by Simon Luxford-Moore, Head of eLearning at ESMS
“What do we do now?”
It is such a powerful question, being asked by many schools across the world.
ESMS has always aimed to maintain a balance of traditional teaching as well as learning approaches with innovative uses of technology. For us it has always been a question of how technology can be used to enhance or support our children’s learning, rather than the focus.
Technology, whether hardware or software, is simply a resource. It should be an extension of a pencil case, wherein a ruler is used to draw a straight line, a highlighter pen is used to feature key words, or a device is used to make a task easier, or more accessible. Different learning styles will benefit from technology in different ways, but our aim is to teach children how to identify and use the necessary skills to ensure they have equal access to their learning and that they can use their strengths to overcome areas of greater challenge.
During recent lockdowns Firefly proved to be far more valuable than a simple resource sharing platform. As staff, pupils and parents rapidly upskilled, it became a central learning hub for our distance learning provision.
Through Firefly we shared pre-recorded lessons and reference material for families, alongside hosting live Teams calls and online presentations from guest speakers. It also helped us to tie together the pastoral and educational needs of our children, staff and families. As a result of our collectively steep learning curve, we have now developed a provision which will ensure we are in a better place for any future restrictions which may come upon us quickly.
That said, we are never satisfied with the status quo and are always looking to improve and enhance what we do.
To that end, the Schools are exploring the use of individual devices. I hasten to point out that we do not refer to these as 1:1 devices, as they are not going to be used in such an isolating sense that “1:1” suggests. Children will not be ‘plugged in’ during lessons. The key to learning and teaching at ESMS, is the human relationship between teachers and students. The use of individual devices will simply be to enhance and support areas of learning where they make a positive difference. Learning intentions will always be focussed on the skills or knowledge being taught, and not on the device itself.
21st Century Learning is all about ensuring our children are equipped with the skills they need to be confident and competent in the world ahead of them. In terms of curricular development, it fosters questions of “Why and how are we doing this?” and less of the “What we are doing?”. This mindset is also being explored with staff across ESMS to ensure that our children have a consistent and seamless approach to their learning across our sites.
Nobody has a crystal ball, however the past few months have taught us to focus on the incredible work we have achieved as a community and identify what we can take from this to help us moving forward. Like the phoenix of legend, out of the ashes great things will come, and we are driven to ensure our children, staff and families are prepared for whatever the future may hold.
Next session, ESMS looks forward to:
Providing personal devices for specific year groups. Families will be updated via Firefly Digital Devices — ESMS (fireflycloud.net)
Reviewing our whole school approach to teaching and learning, with a focus on developing ‘future-ready’ skills
Continuing to work with Firefly to ensure it serves a wider purpose as a learning hub, rather than a storage facility
Expanding our virtual connections with schools and classes across the UK and wider world.