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Transforming learning–enabling change


I’ve always maintained that innovation in teaching and learning is not really about using technology.  It’s about taking a different approach.  Taking risks. Being willing to upset the apple cart. In the words of Stuart Ball over at Partners in Learning, it’s about using existing tools better, rather than using new tools.

Having said this, this post will explore how a sequence of events has allowed us to use pupils’ own mobile devices as well as our own set of iPad 2s.

Firstly, we have developed an environment in which taking pedagogic risk and, more importantly, sharing learning is encouraged.  Department meetings start by us sharing these adventures and challenge us all to use new tools.  This collaboration within the department is mirrored by collaboration outside of the department.  Talking to other practitioners, using and sharing ideas freely.

Within the department, we are encouraged to watch each other, even if it’s for 10-15 minutes.  I certainly felt that my own learning dipped after my NQT year, as the time and (more accurately) the priority, to watch other teachers dissipated.  On become Head of Geography, I was routinely in lessons again and as a result have gained insights and ideas that I wouldn’t have been exposed to in any other way.  For example, I’m stealing a great teaching idea developed by our own Sam Atkins for use in teaching Longshore Drift. I’ve also gained fantastic ideas and methods of teaching from working with PGCE students.

We think that a system of peer observation, support and conversation is central to raising the standard of teaching and outcomes for students.

We have also collaborated with other agencies, such as The Geography Collective, Alan Parkinson, Partners in Learning and a number of creative people through Creative Partnerships.

Central to our ability to develop new ways of learning is securing funding. Funding allows us to free up teaching staff for research, get the partners mentioned above and purchase equipment.  During the 2010/11 academic year we were able to secure funding from the GA, RGS, Creative Partnerships and the SSAT amongst others. 

These factors combined have resulted in some profound learning sequences with our brand of naughty learning.

The final piece is to develop collaboration between staff and students.  We have used Student Curriculum Leaders to rewrite Schemes of Work.  Before we could unlock the potential of using mobile devices, we had to develop an environment and a set of expectations and behaviour that allowed us to use them.  This resulted in staff, students and external partners working together to create their mobile learning ‘policy’.  It’s a simple document, and linked in to existing behaviour policies and practices.  Remember, it’s not about the device, it’s about behaviour.  The policy is currently in  pilot phase.  We’d like to recognise here the huge amount of support and encouragement that our Senior Leadership Team has given for this project.  The simple statements represent many hours of pupil time on research, drafting, talking, collaborating, challenging…. It is also linked to our school’s ambition of adopting the UN’s Rights Respecting Schools approach.

I’m sharing the ‘policy’ below (we think of it as more of a manifesto in development).  It’s not finished yet….

Mobile @ Priory

Pilot Mobile device acceptable use policy

Co-constructed between staff, partners and pupils of Priory School


Members of the Priory School community have the right to use their mobile devices outside of lesson time provided that each individual accepts their responsibility to respect the rights of privacy and education of others and that their use of mobile devices is within the law.

Outside of lesson time means you can use your mobile device:

· Before morning registration

· During break times

· After school.

Research has shown that existing acceptable uses of mobile devices include:

  • Playing games
  • Listening to music through headphones
  • Social / family communication

Acceptable use means that you have the responsibility to ensure that:

1. Mobile devices are ‘on silent’ at all times.

2. Images, both moving and still, are not taken of any person.

3. Mobile devices, including headphones, are put away before arriving at a lesson.

4. No mobile device is used during a lesson without the express permission of the teacher leading that lesson.

5.  Your use of your mobile device is within the law.

6. Using your device is not used to bully other members of the community, though any media.

Failure to meet any of these responsibilities will be dealt with using the school’s behaviour policy.

The policy allows us to justify the use of mobile devices for learning.  It gives clear expectations of responsible use. What do you think?


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