Latest articles from the Innovate My School community.

For November and December, we’re bringing you Leading The Way, a series all about being an effective school leader. We’ll be publishing articles on the likes of staff wellbeing, school communities, curriculum planning, CPD and networking. Then there’s the case of edtech, which offers schools a variety of challenges and opportunities.

“To state the obvious, technology is now fully embedded in our lives,” says edtech specialist Terry Freedman. “It therefore stands to reason that a school in which technology is not part of the very fabric of the place is likely to be seen as somehow not quite part of the ‘real world’.

“Being a technology-rich school is no longer merely a ‘nice-to-have’ - it is essential. Put simply, why would anyone stay in an environment in which their job is made harder because of the lack of time and labour-saving software, if they have the choice of working in a better-equipped school?”

With this in mind, enjoy these amazing articles, which are powered by edtech solutions provider Groupcall.

Showcasing classroom successes

Geoff Millington

Geoff Millington is the founder and owner of PrimarySite Limited, the UK’s largest provider of websites to primary schools and academies. Before founding the company in 2004, Geoff was a primary school teacher himself in Nottinghamshire. He received his PGCE from University of Birmingham after graduating in Economics at Leicester.

Follow @PrimarySite

Website: www.primarysite.net Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image credit: Harry Potter // Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. // Originally published on 28th October 2016. Image credit: Harry Potter // Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. // Originally published on 28th October 2016.

What is it that makes a school special? Is it the location, resources, perhaps a particular specialism? While there could be many things, most schools would say the teachers and pupils that make up the core community of the school; they are the living embodiment of a school’s ethos. So, naturally, schools will want to shout about their achievements, and the internet is a fantastic resource for spreading the word, whether this is through email distribution, a website or social media.

Getting teachers involved in updating the school’s online presence is a great way of showcasing not only the big events that happen around your school, but also the day-to-day achievements of pupils in the classroom. This can be a great motivator for children, as when they see their work being publicly celebrated, they become aware of their own abilities, raising their confidence and improving their drive towards future successes. In addition, this improves parental engagement at home, as parents will rush to see their child’s work on the website.


Getting started


While most teachers will have a level of understanding about using technology, if your website is difficult to update, it often becomes the responsibility of one"When pupils see their work being publicly celebrated, they become aware of their own abilities." or two more tech-minded staff members to handle the uploading of information. As such, the first thing you need to do when encouraging teachers to get involved is make sure the website is easy to navigate and edit, so that everyone can contribute.


Having individual class pages managed by teachers is a great way of creating an engaging information hub that presents the goals of the curriculum and the work of pupils in a truly personal way. For example, teachers could upload a description of what will be taught throughout the year, as well as how this learning journey will look. This could include details of classroom projects, associated field trips, and the expected outcomes for the pupils.


Collating this information in one place is really helpful for parents wanting to get involved with their child’s education, giving them the inside knowledge of what’s going on at school so that they can provide extra support where needed.


Most teachers will have a good grasp of using social media, and some schools will even have individual class accounts. Giving all teachers the login details for one account and allowing them to post photos of exciting work that’s happening in their classrooms is a great way of boosting morale, can really boost school-to-home engagement and ensures that all channels are constantly updated with the latest news and photos.


Getting pupils involved


There is now a heightened focus on teaching digital skills in schools, reflected in the national curriculum for Computing and the increasing amount of time being spent using technology in the classroom. Children "You could have recordings of assemblies, plays, sports events or presentations."today have been brought up surrounded by digital content, and often have a better idea of how to use technology than their parents and teachers. In helping them to develop these digital skills, why not allow them to actually create content specifically for the website? For example, you could have a blog where pupils can communicate with one another and their teachers to discuss classwork or a children’s area where teachers post the children’s journals of experiences such as class trips. After all, who better to describe their thoughts about school than the pupils themselves?


Video content is another great way of sharing material from your pupils, in a way that can’t always be captured by words and photographs. You could have recordings of assemblies, plays, sports events or presentations, which will prove very valuable to family members who can’t attend these events, but still want to get involved with their child’s education. Pupils really enjoy getting hands-on with this type of media, and will often be more engaged with the topic at hand when they know it will be recorded for their families to see at a later date. You could have the class script, present and record short news bulletins based on their learning, which develops speaking and listening skills, as well as self-confidence and creativity. You can achieve this very easily, with just a smartphone and an online platform to upload them to, so get creative and get filming!


Addressing safety concerns


Posting content from or about your pupils of course brings up the inevitable concerns about safeguarding. However, by allowing pupils to create their own digital content, you can also embed lessons on e-safety and teach children to interact with others in a safe and productive way.


Young children may not see the harm in posting information about themselves and their classmates online, so having the feature to approve any content uploaded by pupils on blogs is essential to monitor what’s being said, especially in the early stages. This means that if any safeguarding issues arise, the teacher can deal with them before anything is made public.


Getting teachers and pupils to publish their own content is a great way of displaying your school’s personality to the world, giving depth to the claims of the mission statement and providing a clear picture of the learning environment to potential parents. Not only that, it can be a fun and engaging activity for pupils, encouraging them to be proud of their work, their achievements and their school.


How do you make the most of your school’s website? Let us know below!

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