This year, Victoria Park Academy has been working towards the Apple Distinguished School certification. As a one-to-one iPad school, we already met the first requirement (the one that requires significant investment), however, we needed to ensure that the iPads were utilised effectively and monitor their impact on teaching and learning.
“Apple Distinguished Schools are centres of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology – and we believe they are some of the most innovative schools in the world.”
- Established one-to-one programme
- Innovative use of the Apple platform
- Faculty proficiency with iPad or Mac
- Documented success
Although I have now left the school, I’m very proud of the work that was done towards this certification and I know that VPA staff will continue to build on these successes. Below are the steps that have been taken so far.
Established the Technology Working Group
The working group was established to lead innovation and monitor its impact. It includes volunteer representatives from different departments, including homeroom teachers, specialist teachers, support staff and senior leadership. The group met regularly this term to set short-term goals and monitor progress towards our technology vision. Members of the working group were responsible for representing their departments, relaying information and gathering feedback.
Co-constructed a vision for technology
The Apple Distinguished School certification acted as a useful motivator and something to work towards. However, we wanted to develop a technology vision that was more aspirational and reached far beyond any specific certification. As a working group, we co-constructed a vision by discussing our goals and values. We then shared the draft with the rest of the staff and finalised a vision statement that we all believe in.
Here it is:
“Our vision is to be an innovative school where technology is integrated seamlessly and students are trusted and empowered. As a school, we will achieve this by continually developing students’ digital citizenship and technology skills. Within this vision, VPA teachers are comfortable and up to date with technology. They can identify meaningful opportunities for technology to enhance learning and promote the 4 Cs: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking.”
Progress towards the vision is monitored by the Technology Working Group, mostly through lesson plans, portfolio entries, collaborative planning meetings and observations.
Upskilled teachers and school leaders
The certification requires 75% of teachers at the school to be certified Apple Teachers (not to be confused with the more prestigious Apple Distinguished Educator programme). The Apple Teacher course is self-paced and available online for free. The course includes introductions to iMovie, Pages, GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers and more.
We offered Apple training in different formats and teachers had agency over their preferred method. I offered iPad workshops and we also invited a member of the Apple team into school to offer training. Many teachers preferred to work through the course independently and in their own time, which we honoured as well. By the end of the academic year, over 90% of our teachers (including SLT) were certified Apple Teachers. This has had a profound impact on technology integration throughout school.
Supported classroom integration
The increased use of Apple technology (both hardware and software) led a surge in student creativity! These tools have been used to enhance learning across the curriculum in many meaningful ways. I enjoyed working with teachers to brainstorm ideas and support their implementation.
We uploaded photos and work samples to a shared Padlet. These curated examples continue to support planning discussions and inspire other teachers.
- Update the Technology Working Group to include representatives from new departments and replace members who have left the school.
- Continue to gather feedback from teachers to inform new goals.
- Implement a one-to-one MacBook programme in the new MYP section of the school.
- Offer Apple training to new teachers as part of their induction week.
- Continue to monitor the impact of technology on teaching and learning.
I look forward to following VPA’s journey as they build on this foundation and progress closer towards the vision and certification. As for me, I’m back in the UK and looking forward to my next adventure. There are many updates that I look forward to sharing.