Teachers in the UK face many day-to-day tasks: inspiring students, planning high-quality lessons, supporting students with learning and behavioural difficulties; to name a few. A lot of teacher frustration comes from the bureaucracy that often comes with the job. In fact, workload is cited as one of the main reasons for teachers leaving the profession (Department for Education, 2018)
In April 2019, Damian Hinds then Education Secretary, introduced a new Education Technology strategy. The plans, backed by £10m, aim to support innovation and raise the bar across the education sector in the UK. This article will tackle each strategy pledge from the approach of the Scandinavian school system, with some top tips from Queensmead.
Embracing a Paperless Environment
Queensmead School has been recognised for its paperless systems and streamlined processes that support wellbeing and allow teachers time to plan lessons. The school has been awarded Google Reference status, 1 of only 6 in London; as well as further recognition from the Singapore Ministry of Education.
Senior Assistant Headteacher, Harmeet, paid a visit to Denmark to see the “Scandinavian approach” to technology in the classroom. Here are some of his top tips:
1. Tools for Tackling Teachers’ Workload
Having seen the innovative use of technology in schools in Denmark, Harmeet has been experimenting with a range of EdTech tools to reduce the amount of time his teachers spend giving feedback.
Staff at Queensmead now use G Suite tools such as the comment bank (for commonly used phrases) in Google Classroom and Google Voice to save time by voice typing. There are an array of features that they use that allow them to automate and streamline marking. Such as with audio and video feedback, allowing students to play it back when, and as many times as needed. This encourages the students to become independent in their learning and be engaged in improving their own work.
2. Training for EdTech Confidence
We were inspired by Brøndbyøster School in Denmark, where all of their training is in-house.
This means that their training costs are lower, content is more specific and customised, is made into a team-building opportunity and is convenient.
At Queensmead this is what they are striving towards, however finding the time is a challenge. The training opportunities that they do have are still underway but they wish to increase the frequency of CPD sessions, as training is the key to building staff confidence in using new tools and optimising the benefits of EdTech.
3. Improving Anti-Cheating Strategies
Through Google Classroom and the Admin Console, Queensmead can monitor programs that are being installed on students’ Chromebooks, to prevent the use of cheating software and essay mills which are a growing problem.
Google Classroom also features originality reports which flag sections of students’ work that have been copied and pasted. With these tools, Queensmead is combating plagiarism and encouraging students to write in their own words.
4. Leveling the Playing Field with Tech
A huge motivation for introducing technology into the classroom is to level the playing field for students with special educational needs and disabilities.
Queensmead has over 800 Chromebooks across a range of departments and are 1:1 with Post 16 Students. Post 16 students are given training on how to maximize the use of their Chromebooks and how to use the accessibility features such as AppWriter (a Wizkids product).
AppWriter has features like text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and predictive text to enable every student to improve their literacy skills at their own pace and for their own level of ability. With Chromebooks, students can work anywhere, anytime and easily communicate with their teachers.
5. Engaging Every Student
The implementation of eSports in Danish schools introduces exciting gaming equipment into lessons taught in a fully equipped IT suite.
The purpose is to engage disaffected students and give them transferable skills such as collaboration, communication and strategising. These skills are gained in a fun and interesting way that can be applied in other subject areas.
Harmeet was intrigued to see how these lessons unfolded and what impact they will have in the long run.
There is a lot that can be gained from sharing ideas and opening up the edtech conversation across countries. Seeing new approaches to similar problems is eye-opening and is one of the ways we can show a commitment to the new Edtech strategy. What Queenmead has demonstrated is that having the courage to make changes can be extremely rewarding for both staff and students in preparing them for a digital future.