Choosing the right technology to support your special school

blank Maddie Kilminster - 17 February, 2021

Category : Blog

Choosing the right technology to support your special school

Interview with Sir Peter Birkett, Founder of Highgate Hill House School With more and more special schools moving to cloud-based systems to transform the ways they work, we spoke to Highgate Hill House School, an independent co-educational special school in Devon, to hear about the role that digital technology plays in their strategy. Founder and

Interview with Sir Peter Birkett, Founder of Highgate Hill House School

With more and more special schools moving to cloud-based systems to transform the ways they work, we spoke to Highgate Hill House School, an independent co-educational special school in Devon, to hear about the role that digital technology plays in their strategy.

Founder and ambassador of the school, Sir Peter Birkett, shares how the school is using SENDit and Arbor MIS to record and monitor their students’ progress throughout  school, and to further their school improvement initiatives. Sir Peter also has some great advice for fellow schools in how to get staff onboard with new technology.

Could you explain a bit about your role at Highgate Hill House School?

In January 2016 I founded Highgate Hill House School in Devon – since that point the school has grown, developed significantly and is currently flourishing. This is largely due to our team working approach and commitment to providing personalized learning programmes for every child in our school. My internal role is to ensure this happens by encouraging innovation, creativity and activities that excites the children and allows them to work at a pace that best suits them.

My role as an ambassador includes raising the profile of the school through national awards, inspections, securing quality standards award (e.g., IIP) speaking at events, press releases, blogs, networking events and the usual social media activities.

 

What is the school’s digital strategy? How does this link with the school’s broader goals? 

Highgate Hill House is in the process of refining its ICT strategy with a company called Academia. Our strategy will focus our meeting our Vision, Mission, Values and Strategic objectives – we will adopt wherever possible technology that is proven to work including virtual reality, simulators and drones.

We see the use of IT as crucial in enhancing and accelerating learning and building on our blended learning approach that has advanced more rapidly because of the pandemic.  

Highgate-hill-house-school

What has been challenging during Covid-19 and how has technology helped? 

As we are a school for vulnerable children with special educational needs, we have remained open throughout all periods of lockdown.

A challenge for us like any other school was planning online delivery almost overnight.   Not only the infrastructure, equipment, staffing and parental/carer support but also creating a system that the children would enjoy and quickly get used to.

For those attending school, we had all the social distancing and change of habit challenges to overcome health and safety issues as well associated with the use of IT equipment. 

We have learned much from the pandemic and will now have certain aspects of the school curriculum delivered via online home learning. 

How can technology be best used by schools to contribute to school improvement? 

Technology supports our school by making learning interesting. We tailor each child/young person’s learning to their individual interests and technology means that we can access resources that inspire them.

Technology used intelligently will not only excite and motivate many students it will also support, enhance and accelerate the learning process. 

Technology during the pandemic has also been used for staff development and team building that also included sharing of new learning and teaching material produced. 

Why did you choose to use Arbor MIS and SENDit? What did you want to achieve? 

We chose these companies because they share our passion towards educational excellence, they have the technology that will enable us to record and monitor a child’s progress throughout their time in the school. This will provide the school, the child, parents/carers, inspectors and other key stakeholders with individualised pupil information that will enable us to provide personalised learning and intervention strategies for every child in the school.

How have Arbor MIS and SENDit transformed the way your school and staff work?  

It is still early days but we are delighted with the progress seen to date – we are already seeing the points raised above being met.  

How did system implementation go? 

Very well, we are pleased with the ongoing support from both companies. 

What advice would you have for other schools who are looking to improve the ways they use technology?

Identify a champion, engage all staff by developing a shared plan with phased timeframes and review dates, allow staff time to experience the benefits of the learning platform or portal. Some find it straightforward while others find it daunting, however, once they feel confident their creativity and ideas begin to flow.

What are your goals for the future? 

To meet our vision and, in partnership with both SENDit and Arbor, build on the work already undertaken. Our aim is to use the technology available intelligently so that we can create a recording, monitoring and learning approach that ensures all children are “happy, successful and able to reach their full potential”.

If you’d like to find out more about how Arbor’s cloud-based MIS could transform the way your school works, join a free webinar or arrange a personalised demo here. Alternatively, get in touch with us on tellmemore@arbor-education.com or 0208 050 1028.

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