Tring School featured in the Parliamentary Review 2017

Tring School appears alongside Prime Minister Theresa May in the 2016/17 Parliamentary Review.

Established by former minister The Rt Hon David Curry in 2010, The Parliamentary Review’s September release is now a key fixture in the political calendar.

Tring School features alongside the Prime Minister and a small number of outstanding schools in a document that looks back on the year in schools and Westminster. The main aim of the Review is to showcase best practice as a learning tool to the public and private sector.

Parliamentary Review 2017 – Tring School Article

Parliamentary Review 2017 – Education


BBC Click filming in school.

The BBC visited Tring School to film for the popular weekend show “Click”.  Mr Lickfold met the team at the BETT exhibition where he gave a speech at their stand.  They expressed a keen interest in how the school has embraced the use of technology to enhance the students’ learning and arranged to visit to make a short film.  Three students, who are Digital Leaders, were asked to contribute to the interview as they have shown a keen enthusiasm about all aspects of the school’s use of technology.  The interview was shown at the start of the Click show on Sunday 7 May and is still available on BBC iPlayer.

BBC iPlayer – Click

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How Tring School creates a culture of student sharing that improves classroom results

Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we’re highlighting teachers, students and administrators who are using educational technology to help schools flourish and make learning more interactive and impactful. In this post, Chris Lickfold, Director of Learning at Tring School in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, explains how technology has encouraged their school’s 1,500 students to become more curious, independent learners. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing moreImpact Portraits on the blog. And check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to learn what we’re talking about at Bett. Chris Lickfold will be speaking at Google’s teaching theatre at 11 a.m. on Jan. 26.

Traditional measures like attendance rates and grades are important benchmarks for a school’s performance, but they don’t paint a complete picture of student success. They don’t, for example, indicate whether students are engaged with their classwork or are inspired to discover knowledge.

Last year we brought Chromebooks to Tring School and trained teachers and students to use G Suite for Education. We were fortunate to be in a school environment that was already reaching its goals, but we saw an opportunity to improve further by creating a culture of sharing and engagement.

Shortly after bringing Google tools to students at Tring School, we saw students becoming more independent in their learning—and more curious about the world than we could have imagined. For example, when conducting primary research, we saw students collecting upwards of 300 data points using Google Forms, versus just a handful before the rollout of Google tools. Now, we’re beginning to see the impact of student-led learning in more traditional performance benchmarks. In our science classes, 21 percent more students performed above their expected level in 2016 compared to 2015. And 20 percent more students reached average levels in 2016 compared to 2015.

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Students take ownership of learning—and ask teachers for support when they need it

With a few hundred Chromebooks and Google Classroom, we were able to fully appreciate our students’ proficiencies and challenges. Because Chromebooks allow for real-time collaboration, teachers can see school work in progress and offer support to students as they’re working on assignments instead of providing feedback after classwork was already completed. Students like the privacy of communicating within Classroom, and they’re less self-conscious about asking for help. Teachers are also able to direct students to specific resources they need. And the portability of Chromebooks lets teachers and students to share and respond to feedback even when they’re not in a classroom together.

“The increased feedback and interaction with teachers improved my marks,” one of our Year 11 students told us. “We never had this level of detail or ability to ask specific questions back within the work.”

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Richer, more contextual learning environments

Chromebooks and G Suite have buttressed our flipped learning approach and given students more autonomy over how they learn and what they learn about. It’s easy to provision content on Chromebooks; teachers in our modern foreign languages department add tools like Google Maps so students can immerse themselves in the locations of the languages they’re studying. Students in our design and technology department can work on projects at their own pace. In other words: Students, not teachers, decide how they’ll meet learning goals.

As students work with their chosen resources, such as digital textbooks, teachers can tailor feedback and guidance for individual students—something they wouldn’t have had the time or tools to do in the past. G Suite applications help increase students’ accountability and lets teachers track homework more efficiently than paper-based methods, and that saved time can go back into working with students one-on-one.

Students share classwork with each other simply because it’s so easy to do so. Teachers don’t need to encourage sharing—it’s become part of learning. All in all, Google’s tools have helped us build a culture of sharing that’s not only fun and engaging for students and teachers—it actually delivers better results.

Read the full Tring School Impact Portrait and check out for stories of impact from around the world.


