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 Martin Worgan, Senior Leadership Teacher at Pillgwenlly Primary School, to find out how he heard about the Innovation Grant through receiving our informative mailshots where he was able to learn about the benefits of developing and progressing educational leadership through our Innovation Pathway.
Digital innovation can be developed in several ways, and Pillgwenlly Primary School wanted to bring in a new digital innovation through multimedia activities for its learners. The benefits of multimedia activities are clear to see, they encourage learners to work creatively and collaboratively, express their knowledge in multiple ways, solve problems and build resilience. Martin elaborates: “We wanted to expand our multimedia provision within the school so that more of our learners have access to this area of learning so that over time these skills improve throughout the school in meaningful contexts.”
The idea for multimedia activities came about as the school had devices that were not being used effectively due to the lack of software and applications available. Martin explains that the school wanted to develop the use of Adobe Creative Cloud applications for webpages, video, logos and digital storytelling using animation and films. He continues: “Learners often had difficulty with some activities that required listening to content or recording their own voice. We wanted to provide headsets that improved the opportunity for learners to be independent when learning and to improve the quality of tasks that demanded digital oracy.” Pillgwenlly Primary School proposed to use the Innovation Grant to purchase Stop Motion Pro licences for iPads so that the full range of multimedia animation features were accessible, as well as other resources such as stands, microphones and headsets. The funding would allow learners to use a range of different technologies, such as video cameras, iPads, iMacs and Chromebooks, and help them engage with the community and promote cyber safety. In turn, this will provide high-quality learning and teaching opportunities to develop transferable skills, allowing the learners to develop social skills, problem solving abilities, creativity, communication, resilience and independence that can be transferred fluidly across the school’s curriculum.
Pillgwenlly Primary School received our Innovation Grant in October 2022, and their aim was to have the digital innovation project fully established by the end of Spring term 2023. But the school’s digital innovation journey actually started before October 2022 when the school initially used EdTech Hub to increase the digital provision of devices for learners. Then the next stage was to ensure that those devices had the right software and applications to allow their digital curriculum to fully flourish and provide learners with rich, authentic tasks that improved their multimedia skills. The Innovation Grant enabled the school to purchase licences for more devices to use Stop Motion on iPads and the iMacs in order for this to happen. With the support of Screen Alliance Wales who helped to create collaborative short films with schools across the district, 76 Year 6 learners from Pillgwenlly Primary School were able to take part in the film project along with four members of staff. Learners and staff participated in weekly live lessons with additional learning tasks taking place in between following the focus of the lessons.
As a result of this new digital innovation, the school’s pedagogical approach to learning and teaching has altered for the better and has allowed the learners to become more independent with their tasks and learning journey. However, Martin explains that the project did run into a challenge along the way, he says: “We had a dedicated Multimedia Room that contained iMacs and an area for digital activities. This resource was not used as initially planned as a member of staff would be required to take groups into this space and we were unable to facilitate this. So, we moved the iMacs to a new location so that they could be used regularly for learning and planned multimedia activities to take place in the classrooms.” Technology has played a major role in providing learners at Pillgwenlly Primary School with more opportunities to learn and apply digital multimedia skills on a regular basis.
Although the initial project has come to an end, the results of the digital innovation at Pillgwenlly Primary School are still ongoing. Across the school, there is now more provision for learners to develop their multimedia skills, however, the project had made the biggest impact on the Year 6 learners who initially took part in the digital innovation. They learnt a new range of skills and experiences, including Foley sounds, scriptwriting, storyboarding, special effects, green screen and editing to create short films. At the end of the project, Year 6 learners were able to visit the BBC studios in Cardiff, Martin elaborates: “The project, along with the visit to the studios, has helped to raise the aspirations of many learners, some of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds. They have been given insight into an industry that contains many different roles and skills that match their interests which piqued their engagement with the project.
Those who wanted to act were able to do so by getting in front of the camera and quieter learners were able to take on other roles such as filming or scriptwriting. This meant that the learners were able to use their strengths and apply themselves in areas that their personalities were suited to.”
As a result, it is clear to see that this project has had an impact on improving learner oracy skills as well as their digital skills as learners who were often quiet in class, are now more confident when recording their own voice privately. Others also saw the benefits the Innovation Grant had on the school. After hosting a movie premiere for the families of the learners involved, many parents commented on how creative the films were, with one mother saying that it was “one of the best projects she had seen her child participate in” and that she could not believe that the work was all completed by the learners. Rhys Bebb, the Welsh Language Education & Training Manager at Screen Alliance Wales, also had positive insights to share; Rhys explains: “It’s really good when we work with enthusiastic schools such as Pillgwenlly Primary School who buy into the programme.”
As previously mentioned, the school is still reaping the results from this project and Martin has big plans for the next academic year. He says: “As a school, we are extremely happy with the results of the films that the learners produced. We will continue to review the provision and learning experiences for multimedia activities throughout the school and the initial project will continue to impact our learners’ learning as the staff involved will build similar content into their curriculum in the future.”
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 Pillgwenlly Primary School. Although the school’s digital innovation initially started with their Year 6 class, in the future, more learners from across the school will have the opportunity to use the software and devices to improve their multimedia skills. Staff confidence and capabilities will also improve year after year as they are exposed to more professional learning with the STEM curriculum team to develop their skills and understanding of multimedia activities that can be used with their learners. Regarding the future, Martin continues: “We will map the multimedia activities and experiences throughout the school to identify strengths and areas to develop. Following this, we will celebrate and share good practice whilst putting in support where required.” It is fantastic to see Martin and the rest of Pillgwenlly Primary School excited about the progression of digital innovation within the school, and what is even better to see is that they have a well-thought-out plan so the project will continue to thrive in the future.
It is always interesting to hear what lessons are learnt by different schools after their digital innovation project. Martin explains that being flexible and learning to adapt is very important as opportunities may arise to evolve and build upon the initial project idea for the better, and even if things go wrong, it is still an opportunity to learn and use them as a guide for next time. Martin continues: “It was reasonably easy to apply for the Innovation Grant and the learners benefited hugely as the funding allowed a whole year group to participate in a valuable project that allowed them to build not only upon their digital skills but other vital life skills.
The funding can help with any digital priority a school has at a time when schools are facing financial difficulties. It will offer more opportunities for learners to experience activities that can improve digital skills and other key skills such as oracy, personal relationships, resilience and problem solving that are important within our society today.”
The skills that the learners learnt by engaging in the project are transferable across many areas of the curriculum and real life. This is very important as schools need to ensure that they prepare learners for the everchanging society we live in that is increasingly becoming more digital.