What the SLT want to know is, frankly, a great deal. Making a decision to run a 1:1 programme (where every child has their own device to use in class and at home), be it for one cohort or for the whole school, is a big decision, and not one that should be made lightly.
We have helped many schools, from their initial thinking, past their concerns, right through their decision making process and planning through to implementation and assessment.
The first and probably the most important thing to remember is that it is not about the device but how it is used and integrated as a tool for teaching and learning. It can be very easy to be pulled along with the popular device of the day and not give enough thought to what you want to do with it and if it is the most effective way of achieving your objectives. Our first piece of advice, therefore, is almost always to spend time working through as a team what your strategy is and the advantages and disadvantages and why a 1:1 programme might be right for you.
There are a number of, important, questions that any responsible leadership team should and will ask. In the 15+ years that we have been helping schools we feel confident that we can not only anticipate them but also provide you with satisfactory answers. So, these are the main questions:
What difference does it make?
It takes a lot of courage to be an 'early adopter' and commit to any sort of substantive change especially when aspects of that change continue to not be completely proven. However, when you look at integrating a 1:1 technology programme, there is a vast amount of supportive evidence that will help you feel more confident in moving forward. In addition there are an ever- increasing number of schools that have set up and are running successful programmes over several years and are happy to show how they work and the positive impact it has had. To find out more look at our ‘evidence’ page, our ‘Regional Champion Schools’ page and some of the many case studies you will find throughout the site.
There are a number of different provision options that you can consider, having looked in detail at all of them and prepared a ‘for and against’ comparison for each of them. You can find full details in our toolkit ‘Provision Options’.
How can we afford it?
Financing a programme, even a single cohort, can often be difficult but there are many ways of significantly reducing your schools’ exposure and make it not only viable but sustainable too. Your School Liaison Manager will be very happy to talk you through the options available to you, particularly the inclusion of parental donations which can attract an additional 25% Gift Aid from the Government. You can find out more about financing your programme on our toolkit page under ‘Financial management’.
What’s involved in making it happen?
There are a lot of aspects to manage when introducing a 1:1 programme and it is vital that you get it right if it is going to succeed. Your School Liaison Manager will meet you and your project team to help you through the process. Alternatively we would recommend that you work your way through our toolkit to gain a deeper insight into what's involved.
How do we get our teaching staff on board?
Teacher engagement is a critical part of the programme. Your staff need to be confident in the different teaching techniques that are needed to maximise the learning benefits. This is not something that you can just leave to them to work out, we strongly recommend introducing specific CPD that begins well before the launch of the programme. There are a number of specialist companies that offer this service, depending on the type of programme and device choice you make. Our ‘Teacher engagement’ section in the toolkit will give you more information about this.
How can we make it work?
Making a programme work is all about teamwork. Not just the teaching staff but Governors, parents & pupils as well. You also need to have good, reliable and capable Broadband and WiFi as well as good maintenance support systems in place.
It is important that communication with pupils & parents is maintained, particularly if parents are donating to the programme. To run a truly equitable programme parents need to be aware that, through their donation, they become stakeholders, so there is an element of trust required. The parents will expect and trust the school to ensure that the devices are being used and maintained effectively and, in return, the school can expect the parents to continue to support the programme financially.
We encourage the introduction of 'Digital Leaders', where pupils, staff and even parents take on this role to help and guide others on how to make effective use of the devices and the software or Apps they use. More information can be found in the toolkit under the ‘engagement’ section.