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 Suzanne Cox, a Year 5 and 6 Teacher at Rhos Primary School, to find out how she heard about the Innovation Grant. Suzanne had attended our 2022 Innovation Series where she learnt about the benefits of developing new and innovative approaches to educational leadership through our Innovation Pathway.
Sometimes, problems or issues only become apparent when longstanding processes are changed, and this is what Rhos Primary School experienced. As the school’s practice shifted to focus more on the learning process rather than the outcomes, it soon became clear that both teachers and learners needed guidance on how to record their reflections on learning. The school was also changing directions with its pedagogy to focus more on developing integral skills and this presented learners with more opportunities for independent working as a result. Suzanne elaborates: “Our idea for the Innovation Grant allows learners the opportunity to record their self-reflection and share this with their peers and teachers.
We planned to use the funding to release a teacher to work with learners and staff to demonstrate how the recording of their self-reflection could be carried out and to role model the language and IT skills required.”
Rhos Primary School’s idea for the Innovation Grant was to enhance the school’s digital innovation journey by enabling learners to record their independent learning using the app J2E on Hwb. This technology would provide learners with personal logins which would show tasks for completion alongside an area to fill out their thoughts about what they were learning and why, how they knew they are doing well, what problems they encountered and how they resolved them, and what they could do to improve next time.
Rhos Primary School had to determine that the J2E app on Hwb was the best digital vehicle for learners’ independent learning journeys. Therefore, the first step after receiving the Innovation Grant was to decide on the best digital app to use, agree the structure and what questions should be utilised to encourage learners to reflect on their work. With the aim of completing their digital innovation project during the Spring term, the school wasted no time in trying to determine which app would be best for their learners. Suzanne explains: “We were hoping to use the app My Story as a way of recording learners’ reflections about their independent learning. However, there was a problem uploading content from this app to learners’ Hwb accounts. The funding supported time for the teacher to plan, work with the learners and reflect on the innovation, adapting as appropriate.”
As Suzanne confirms, the Innovation Grant allowed for supply teachers to be brought in to enable the teacher leading this project to work with a group of learners from Years 5 and 6 to teach them how to use the new digital innovation. This was then shared with the rest of the key stage 2 classes throughout Rhos Primary School so that both teachers and learners understand how to confidently use the programme, which will help to better inform teachers of their independent learning.
Now that all the relevant classes at Rhos Primary School have been taught how to record their practical work and reflect on their learning Suzanne notes: “Pupil voice shows that learners feel that they are taking more ownership of their learning through the independent tasks.
They report enjoying this way of working and teacher observations show that learners are developing the skills to organise themselves and resources as well as manage their time more effectively. The reflections show that learners are gaining an understanding of how they best learn and their metacognitive skills are improving.”
Here are some of the learners’ own thoughts on the school’s latest digital innovation:
This is only the first part of the school’s digital innovation journey. The school now plans to disseminate this project to all classes and will continue to be built upon until all learners experience the benefits of this new digital system of independent learning. Suzanne continues: “Using digital ways of recording learners’ reflections of their learning is definitely something we will continue to use as it is easily accessible to all learners regardless of their age and ability.”
Part of our Innovation Pathway is looking towards the future, and it is easy to see how schools across Wales can be inspired the digital innovation fostered by Rhos Primary School. Our Innovation Pathway not only allows education systems across Wales to enhance their digital skills and knowledge, but it also brings like-minded people together, Suzanne elaborates: “What we have learnt as part of our innovation journey can be shared through staff meetings, during cluster work, or even online networks.” Sharing each others’ innovative ideas and practice will benefit learners and educational leaders as they seek to improve their processes and teaching.
Over the years, we have supported many schools in Wales on their innovation journey, Suzanne confirms: “The Innovation Grant was easy to apply for, it allowed time and space for innovations and research in the classroom. In turn, this allowed teachers the time to develop their practice which is important as digital innovation supports learning in the classroom and provides a new way to work.”