Reimagining teaching and learning in a fully Google school
Find out what a fully ‘googled’ school looks and feels like. Gain inspiration from a school that has been a worldwide Google Reference School since 2015 and was one of the first schools to deploy G Suite for Education and Chromebooks in the UK.
Nick Berryman, Assistant Head and EdTech Lead, Devonport High School for Boys Academy Trust
Overview: Reimagining teaching and learning in a fully Google school
From more efficient administration to students who make their own websites to support classes, find out how Devonport High School for Boys (DHSB) has made incremental gains to become a more collaborative, effective and dynamic learning environment. Learn how the whole organisation has embedded G Suite for Education to increase productivity, efficiency and to transform learning.
Appointed as an EdTech Demonstrator school by the DfE in 2020, DHSB supports other schools to deliver high quality remote teaching and learning; to develop a digital strategy; to creatively overcome the barriers of accessibility; to use specific EdTech tools across the whole school and subject specific areas; improve staff workload; and enhance community engagement.
About Devonport High School for Boys
Devonport High School is a grammar school for boys aged 11-18. Their vision, whatever anyone’s role in the school or personal ambition, is that ‘Everyone Succeeds.’
The school provides a disciplined, caring environment in which students achieve levels of excellence that reflect their tremendous potential and the high expectations of them. Examination results and university entrance records are among the best in the country.
About the Department for Education’s EdTech Demonstrator Programme
The EdTech Demonstrator Programme was developed by the Department for Education to ensure schools and colleges across England could access free, expert advice on educational technology. The programme launched shortly before the Covid19 pandemic enforced an extended period of remote teaching and learning in the Spring of 2020.
Now in its second year, the programme has evolved from crisis response to offer support to schools and colleges in developing digital strategies which make effective use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.
Need help and advice with implementation or ongoing support with Google?
As a Google for Education Partner, Scomis has worked with many schools to help them implement Google and other cloud-based technologies. By providing flexible access to our Google experts, we are also able to help you build on your existing Google platform to realise its full potential.
If you are interested in knowing more about how we can help you to exploit Google for Education technologies, please get in touch. (link to contact us form).
Successfully implementing a Digital Learning Platform at Honiton Primary School
As a Google for Education partner, we have helped many customers successfully implement digital learning platforms, enabling the provision of high quality and engaging teaching and learning without impacting on staff workload. And our services don’t stop there – our ongoing support contracts provide quick and responsive access to expertise when it is most needed as Ross Hasler explains:
“We use Scomis to support us with our G Suite for Education and I would like to say a BIG thank you for resolving the myriad of requests we have been sending through. Our teachers are using Chromebooks successfully to teach KS1 and KS2 using Google Docs and Sheets. The service is working extremely well – the queries that I and other staff members have are now looked at much quicker by the specialists at Scomis, freeing up huge amounts of time to focus on teaching, learning and leadership”
Assistant Head Teacher, Honiton Primary School, Devon
Other Related Topics
Find out what you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your school or multi academy trust and how technology can help your organisation become more sustainable with Google’s Head of Education for the UK and Ireland, Anna Artemyeva.
Find out more about the near future of Google’s classroom for learning with Phil Wheeler, Google Certified Trainer and Presenter.
If you are looking for inspiration about how to empower SEND students to take greater control of their own learning through exploiting EdTech, find out more about new strategies and hints and tips that you can implement immediately with Google Certified Trainer and Presenter, Phil Wheeler.
Further reading and reference material
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Offering over 20 hours of appropriate learning content for School Business Leaders. ISBL members can register their attendance against their annual CPD commitment.
PAUL: Welcome back. I’m Paul Beavis, and I would like to welcome you to the session this afternoon. The last couple of years has seen a rapid adoption of cloud-based learning platforms for schools, and here at Scomis, as a Google for Education partner, we’ve worked with many schools to help them implement Google and other cloud-based technologies. By providing flexible access to technical expertise, we are also able to help you build on the platform s you have to place to fully exploit them as we all start to re-imagine teaching and learning. During this session, we hope you will gain inspiration from a school that has been a worldwide Google Reference School since 2015, and was one of the first schools to deploy Google Workspace for Education and chrome books in the UK. Forward the application efficient administration for students who make their own websites to support classes, you will find out how this school has made easy incremental gains to become a more collaborative, and dynamic learning environment. You will learn how the whole organisation has embedded Google Workspace for Education to improve productivity, efficiency, and to transform learning. Appointed as an EdTech Demonstrator school by the DfE in 2020, DHSB delivers other schools and supports other schools to deliver high-quality teaching and learning. It’s great to see you again, Nick. Welcome to ScomisLive.
