Great Academies Education Trust has continued its investment in its e-learning strategy even though pupils are back at school. The trust have invested over £600K in new technology and new ways of working across its schools to provide a framework that prepares them for every eventuality and ensures that students will always be able to thrive in their learning no matter what the circumstance.
The education team have introduced a digital champions initiative during lockdown to support teachers and help them adapt to this new way of teaching. This new initiative continues to grow attracting almost 40 teachers from each subject specialism represented across their secondary and primary provision.
This includes Copley Academy, Great Academy Ashton, and Silver Springs Primary Academy in Tameside - as well as Middleton Technology School in Rochdale.
Teachers have benefited from peer-to-peer support across the Trust in addition to developing new skills on how to embed digital technology into their lessons - with a view to improve engagement, explanation, and assessment in the classroom.
Phil Smith, Director of Education of Great Academies Education Trust said “We want to try and capture the silver lining in this pandemic cloud. That is why in some shape or form, digital learning will be part of all our teacher’s toolkit long after the pandemic has been and gone. We now have exciting ways of engaging children and young people when they are unable to attend school but can still learn”
A large number of teachers are currently working together trialling a range of different applications and seeing which ones would work best and in which situations. Staff are able to request support from the group for delivering lessons, and will be able to access qualified experts who can cast an eye over any new digital approaches for the benefit of all children and young people across the schools.
Michelle Rathor who helps lead this work added “We’ve carried out a digital and technology audit of the group and established where our expertise lies and what training we will all need to make us all Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE) or MIE Trainers and MIE Experts – with a view to having every single one of us accredited with at least one of those titles so that we can support the staff across the academy chain”.
Teachers have access to bitesize videos, created by the group, on all elements of remote learning practice; from how to use Immersive Reader to how to embed assignments and end points in lessons.
Reflecting on this initiative Mr Smith said “Staff feedback across the Trust has been excellent for this particular area, with staff stating that they really enjoy the ease of access to these materials and the fact that they can refer to them at any point and use them to improve their practice”
To support this extra digital provision within the schools, The Trust has invested in three new modern apprentices who have taken on a Level 3 Infrastructure Technician course. The qualification provides students with accredited certificates in Coding and Logic, Business Processes, Network and Fundamental, in addition to Mobile and Operating Services and Cloud Services.
These positions have been created to provide additional support for their school’s pupils, families and teachers to ensure that the demands for extra ICT support during the pandemic are available.
Matthew Wilde, Head of IT said “Whilst it has been a challenging year in so many respects, the transition to this new way of working to ensure continuity of education for our students has been a resounding success and something of which, as a team, we are incredibly proud”
“The passion and dedication of the IT Team, Digital Champions Group and our supplier, Dell Technologies has seen the Trust adapt quickly and effectively during the global pandemic and ensure that our students have access to devices at home and that no student is disadvantaged during the key stages of their curriculum”.