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Technology for Learning: a Trust's experience

Digital transformation is only growing faster and the same must be applied to our education sector. That's why we're hosting a mini series with the LEO Academy Trust to explore their model of learning, excellence and opportunity. That has led them to successfully embed technology across all their Academies.

First up is members of their Digital Learning Team, Graham Macaulay and Cheryl Shirley. Our host Patrick McGrath, delves into their experience of using technology for learning, including what they look for in EdTech tools and what advice they have for fellow MATs and schools.

Follow Graham on Twitter @grahammacaulay

Follow Cheryl on Twitter @MrsShirley8

Transcript

Patrick McGrath:
Welcome to another episode in the Texthelp Talks podcast series. As always, we've got a host of experts covering a range of topics from education, right through into the workplace. So, do make sure you subscribe through your preferred podcast player or streaming service so you never miss an episode. You can also, of course, join the conversation using the hashtag #TexthelpTalks on Twitter. We'd love to hear your feedback after the podcast episode today, and also any questions you might have for what I know will be an amazing conversation with two absolutely wonderful guests.

Patrick:
I'm Patrick McGrath, I am head of education strategy here at Texthelp, it's my absolute pleasure to be your host today. I've got two fabulous guests, as I've already said, Graham Macaulay and Cheryl Shirley from the LEO Multi-Academy Trust, and they're joining us today.

Patrick:
Graham of course is well-known from Twitter, if you're on the Twitter sphere you'll know and come across Graham quite regularly. But Graham is an experienced and well-respected teacher, senior leader, and EdTech thought leader. He comes from a teaching background having taught across various primary school settings. More recently he has led the use of technology at the LEO Academy Trust, and also leads the trust support for EdTech through the Department for Education EdTech Demonstrator Schools and Colleges Program. Graham is a Google innovator coach, and I have to mention, Graham, you are of course a Texthelp-certified EdTech leader. I don't want to let that one escape you by.

Patrick:
And next of course we have the wonderful Cheryl. Cheryl is a primary school teacher with over 10 years experience in schools across Southwest London. She currently divides her time between being a Year 3 class teacher and year leader, as well as her role as lead teacher of technology for learning for the LEO Central Team. She's a Google-certified trainer and coach, and spends lots of her time supporting and coaching teachers with their use of technology to enhance teaching and learning for all pupils. Graham, Cheryl, it's my absolute pleasure to have you here today. Welcome to Texthelp Talks.

Cheryl Shirley:
Hello. Lovely to be here.

Graham Macaulay:
Hello. Sorry, I cut in there. Lovely to be here as well. And thanks for the invite, Patrick, real privilege.

Patrick:
No problem. At the start of these podcasts it's a very different thing when you're talking cross-Atlantic. When we talk to people in North America, we never have the small talk about weather. But when we talk to people locally in the UK there's always that weather thing. And I'm looking out the window here in Ireland and it's not a very pretty sight today, but I hope it's a little better where you are. Tell me it is, please.

Graham:
It is quite nice and sunny here, to be fair.

Cheryl:
Yeah. Blue skies.

Patrick:
Cheryl, are you sitting in a dark classroom at this point in time? Are you telling me the truth here on the weather?

Cheryl:
It's definitely blue skies out there. Lovely day.

Patrick:
Brilliant. And one thing, Cheryl, I really loved about your piece there, and also it was mentioned in Graham's piece, was the use of the word coach. Always for so long we've talked about training teachers and just talked about CPD, and it's lovely to see in the bios that I've been going through with both yourself and Graham, just that focus on coaching. And I want to get to that later in the podcast episode that we have, because that of course is key in terms of staff development.

Patrick:
So, just thinking about what we're going to cover today. Digital transformation and the rapid pace of digital adoption in our schools are just some of the changes we've seen over the last year. It's crucial to not only meet the demands of a changing world, but to make sure all pupils have the same equitable opportunities for learning. The LEO Academy Trust pursues a model for teaching and learning that has Learning, Excellence and Opportunity at its heart. And as part of this, have of course very well-known successfully embedded technology across their academies in a way that really fits with their values and aims, and I'm really looking forward to exploring that fit as we go through today.

