Porthcawl Comprehensive School has 1,400 pupils and over 80 staff. Working with the Digital Competence Framework has been steady and progressive, starting in September 2016 with the school and faculty improvement plans.
Q: How did you begin to work with the Framework?
After building it into our planning, we started by identifying early wins – people who were already doing digital work – such as in science – who could share success stories.
We didn’t want to confuse people with the technical jargon because it was potentially frightening for some staff, so we had an inset day on Curriculum and rather than scare staff we looked at the big picture and showed the value that digital could bring through good examples. We started by looking at what was already being done and how we could take this forward, particularly focusing on the Producing strand in the first instance.
Q: How have you tried to embed it since then?
We have a working group with enthusiastic nominees from each Area of Learning and Experience (yes as a Pioneer school we’re already thinking that way) and we try to give them some time and flexibility to work with others.
Starting with years 7 and 8 they did an initial skills audit and training plan, mapped our activity across the Framework, looked at rich tasks, and reviewed our equipment. They’ve also been looking at how to support areas where there were natural gaps identified in the framework.
Q: What leadership approach are you taking?
It’s important to lead and support this from the top, so with a deputy head teacher working both with the senior team, the DCF lead and the working group we make sure efforts are supported and endorsed.
Some staff have been anxious about how far to take the DCF so by taking this out incrementally we feel we’re building pockets of expertise and practice around the school that we can extend out to all areas over time without being intimidating or ‘false’ about the way we’re implementing the Framework.
We’ve encouraged people to collaborate rather than struggle on their own, which is more supportive and has built a real sense of teamwork.
Q: So has it been a culture shock for staff?
No, because of our approach it’s been ok. Also we ran our Framework inset training in the Summer not around exams, so staff could think about schemes of work. Given that our working group are from AoLE areas rather than being IT people, we think it put them in a better place to help teachers.
To give confidence we negotiated time within the school calendar for AOLE leads to work on DCF rich tasks and to communicate their knowledge and understanding to colleagues.
Q: What have been your most useful sources of support?
The best for us has been school-to-school learning through a network of schools within Bridgend initiated by the Bridgend Formal Learning Group. Hwb has facilitated this by becoming an area where we could collaborate and share good practice and ideas.
Q: Have pupils benefited?
Oh yes it’s enriching their learning. We’re seeing it in areas around the school and its growing. And digital competence is something pupils really need in life, not just in school.
Q: So has it all been plain sailing?
It was flipping perfect! Well no, but we’re pleased with the incremental approach we’ve been taking, bearing in mind the loads already on the shoulders of staff.
We do need to bring it back to heads of faculty to review how well it is going and maintain progress, but that’s already in our 3 year plan.
Having a vision and a long term plan ensures we are continually moving forward, staff are given time to develop, infrastructure has become more flexible and we have seen an improvement in pupils engagement and willingness to learn.
With thanks to Helen Christopher, Head of Computer Science/ICT, and Anne O’Brien, Deputy Headteacher, pictured above.