The National Academy for Educational Leadership Wales contributes to the development of the professional capabilities of current and aspiring leaders across the education system in Wales.
Our Innovation Grant can be accessed through the Innovation Pathway and is also encouraged among those who attended the Innovation Series. The 2022 Innovation Series explored ‘Digital Innovation’ and participants submitted project ideas to improve digital opportunities within their schools.
We spoke with Alan Lewis, Assistant Headteacher at Crickhowell High School, who heard about the Innovation Grant after receiving an email from an Innovation and Well-being Advisor and discovered the benefits of developing and progressing educational leadership through our Innovation Pathway.
Schools are increasingly making use of digital technology in the classroom, and whilst this brings benefits to the quality of learning and teaching, Alan recognised that it caused issues for Crickhowell High School with school quality assurance processes such as ‘Work Scrutinies’.
Crickhowell High School’s digital learning journey included offering a 1:1 initiative with all learners being equipped with iPads. However, this resulted in fragmentation for the Work Scrutinies process, and learners’ work was difficult to find due to many ways of learning being used, such as exercise books, printed booklets, iPads and Teams. The school’s aim was to offset the costs involved with iPads whilst also reducing the impact on the environment by introducing digital planners; this resulted in the implementation of a Digital Portfolio.
The Digital Portfolio would be a central place for learners to store copies of best work, marked work, cross-curricular use of skills, and other tasks. Alan explains: “The funding will be used to provide cover for key staff to coordinate their efforts on establishing the requirements of the Digital Portfolio, such as purchasing design templates for inspiration”.
Once this has been achieved, funding will be put towards providing training for staff, evaluating the effectiveness of the Digital Portfolio, and looking at refinements ahead of launching it with the new cohort.”
Crickhowell High School started to plan and ascertain the requirements of the Digital Portfolio and once they received their Innovation Grant, they set themselves a target of the academic year to create, launch, populate and evaluate the Digital Portfolio.
Populating the Digital Portfolios came with its challenges, but luckily Alan had help from the wider school community to overcome these and work towards their target. The school had a clear sense of what their problem was and were motivated to work towards their plan for the Digital Portfolio to create a learning environment that was beneficial to both learners and staff. Alan elaborates: “The Innovation Grant allowed us to free up staff to dedicate time to the creation and launch of the Digital Portfolio.”
The project is still being refined as it continues to grow, but Alan is happy that the fundamental concept is sound and will solve the main problems identified by the school. The current Year 7 cohort will continue to use the Digital Portfolio to aid their learning and the school will work with their primary cluster to develop a similar project that will aid with seamless transition and provide better baseline data for when learners join Crickhowell High School. The school will also continue to develop the use of iPads as a tool for modern approaches to feedback and assessment.
Part of our Innovation Pathway is looking towards the future, and it is easy to see how schools across Wales can be inspired by the digital innovation fostered by Crickhowell High School, who will promote the project as a case study on Hwb. Hwb is a platform provided by the Welsh government that provides bilingual, digital services to all maintained schools to support teaching and learning through Curriculum for Wales.
Over the years, we have supported many educational organisations in Wales on their innovation journey, Alan explains: “It was a very easy process to get involved with and has helped us develop our practice in Crickhowell High School. It is an excellent vehicle to innovate and think outside of the box.” For Crickhowell High School, their aim was to explore the digital agenda within their learning through creating a Digital Portfolio, and we are glad that our Innovation Grant has allowed them to further the digital innovation within their school.