NICK: Thank you, Paul. Thank you for the introduction. So obviously today I’m here to talk about our journey towards becoming a service and a Google School and how that has helped us to develop our teaching and learning. Basically, we started off back in 2013, 2014, probably in a similar situation to most schools having an old VLE system, and we kind of wanted to put our faith or vision into a product which we felt that would benefit us, and so we went for Google at that point. However, we were early adopters, so obviously G suite and all the tools back then I guess were in their infancy. So we worked really hard to make sure that all of our staff and students were trained in those areas, or using the G Suite to enhance their teaching. We basically created a vision and a five-year plan in terms of saying, well, actually, if we can move to a cloud-based solution over the next five years, and we could move all of our systems into the cloud, how great that would be in terms of the staff, students for connectivity and making sure we had that kind of, I guess integration within lessons to make them exciting and engaging. As you kindly introduced us there, we became a Google Reference School. We had done lots of trials, I’m I’m sure some schools have done already in terms of Apple products. We used Microsoft products at that point as well. I guess we have what people are now calling that hybrid set-up in terms of having lots of experience in Microsoft, quite a lot of experience in Google, but we still had, I guess, fixed IT suites, and it was very, I guess, restrictive in terms of what we could do in terms of that interactivity with the students, and trying to make the lessons way more collaborative. So we appointed Claire Butler, our Director of the Learning Commons who has got heaps of Google experience, and she put together a team of digital leaders who then came up with lots of creative ideas using sort of Google sites. So every department had a Google site built so students had 24-hour access. That gave us the impetus to look at that kind of learning journey as a student and basically saying, well, actually, if we can develop a platform, or we can use Google Workspace in a way that will engage the students, it will differentiate the learning. We had students coming on and logging on, and we could see how many were reading the material. Right back then, we could see positive gains. Obviously, that wasn’t a seamless kind of approach to the school. We then saw the benefits of the Chromebooks, and we said we’re going to get rid of our fixed computer suites and introduce a one-to-one Chromebook scheme at the school, and went through a parental purchase of Chromebooks as well. That freed up capital. Rather than spending up to £30,000 on a computer room which we had six of, which were end of life, we had put that money we ring-fenced for I infrastructure into our – IT infrastructure into our backbone. We changed all the switches, put access points in every room, and then we put Prometheum 75-inch screens into every classroom as well. That meant we had the foundations then to really do everything we needed to do with Google Workplace for Education. It transformed our teaching and learning to I guess the level with where we have that integration where when we went into lockdown and the pandemic, all students had connectivity, all students had a device, teachers could do live lessons from Google Meet. And when we had hybrid teaching going on, allowed back in the classroom, and we had some of our vulnerable students or teachers at home, it meant we could could still stream live lessons, and still have the lessons with the students with their main teacher in front of them. What we then saw is that we didn’t have a bigger catch-up issue. We had roughly 96% attendance throughout the pandemic because we had the introduction of that technology. Also, through the pandemic, we made the bold move to go completely cloud MIS which was like the last piece in the puzzle of moving all our, I guess, infrastructure and the way in which we operate into the cloud. What that then did again was free up a lot of capital, because what we realised is all the third-party bits of software and integration that we were using previously we no longer needed, because most cloud-based MISs now have everything integrated into them, and that freed up I think roughly about 25,000 a year, and again we could use that money back into I guess financing our infrastructure, making sure that the resources were there for the students, which then gave us that kind of platform to work off, and that kind of brings us up to where we are. So present day, we are a server school, we’re one-to-one Chromebooks across the site, we have Wifi6 connectivity across the entire site, outside Wi-Fi access, point-to-point access going across the site as well. Everywhere where you’re on our school site, we’re completely integrated with that. What does that look like in terms of a Google-based school? It means that all staff use Workplace for Education. All the learning resources, all the sharing of files, all the monitoring, the progress, all of the way in which we do assessments are all integrated into Workplace so we use Google Forms for assessments quite a lot, Sheets to track the data. There is a really, really nice tool within Sheets that has got, like a Mark Sheet template that Google produced. It’s in the template gallery, and we can use that again to track students, it gives them a nice class overview, you get a nice kind of timeline in terms of starting point against the class average, so you can actually see progress happening with those tools. And the good thing is that because all teachers are on