Our journey with Google Education

Over the last term (Aug-Dec 2017) we’ve made some major changes to the devices and services we use across the school with children. In Jan 2017, I went to BETT and met with Ian Addison, who was kind enough to use the google stand and one of their chromebooks to give me a tour of his school’s set up on Google Suite for Education. I’d been wanting to get back to using google across the whole school for some time but finally the stars aligned and a chunk of capital, school expansion leading to the need to remove our ICT Suite and me being in the very fortunate position of being out of class meant it was possible.

Our ICT Suite was in need of updating but pressure on the space was at a premium and so we decided to free up the room by replacing it with mobile devices spread across the school. I was keen to provide a mixed environment for our children to work in, so chose a combination of ASUS chromebooks and Lynx Windows tablets (with removable keyboards). We set up Google Suite for Education (with lots of help from Google through their education tour last year as well as Ian’s invaluable blog posts) and began this academic year with 60 Chromebooks, 45 Lynx tablets and 2 new storage trolleys.

I’ve been very lucky to be able to deliver the roll out of the devices through teaching computing in our PPA sessions. We work on a two week rota, so each phase has a day out of class together every fortnight (brilliant for collaborative planning and working together as a team). The children have a programme of curriculum enrichment on those days comprising PSHE, dance, sport, computing, French and music. So I’ve had the amazing experience of teaching computing to roughly 360 children (years 1,2,5 and 6) every two weeks. Year 3 and 4 have been taught by my colleagues wormy my support. It’s worked brilliantly and the children’s skills have really developed and the insight I’ve gained into teaching computing has been amazing!

Some key points I’ve learned along the way (in no particular order!)

  • The ASUS chromebooks are a dream to work with. They are super fast, incredible battery life (they last 8.00 am – 3.15pm being used on 6 sessions of 50 min carousel with 180 children without recharging and usually have around 60% battery left!). They are amazingly consistent, behaving in the same way on every device, so I can practise on one and know what I show the children will be exactly the same when they do it.
  • Our Internet is more stable than I thought it would be. I chose to have some windows devices so that we could least have something on regardless of our broadband status. I needn’t have worried, after a few teething troubles whilst we had fibre installed, it’s never been a problem.
  • The windows tablets were cheap but they aren’t a patch on the chromebooks. Logging into google accounts on them can still take some year 6 children 10 minutes, whereas my entire year 1 cohort can turn on and log in in under 2 mins 30 s. This is due to a couple of factors – the chromebooks turn on in a few seconds, it can take the windows tablets 5-8 minutes just to turn on. The domain name is pre-completed on the chromebooks and the log in is the first screen the children see. On the windows tablets, children must open Chrome then go to classroom to log in. Despite numerous attempts by our technicians, some tablets still don’t open on our default homepage which has a short cut to classroom, adding further steps for the children to complete.
  • I picked up a tip on the google ed tour about asking children to close the lids on their devices when you want to talk to them. Sounds obvious but I’ve introduced it across the school and ‘lids down, eyes forward’ is something everyone knows. Once the children realise their work won’t be lost as Google autosaves everything and that the devices come back on instantly at the page they were working on they soon learn to concentrate on my modelling and we all get on much quicker!
  • The Google Education Group on G+ are fantastically helpful and have responded to my badly worded questions with patience, generosity and clarity. Along with hangouts with the wonderful Tim Bleazard and help on twitter, I am always grateful to have access to and the support of the online teaching community.

The next steps for us are now to embed the use of the devices across the school with our teachers taking up the challenge to use them in class.


#exabytes17 Micro:bits and the Iron Man in KS2

I had the pleasure of presenting at the #exabytes17 conference in Bradford on 7 July 2017. Yvonne Walker and I discussed our CAS Microbit project, making lunch box buggies on an Iron Man Theme! The resources for the project are on the CAS community site (sign up for free to download them all!).

We asked delegates to suggest their own ideas on how to use microbits across the curriculum and express interest in joining the project. Please use the google form if you are also interested!

CAS Annual conference: Using micro-bits across the primary curriculum

Making lunch box buggies with Iron Man body parts!

I was delighted to present the work from our CAS project Using micro-bits across the primary curriculum at the CAS Annual Conference on 17th June 2017. I presented with Yvonne Walker from CAS and demonstrated one of the buggies that we had made as well as letting delegates loose on some microbits.

We asked delegates to suggest their own ideas on how to use microbits across the curriculum and express interest in joining the project. Please use the google form if you are also interested!

Full details of the project and how to get involved:

CAS teacher resources http://community.computingatschool.org.uk/resources/4991

CAS North Leicester Primary Hub meeting 28 September 2016 eSafety

Penny Patterson shares her wisdom on how to ensure your school meets the new Safeguarding requirement for online safety.

This term we decided to focus on something that many schools will be covering at this time of year, eSafety. The changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education that came into force on 5 September 2016 included more explicit duties for safeguarding with regard to online activities. We were very fortunate to have Penny Patterson (Senior Inspector Quality Assurance with responsibility for Safeguarding, Havering School Improvement Service) present by Skype for our meeting. She went well beyond the call of duty, when after discovering the M25 was closed, she had to divert and deliver the presentation using her phone from her car whilst parked at a garden centre!

Her slides highlight the new requirements succinctly and she has kindly agreed to share them:

Full presentation available for download


Safeguarding-and-online-safety ppt file

One of the more alarming aspects of her talk was a discussion around sexting, which most of us had felt wouldn’t be an issue we would need to deal with in Primary schools. However, Penny has dealt with two cases involving children in early years and warned us to be aware of the difficulties of dealing with such cases. Unfortunately the strict legal definition of sexting includes the taking and sharing of indecent images, and if children take photographs of what is under their clothes, this can constitute sexting. Fortunately, UKIS have issued guidance on how to proceed if this happens in your school, and how it can be dealt with in a sensible and proportionate way.

