How we used mobile technology to help bring our school out of Special Measures

Amanda Anders

Amanda Anders is headteacher at Liverpool’s Roscoe Primary School, an average-sized primary school with a Nursery. The school is in one of the most deprived wards in the country.
During Amanda’s time as head, the school has undergone major changes, including federation and amalgamation. Roscoe was placed in special measures by Ofsted in July 2009, and was removed in March 2011, judged good in all aspects at its most recent inspection in June 2013.

Roscoe’s work on improving outcomes through the use of ICT has been acknowledged through a number of awards and nominations including: the Merseyside Educate Awards, shortlisted for a TES ICT Award, Makewaves Primary Site of the Year and being shortlisted for a NAACE Impact Award.

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Earlier this year, Roscoe Primary School headteacher Amanda Anders spoke at one of our events, telling attendees how she brought her school out of special measures. Here, she goes into detail about the specific technology that allowed her and her colleagues to bring the school from ‘special measures’ to ‘good’ in four years.

In 2009 Roscoe Primary School, Liverpool was placed in Special Measures. ICT was considered to be inadequate, and in November 2010 an Ofsted monitoring report stated: “Pupils’ attainment and achievement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is inconsistent and does not equip them well enough for the next stage of their education and life beyond school. The school realises that there is now an urgent need to take decisive action to address underachievement in ICT.”

Roscoe Primary School came out of special measures in March 2011, and in June 2013 we were inspected once again and judged to be a ‘Good’ school. The current inspection report states:

“The use of Information and Communication Technology is at the heart of pupils’ learning and helps them develop a broad range of skills.”

Furthermore, in July 2013 the school was shortlisted for a TES award in ICT and named Best Primary Site on Makewaves. Since then we have been shortlisted for a NAACE Impact Award and have won the Merseyside Educate Wards in both the Wow Factor and Communication categories.

So, how do we use ICT to enhance teaching and learning at Roscoe?

1. Mobile Technology: We love our iPads at Roscoe and there are key apps that we use across the school. One of these links to our learning platform, Makewaves. All classes, from Nursery to Year 6 use the app. We upload a variety of activities every day and try to make sure that we cover every subject. Our children and staff enjoy commenting on each other’s stories and our next steps are to make sure that we use commenting effectively as a form of assessment.

2. ICT in all subjects: At Roscoe, ICT is integral to all subjects. Sharing work and being able to comment on each other’s successes is important. That’s where Makewaves comes into its own even more. Children can upload pictures, videos, podcasts and presentations. Subjects in which it has traditionally been difficult to collect evidence, such as PE, are now well represented on our Makewaves site.

3. Whole school communication: We link our Makewaves site to our Twitter, Facebook and Rebelmouse pages so that all members of our school community can see what is going on in the school. We use QR codes so that family members can access the children’s work on their smartphones or tablets. We also use QR codes on displays in school so that children and visitors can access work on Makewaves via the iPads. This is particularly important for the youngest children in the school, who may not have much evidence in books for their parents to see. Through Makewaves and Twitter in particular, our families get a daily picture of what has gone on. It’s wonderful when a teacher tweets details of an activity and a parent responds during the lesson, or we are on a school trip and are in communication with families throughout the day.

4. Blogging:More and more children at Roscoe are blogging, including those who may have been reluctant writers in the past. Our Digital Leaders run lunchtime blogging clubs to encourage younger children to get involved. Many of the boys choose to blog about Minecraft and some are very adventurous about their blogging, taking screenshots of games or providing a voice over commentary.

5. Badges: We are just getting into digital badges at Roscoe. Our children have been hugely motivated by badges, and are really keen to earn the Roscoe badges we have created. So far, we have badges for attendance, punctuality and behaviour with teachers beginning to explore badges in different subjects.

When Ofsted inspectors visited Roscoe in June 2013, they acknowledged that our children have the benefit of two schools. We have the real world of books and our virtual world. Both are equally important to us, and both contain valuable evidence of what goes on in our school.

Our SATs results in recent years show a continuous upward trend, with pupils achieving results that are at least in line with national averages. This is a long way from the dark days of special measures and we believe that a big part of this success is that our children are motivated and engaged to learn because of the exciting opportunities available to them.

Mobile technology has not only transformed learning at Roscoe, it has also improved communication and allowed all members of the community to see just what our children can achieve. I’m looking forward to seeing how much further we can develop our skills and our school’s online profile.

How has technology aided your school? Let us know in the comments?

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