Chromebooks, and they’ve got the same Chromebook that the students have, there are no issues, really. It’s not like what we are having about five years ago where different devices in the classroom, and the teacher was becoming the IT technician essentially of getting everyone online. Now we’ve got a seamless environment that everyone is working from the same point. The sharing of files and the ability to have that, I guess, group work, individual work, people all working on the same products at the same time, just gives that, I guess was the teaching environment an edge in terms of not having to worry about having different types of technology, or moving people down to computer rooms. What we noticed is, when we used to have computer rooms, you would lose anything from kind of five to ten minutes by the time you’ve walked them down to a computer suite, by the time they’ve logged it on, so in terms of teaching and learning, and especially at the moment with catch-up, every minute is vital in terms of students’ outcomes. We’ve noticed that our Google environment and having the accessibility has been hand-down one of the best things that we have done, in terms of time-saving. Now, the beauty of the Chromebook is if you haven’t used one, you open the lid, and away you go. You’re logged in. The cloud environment gives us single sign on, so everything sign on with Google and it is all two-factor authenticated as well, so you’ve got the security built into that. Is our staff use it all, all of our students use Google Workplace for Education so everything goes out; all our communication goes out using all the Workplace tools. We use Google Classroom as our central point, I guess, where we are kind of place all assignments or work, and that gives us all the access there, and a top tip is that if you are using Google Classroom, if you use the app version, you can annotate directly within it. When you’re looking for the app of that market and feedback, looking for closing the loop, or the feedback loop making sure the students are doing purple-pen improvements, dur or dit time, the Google Classroom app is a brilliant tool for teachers, because you can do the marking, you can hit the save button, creates a PDF, it attaches the work, you hit return, and you give it a grade, and then you go into your grade book in the part of your classroom, and you’ve got every assessment point they’ve done, they’ve got every piece of work, you’ve got every piece of student’s comments coming backwards and forwards. The big focus at the moment across education is how are students knowing how to progress or move forward, they’re getting immediate feedback. The other thing that Google has done for us is by having the Chromebook in the room, and having the Prometheum screens, we can seamlessly cast to the screen, we can take a photo, or even live camera of the Chromebook, and you can electric that work straight up to the board, so students can see how their peers are doing, and you can see a model piece of work and talk about that, and it helps the learner move on in the lesson also. By not being tied to a desk, and I see it a lot, when we go into the schools, doing the educator work through the EdTech programme, you always see teachers with PCs on a desk, and the desk becomes the barrier, and actually the Chromebook just frees you up from that. Five or six of our teachers in schools don’t have desks at all, they have a standing podium, and they basically use that, and wirelessly walk around the room, and then interact with the students using the Chromebooks as well. Linked to that is the professional development and how our teachers are trained. We offer Google – most of our staff are level one. We’ve got a few at level 2, and Claire, our director of learning, she’s just trying to finish off her Google Trainer badge, so Google’s embedded and seamless all the way through the school. If you’ve got a vision, whether Google or Microsoft – I’m not biased towards Google at all – the key thing is, whatever you do or implement, you have to back it up and give it time. As a leadership team, we said part of our CP programme has to include Google through it. We have to train our staff and yay the lies those tools. When we have identified those really good members of staff, we get them to demonstrate in staff briefings, and so always sharing our information, and always sharing and demonstrating what is going on in the classroom. We use Google Meet for staff meetings and training as well, so through the pandemic, we managed to keep going with our Meet, and essentially, that is not just for us checking on staff, it was more about wellbeing, you know? Humans like to talk to humans, and actually what Google Meet did for us was keep our community together, it kept our students being able to talk, and it kept our pastoral role running as well. We’ve not moved away from that now. What we’ve done is all of our parents’ evenings and our parent feedback is all done via online video platforming, and so we used to be setting up a hall and have like parents turning up for five-minute appointments. We don’t need that any more. We’ve got the technology and the integration where we can talk to parents, they can see us, and you can have a real confidential conversation using that platform as well. So that has give us another seamless kind of link. We also then applied digital skills into our curriculum and through our teaching, and obviously one of the important things is about the Gatsby benchmarks and how essential how are we getting our students ready for the world of work, how we are embedding careers and knowledge into our curriculum, and how we basically are talking about our experiences, because