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 Catrin Penge, Deputy Head at Bodhyfryd School, to find out how she heard about the Innovation Grant through attending our Digital Innovation series. Here, she was informed of the benefits of developing and progressing educational leadership through our Innovation Pathway.
Teaching staff across Bodhyfryd School realised that there was an increasing need and responsibility to incorporate digital innovation within the school’s curriculum. Therefore, the school wanted to establish an information and communication technology (ICT) group made up of teachers and teaching assistants to map out the new curriculum and ICT plans which could be achieved with the Innovation Grant. Catrin explains: “I proposed to use the grant to buy resources that would be a trigger for activities in each department. These resources included digital cameras to be placed in bird boxes and the hedgehog house within our outdoor classroom, as well as a green screen video kit and lights, a drone for mapping our school, Stick Bots and iPad stands.”
This was intertwined with the school’s teaching methodology “Enquiry-based Learning”, the idea behind this is that learners would use their ideas and thinking methodology to come to grips with big concepts or questions that are part of our lives. Catrin continues: “The funding would also be used to free up staff to learn about the equipment and how to use it before implementing investigative and creative projects with the learners.”
After receiving the Innovation Grant, the digital innovation group was formed under the leadership of Rhiannon Williams, who oversees the group’s projects, and eight members consisting of teachers and teaching assistants. The first steps of the project were to start a conversation with the Chief ICT Officer of the county which would then lead to deciding which tools and ideas to implement and training for the staff involved in the project. With the help of our Innovation Grant, Bodhyfryd School was able to purchase the necessary equipment to realise the ideas of pupils and utilise digital innovation within the school.
After some initial delays with deliveries and set-up, the digital innovation is now running smoothly, Catrin confirms: “The delays caused some loss of momentum which is vital in a project like this, but since receiving the equipment the projects have been progressing effectively and we are making up for lost time.”
Despite some delays, the Innovation Grant has allowed Bodhyfryd School to incorporate more digital innovation within the school’s curriculum. The funding has allowed pupils to be creative and use digital tools to think differently about the world around them. Catrin explains: “The green screen and Stick Bot tools have been used to produce work to celebrate learners’ learning within their investigative theme. A permanent area has also been made to store equipment in order to improve access and simplify the process. Everyone in the school is aware of the digital innovation team and are happy and willing to ask and share ideas.” The next steps of the project will include undertaking the birdhouse and drone projects to expand the school’s use of ICT for outdoor research.
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 Bodhyfryd School. Catrin shares: “For the next steps of the project, we will continue to use the digital tools across the entire school. We will also develop the roles and ideas of our digital innovation group and share good practice with one another, as well as the learners’ work through learning celebrations.” Catrin also hopes to discuss and share the positive impact of the project with their cluster schools in the local area so they can also be inspired to apply for the Innovation Grant. Catrin continues: “The grant can have a fundamental and impressive effect if the infrastructure and support is available.”
Over the years, we have supported many educational organisations on their innovation journey, Catrin reflects: “The funding was very easy to apply for and led to the development of great ideas and provided the motivation for them to be implemented and realised within our school. We have seen first-hand that digital innovation is an inspiration to both learners and staff, which is why it should be a priority to other educators too.”