Patrick:
Today of course we're catching up with Graham and Cheryl from their digital learning team, to learn more about their journey to implementing EdTech, and how it plays a role within teaching and learning. Including of course what they look for in EdTech tools, what advice they have for fellow multi-academy trusts, schools and educators who want to make the best use of tech.

Patrick:
But, Graham, I'm just going to come back to you for a second. Because I've been thinking there also about our experience with LEO to date, and I'm going to steal an Apple phrase here, which is actually on the wall behind me from those old days. Which is there was an advertising campaign from Apple many years ago and it just said, "Think different."

Patrick:
And actually, whilst I know you're very much a Google-centered piece of technology trust, I think that phrase ties in very well, because it's always struck me that as a trust, you have thought different. And one of the aspects you have embedded, as I understand it, is one-to-one devices within there. How did that "think different" mentality, if that's indeed what you have, tie in to say, "Right, technology has to be at the heart of what we do, as secondary to teaching and learning"?

Graham:
Yeah. Really good question. And this really underpins absolutely everything we do in terms of teaching and learning. And to be entirely candid and entirely honest about it, I think probably four years ago I realized that... The education system is broken effectively. The solution to problems is we add to people's workloads, we stretch and stretch and stretch a member of staff until effectively they're like an elastic band and they snap. And when they get snapped, we're surprised, and of course we shouldn't be surprised because it's blatantly the obvious. We've increased the amount of work that we expect a member of staff to do, or we've increased their responsibility, or we perhaps haven't supported them enough, as much as we should, and it all falls apart.

Graham:
And I guess what I did four years ago is I thought really long and hard about how do we solve this problem. because what we're doing at the moment we can't carry on. It's not sustainable, it's not raising standards, and actually, if we're not careful, we're going to end up with a burnout workforce. And the net result is children not getting the absolute best educational offer that we want to provide them with.

Graham:
So, we had to think differently, we had to shift our thinking away from solving a problem by increasing our labor workforce. So, in order to deliver everything that we want to do, we need to think differently. And our CEO went to China on an exchange with a school out there that was one-to-one devices, and using his... a whole wide range of EdTech tools, Nearpod, Kahoot, et cetera, et cetera.

Graham:
And he came back absolutely buzzing, and he was like, "We need to think about this, solving this education problem." And I had lots of conversations, and this went on for quite some time. Because what I was proposing was out there. It was different. There was no reassurance, I suppose, for want of a better expression, what my idea was going to work, there was no case we could go to the school down the road and see this in action.

Graham:
And I said to him, "What about if every child had a device? What about if our teaching and learning was so engaging using a wide variety of tools, that perhaps we didn't necessarily need to be funding other things, because actually our children were so engaged and passionate and wanting to learn. And actually, what about if they were really independent? If they were creative? And that was just embedded in everything that we did." And so, cut a long story short, as Patrick, you say, we started to trial a one-to-one program in Year 4 in all of our schools, and Cheryl was an absolutely pivotal part in making that magic happen. And I think, without sounding like a broken record or something, but it just worked.

Graham:
And actually, we saw so many different things. We saw children that were actually really engaged that perhaps wouldn't have been. We saw children that, and I don't want to be too stereotypical, but we saw children that were perhaps white British boys that perhaps writing was not their idea or forte. Give them a football and loving life, but perhaps not necessarily writing a persuasive text about recycling was their cup of tea.

Graham:
And straightaway we'd given all of these children a way to access the curriculum. I think at the start we had to spend a lot of time trying to help start it. And this is about developing your practices as a professional in the classroom. This isn't a computing national curriculum resort. It's something they can use across the curriculum.

Graham:
And I don't want to say that it was all really easy to do, because in reality it wasn't. I think what it did do though is it took some bold and courageous leadership to make it happen, because we were taking a huge risk. And of course, some of my challenge was to get the board, oh, this sounds a bit funny, was to get the board onboard. I really had to get our trustees to invest significant finances in making this program happen.

