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Celebrating a decade of one of the UK’s largest digital programmes with EdTech pioneer Greg Hughes

Our EdTech Classroom Expert Greg Hughes shares how he implemented a tech revolution at his school and trust.

Greg Hughes is Vice-Principal at The de Ferrers Academy in Staffordshire, a Trust Leader, and holds many edtech accolades including Apple Distinguished Educator. Oriel Square is delighted to gain access to his expertise as our EdTech Classroom Expert.

Greg is in the unusual position of having been the driving force behind a technical revolution at his school and trust for over a decade.

Greg is in the unusual position of having been the driving force behind a technical revolution at his school and trust for over a decade. In that time, moving from traditional, fixed ICT architecture to a fully mobile 1:2:1 iPad scheme has helped save over a million pounds at the academy. The iPad roll out was top-down, starting with the older students, and is now complete across all the trust’s secondary schools, with over 5,500 iPads in use across the trust. He attributes its success to the position of teaching and learning at the heart of the strategy.

How have you supported your staff in adopting new tech?

CPD for all staff has been critical for the success of this programme.

CPD for all staff has been critical for the success of this programme, and Greg and his team have experimented with many different forms of training and support, including short, focussed sessions and pop-ups like ‘brektech’. What is working well currently is an online video portal with research and training materials for teachers and quizzes to check knowledge, which staff have time in their working week to access. A learning message from Greg is that tech adoption can be accelerated by focusing on the critical mass of the majority, rather than giving most CPD attention to the ‘early adopters’ and the ‘laggards’.

How did you ensure the digital implementation was centred around the learner?

The technology fits into the cycle of teaching and learning, rather than being led by tools.

Technology has to be used to implement a school- or trust-wide vision, with the learning cycle at its heart. When the vision is articulated, coherent and shared, technology can be used to implement it. At de Ferrers, many of the apps used are subject-agnostic, making it easier to support teachers using them and for teachers to share best practice. Apps are classified into tools for collaboration, resources, formative assessment and modelling. In this way, the technology fits into the cycle of teaching and learning, rather than being led by tools.

What tools do you use to deliver effective retrieval practice?

Lessons at de Ferrers often start with 10 mins of Socrative to inform the teaching in the lesson.

An area where technology has transformed teaching and learning is retrieval practice, which can be much more effective using digital tools. Lessons at de Ferrers often start with 10 minutes of Socrative to inform the teaching in the lesson. Teachers have an AfL toolkit that includes apps such as Blooket, Gimkit, Kahoot, Quizlet, Nearpod and Explain Everything. One advantage of these tools is that they can be used flexibly to support learning, both synchronous and asynchronous; and of course are very helpful in times of remote learning.

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