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When James McAleese joined Mount Grace School as assistant head in 2015, his challenge was to embed digital learning across the school. Having regularly used GCSEPod at his previous school, he knew that the resource could play a huge part in the digital transformation of the school.

However, faced with increasing budget constraints, James needed to think creatively; he decided to ask parents to try and meet the cost. So confident was he in the power of digital learning, he approached the then Year 11 parents to ask them to contribute towards the cost of a digital support package, which included GCSEPod at the forefront together with Learners’ Cloud.

“Roughly speaking it worked out about £10 per year per student,” said James, “so I put it to the parents that for only £10 they could have a huge impact on their children’s results and transform the way in which they learn.

“For it to work, it needs to be used. So I made it my mission to ensure that everyone was exposed to it, and encouraged and incentivised to use it.”

Fast forward a few years, and GCSEPod has become a cross-curriculum resource which every Mount Grace student in Years 9, 10 and 11 has access to, and is proactively encouraged to use both independently and to complete assigned tasks.

“Our English department was quick to embed GCSEPod in to their schemes of work, and it has become a key component of classroom learning and homework. The English Literature teachers set weekly assignments using the videos, and it is little wonder that this one department has ‘podded’ more than a typical school of 1,200 students. But more importantly, our results in English Literature went through the roof and GCSEPod was a major contributory factor in this success.”

Keen to learn from the success of the English department and emulate it across the school, James has tracked usage against individual results and worked with assigned ‘GCSEPod Stars’ to find out how they use the content to help others use it more efficiently.

The school has adopted a RAG system in order to monitor weekly usage. He has set targets for the number of pods to be watched each week, rating usage against a traffic light system of red, amber and green. This simple technique alerts James immediately to any areas of concern or indeed extra high usage so he can begin to examine patterns emerging.

“Without saying a word, I have watched usage increase week on week; a number of departments are now using it as their homework resource of choice and a growing number of students are using the pods daily to consolidate what they have learnt that day in school in to a short half an hour burst.”

For a resource which only two years ago was part-funded through a voluntary parental contribution, GCSEPod has quickly found a place in the heart of the school and is now the school’s only online subscription.

Visit or contact [email protected] / 0191 338 7830 for more information.

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