Graham:
And it's coming back to where you started, Patrick, it was about thinking differently. It wasn't really ever about one-to-one devices, that was never our motivation or our driving factor. What it was about, was about making sure that our teaching and learning is as good as possible. Sorry, I've been wittering on a lot here. The last thing I just say on this question was just to say that we were in a strong position that we had staff that were working really hard. So, it wasn't a case that we didn't have the right workforce, we had some... we still do, absolutely amazing staff. So, it was about giving them resources to supplement their practice really.

Patrick:
Yeah. Funny, I know you said the board about the board there. But actually, it brought me in mind of my career in education. And the amount of times that I spent in front of boards or board of governors in individual schools talking about technology and talking about how it could impact and change, and it is a worthwhile investment both in terms of time and money. And the reality was that those schools that considered, not necessarily one-to-one, but those schools or those trusts that considered it and started to run with it, were those schools or trusts with vision, with visionary leadership, and that was common across the board. And that was the one only common thing that led the success with it, there was vision at the leadership level, and it could really drive it forward and motivate the staff.

Patrick:
Well, Cheryl, just thinking about that, and totally, totally concur with what Graham has said there, but there has to be challenges in there as well. And Graham's talked about coaching, he's talked about that CPD, he's talked about empowerment. And these are essential things that I know run through the heart of everything that you and the team do there at the Trust. But what are the challenges of getting staff and pupils using technology, and also using it effectively? It's not enough just to use it, they have to use it effectively for teaching and learning. And how has the team overcame it? Is it a combination of coaching? In general, what are the challenges and how have you overcome that?

Cheryl:
Yeah. I mean, obviously at the beginning there were... there have been lots and lots of challenges along the way. The first and foremost one is teachers' confidence with technology. I think we've got such a wide range of age groups and experiences, and teachers often start in that survival mode where, "I'm really scared of it, I don't really know how to use it, I don't really know what to do with it." And then, obviously providing the initial training is good, and them understanding how different platforms work. And I do see the benefit in obviously doing that.

Cheryl:
But I think once you're past that stage, it is then about the coaching model and really going in and finding those problems that are in the classroom and helping teachers to fully understand how technology can help them with some of the day-to-day things that they find difficult in their classrooms. Whether that being, "I can't get to every child in my class because I'm always working with my children who have got SEN." And it's like, "Well, how can you make your SEN children be more independent then, so you can move on?" And I think it's about finding those problems and using the technology to find those effective solutions for that.

Patrick:
Yeah. And I suppose in that, keeping it meaningful and relevant at all times. I mean, I suppose the last thing, Cheryl, we ever want to do when it comes to technology in the classroom is, and Graham touched upon it earlier about that huge workload that every teacher faces, is go, "Right, and here's another strand to our development plan, and we're going to pile this on top of what you already do." No, this is to underpin what you do and just help you do it, hopefully, more productively or with better outcomes. Would that be fair to say, yeah?

Cheryl:
Yeah, definitely. And I think the technology is just another tool, it's another way of thinking, it's another way of enhancing the learning that's going on in the room. It's just as important as having a textbook or having some maths manipulatives to play around with in the room. It's part of the day-to-day things that are going on. It isn't, "I'm just going to put you at a computer."

Cheryl:
And I think Graham raised a really good point a minute ago about the differences between computing and the use of technology for learning. And I think lots of people at the very beginning when we started this, they couldn't differentiate, they assumed that the technology was computing, and that was it. And actually, they're two totally separate things. And I think that was another thing, that was a big challenge for us to try and change thinking in terms of that too.

Patrick:
Thankful that the days are gone where we all go, "Right, we have the ICT suite booked for one hour today and we're going to type an essay out." Thinking, Cheryl, you mentioned there about problems. You used the word problem a lot, which is very interesting, because sometimes as an EdTech company you don't think about solving problems, you think about innovative technology and you think about reducing workloads, and yes, that's a problem, but it's not necessarily addressing something specific.

