St Martin’s comprehensive school has 1000 pupils aged between 12 and 18. It took on the Digital Competence Framework by making ‘digital’ work for the whole school, including pastoral care and support for learners as well as across the curriculum.
Q: How did you begin to work with the Framework?
A: We saw it as bigger than curriculum. We wanted to use digital means for all sorts of school activity, so we decided to go totally ‘google’ and use their tools across the school. And we started early: we could see what was coming so started our planning in May 2015.
The senior team had to come on board first because we all had to take out the same message and approach. Then we met Heads of Faculty – who were positive – and did a staff audit of skills. There was some apprehension, but we’ve tried to overcome that by being as open and supportive as we can.
Q: So was it a culture shock for staff?
A: Not really, I think they appreciated the importance of digital for our pupils, and were open to ideas. We involved them in a mapping exercise against the framework which went fairly well; we started with core subjects then went wider. Then we had one to one consultations with staff, as well as lunchtime sessions and workshops to demystify the framework and dispose of ‘myths’.
Q: What leadership approach did you take?
We made sure at first that it was contextually understood by staff and students. The senior team led from the front, basing the rationale on curriculum, methodology and pedagogy. We tried to make it relevant for subjects and pupils so it was complementary to subject teaching.
Weekly ‘teach-meets’ helped with sharing sessions on technology. And we trained our governors too – involved the whole school community.
Q: What support did you provide for teachers?
We introduced ‘digital leaders’ amongst pupils and staff to support staff with issues in Faculty. Alongside we had bite-sized training and a toolkit. We also worked with the British Council, did action research and a lot of digital training, with the results shared in twilight sessions.
And we used fun! We wanted people to enjoy training and to give them something back to reward their commitment.
Q: Have pupils benefited?
Oh yes. They’re working better, more, and smarter. They enjoy linking to their work from outside school. And our pastoral care is better managed.
Q: What about benefits for the school?
It’s been terrific. We took a whole school approach and it’s working for us.
As well as in teaching, we use it for the pastoral side and have strong home/school links using google Classroom. We also use it to communicate with parents for example, with revision plans and intervention plans for potential under-achievers agreed between home and school.
In all it’s helped us work together more as a community.
Q: So was it all plain sailing?
No. We took it head on, led as a senior team, planned and executed. But along the way infrastructure has given us headaches, and we’ve had issues with data collection and sharing. That said, with understanding you work these things out.
With thanks to Mr Lee Jarvis, Headteacher, and Matthew Lewis, DCF lead. Pictured with Matthew are John Richards, Mike Faulds and Karen Joyce, digital leaders.