the school, and provide us with one system that was suitable for each year group.
To start with, we considered our priorities. We knew we wanted to invest in tablets that were not only geared for education, but that would also allow our pupils to practise the skills that they’ve picked up at home, and use them in an educational way.”
“The main appeal of the LearnPad was the fact that it is has been developed specifically with education and schools in mind, and that really is evident. I also liked the fact that it combines all of the technology which, whether we like it or not, children are using at home – so they are already familiar with it.
We purchased a set of Octavo and Quarto LearnPads. The beauty of both, for Pinewood specifically, is the detachable keypads which allow the three-year-old pupils to take the attachment off and still wander around with the tablet. The older children, who often need to take the tablets back to the classroom and actually type something up, can simply slot it back on and type away – that really is brilliant for us!”
“Part of Pinewood’s ethos is outside learning; we won an award for Learning Outside the Classroom, and the LearnPad really does support that. A good example of this is from a recent Science lesson, when a class of our six-year-old pupils were learning about habitats. They went off in pairs and looked at different types of environments around the school; for example, some of them found a flower and some found a log. They used the LearnPad to photograph and record their findings. They then discussed with their partner what types of creatures might live in those habitats, and went back with the LearnPads to try and find those creatures and see whether they were right.
Tasks like this are great, because they encourage pupils to practise all their IT skills, whilst getting a true record with a photo (unlike a drawing, which might not show you how many legs an ant has!). The information can also be used in our data handling topics (“we found this number of ants under this log”, for example). Being able to go outside with the tablets or even just around the school is perfect.”
“We love the fact that even our nursery children can use them, which is exactly what we wanted! Higher up the school, we have a very IT literate History teacher who uses the LearnPads with our scholars; they use them for research and for importing information; this really does demonstrate the LearnPad’s flexibility and its use throughout the whole school.
In addition, we have a programme in the school where we train teachers in-house. All of the training teachers borrow the tablets and are really keen to use them. The Learning Skills department are also trialling them, with the view to them having some for their one-to-one lessons – they’re particularly excited about some of the apps they can use, and the speech recognition feature.”
“Initially we started trialling the LearnPad with the younger years at Pinewood, which has been a huge success. It means that when those children move up into Years 3 and 4 they are already familiar with the technology from their previous experience working with them.
Overall, we’re using LearnPads in many areas of the school and that’s because they’re very user-friendly, and they have clearly been set up with schools firmly in mind. I can’t express enough how important that is! At the same time, they have the look and feel of other technology that children are using at home and are familiar with, so it makes them feel ‘grown-up’ and excited that they’re using a tablet.
The LearnPad is perfect for us, so perfect that we plan to buy another trolley of them in the not so distant future. Based on their positive feedback, I know our staff and pupils will be glad to hear it!”