In September 2014, the staff at Echt School joined the Aberdeenshire Reporting to Parents pilot with a view to changing the way they communicated information on pupil progress to parents.
We had observed an innovative use of Book Creator app on iPad that involved pupils, staff and parents in the reporting process and after consultation with our parent council, decided to go ahead and fund an iPad for each child in the school.
With help from the local authority, we managed to do this by the end of 2014 and in January 2015, we rolled out 1:1 iPads across the school from P1 – P7.
The children take their iPads home each day and it is their responsibility to ensure they come into school with their device charged each morning, ready for use. We operate a 3 strike system whereby a child will have their device removed over the weekend if he/she gains 3 strikes for misdemeanours such as not having the device charged, leaving it at home, leaving a device lying on the floor etc. This teaches responsible use in a very real way!
Staff and pupils use Book Creator to create a progress report three times each school year – one between August and December, one before Easter and one before the summer holidays – with pupils uploading photographs, videos, text and voice notes as each term progresses. Staff add comments on Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Wellbeing to each report and comment on other areas of the curriculum throughout the school year. Visiting specialists are also encouraged to comment in the digital reports.
The children reflect on their learning as they add their content and we have a ‘Reflection Booth’ in school that they can use to get peace and quiet to do this!
As the iPads go home in schoolbags every day, the parents are able to see their child’s progress at any time of the school year, not just in March when our paper based reports used to go out. At the end of each digital report, the class teacher makes an overall comment, the child comments and there is a space for parents to comment also.
We have added an Achievements page to each report which is added to by the children as the school year progresses.
This makes for a report that is very alive and current and involves our whole school community. Feedback from parents and children has been very favourable!
Parents who have an Apple device at home, airdrop their child’s completed report to their own device to save it and for those who do not, we convert the reports to video and email out. Parents have said they can easily share their child’s progress with other family members.
The children save their completed report on their school device into iBook’s and start a new report in Book Creator.
We also use the iPads for homework, using an app called Showbie, which enables the teacher to set up groups and assign homework accordingly. The children then upload their homework back into Showbie, often app smashing to do so, and the teacher can see this on her device immediately and give feedback. We are finding that our parents on the whole are much more engaged in homework tasks than before as they are often called upon to video or take photographs!
A group of P6/7 pupils created a series of iPad training manuals using Book Creator last term which they then used to deliver training to members of the community. They are going to use them to train children in a nearby school this year.
We have had groups of pupils and HTs from other schools in Aberdeenshire and our Chief Executive and local councillors visiting to hear from the children how they use their iPads and if feel they are an essential part of their daily life in school now. The children are always praised for the confident way in which they speak about using their devices.
The children have become very proficient in using a variety of apps to support their learning, they have become much more digitally literate in the last nine months and when asked, would not want to go back to learning without their iPads!