Ysgol Y Ddraig was created in October 2016 as a fusion of two existing primary schools, with a mission to design an engaging environment with forward-thinking learning methods. ‘Achieve, Challenge, Enjoy’ forms the backbone of the school’s culture, so the ethos of combining the schools aimed to incorporate these core values.
A vision for a future-proof learning environment
As part of the vision for Ysgol Y Ddraig — or School of the Dragon — headteacher Ty Golding strived to create a truly modern learning environment. Funded by 21st Century Schools, a programme of investment for the future of education in the Vale of Glamorgan, he chose to partner with Promethean to implement ActivPanels in all nursery, foundation and KS2 classrooms, to facilitate a truly future-proof learning environment.
Ysgol Y Ddraig wanted to provide an innovative learning environment. Through high expectations of behaviour and learning, the school provides its children with the very best opportunities and experiences, ensuring everyone works well together to promote happiness and confidence in their pupils.
One of the school’s aims is to enable the children to become literate, numerate and digitally competent learners, so when designs for the new school building were underway, the role of education technology was a vital consideration.
Collaboration at the heart of the project
The children were engaged with every aspect of the school amalgamation process – from helping to plan the building, design the school uniform and give the school a new name. The choice of technology was no exception.
Led by Ty, the children were able to help choose the layout of the classroom spaces, which had to support flexible learning, small group collaboration as well as traditional front of class instruction.
Learning first, technology second
With previous experience of implementing new technologies into learning environments, Ty was able to draw on this to guide the process at Ysgol Y Ddraig. He didn’t want edtech to dominate the spaces or the learning processes. He looked at the various pedagogical approaches the school would be using, and built the learning spaces and the relevant technology around them, rather than vice versa.
With this in mind, the school chose the 75” Promethean panels for classrooms, concluding they were large enough to support learning but discrete enough not to dominate the environment. In the school reception, however, they chose the considerably larger 84” size.
The purpose of the larger screens in reception was two-fold. Firstly, it creates an inspiring and modern impression when visitors and parents arrive, but on a more practical level it gives parents an opportunity to experiment with the technology their children are using on a daily basis.
The ActivPanels are used every day in all classrooms, sometimes to display the ‘five-a-day’ videos to promote activity and energised learning. Golding admitted that there are varying degrees of technology confidence between traditional and modern teachers in the team, but everyone in the school shares the vision of ensuring the pupils are digitally literate in 15 years’ time.
Flexibility, freedom and control
The main driver behind choosing the ActivPanel was the strength of the Promethean brand in education. The school’s main priority was working with a company that was truly invested in improving education through the use of technology. They needed a solution that was flexible enough to adapt to all their platforms and languages.
“We knew we needed front of class displays, but as an enabling tool the technology needed to integrate seamlessly and safely. As a Welsh school, it was important that any edtech we introduced would support our use of Hwb – Wales’ bilingual learning platform.” Ty Golding, Head Teacher Ysgol Y Ddraig
What’s more, iOS was the preferred operating system of the school and all of the classrooms had Macs. A benefit of implementing ActivPanels is that they work seamlessly with Apple products, but also ship with an external Android, the school was able to configure the systems to suit its own set-up and benefit from having access to two leading platforms.
By working with Promethean, the school was able to bring in digital edtech tools to support their existing learning methods. The flexible tech of the ActivPanel allowed all teachers — using traditional or modern teaching methods — to see the true benefits of technology to provide a more collaborative modern learning environment.