How EdTech Demonstrator School, Pheasey Park Farm Primary School, Use EducationCity to Support Their School Improvements
Pheasey Park Farm Primary School, a three-form entry primary school with 650 students on roll in Walsall, follows a motto of ‘believe and achieve’. Over the last six years or so, the school has achieved vast improvements in its learning and has been on an impressive edtech journey. With the help of a strong strategy and edtech programs such as EducationCity, the school has undergone a process of transformation, leading them to become an EdTech Demonstrator School.
Identifying a Solution to School Improvements
Pheasey Park Farm Primary School began their edtech journey in around 2014. Before this, teaching was described as ‘dusty’ and learning as ‘passive’. The school needed a new vision to help them improve their teaching and learning.
Head Teacher there, Mrs Lanni, recognised that technology motivated staff and students at the school. Thus, technology was pushed as the primary mechanism to not only improve teaching and learning but raise other standards that needed addressing, such as behaviour and attendance.
Sarah Morgan, Assistant Head Teacher, echoes this: “To make our goals possible, they were led by having a strong edtech vision by the head teacher who ensured that all the staff knew where we were going.”
The school set about creating a mission to ensure the success of the technology roll-out. Sarah says that,
“Our whole mission is to ensure our children have a fair deal for the future. We know that when they leave us, they’re going to have to be in a world where edtech is part of their life. We know that our job is to prepare them for it, no matter what that might be. All our staff are behind the vision that has been set. That’s what enables us to build on not only skills in maths and English and all the other areas of the curriculum, but definitely with a child’s edtech development. It is integral for their wellbeing and their whole life going forward in this world.”
Achieving the School’s Vision with EducationCity
To achieve their vision and mission and roll out technology successfully, Pheasey Park Farm Primary School have utilised edtech programs such as EducationCity.
Indeed, Louise Eveson, Year 5 Class Teacher and EdTech Team Member at the school, has commented on this:
“We have a clear vision for edtech that we share with all our partners, and we work with trusted partners who will support us in delivering the quality learning activities for our pupils.
“EducationCity has helped us ensure that children have got access to engaging content. The activities are easy to use. The children are really familiar with navigating around the site, and we feel that it benefits our pupils greatly.”
As well as this, the school has been using the content on EducationCity to help with differentiating their learning. This allows it to be tailored to all students’ abilities, which further helps to improve the school’s teaching and learning. Louise comments that “the activities can be differentiated so easily, so children who are working in the year above can have content that suits them. Similarly, if you’ve got SEN pupils, you can differentiate it easily, so it supports the pupils’ learning goals in that sense.”
To further support their vision and technology roll-out too, the school has also been utilising training from EducationCity, and this includes for newly qualified teachers too. Louise says that this has “developed their confidence in using this technology as well.”
The School’s Vision & Their Success
Since the school has been using EducationCity to help them with their teaching and learning, the school faced a challenge with the recent change to remote and hybrid learning.
The school has successfully used EducationCity to help them with this challenge, and this usage has supported them further with the achievement of their vision and future plans. Louise says that,
“we’ve been able to set learning activities in the classroom and as homework as well, so there’s that dual approach with access to learning in school and at home.
“As well as this, during a lockdown or anything like that, the children can still have a continuous provision. The activities are automatically scored, which gives teachers a good understanding of pupil progress, and parents can see what their children are learning. This provides us with some links with parents and helping them to feel involved in their child’s education.”
Pheasey Park Farm Primary School has also found EducationCity ideal for contingency planning too. The school maximised their use of technology and have used their experiences from the first lockdown to adapt their plan and ensure quality teaching and learning is utilised through the technology they use. This all helps them to meet their vision.
Louise comments on the usage of edtech to do this, “we’ve been able to set work on OneNote with links to EducationCity activities; these can be easily differentiated because you can select content for specific learning objectives for different year groups.
“The Learn Screens link seamlessly with the matching activities and that removed the heavy lifting for teachers to support them in their demanding role. And we also feel it meets the needs of all learners. It’s got clear guidance for pupils.”