The schools using technology to personalise learning

The schools using technology to personalise learning

25th July 2016 at 16:30

“We don’t group students by the Septembers they were born between, we group them by the level of their ability,” says Gary Spracklen.

Spracklen is headteacher of one of four schools that make up the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA), located off the coast of Dorset. The academy opened in 2012, and offers all-through schooling to its local community. Children start in nursery aged 2 and remain until 19, making IPACA function almost like a multi-academy trust but as a single entity.

But perhaps what sets it apart the most from other mainstream schools is that it operates a “stage not age” approach to learning, rather than rigid year groups.

“We have examples of Year 5 pupils who have passed their statutory assessments for key stage 2 because they were ready. We have a Year 8 student who is working with A-level students in her English literature class, because she has a deeper understanding of English literature and her performance is more in line with pupils several years older.

“We look at every child as an individual, and give them a personalised approach,” he adds.

Light-bulb moments

How they offer that personalised approach is by seamlessly utilising technology. “Technology for us is very much like electricity,” says Gary Spracklen. “It’s just there. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, we just get on and use it.”

The approach begins right at the start of a child’s education, and enables tech to be embedded in the school just like the electricity Spracklen refers to, rather than as a novelty that gets in the way of learning.

To do this, the school uses cloud-based Google Apps for Education. The browser-based, cloud infrastructure enables IPACA to give its 1,200 students and the teaching staff access to their own files instantly. Initially, this meant that the students were each given 1:1 computers in the shape of Google Chromebooks but IPACA has now moved to what it calls a “UYOD” system. It is a play on the ever- expanding BYOD (bring your own device) approach, but students are expected to do more than just bring their devices to school with them; they need to know how to “use” them.

“We have an agnostic approach to technology,” Spracklen says. “Our students can pick up any device and start working because it’s all browser-based. All this is made much easier by being an all-through school as you can embed it early on.”

Problems shared

The cloud infrastructure has also had a dramatic impact on teacher workload, something that has dominated the educational landscape in terms of policymaking over the past few years.

“Working in the cloud supports collaboration, so it reduces workload massively,” Spracklen says.

“I can easily assist teachers with their lesson plans because they can share them with me in real time and much more fluidly than they would on a normal, flat network infrastructure.

“Teachers can share best practice throughout the academy and add comments using the comment feature,” he adds. “That is a really positive approach because collaboration has to lie at the heart of reducing workload.”

The changes have led to sustained increases in standards and educational achievement at the school, particularly at key stages 1 and 2. IPACA has delivered the best GCSE results the community has ever seen, but it is still battling the challenging circumstances that come with being a school in a deprived coastal town.

Recent changes to GCSEs by the government have meant the school hasn’t seen year on year improvements in exam results but it expects to be back on track in the coming years. “What we are doing is laying the foundations for independent learners who are going to succeed in key stage 4,” Spracklen says. “We’re confident about our programme over the next five years that we will be producing some outstanding students.” The almost-island, linked to the mainland by a strip of land poking out from the south coast, is not somewhere one would expect to find the cutting edge of educational innovation.

Coastal towns are often the areas that are hardest to reach, both physically and educationally, but IPACA has reimagined its approach to learning to become one of the most interesting schools in the country.

‘Instant feedback’

Similar improvements have been witnessed at Tring School in Hertfordshire, thanks to the improved communication and feedback that can be delivered through appropriate use of technology.

Like, IPACA, Tring implemented cloud-based learning in the form of Google Apps for Education. Chris Lickfold, director of learning at Tring, says the changes have transformed the way teachers deliver their lessons, while changing students’ learning habits.

“Teachers can give instant feedback on students’ work, and the platform ensures students can easily collaborate, and eliminates delays caused by work being left at home or lost,” Lickfold says. “And if a student has a question they can have a dialogue with the teacher within the document at any point.”The changes have meant “results have improved significantly”, he adds.

“Students’ expected progress in science, for example, has improved by 20 per cent, and their better-than-expected progress has increased by 21 per cent compared with previous cohorts.”

Teachers are able to gain real insights into how long a piece of work has taken, when it was carried out and how it was constructed.

“This means teacher support is far better targeted,” Lickfold says. “It also means we can personalise work to suit the student far better, with students being able to work at their pace on different tasks.”

Michael Hickey is an education writer

Find out about the wealth of Google for Education tools available to aid your classroom practice here.