A bit of background
Whalley Church of England Primary has been a centre of excellence as an education provider for over 150 years. The school aims to develop and educate each child to their full potential within a loving and caring Christian environment.
Although the school has a deep-rooted heritage which it prides itself on, it is contemporary and forward thinking in the way that it believes technology is a key enabler to the success of the next generation in education and thereafter the world of work.
In 2011, interactive whiteboards were fitted across the school. Whilst they were great initially, over time they have become redundant due to the failing systems. The cost of replacing lamps and maintaining the old-style board and projectors was becoming unjustifiable. Fading displays on the boards meant that they were almost impossible to see when there was sunlight shining into the classrooms. Given that front of class technology has developed significantly in recent years, Headteacher Richard Blackburn acknowledged that the school’s interactive boards were no longer fit for purpose.
In an effort to update the school’s front of class technology, Richard wanted to use the DfE capital funding that the school receives each year to help develop the school. Richard had a vision to utilise the funding to enhance the children’s learning opportunities by giving them access to the very best edtech.
“Our children are growing up in an age of technology where they’re using touch screen devices, apps and various software daily. It was important to me that we upgraded the technology in the classrooms to really enhance our children’s learning experiences and give them the best start for the rest of their education and a future in the world of work – which is so heavily geared towards being technology literate,” said Richard.
Why the ActivPanel?
The school initially purchased two 60” ActivPanels for its early years classrooms. They proved extremely useful in engaging the pupils in their lessons with the wide range of activities and learning resources available. The ActivPanel is great for collaborative learning with the multi-touch feature allowing small groups to all use the panel at the same time. The rest of the teachers in the school quickly took an interest in the ActivPanels and realised how they could utilise one in their own lessons to foster more interactivity and engagement. Staff were amazed by how user friendly the interface and software on the ActivPanel is.
With the availability of funding and an enthusiasm from teachers, it was clear that it would be a worthwhile investment to begin purchasing ActivPanels for the remaining classrooms as part of a school-wide technology upgrade initiative. The decision was made to purchase a further six ActivPanels, this time in the 70” version.
All of the ActivPanels were installed by the Promethean partner as part of a package. The installation process was professional and efficient, the panels were installed in one day with minimum disruption to teaching schedules. Importantly, the school was given the flexibility to be able to choose a day that was convenient for them.
Richard said: “The service we received from the Promethean partner was impeccable throughout. From the initial recommendation, to installation and aftercare, they delivered a prompt and professional service. I’d highly recommend them.”
Shortly after installation, the Promethean partner went into school to deliver a training session with the teachers using their new ActivPanels, sharing tips on the best Android apps to use and which features could best support teaching, especially maths interactive games.
“Interactive maths games are definitely one of the most successful enhancements to lessons with the children, we are really seeing a difference in how the children engage with the subject. The great thing about the capabilities of the ActivPanel is that its potential is limitless, there is so much you can do across the whole syllabus,” commented Richard.
In Maths, the ActivPanel is used for topics such as fractions. For example, the instant whiteboarding feature is used where multiple children can use the panel together to present as many ways as possible as they can think of recording a half, in both numerical and diagrammatical form. The interactivity of this way of learning makes the topic far more engaging for the children. There is also an abundance of maths apps available through the Promethean Store on the ActivPanel, where children can compete against each other to answer questions correctly and as quickly as possible. The children have fun learning in this way and it is providing particularly beneficial in enhancing their confidence in the subject.
For reading, one of the children’s favourite things to do is to cast books from the Kindle app onto the ActivPanel. By doing this, the whole class can see the pages of the book, and whether it is the teacher reading or the children, it supports the class’ literacy skills to be able to read and listen to the book at the same time.
One of the major challenges Whalley Primary faced with its old interactive whiteboards, was difficulty in seeing the displays when the classroom was light. The ActivPanel has resolved this issue with a display that is crisp and clear no matter how much light is shining into the classroom.
“Teachers can now confidently rely on using front of class technology and a wealth of new resources in their lesson planning without having to worry about whether pupils will be able to see and interact with the displays. The ActivPanels have alleviated our challenges with technology and are allowing us to champion stimulating learning environments,” concluded Richard.
*Promethean Partner was LEB Partnership