Patrick:
And I'm maybe going to come just to Graham on this, thinking about problems. If you're looking at tools. So, you talked about devices and that's good. But obviously, a device is not without the support and the coaching with staff to make sure it's embedded, but of course then it has to have some tools on it, it has to be the toolbox. How do you and the team go about making sure that you select the right tools, the right Google Extensions or the right subscription to Adobe or whatever it happens to be, how do you go about that? Is that about identifying a problem and coming up with a solution? Or is it about what's our teaching and learning strategy? Where do you start with that?

Graham:
Yeah. I think it's both of them, plus lots, lots more. And I think the challenge for us is aggregating all of this informal anecdotal data, to work out actually what is the underlying themes during all of our conversations. So, a number of things we do. One is about making sure that we provide a wide variety of tools that give staff the creative tools that they need to teach the curriculum. We don't want six screencasting tools, we don't want seven tools that are great for making a video but they can't do a website. So, firstly, it's about making sure that we're giving a wide range of cross-curricula tools to enable staff to teach the curriculum effectively.

Graham:
It's also around, I'll get this one done quickly because I often forget it, it's also about obviously our GDPR and our DPIA compliance, and making sure that actually whatever tools we are doing are compliant and actually are protecting children's data. Although, that isn't a driving factor, I think it's also hasten to add. Yes, we want to be safe and secure, but we also, more importantly though, want to make sure that the tools we're selecting before we get to that point are the right tools.

Graham:
I think it's also around unfortunately no one's got... and if you have, then lucky you. But no one has got unlimited amounts of money, and so we do need to look at it from a financial perspective. But I think what we also do is we look at financial impact versus... Sorry, the financial cost versus impact. And actually, it isn't always about price. It's not always about the cheapest tool that we can get our hands on. It's about putting the tool in that has the best impact for the cost.

Graham:
So, that's the things we look at. And how do we find out answers to those questions? And I think really it's about, yes, being strategic, and yes, being a key part of the central team and being part of those sort of conversations. But it's about getting out and about on the road, and it's about talking to our staff, and talking about, "Okay, what are the challenges you're facing on the ground? What is it?" And for example, it could be, "We're seeing a huge increase of the number of children with high-level needs that are in mainstream education." And so, we need to be looking at solutions to that problem.

Graham:
We obviously use Google extensively, so we've got all of that. I like to think of Google Drives as a bit of a warehouse. We've got that warehouse set up, we've got some of those key tools that feed into Drive. But actually, that's not necessarily what gives us the creativity in the curriculum.

Graham:
And just a final thing on this to say is I'm really proud of the digital package that we've got. Because, as you said, a lot of schools focus on devices, and in many ways, rightly so. But we also do have some great partners in software. We do use Nearpod as a really good pupil engagement tool, sorry, enterprise-level Nearpod. We do have enterprise-level Kahoot, because actually that was a tool that we're seeing huge impact on, and teachers have helped us to identify that is an area that is improving their practice. We do have Read&Write and WriQ et cetera. We do have Google Enterprise Workspace. Because these are all solving problems that we're having.

Graham:
So, in answer to your question, yes, I do think it is about a problem-driven approach. Not a, "This looks nice." And I think historically we've sometimes gone for some apps that perhaps might look nice and sexy and might look good on the box, but possibly actually are slightly less impactful. And we can maybe share examples of how we select a tool and what we look for in that, if that's of use.

Patrick:
So, Cheryl, thinking about the tools that Graham has talked about and thinking about that pencil case full of tools. How do you go about measuring the proof of impact? Is it we look at students and we say, "Oh, their literacy level has improved by 10% and here's how we've measured it", is it more anecdotal? What is positive impact for you with a piece of technology?

Cheryl:
I think the most quantitative thing really is, I guess, it's that in-the-moment, what's happening in the lesson, and how is that piece of technology enhancing what they're doing? Have they made progress from the beginning of the lesson to the end of the lesson? Can we use it as an assessment tool for formative assessment or summative assessment? But I just think the heart of it really is seeing the impact that it's had from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, as you would with any assessment tool. I think that's really, really important there.

Patrick:
But I guess do you go outside that as well and you say, "Pupil A has become so much more confident in... because they have been more independent because..." I mean, I assume those are things that are aggregated in how you evaluate impact?