the majority of teachers at our schools haven’t come straight through education, they have had industry experience, and it’s really important that students have that awareness in terms of what is needed in the workplace, and we want make sure that when our students leave here, they don’t just walk out with an academic piece of paper, they walk out of here upskilled in all the technology, upskilled in terms of digital awareness, being able to present, having that kind of skills that the workplace is now need which all links into the Gatsby benchmark. What we’ve seen is, you know, bringing the one-to-one devices of Chromebooks has eliminated phones. We don’t have to have the battle around students saying we are going to ban phones on the school site. We have said, there’s no phones inside the buildings and no phones at lesson time, because you’ve got your Chromebook, and the beauty of the Chromebook is through the admin panel, we can manage that, and we kind of can push out through the operational units of the structure the settings we want students to have that access to. We can whitelist all the sites and everything that teachers need to teach the lessons. We are allowing and we’re encouraging our students to use technology in a way in which benefits them and drives those skills, but also I guess teaching and understanding that technology is good. Essentially, we’ve got to remember that the students, the cohorts we are talking about, they’ve been born into a world where technology is already there, it exists, and essentially, we’ve got as teachers adapt and allow students to use the technology effectively to engage and enhance their learning further. And the Chromebook and Google Workplace for Education is the underlining things that have allowed us to have those engaging lessons. We in general – this is the Chromebook that we use. So we use a ruggedised Lenovo 500E, because you can see it essentially becomes a tablet. It’s a flip device. The most exciting part of it is that it is stylus and touch-enabled. The academic subjects like maths and science and physics wanted to have that ability to be able to do annotations, and calculations on screen. And so, essential ly, this device gave us that flexibility to do that. We also use it a lot in digital art, so our art department have been embracing Chromebooks amazingly well and seen an uptake in students wanting to go into creative arts and those types of subjects, because I guess they see technology as the way of how they want to learn and how they want to kind of present their work. So, if I take an example in terms of digital as an example, they’re doing lots of art, they’re using Google Draw and other parts to do that. In terms of music, we’ve gone completely away from product called Sibelius which most schools are probably have. We’re using Note Flight, and we’re using a couple of other products which are all online. Our DT department, we’ve gone completely away from some of the 3D heavy expensive packages that we used to have, and we used to have lots of, I guess, heavy licensing costs, and we’ve moved to a product called On Shape in the cloud which is essentially free to education, and again all works seamlessly on a Chromebook or any device because it’s cloud-based, and that is the beauty of having that kind of cloud solution. We’ve then seen that students aren’t just doing work here, because they take their Chromebooks home, they can carry on learning those new skills and when they come back into the next lesson, they’ve advanced and moved forward. The Chromebook and going cloud-based has given us that kind of freedom and flexibility, and it’s engaged the students massively well. So here is an example. We do lots of Google Forms and assessments, so lots of regular testing. We schedule it, so we use a lot of the scheduling functionality. Again, the teacher workload and wellbeing, Google Forms are amazing for assessment. Lots of topic tests you can create on there. The best thing is once you produce them, you sit them in your Google Drive folder, next year, cohort comes through, open it up, and resubmit it, and a new grade sheet that opens up. All self-marking assessments as well. For wellbeing, no more marking. Yes, it self marks it. That creates a feedback loop. We use quizzes as well. Google Forms tend to be developed really well now, and so, actually, using those forms are an easy way to kind of gauge assessment. The beauty of these as well is with everybody having a Chromebook, you can use it as a starter so somebody can walk into the room, open the lid, click on link, and you’re doing the register walking around so there is that seamless start to a lesson, so we are using I guess pretty much what most people are doing at the moment, using the four-part lessons to do that, so having to start, then engagement, doing, and then obviously a recap? In the plenary part at the end of it. The technology allows us to do that really, really nicely. We then have got a bit of a trial. We’ve got a few subjects where we have gone completely electronic, and so we’ve designed an electronic textbook. There are a couple of pictures there of the lads working away, and I think that’s in the computer science lesson. I went around and took some photos. The boys are doing and submit their work via the textbook. This is what it looks like, okay? We’ve created some templates within our own template gallery, and it is all in slides, so essentially, create some book covers. It then means that because we’ve templated the paper, we’ve got lined paper, grid paper, all different types, you can bringing in a new slide with that paper, and the student can continue working in the electronic textbook. Because