Toast and technology

In this article, Corinne Latham, Headteacher at Seaview Primary School and Nursery, shares how their school has engaged staff with improving their digital skills.

Context

In Northern Ireland, ICT is a cross curricular skill which is formally assessed at the end of each Key Stage:

‘ICT across the curriculum has the potential to transform and enrich pupils’ learning experiences and environments. It can empower pupils, develop self-esteem and promote positive attitudes to learning. The creative use of ICT also has the potential to improve pupils’ thinking skills, providing them with opportunities to become independent, self-motivated and flexible learners.’ CCEA, 2007

Around four years ago, I became Principal of Seaview Primary School. As a keen user of educational technology, I was extremely keen to support the ICT Lead to audit the staff. After an initial audit, it was clear that some staff felt insecure in their use of educational technology in their classrooms, but the majority wanted to improve their knowledge base.

I had a clear vision for school-based improvement but I needed a creative and innovative solution to help my more experienced staff to lead the way and show how they were effectively using educational technology.

The CPD approach

The concept of ‘Toast and Technology’ was born out of the need to squeeze teacher training in the use of ICT into a very busy training calendar. The second issue was that we wanted to give our classroom assistants the option of having this training too. The only slot available for this was first thing in the morning before the children came to school.

In Northern Ireland, despite planning the training for the mornings, it had to be optional due to being conscious of teacher workload. We decided to make the optional CPD more attractive to staff by setting the agenda of the meeting to last no longer than 15 minutes and by providing a free breakfast and so ‘toast and technology’ was born.

Impact

Over the course of the first year, we had very clear objectives and we stuck to them. We focused on applications and software that reduced workload and improved well-being. We ensured at the end of each sessions that we give staff “key takeaways” (this was often in the form of a help sheet with step-by-step information) and started the next session with a quick reflection on what went well. This model is now well embedded in our school and staff value the learning gained from colleagues.

Over recent years, we have developed key aspects of technology through these sessions. In Northern Ireland, woven into the curriculum, we have eight desirable features within the teaching of UICT. As a school, we identified a need to further build capacity in the teaching of “interactive design” and “film and animation”. The results have been evident at the end of each Key Stage with marked improvements in the use of information communication technology.

Many other schools have adopted this model for staff training in educational technology. They, like us, know that a short burst of training first thing in the morning has been much more effective than placing it at the end of the day.

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This article is from the free online course:

Leadership of Education Technology in Schools

Chartered College of Teaching