Cheryl:
Yes, absolutely. And I guess it's that same thing as, "Could that child have done that before, without the support, without the help?" Whereas now, if they are using a tool that's helping them to learn and helping them to be independent or confident, I think confidence is a massive thing with some of our children because some of them just lack that confidence and they'd constantly be asking for help. Whereas I think the technology that we've seen that's now embedded in our schools, you can see children are finding their own ways of solving their own problems with their learning, and they've now got those tools that can help them. So, if they're stuck on a spelling, there's something that they can use, they don't need to put their hand up and ask. There is a way of them being able to find that on their own, and that's a life skill, isn't it? Trying to solve your own problems. And that's really helping them.

Patrick:
You said something there, Cheryl, without even blinking, and it's quite a magical line and maybe you won't even recognize it as such. But you simply said the words, "The technology that is embedded in our schools." So matter-of-factly that it's second nature, it is just part of teaching and learning there, it's the status quo, it's what you do.

Patrick:
And I'm going to pick up something that is very selfish of me to pick up on, but I'm thinking about Read&Write in particular, and I know I said at the outset I wasn't going to talk about Read&Write, but just on what you said there. Was that sometimes for us, people will look at Read&Write, and for those of you who don't know what Read&Write is, effectively, very short version, a literacy support toolbar. But a lot of people will look at that and they'll go, "That's a special education needs tool. That's an SEND tool." What we have seen through working with you guys, is that it's not just that percentage of students that perhaps you would consider or have clearly identified as pupils that struggle or have challenges, but actually it just gets wider usage. Why do you think that is? Is it because things are embedded in general in the Trust? But it seems to have very, very wide use across the entire student body.

Cheryl:
Yeah. I mean, it's definitely not just an SEN tool. All of our children use Read&Write for multiple things, whether that's highlighting words. And obviously all children are learning vocabulary as they go through school, and that's a huge challenge as teachers when we're reading text and they don't know word meanings. And it's a massive help, and it does help them to figure those things out, and it's branching their vocabulary even wider than it was before. And yeah, I would definitely say it's not just an SEN tool.

Patrick:
Is it also about, coming back to Graham's word earlier, which was empowerment, is it about giving your pupils the opportunity to use technology a little bit more flexibly? Is that an important part of what you do with your pupils?

Cheryl:
I think, yeah, that's the biggest part of it. I think giving them that exposure, that wide range of tools really easily and effectively, and it just becomes second nature to them. It's not anything weird and wonderful anymore. At the very beginning it was a whole new thing. But this is just learning now.

Patrick:
Yeah. This is what they do.

Cheryl:
Yeah, this is just part of it. It's not, "Oh, I'm going to do this because this is something really fancy." It's, "Okay, well I'm going to use this because it's going to help me."

Patrick:
Yeah. It's like when we all got our very, very first mobile phones, we all thought we were the coolest people on the block. And this was the coolest thing we could do, would be to phone home regularly. And now, you would never ever think about it because it's such an ingrained part of your life to pull your phone out and everything else.

Patrick:
So, yeah, no, I want to ask you just lastly, Cheryl, and just briefly, if you could sum up in one line, one sentence, pupils, how do you get pupils to use the technology more? Do you motivate your teachers more, do you coach your teachers more, do you give them choice and voice? Could you come up with a one-liner on that? And if you can't, I'll give you a paragraph, that's okay.

Cheryl:
I'm not sure I can put it in a line. I think-

Patrick:
But that's interesting though that you say that even, because that suggests to me that that piece is so widely embedded in the Trust, that actually this is just part of life now, and students and pupils just expect to use technology, and just understand that they can use it without thinking about it. A new tool is something exciting to explore, would that be fair?

Cheryl:
Yeah. And I think the other thing as well is it's all important. I think, you could give the child the technology, and children are so resilient these days they'll give it a go anyway, it doesn't matter. But the teacher's job is to guide them on the right path to use it in the way that it's going to benefit them. And just giving them the device doesn't give them those skills that they're going to need. And again, that being part of that daily practice is imperative really, isn't it? They need to have those digital skills to be able to use that technology effectively. But the role of the teacher is, once they've got those skills, is to be able to use the skills to help them to learn even more.