Teachers were keen to know how to deal with parents on social media who were not being good role models to their children. Penny advised that they should consider if the children were involved, named or harmed by the online conversations and if they were, then to deal with this as we would with any other safeguarding incident.

We noted with interest the addition of a category of abuse of neglect for parents whose excessive use electronic devices as ‘babysitters’ and for parents who may be ignoring a child through the excessive use of technology themselves (watching their phone instead of their child crossing the road for example).

Finally, Penny gave us some good advice to make sure that we had checked that the filtering and monitoring systems we were using fulfilled the criteria recommended by the DfE (see : Guide for education settings and filtering providers about establishing ‘appropriate levels’ of filtering and monitoring)

The next meetings of the CAS North Leicester Primary hub will take place in March and May 2017. Book your free tickets online.

Everything on the Internet belongs to someone! 

It was my pleasure to run a workshop at Hampshire/ Wessex Computing Conference on 30th June 2016. Expanding on previous presentations on teaching children about Creative Commons licensing and how to be respectful online, this workshop covered attribution and how to re-use online content. 


Report from CAS Leicester North Primary hub meeting March 2015

Report from the CAS Leicester North Primary hub meeting at Rushey Mead Primary School.

Tuesday 24 March 2015 : Rushey Mead Primary School, Leicester

Barefoot computing – Zoe Ross. How to use the resources available on the Barefoot project website to teaching the new computing curriculum in KS1 and KS2.

Zoe gave us a great introduction to the Barefoot site and in particular how each resource is linked directly to a statement from the computing curriculum. Each activity includes an explanation of the terms or concepts used so that you can check your own subject knowledge. Sign up for free to use the resources on the site. Barefoot are still offering FREE WORKSHOPS in your school until the end of this school year. Contact them to book one quick!

What will children be learning at KS3? Dave Abbott, Stonehill High School, Birstall.

Dave showed us what children will be doing in years 7 – 9. As a computing specialist, he was keen to support our use in primary of the correct terminology that so many of us are struggling to comprehend! He recognised that our teaching of the key concepts at primary was essential for him to progress computing at KS3 and was delighted to start seeing children who already knew what an algorithm was. Rather than teach specific languages, Dave uses projects, such as making games in Scratch to teach the principles of programming. Dave includes eSafety in his first term of teaching at year 7 and uses a video project to ensure that children can locate, transfer and save files using a USB, hard drive and online storage. Something that not every year 7 child can do but a real stand out message for us to start looking at teaching in primary school.

Schemes of work – led by Jo Badge, Rushey Mead Primary.

We discussed as a group the various schemes of work that we were using in the region and looked at a few other examples including Pete Richardson’s comprehensive WLD scheme (@primarypete_), Rising Stars switched on computing and the Somerset ELIM scheme. A valuable time for everyone to network and learn from each other, there was lots of great sharing going on!

We also gave out free copies of the Primary Quick start guide to computing which is a really useful guide to teaching the new computing curriculum.

Our next meeting will be on 10 June 2015. I hope you can join us!

CAS Leicester North Primary hub launch meeting

I am delighted to announce that, along with my Head Teacher, Debra Bailey, I will be leading a new primary focussed CAS hub in Leicester. Computing At School
is a great organisation that aims to promote the teaching of computer science at school. Membership of CAS is open to everyone, and is very broad, including teachers, parents, governors, exam boards, industry, professional societies, and universities.

A CAS hub is a meeting of teachers and lecturers who wish to share their ideas for developing the teaching of computing in their schools, their classrooms and their community.  It is a meeting of like-minded professionals with the general objective of supporting each other and the specific aim of providing (at least) one idea that can be taken and tried in the classroom. These meetings provide:

  • the opportunity for teachers to meet in a relaxed and informal atmosphere
  • to share ideas and resources
  • to receive training, and
  • to gain mutual support from discussing teaching methods with colleagues.

The launch of the CAS Leicester North Primary hub will take place on Wednesday 26 November 2014, from 16:00 – 17:30 at Rushey Mead Primary School, Leicester. The event is free and all you need to do is sign up online for a ticket. We are very excited to have one of the best Primary CAS Master Teachers of Computing , Phil Bagge, giving a presentation by Skype. Phil is a fantastic teacher of computing and delivers inspiring training on Scratch and other areas of the computing curriculum. I attended one of his Scratch courses recently, and was really impressed by the way he made sure that we knew the common misconceptions children could have and how we could deal with them in our teaching. His massive range and depth of experience in teaching computing lessons really shines through. His resources are all available online and provide an excellent way into teaching the computing curriculum with confidence.

CAS Leicester North Primary hub launch meeting programme

16.00 – 16.15  Introduction and Welcome – What is CAS? Why you should join us?

16.15 – 16.45 “How searching the Internet is just like asking your mum where you left something.” – Phil Bagge, CAS regional coordinator, has a strange but remarkably accurate approach to explaining to primary pupils how web searches work. Will your searching experience be the same after his talk?

16.45 – 17.00 refreshments

17.00 – 17.20 Where does the Internet come from?  a practical hands-on activity to use children to demonstrate how the Internet works by Jo Badge, Computing Lead Teacher, Rushey Mead Primary School.

17.20 – 1730 Evaluation and future CPD

This will be a great opportunity to meet other primary teachers and computing subject leaders locally and share some of the ways that we are beginning to implement the new computing curriculum (there will be tea, coffee, biscuits and hopefully cake on offer too!). I hope you will be able to join us!

Online registration for the launch meeting is now open (and it’s free!).