Louise also mentions the feedback they have had from parents from using edtech such as EducationCity. With the school’s importance on making sure they are using the right edtech to achieve their vision, and successfully rolling out technology too, the school undertook an audit which involved asking parents what they thought about using software such as EducationCity; Louise says, “the feedback about EducationCity was really positive.
“Parents mentioned it being easy to use, engaging and motivating. It’s definitely helped to support parents because the Learn Screens are clear and provide children with the understanding they need. This also helps to support parents to see a skill being demonstrated clearly for them.”
Commenting on this feedback as well, Sarah mentioned that it’s essential for the school to get opinions from parents on their technology efforts. Parents mentioned how they could work whilst their children were using EducationCity as the children found it so engaging. Although teachers provide the work, Sarah says that “obviously there is a job for the parents, especially of primary school children, to be able to help them facilitate the actual activities. Parents said when they got onto EducationCity, the children could do it independently. That was from quite low down the school as well, so I think that’s a real positive, especially for us going forward.”
Furthermore, software such as EducationCity has helped the school with its vision during the lockdown as it gave children at the school familiarity and continuity, and the school an opportunity to further effectively use technology. Louise says that, “it gave a comfort blanket for the students when learning at home, and we thought that made the process smooth, for both teachers and pupils. I think that teachers felt that they could find everything they need to support their children’s learning. They are definitely more engaged and interested in the activities because of EducationCity.”
Lastly, Louise has also mentioned the assessments and how they have successfully supported students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs), which has directly helped them with their vision of utilising technology to improve learning,
“Some staff have used the assessments area, and they get a score. So staff can look at that and use it for forward planning. If children have got an IEP, they can use these assessments to inform them. This might flag an area they are finding tricky and assessments demonstrate any weaker areas. Teachers can see straight away which areas they are struggling with.”
Pheasey Park Farm Primary School & The Future
For the future, the school is continuing to work towards their vision and setting a learning environment for the children that accommodates virtual learning or hybrid learning. With this effective use of technology, EducationCity is supporting this, as Sarah says, “we’re aiming towards just a learning environment for our children. Whether they’re in the classroom or at home, wherever they might be, they’re able to learn because of how we’ve structured it and the likes of EducationCity supporting us.
“They can get the same quality of provision in the classroom as they can at home.”
Other future plans the school has created included using EducationCity to support this time of ‘catch up’ where the students, due to the lockdown, need to learn skills they would have learned in the classroom. The school has made plans for any potential lockdowns in the future, but also intends to continue to utilise the feedback features on EducationCity to support their students.
Sarah comments on the fact that EducationCity has been used in this way: “we’re very conscious now that if the children are to be remote learners, the idea is that we do not hold the children back.
“So for us, using the different elements we have, we need to give students feedback.
“For us, being able to give feedback is vital for the children to know that what they’re doing is correct or whether they need a bit of support.
“EducationCity did help us with that element as well and continues to do so, as we are all obviously in ‘catch-up curriculum mode’. Having to support the children now they are back, and those gaps that may have appeared for some of our learners are supported by EducationCity which can be used to address them. It is ideal as part of ‘catch-up’ because it can be personalised.
“It also can be structured, and obviously it’s very much enjoyable for the children, so it keeps the buzz of learning happening.”
In the future, the school also plan to continue working with EducationCity to further adapt their vision and improve it even further. They have worked with EducationCity to set up ‘EducationCity Ambassadors’ to enhance their school’s partnership with EducationCity. As well as this, they have also worked with EducationCity to give their staff high-quality, certified professional development (CPD) accredited training so they can continue delivering top teaching. Louise comments on this:
“We’ve made a lot of contacts with EducationCity who we very much trust working with, and I think that helps us as a school develop a sense of passion with the edtech that we use with our school.”
Finally, Pheasey Park Farm Primary School have seen so much success with their edtech vision, and this is down to the staff’s commitment and teaching quality, as well as usage of tools such as EducationCity. The school became an EdTech Demonstrator School in 2020, where they are looked to as pioneers of a successful technology roll-out and are called upon to advise other schools. This is success in itself for a school of such high repute.