of the sharing settings you’ve got with Google, all the text books are shared with the teacher, the technical bosom themselves are limited themselves, so when you give the feedback, it goes directly to the student. We are seeing the students are getting engaged with their devices and engaged in the lesson, because they don’t have to worry about carrying books around with them, we don’t have to worry about looking for where those books are if we want to see it all, it is accessible from a leadership link meeting. We can sit down, open up the Google Drive folder. You can see the communication and the feedback, you can see the level of work, and the consistency of work that is happening with the students as well. Obviously, there are business managers on there – no printing, and no textbook costs. So there is a cost-saving to this as well. So essentially, it gives you that, so I mean, we are currently working on trial to get like an environmental, so, I guess, it is a recycling award in terms of greener schools, I think it’s called, so the more the technology can do that, it means that we’re saving on that photocopying and paper and stuff. Some really, really neat parts within Google are you can tick the box that’s got the plagiarism checker. So you know that Google Forms and slides are easy to share amongst friends. We know what students are like. They look for an easy way out. If you click the plagiarism checker, you can see what students have put into it, and use that to check websites and content they may have copied and pasted. You can have the conversations around you’ve taken this work and claiming it as your own, and you can go down that route with them. There’s some really nice advantages in there. Assignments are still used in Google Classroom with this, because, obviously there are things that we might want to add on to make sure that they’re doing the work, so again, in Google Class, you set an assignment, it is that nice function where you can set an individual copy to each student, so the students then get that copy, and, when it comes back, you know it’s come from that student as well. So the electronic exercise books have come on nicely, and we are trialling it, and we will see how far we go with that, I’m sure. I took a screen shot of students’ work that you can annotate and tick on there. Private comments on the side. Mr Scott, our head of computer science, he is the man that has created all these templates, so he is the one who needs to take full credit for this. This is a slide deck down on the left-hand side, as I look at it on the screen anyway. And each one of those slides is student’s piece of work, and again, they can embed videos and things and check sheets into that, so that can work really nicely, and then at the bottom, in the comments boxes at the very bottom, you can see the feedback feed starting to happen. Now, some teachers I’ve seen at our school have also integrated an extension called Moat. What it does really well is that you can talk and you can basically dictate your feedback into the Google Textbook, and essentially, the students will click on it, listen to the feedback, and they will respond. It drops in a nice audio file for feedback as well. If you’re looking for nice ways to get through marking quicker and more efficiently, Moat is a nice extension add-on that works seamlessly in the Google environment. The other advantage what it gives us: this was our current new Year 7 came in, 180 boys came in with Chromebooks, sat their Cats test in one day, in the sports hall, in online, we had their baseline data so we could feed that directly into our MIS, so we knew what the levels of the students were at as they were coming in, and so that meant for our core subjects especially, we could look at in terms of ability and whether or not we need to do any extra work with those students. Again, because it’s Cats test and online, no need for market. It gets done for you, and then a nice csv file comes back which you upload into IMS and you get the data straight into your system. No need to secure exam papers or need to secure for marking. We have also done some trials with Pearson. You may have heard out there that the exam boards are looking to go examinations online, and I think they’ve put a target on that of 2025, quite ambitious, but we have sat some secure exams for Pearson in this format, exactly the same, and I must admit, from an exam officers’ point of view, this is brilliant. No need to worry about papers going backwards and forwards, no need to worry about security of papers, and the way in which the Chromebooks go into, there is a product called Chrome X which it goes into, and it basically makes it secure, and it means they can’t access the internet once they’re into their exam. So exams online can happen seamlessly, and there is an example of it there on your screen. Coding on a Chromebook. Those of you who may be new to Chromebooks, unsure, or maybe a computer science teacher out there, if you turn on the Linux function on a Chromebook, you can start doing coding on there. For computer science, our department are completely Chrome. They use Linux functions on the Chromebook, and essentially, this is what it looks like. You go into the settings, and there is the Linux in beta it says at the bottom, it ticks it on, and it opens a console, and you can do your coding in there. I’m talking about subjects, so I’ve talked about DT, music, computer science, so it all tends to be the subjects that turn around and say I’ve got to have specialist products, so I need to have Apple Mac machines. No, you don’t. If you move towards this type of environment, there are products and things out there that will