What is the Inspire Learning programme?
The Inspire Learning programme is a £16m investment in a world-class digital learning environment for all pupils. The project has been developed by a partnership of SBC, CGI, XMA and Apple. The programme is a key part of our Digital Learning Strategy and transform teaching and learning in our schools for the benefit of children and young people now, and into the future.
It include plans for iPads to be provided to all P6-S6 pupils and shared devices at a ratio of one for every five P1-P5 pupils too.
What is the rationale for Inspire Learning?
This programme is aimed at raising attainment and supporting equity and inclusion for all children and young people. It is about investing in the learning of our young people and putting them at the heart of education, improving outcomes and success for all. The effective deployment of digital technology in schools will ensure our children and young people develop a level of general and specialist digital skills that are vital for learning, life and work in an increasingly digital world. It is not about having an iPad as a device but how we use the tools it offer to enhance learning, teaching and assessment
The programme can unlock the potential of our young people, benefiting individuals, families, the Borders’ economy and society as a whole. A fundamental consideration for the project was to be able to connect classrooms and learning across our schools though a virtual learning environment thus overcoming access to opportunity caused by barriers with transport and geography.
The evidence for looking at a new digital solution came from quality improvement visits to schools over the last 18-24 months. As part of this self- evaluation using How Good is Our School? (version 4), senior officers focus on the Learning, Teaching & Assessment quality indicator. The national expectation is:
- Learners enabled to select and make use of high-quality resources and equipment including digital technologies
- We deploy a wide variety of innovative and creative resources and teaching approaches, including digital technologies
- Learners exercise choice, including the appropriate use of digital technology, and take increasing responsibility as they become more independent in their learning
As part of the visit to schools we observe lessons, look at schools evidence/data and we speak to focus groups of S1-3 pupils, S4-6 pupils, class teachers, principal teachers and parents. A focus group question is included for the use of digital technology in learning. A key theme emerging from the observations and from focus groups is the lack of digital resources in terms of access to devices and the number of devices available and in having an improved Wi-Fi network. Pupils and staff were very forthright in their poor opinion of digital resources in our schools for basic things, never mind in being creative.
Another quality indicator we are not fulfilling adequately is Employability and Creativity. This has four key themes and all school must provide:
Children and young people work individually and in teams creating both digital and non-digital solutions. As their digital literacy becomes more sophisticated they embed computation to solve problems. Increasingly they apply the core principles underpinning digital technologies to develop their own ideas. Their skills are up-to-date with technological advances informed by a range of sources including the expertise of the young people themselves.
Children and young people are innovative, confident and responsible in the use of technologies and staying safe online. They critically examine and make informed choices about the use of digital technology to enhance and personalise learning in school and where appropriate, beyond the school day. They anticipate and respond to new opportunities and threats caused by developments now and in the future.
Creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation is increasingly embedded across learning. Children and young people benefit from learning and teaching through partnerships with education, employers, creative industries and cultural sectors. Learners are confident and ambitious with high levels of self-esteem. They are motivated to explore and challenge assumptions. Children and young people take ownership of their own learning and thinking. They are imaginative, open-minded, confident risk-takers, and appreciate issues from different perspectives. They can ask questions, make connections across disciplines, envisage what might be possible and not possible, explore ideas, identify problems and seek and justify solutions.
Increasing employability skills
Our young people are ambitious and better prepared for the world of work through progressive learning that connects them more directly to employment. They are resilient, adaptable and understand the value of the skills they are acquiring. They feel supported to make suitable, realistic and informed choices based on their skills, strengths and preferences. They are
supported to develop an international mind-set equipping them for the rapidly changing and increasingly globalised world.
In the Broad General Education, schools are expected to implement the Technologies curriculum, including computing Science from Early Level to Level 3 by the end of S3.
As you can see, from the information above, our Inspired Learning program will enable us to meet the demands and expectations of the curriculum and in developing the future skills needed for the South of Scotland.
Why do pupils need iPads for school?
In 2016 the Scottish Government outlined the importance of technology at the heart of learning in a national strategy document for education. This sets out the expectation of local authorities and schools and the vision for digital technology, which is a core skill across learning. Where our educators in the Scottish Borders are supported through professional development, resources and leadership, digital technology can enrich learning and teaching, help to raise levels of attainment and close the attainment gap across our authority. It would also allow us to meet the specific educational needs of our schools in the Borders and overcome barriers.
What content will be on the iPad?
There will be core educational Apps available on each iPad. In addition to this, there will be a fully managed dedicated app store specific to SBC for teachers and pupils to download pre-approved apps as and when required. These apps will be kept current, and updated regularly.
Will it develop key skills for learning, work and life across the Scottish Borders?
Staff, children and young people will gain key skills such as:
- knowledge and understanding of the key concepts in technologies, including coding
- curiosity, exploration and problem solving skills
- planning and organisational skills in a range of contexts
- creativity and innovation
- computational thinking
- data literacy
- skills in using tools, equipment, software, graphic media and materials
- skills in collaborating, leading and interacting with others in and outside the school classroom
- critical thinking through exploration and discovery within a range of learning contexts
- discussion and debate
- searching and retrieving information to inform thinking within diverse learning contexts
- making connections between specialist skills developed within learning and skills for work
- evaluating products, systems and services
- presentation and communication skills
- awareness of sustainability
What schools and pupils would benefit?
