Digital Transformation at St. Mary’s School

St Mary’s School, Henley on Thames, is set to undergo a digital transformation this term as every child in Years 3 – 6 is given their own personal device to enable them to extend their learning.

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Part of the Global education group Cognita Schools, St. Mary’s has led the way in educational innovation and their ability to deliver live teaching and consistent learning through the lockdown in Spring was widely praised by current parents: “We always knew that St. Mary’s was brilliant, but you’ve exceeded all expectations.”

Rob Harmer, Headmaster, St. Mary’s School: “Technology has become a fundamental part of education, not only as the vehicle to deliver great teaching and learning, but as a platform for collaboration and productivity. We witness first-hand the positive impact technology can have on continuing outstanding learning in and beyond the physical classroom. The use of technology helps put students at the heart of their learning by increasing agency over their work, developing intrinsic interpersonal skills and preparing them for the future of adult life.”

Although the school’s focus on educational technology was in place well before Covid-19, the pandemic has accelerated their approach with education software supporting peer to peer collaboration, interactivity and organisation. Educational technology is re-shaping the classroom experience for learners of all ages. This unique approach to hybrid learning provides a digital framework to support classroom teaching and ensures continuity of learning in all scenarios, offering families the reassurance that they are looking for to prevent any disruption to children’s learning.

Alongside preparations for the roll out of the new devices, the school has invested in additional training for teaching staff, leading to Deputy Headteacher Kate Bodle being awarded the Microsoft Innovator in Education Expert qualification.  One of less than 200 primary teachers in the UK to hold this prestigious award, the school is now part of a network which benefits from direct training from the Microsoft Education team.

Kate Bodle, Deputy Headteacher & Microsoft Innovator in Education Expert: “I have always felt that technology can help some children overcome some of the barriers to their learning.  The inbuilt accessibility tools within Microsoft are leading the way in this field now, so it is wonderful to be able to support staff and children in using those. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge particularly to support productivity and digital citizenship in young people, the arrival of our 1:1 devices will mean that our children can be fully trained in a range of applications that will enhance the learning within the classroom and equip them with real life skills.”

In recent times, the uncertainty of Covid-19 has meant that the school has pivoted to and from online teaching and learning at various points.  This blended approach to learning may continue for some time, and the benefits of children accessing a school managed 1 – to – 1 device include the ability to create a seamless learning experience whenever and wherever pupils require.

Rob Harmer, Headmaster, St. Mary’s School: “One of the really exciting aspects of this development is that it enables our pupils to enjoy greater ownership of their learning.  Ultimately, we need to ensure that every child has access to exceptional, consistent and reliable education, and we are confident that the 1 to 1 devices offer the best possible way to do this.”

St. Mary’s continues to place pupil wellbeing at the centre of everything that they do and following on from their recent participation in a Global Be Well Day celebration, the team work hard to ensure that the children benefit from plenty of time away from the screen, fresh air and exercise.

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