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Malmesbury C of E Primary School

The Apple Distinguished School using iPad to innovate in education

Only 30 schools in the U.K. have been awarded recognition as an Apple Distinguished School. Of these, few are state primary schools. In May 2017, at Apple Europe HQ in London, Malmesbury Primary School in Wiltshire was proud to become such a school in recognition of their innovation, leadership and educational excellence. The Senior Leadership Team collecting the award included two Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs); another achievement only awarded to passionate individuals demonstrating best practice with Apple classroom technology. 

Western has always been proud to support, supply products and advise the whole team at Malmesbury School in their move to Apple technology.

Primary education transformed in every class and every year

At Malmesbury School, confidence with technology starts right at the beginning. Reception class students share devices from the classroom trolley of iPads to do maths drills or phonics. In the upper school iPads are used as productive devices as children have built up more knowledge of apps – their ‘toolkit’. In Year 6, each child has their own iPad to use and return at the end of the day.

The iPad in the classroom - enhancing every subject 

Dan Oakes (Deputy Head teacher and ADE) explains the real value of the iPad in the classroom, “It levels the playing field straight away. Children that usually can’t express themselves can create something professional. We find they are much happier and proud to share their work and get involved. It really applies across all subjects.” Apps, such as Explain Everything, Comic Life, WordFoto, Tellagami and Book Creator, can use videos, music, avatars and animation to share and present work. 

A staged approach to building staff confidence 

At the start of the project, staff confidence with the product was vital. “Initially, we had one rack of 16 iPads to model lessons to staff and crucially each staff member had their own device too.” explains Rachel Bristow (Assistant Head teacher and ADE). As experience and ideas developed, more iPads were purchased. Meetings held with parents, supported by Western Computer, demonstrated how the iPad was an enhancement rather than a substitute. Finally, 1:1 iPad deployment was set up in Year 6 – a complete learning experience with more than 200 iPads being used throughout the school.   

Vital Support from Western Computer - 'the invisible member of staff' 

At all stages, Western were on hand to offer advice. “The very fact that we had Western supporting us was crucial,” explains Rachel, “Schools that go out and buy a few iPads are not as successful.” Dan adds that "Western are really like an invisible member of staff. They have always been there to help and we have developed strong, personal relationships over time.” 

Managing the technology - every day and year by year

The school finds device management straightforward using the Apple Primary Server system – particularly as the iPads currently never go home with students.  Apps are distributed through the VPP (Volume Purchase Program) and the school uses Foldr to manage file access.  “Western always keeps us up to date with new developments and manages and installs the technology at every stage we reach,” says Rachel.

Opportunities for leadership and teamwork

Managing the content on the 200 iPads creates excellent leadership opportunities for Year 6 students. Prospective ‘Digital Leaders’ apply for the responsibility of checking the shared devices. They highlight unwanted items left in folders, clear clutter, assist younger children and often advise staff on new apps!

Sharing best practice with the wider educational community 

As an Apple Regional Training Centre, Malmesbury School hosts and runs courses for other schools. They have also spoken to local authorities and as a guest at Western Computer events. Dan often presents at such events.

Many teachers have had issues with IT equipment in the past. I explain that this technology works. It gives children the opportunity to represent their work in a positive manner and it makes the teacher and the children so much more productive. We always get very enthusiastic feedback from other professionals.” 

Beyond iPad deployment - the new technology that shares news, student achievements and best practice 

To share work and best practice, the school now has additional technology. With the school’s Trilby TV system, screens throughout the school can share pupil’s work instantly, a reward which pupils thrive on. Social media links can show PTA news in the school reception or educational updates in the staffroom. Swivl – a system where the iPad revolves in a stand controlled by a Bluetooth receiver – records examples of best practice which can instantly be shared with colleagues. 

Future planning

Malmesbury’s latest plans include looking at new financial infrastructures to keep technology up to date and involving more students with 1:1 access. Staff training is also vital to keep current staff up to speed and encourage new staff, unfamiliar to this learning environment, that there are so many possibilities using Apple technology.

Western have always been there as a constant. We know they are always there whatever questions we have and wherever we want to go next using Apple and iPads at the school,” Dan Oakes, Deputy Head teacher, Malmesbury Primary School.




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