Patrick:
Yeah. Okay, and I'm going to actually just circle back around, because I'm still thinking about impact and the discussion we've had around impacting. Graham, I'm just going to come to you as a Trust-wide viewpoint. If you were to start to think about what the impact has been with embedding technology into the Trust with the programs you've adopted over the last number of years, with ensuring it meets Learning, Excellence and Opportunity. What would you say the impact is that you've seen? Is it on improved pupil outcomes? Is it reducing teacher workloads? Is it just meeting the overall aims of the Trust? Is it a combination of the two? Could you identify things there that you could attribute to this "thinking different" approach that you do as a Trust?

Graham:
Yeah. And I think it's really hard, and I think what people often want is... We implemented some sort of projects, that could be one-to-one devices, what's the direct relationship that that has had, what's the direct impact that's had on pupil outcomes? And I'm going to be really bold and say I'm not sure there is a direct correlation with pupil outcomes. And let me explain why. Because I don't think that learning is the result... learning isn't the result of one thing. You wouldn't go, "They've made progress in maths because we gave them a yellow pencil over a blue pencil. Or we gave them a sharp..." You wouldn't say that they've made progress because they've had a ruler. What they've done is they've made progress because they've had a number of resources that are very carefully deployed to support a child's learning.

Graham:
And I think a Chromebook or one-to-one or Texthelp is absolutely no different to that. And I think part of the challenge for organizations is about how do we invest considerably in a resource while we're saying we can't necessarily directly evaluate the impact? And I think what we've seen is a huge development in soft skills. And I'm going to share some examples with you, if I may, because I think what I see on the ground, in the classroom, whilst it isn't a statistic and doesn't go very well into my spreadsheet, it is fundamentally crucial for what we offer.

Graham:
And I think the first that we see is engagement. Our pupil engagement in lessons has never been stronger than it is now. And I think that's because a variety of factors, effectively because they've got their own device therefore pace is different, so pace is right for every child. Whereas perhaps pace wasn't always correct, because as one teacher, 30 children listening to, you couldn't necessarily always put the pitch of the lesson at every child's speed.

Graham:
I think children are a lot more independent and have ownership of their learning now. So, instead of saying, "Right, we're going to do, I don't know, the Axis and the Allies in World War II. Here's your map, stick it in your book, annotate it and explain, there's the challenge, what they are." We've got children going, "Actually, that's not right for me. I'm going to use Screencastify, and I'm going to use Google Maps, and we're going to screen share, and I'm going to go round the map and find the country and I'm going to sort of, effectively annotate it." Absolutely fine. I've had children saying, "Actually, no, I want to stick it in my book and annotate it." That's fine. I've had children saying, "Actually, I want to do it on Jamboard. I'm going to put it on Jamboard, I'm going to use some sticky notes around the picture and I'm going to annotate it."

Graham:
Children now have ownership of their learning. And I think, because they've got ownership of that learning, they're now driving it. So, there is very little, "You've got to do it this way." You've got to show this learning objective by the end, how you do that is up to you. And I'm really grateful for our staff for being so open-minded and allowing that to happen. Because I think for a long time, especially in the English education system, we've banged on around consistency, and, "Do the books look the same? Because if the books don't look the same, that means one child's getting a better deal than someone else." Is the quality of teaching stronger and some children do better, et cetera, et cetera. So, that's really important.

Graham:
I think we've also seen much more flexibility around access to learning. A child might... well, not might. A child does their maths lesson on Jamboard, don't quite finish it, they've all got one-to-one devices, some children will go home and finish that in the evening because they can. If they have a music lesson, they went out to do flute and they missed the last 20 minutes, that isn't the end of the maths lesson, there's... And I realize I sound a bit like a hybrid learning salesman here. But there is this blended approach now. There isn't the case of you can only learn when you're in the school, because actually you've got all those resources.