allow you to do exactly the same thing but within the Chrome environment using the Chromebook. And so if I give you a summary of the terms of what our kind of investment and infrastructure looks like, so we went for a product Xirrus, so we’ve got a ten-gig backbone of Core switches across the site. All our fibre is run in, so Cat6 cabling to the classroom. We’ve moved the door control and CCTV onsite to the cloud, Paxton10. Our finance system we’ve moved to access in the cloud as well. So cloud-based, I can look at my budgets at home if I’m that bored, really! And again, catering system, we’ve got to Civica, so again, Civica in the cloud has given us that functionality we can upload menus and it seamlessly integrates into our cloud-based MIS as well. Yes, the cloud-based MIS is next on the list, given you see the functionality again, we use apps registers, as well as people coming in, we can log behaviour points on the app, on the Chromebook, however we want to do it. That’s freed us up in terms of the amount of time spent using that, because the system is doing a lot of that functionality for you. We went for the Promethean 75-inch screens. We didn’t buy the PC cards to go in the side. They work seamlessly with Chromebooks. You can drop your Chrome profile in the board. I teach in a room in the board where I didn’t take the Chromebook, I log into the board with my profile, I open up my Google Workplace for Education apps and I open up my slide deck. As the students come in, I register them on the phone through the cloud MIS and run the whole lesson from the board, essentially, so my Google Classroom is in there, I can bring it up, set assignments, put the homework through on my phone, and it frees me up to move around the room to do a lot of other things. The biggest thing is there are no servers on site whatsoever. We have no servers. We don’t have any on-cost in terms of licensing, in terms of worrying about data, et cetera. We’ve moved all of our data into the cloud, and we have that kind of where we freed up capital and cash from that kind of implementation, it has given us the opportunity to be able to roll out this type of, I guess, school in a way, because I guess most people are sitting there that’s amazing, how am I going to afford it? You can, because there are ways we can do that. Essential ly, what tends to have happened to us, what we’ve seen is huge engagement, much, much better engagement from the boys at school. And we’ve seen increased results and outcomes. I can give you examples. Our pupil premium gap went from -0.5 to – we give a Chromebook and we pay for their internet at home out of the pupil freedom funding so there are no barriers to learning, we make sure that they have the same accessibility and connectivity as everybody else. We’ve seen our schools move in a positive way where I think on our last, we were + 5, and we’ve also seen, that because of this consistency of the properly, we’ve seen a consistency of delivery through the classroom, so, when we’re going around looking, doing drop-ins, we are seeing a consistent approach, and the boys are getting consistent teaching which is amazing. Obviously, the better digital skills, everybody’s getting upskilled. The reason why I’ve put a USP, or a unique selling point for the school, is we’ve got teaching staff wanting to come here. Essentially, when jobs come up, we’re getting inundated because people want to work in this environment and see how we are moving things forward. It gives us that seamless learning at home to what they get in school. There is no real difference between what they are experienced at home to what they’re getting in school. We are internet and Prevent compliance because the the Google admin panel has so many settings. We will do it so our Chromebooks will connect to our network only on our site, so students can’t access personal accounts and can’t go off looking at any other things. The moment they go home, they log on to personal accounts. We say please stop that function. So if they log in with a school account, exactly the same settings and exactly the same thing. We do that as well. And then it gives us that real control go and allows us the students to learn the skills, develop their kind of way in which they want to learn, but it also gives them that kind of I guess control over how they want to learn, how they want to interact, et cetera as well. So there are some really, really good pluses, I mean, we have 180 intake, we have 400 boys each year sit our 11-plus for intake, so we are over subscribed, we’ve got people wanting to come to us, and again our Google element and the way in which we deliver teaching and learning is one of the things that attracts them to come to us as a school. So again, you know, there is lots of benefits, and there are lots of things there which – I’m trying to fit everything into a very short snapshot, but I’m trying to give you a flavour of what we are all about, really. So I think that is about me, so, if there are questions and answers there, Paul?
PAUL: Thanks ever so much for that, Nick. As you say, you’ve crammed an awful lot in a small amount of time. Well done for that. We’ve actually got quite a few questions, more questions than we are going to be able to answer this afternoon. So what we will do, I think we’ve got – we will make them available to people later. Once again, thanks ever so much for your time. Appreciate how busy you are in schools at the moment, so thanks for taking out time to participate with us today. Right. So. It is a great journey you’ve been on, especially being a secondary school going serverless, and someone asked what was the most challenging aspect of going serverless?