All schools in the Borders will benefit from the roll-out of the programme. All pupils will receive an iPad for their educational benefit from P6 to S6, after which the iPad will be returned. Children in P1-P5 will benefit from access to an iPad on a 1:5 ratio in each primary school. This is a future-proofed programme, with devices refreshed after every four years, which will support generations of children and young people.
I thought the Council had financial challenges so how is it possible to do this, and why?
Our budget is not just about making savings it’s about making essential investments which are in the best interests of our communities to do so. The world is evolving and our classrooms need to as well. National guidelines from the Scottish Government have placed digital literacy at the heart of its learning process. Viewed as a way to enhance learning, it is now the responsibility of every Scottish teacher to embed digital tools in learning. This programme will support this.
How long will it take to roll-out to all pupils?
A full implementation plan will be developed, however the roll-out will start from this year (2019) and is expected to take around two years. Details will be shared as the project develops.
Why Apple iPad?
Our partnership with CGI brings us the benefit of having expert knowledge of the wider IT marketplace and trends across the globe. The project team researched a number of current devices and platforms for learning and looked at the pros and cons of each one.
As part of that work it was important to consider the specific needs of education and access within Scottish Borders as well as the overall capabilities of the tools for enhancing learning both online and offline. As a result of this, the iPad is the best value option when compared to other comparable devices and their supporting infrastructures.
Some of the benefits, for example, include:
- the iPad provides the widest suite of features required for a fully inclusive digital learning environment
- Apple is the only platform that allows for the use of all current classroom management solutions and other requirements such as apple classroom, google classroom, Microsoft O365, digital textbooks, curriculum teaching materials, GLOW, and GSuite
- Apple support the professional development of teachers through their Apple Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator programmes to maximise the benefit to education in the Borders
- The IPad was found to be the most capable single device across the broadest range of uses for the largest cohort of students and teachers
- The form factor is truly mobile providing flexibility in immersive learning experiences and teaching spaces
What is the cost per device?
The cost per device is commercially sensitive information. Disclosing the cost would put the commercial agreement between Apple, XMA, CGI and the Council in jeopardy and undermine the Council’s ability to obtain best value through this deal. Please note - the devices are only one element of the Inspire Learning programme. Significant investment is being made as part of this programme in other benefits including, teacher training and supporting infrastructure to ensure that the learning experience of young people in the Borders is the best that it can be.
What happens if my child breaks the device?
A high quality robust case will be provided which will protect the device from accidental damage. If a device does become damaged however, they will be fixed or replaced where appropriate. If it is identified that an iPad has been purposely vandalised this will be dealt as per the policy; and a discussion will take place between yourself and the school.
Do the council envisage savings in any areas, if so what are they?
The starting point was not to save money and this is not a driver the programme. There are however potential benefits in terms of teacher efficiency and workload, physical printing/copying costs, out-of-hours and out-of-classroom learning, accessibility adjustments and transport. There are also anticipated reductions in the cost of supporting the current school IT estate as rollout of a 1 to 1 device programme reduces demand for ‘traditional’ computer lab environments and frees these up for curricular areas that have specific requirements.
Was a Bring your own device (BYOD) strategy or element considered?
A BYOD network has already been rolled out for secondary schools across the Borders. A strategy of BYO tablet reduces the usability of the classroom environment and therefore the educational benefit. It also creates inequality within the classroom which negates one of the key benefits of the Council’s approach providing technology and learning opportunity equality for all pupils.
Was a shared device option looked at? Are personal devices really necessary? Was a cost/benefit analysis conducted on this?
The device is only one part of the much wider Inspire Learning programme. It is not the intention of the programme to limit the opportunities for learning for children and young people in the Borders and therefore the shared model would not have achieved the Council’s desired outcomes.
Was the investment weighed up against alternatives that the same level of funding would provide (e.g. additional teaching staff)?
This project is funded from capital funds which the Council cannot spend on staffing costs (revenue costs).
What was the consultation process?
While it is correct that pupils and parents were not directly consulted about the Inspire Learning programme, we did consult with all headteachers and modelled what the experience in the classroom would look like. Headteachers were all very supportive and excited by the potential of it. As the funding for this programme was part of the budget proposals by the Administration, no information could be released until the committee papers for the Council budget meeting had been published.
We are duty bound to provide an IT to education and we have evidence that we needed to improve this aspect of our provision. We think that the Inspire Learning programme, will enable us to meet the core expectations from Education Scotland and address inequality by investing in our schools and young people
How was the project initiated and who signed it off in the procurement process?
As outlined above, there was a need to improve and update the ICT equipment in schools with our IT provider CGI instead of just replacing devices like for like. This work started in January 2018 with SBC IT staff, education staff ,CGI and SBC Corporate Management Team. As a local authority, we have to purchase ICT equipment for education from a Scottish Government Procurement Framework and XMA is the company that has the contract from the government to procure all tablets. The project team researched at a number of different devices for learning and looked at the pros and cons of each one. It was important to consider the specific needs of education and access within Scottish Borders as well as the tools for enhancing learning both online and offline.