Graham:
And the last one, and this is slightly different to what you're asking, but hopefully it's near enough to be able to quantify it in this answer. Is to say one of the impacts has been that parents have never ever been more knowledgeable about their children's learning. It used to be parents' evening, twice a year, you look in the children's exercise books. For a parent, you haven't really got a clue what you're looking at. You're just looking at a bit of writing, and 90% of the time you're going to comment on handwriting because that's the only thing that you really can notice a difference in. You're not sure as a parent what necessarily the criteria is.

Graham:
Whereas now, actually, what children every day can do, and they don't all do it every day because, rightly so, we don't all want to be having that discussion every day. But parents can weekly go, "Right, open up your Chromebook, show me the bit of work you're proudest of this week, tell me about it, why are you proud of it? What did you do that was great?" They can also say, "Okay, let's do the opposite, let's look at a piece of work where you're least proud. And let's really pick apart why you're least proud about this work." So actually, when we do parent consultations, we're really talking about the child as an individual, rather than all of that context. Parents are coming into those consultations with a really strong understanding of a child's learning.

Graham:
So, just to summarize that really. That I think as much as it's hard to understand why schools do it, there isn't in my eyes a direct correlation between one-to-one devices and pupil outcomes, first thing. But I think all of those soft skills are an impact. And I think those soft skills, that pupil engagement will lead to elevated pupil outcomes. But it's a very hard to evaluate. And if I think about our one-to-one Chromebook program, it's millions of pounds worth of investment, and we have this conversation and I get quizzed on it on a regular basis, rightly so, because actually if we don't know it's having an impact, we have got finite resource, is this the best thing, and is this the most impactful use of our money for pupil outcomes?

Patrick:
I'm just going to round off our chat, and I think it's one of these chats that we probably... if it hadn't have been this time of day, and we'll not tell them what day of the week it is and what time we're recording this, but had it have been this day and this time, I reckon we could have talked for another hour, easily.

Patrick:
So, I'm going to start to wrap up the episode today and think about just you as a digital learning team. Cheryl, if I put you on the spot and I say you're in front of another multi-academy trust or you're in front of another single academy or primary school on its own, what are the two things, you're only allowed two things, you say, "Here are the two things, the two pieces of advice that I'm going to give you to ensure that technology can be eventually effectively embedded into teaching and learning." What's the two things?

Cheryl:
I think the first thing would be trust your staff and give them time to... train them, and then give them time to roll out and see how it goes and reflect. I think that was crucial to our rollout of one-to-one devices especially. I think we were given that opportunity, there was no pressure of, "Try that and then we'll come and observe you next week." And we were just given that time to go back and then reflect on it, and come back, what was working well, what wasn't.

Cheryl:
And then my second piece of advice was to, again, invest in the staff as well and pull on their strengths and use that. And again, that's why I'm in the position that I'm in now, in terms of career development for me, it's escalated because I've found a passion that it was improving outcomes for children, and that's why I'm here now. So, invest in your staff.

Patrick:
And I've got another put-you-on-the-spot question, Cheryl, just to round it off for you. What's the biggest challenge for the Trust when it comes to, say, things like technology for next year?

Cheryl:
I think, again, mindsets is a big thing. And again, that comes down to making sure you've got those real... you've got the pedagogy behind what works well as well. And hopefully, once you've done that and the teachers are starting to see the benefits of how it's improving learning, and hopefully workload solutions as well, then that's where you get them.

Patrick:
Graham, over to you for your two things. What are the two things you would say a person in a similar position to yourself in another trust. "Right, Graham, what's the two things that I can learn from LEO Multi-Academy Trust that I should be doing as I move forward?"

Graham:
So, my first one is a super Graham-like comment, which is the technology is the end of a long piece of work, okay? And I think remain rooted in what we want teaching and learning to look like, because that's what we're really interested in. What's important is important. That's what we're focusing on. And I'm really proud at LEO that our technology usage is driven by classroom practice. We don't really have considerable technical sides informing our thinking. I have a responsibility for that area, but that's a very separate function and we don't really think about the procurement as a driving factor, it's about what should we be putting in the classroom that makes the magic happen. So, that's my top one.