NICK: It is ultra transition period between creating the vision and implementing it. It is a lot of change. The biggest thing that all humans don’t like, and especially teachers, is change! So, so I guess that the biggest for us, our site is quite difficult. We have four independence blocks and outline builds in in terms of our in addition, everything had to be connected first, before you could kind of take off with this, so it is laying that foundation. It was planning the work, and making sure we had the right team of people in to implement that, so we didn’t disturb teacher and learning so that was really hard. On top of that, it was changing and convincing our subject areas that what we were trying to do would benefit them long-term, so when you’ve got departments giving really good results and you’re saying to them you can’t have window machines and that product that cost you four grand a year any more, but we’ve got this cloud thing that nobody’s ever heard about, and we’re going to give you these solutions which are free, they’re looking at you thinking you’re mad, and then so we basically set up a training area in the learning Commons. Claire Butler, one of our directors of learning, she did lots of training and “this is what else you could do”. Rather than saying no, basically saying have you looked at this, have you seen how this does it, and then we were getting buy-in. Once you’ve got a couple of departments ‘buy-in, you can see a trend starting to happen. So in part of that vision, you have to manage the change, and you have to make sure that I guess the products that you got available to you are right, so, for example, our head of maths, he wasn’t happy, so – and rightly so. You know? We were all about the best outcomes for the students, and is to we gave him 18 months to find and research and go and balk to other schools about the types of products that they were using, and actually within 12 months, he converted and come to Chrome and moved everything anyway. So it is giving that kind of, I guess, opportunities and training through that.
PAUL: And as I say, so many questions coming in. I think you’ve touched on this already, but, you know, there is always going to be questions about costs and budgets. How could you afford to go to a one-to-one device per user model? Obviously, every single student in your school has got a device, and every single member of staff.
NICK: Yes. What we did is we costed everything. I looked at everything with a new fresh pair of eyes in terms of how much do we spend on licensing? How much do we spend on the broadband connection? Literally everything. And then looked at how we could make efficiencies and changes, but ultimately, the one-to-one scheme as a is a parental purchase scheme. So the parents buy into that. We’ve managed to work with a company, G-Tech who work with Freedom Tech that put together a package, so essentially, there’s a one-off cost, there is a one-year cost, a two-year cost, or a three-year cost, and again it’s really affordable but obviously depends on which device you choose. We chose a high-spec device but even so over the three-year period, you’re looking at £12 a month to pay for that over three years, and you get your wraparound insurance and your warranties and a protective case. That was difficult to implement at the start, so we had to have a parental consultation meeting, and we got parents in, and we got our suppliers in with us to talk through what the benefits were and why we were doing it, because obviously we are asking parents to buy their sons a Chromebook, essentially. So that is how we did it in terms of the devices for one-to-one. In terms of your disadvantaged, your pupil premium, because I look after the pupil premium budget as well, I put it in our strategy and ring-fenced the money and I purchased them a Chromebook, they get their internet paid at home and we pay for that, we pay for their uniform. There are lots of things that we do with our pupil premium money which allows us to bridge the gap.
PAUL: I think we can squeeze one more question in, linking back to what you said about providing internet for pupil premium children because one of the questions that’s been asked is what about children who doesn’t have decent broadband at home?
NICK: We basically pay for that. Part of the pupil premium budget, we give families £150 a year for connectivity, and so essentially, we make sure that every student has connectivity, and even through the pandemic, we had students that weren’t pupil-premium. We used the DFE Connect The Classroom dongles. We drove out and checked the area. We did a lot of chat, and I guess blagging to BT to get Wi-Fi access codes, so if people live near an open source Wi-Fi, they give me, I think I had about 150 vouchers that I blagged out of BT to get hot spot connectivity. There is help out there. We don’t know about it unless you ask and go looking. My opinion advice is just go after it. You start talking about education, lots of these large companies will support you.
PAUL: Fantastic. Well, I think we’re going to have to stop there, Nick, but, you know, lots of food for thought there, and thanks ever so much again for sharing your serverless journey with us. If you’ve been inspired by some Nick’s ideas and not sure where to start, please do get in touch. You can take advantage of support offered through the Tech Demonstrate I don’t remember er Programme, or if you need help with ongoing support, then Scomis is here to help. Get in touch with the geniuses at our Genius Bar.