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Q&A with Andrew Pridmore, Headteacher at Elizabeth Woodville Primary School, Leicester

Based in a supportive village community in Groby, Leicester, Elizabeth Woodville school has 220 pupils spread across seven classes. Immensely proud of his creative pupils and their achievements, Headteacher Andrew Pridmore and his passionate teaching team are advocates of digital learning, weaving technology through the curriculum to create an inspiring learning environment, which underpins the school’s ethos.

We talked to Andrew about the introduction of Clevertouch Plus screens to the school and the support and training his staff have received following the installation.

How has technology changed at the school since you’ve been in post?
Technology at Elizabeth Woodville has changed significantly over recent years. When I started out we had interactive whiteboards and projectors, much like any other school. We then added visualisers so that pupils could show off their work to the class and receive group feedback. However, with the introduction of tablet technology, children have been coming to school with even more technical ability and we wanted to follow suit.

Before you can do that of course, you need to have an infrastructure that supports more advanced technology. A fast internet speed and Wi-Fi that gives you the connectivity required to run multiple devices streaming video across seven classrooms is a prerequisite, so the first thing we did was develop that infrastructure. Once in place, we needed a front-of-class touchscreen that didn’t pin children down to one device – we wanted them to have access to a range of platforms that worked in harmony. That’s when we found Clevertouch, which works with the iPads we wanted to introduce, our existing school laptops and the technology we planned to roll out further down the line, like Chrome Books.

How has Clevertouch changed the classroom dynamic?
The new technology has undeniably had an impact on the classroom dynamic. It’s much easier to show work that has been created digitally very quickly. A teacher or child’s presentations can be shown on the screen, shared with the class for feedback and then the class can act on that feedback immediately using their own devices. For example, we might be looking at a certain period in history. The children can review the task before them on the big screen, research the subject and view evidence immediately online with the teacher and then take that back to their devices to carry the learning forward into their own work.

That connectivity coupled with the ability to show and act is very powerful indeed.

Has technology improved or enhanced the experience of children with learning difficulties?
The technology has enhanced the learning experience for all the children in our school mainly because we can tailor content directly to the individual. We can change background screen colour for children with dyslexia, split the screen and create custom activities targeted to an appropriate level for students and the screen resolution itself is sharper, making it easier to see than ever before. Word formation is so clear with no lag, which is vital. Visual learning is extremely important too and our touchscreens bring facts to life very quickly in an exciting way.

So, I would say the versatility of the screens has enhanced learning for everyone, not just those with special learning requirements.

How has technology helped the assessment process at Elizabeth Woodville Primary School?
There are so many different packages available that help teachers do the number crunching and data work, which is a requirement of the ongoing assessment process and our Clevertouch screens and iPads help with that. Our teachers can record information on the go as well as adding to it after a lesson or when they’re marking books after school – all of this helps them to keep on top of it.

Has working with your Clevertouch screens and the iPads helped the teachers with their time management and planning?
Teachers are incredibly busy so anything that helps streamline processes is very important. The technology in our classes supports the ongoing assessment processes as I have already mentioned, which saves teachers time later in the day that can be allocated to lesson planning. Lesson planning is easier with Clevertouch – teachers can access a range of curriculum based lesson activities and content using Snowflake software, which is brilliant and can be tailored to fit what’s being taught in class.

How did you roll out the new iPads and Clevertouch Plus screens?
When it came to implementing the touchscreens and iPads our integrator, Jigsaw24, advised us to take a measured approach. We ensured that every class was kitted out and let the staff and pupils just play with the devices, experiment and try things out. Because the Clevertouch interface is so intuitive, teachers don’t need training to get started however, the training process itself has been more enlightening than we could have imagined at the outset.

Since the initial installation the teachers have had training every couple of weeks from Clevertouch, helping them to deepen their knowledge of the device and its capabilities. Now we’re further down the line, the subject matter is becoming more complex as our knowledge and ability grows. For example, we’re learning about sharing, evaluative work and how pupils can send information to the touchscreens. We’re still very much on that continuum.

It’s so important you don’t tackle everything too quickly and build up those key skills gradually.

What’s the future of classroom technology?
I think it’s hard to predict the future of classroom technology because it’s ever changing, increasingly visual and easier to grasp than ever before. As a result, children are coming to school with even greater technical abilities so it’s vital that we keep pace with that. We’re not giving up on mouse and keyboard because that’s what the world of work looks like, but it’s important that pupils leave school with a range of transferable technology skills. I think technology is just going to keep getting easier to use and that’s the beauty of it really.