Graham:
And the second one is, and I'm going to say this, and I appreciate not everyone will want to hear this, is you do get what you pay for. And I think our program, we haven't cut corners. We've given every child a touchscreen device. Every child has a STAEDTLER digital Noris, digital Noris I think they're called, stylus. Because we don't want children just to sit and type. We want them to be creative. We want them to be matching up activities. We want them to be able to annotate. We want them to be able to sketch. And I think it'd be very easy for us to do our Chromebook program on half the price if we wanted to, but we wouldn't have the same learning outcome. And I guess that kind of links back to my first point, about doing what's right for teaching and learning, and everything else is to help support that.

Patrick:
Okay. And I've one last question for you, Graham, and I don't want to be remiss in not mentioning this, but the Trust has been wonderful at sharing good practice, at celebrating success. I know I follow the Trust on Twitter and each of the individual schools, as many people do. You're involved in the EdTech Demonstrator Program for Schools and Colleges. If people want to engage with the Trust and view your practice, how do they go about doing that, Graham?

Graham:
Yeah. Great question. We absolutely love having people come to visit us, because every time it's an opportunity for us to... yes, to talk about what we do, but to get all of that feedback back and just to hear from people about what to think about. So, without sounding like some sort of TV advert, Google EdTech Demonstrator Program, there's a short Google form, will only take you two minutes to complete. But if you select Cheams Juniors as your option, we'll treat it as an email, make all of that behind the scenes magic happen.

Graham:
And we'd absolutely love to work with you, welcome you in. If you're lucky enough not to live inside the M25, love to work with you remotely or do a mixture of both. Because really, it's just about sharing good practice, and it's about recognizing that every school globally has good practice. I think that's really important to say. That every school has got something to share and something to learn, I think, as well. But yeah, please do get in touch because Cheryl and I absolutely love talking to schools, and we're so passionate about what we do, and if we can spend a bit of time helping someone else out, then that's an absolute bonus.

Patrick:
Yeah. I think that's a wonderful thing about what you guys and many others are doing, sharing good practice is really at the heart of it. And I do think the last year and a half, as a community, as educators, I think we genuinely have really come together and shared even more than we've ever shared before. And I know you guys are at the heart of that as well. So yeah, I'd encourage anybody to go have a chat with Graham or Cheryl. It's been a wonderful episode today. I have thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. We heard about Learning, Excellence, Opportunity, the ethos, and the DNA, in fact, as we referred to it earlier, of LEO Multi-Academy Trust. We've heard about the flexibility, we've heard about empowerment, we've heard about coaching, we've heard about staff.

Patrick:
And I'm really glad for the episode today, both Graham and Cheryl, that the words that we used more than technology in the podcast was teaching and learning together. And as always, my takeaway from this is let that drive everything you do, and put the technology second. It's an important part of teaching and learning now, but let's drive everything with teaching and learning.

Patrick:
So, just now want to thank you, Graham, thank you, Cheryl. It's been an absolute pleasure and privilege to have you today. I hope you've got a good few days ahead of you, and I do wish you all the very best. So, thank you once again for joining us today.

Cheryl:
Thanks for having us.

Graham:
Cheers, Patrick. Bye-bye.

Patrick:
Thank you. And for everybody listening, this episode is part of a mini series we're recording with the LEO Multi-Academy Trust, and next, we'll be hearing from the LEO CEO, Phillip Hedger, to get his perspective on shaping the technology for learning vision at LEO Academy. So, make sure you subscribe to Texthelp Talks on your preferred podcast player so you don't miss that episode. And remember, do join in using the hashtag #TexthelpTalks on Twitter, ask any questions, I'm sure if you tag in Cheryl and Graham, and we'll add their Twitter handles into the show notes, be more than happy to share their experience. I hope you have enjoyed this episode. I've been Patrick McGrath, your host today, head of technology here at Texthelp. Wherever you are, however you're listening, enjoy the rest of your day, and stay well and stay safe. Thank you.