Oakwood Academy: more options for teaching
Oakwood Academy is a special school located in Manchester for pupils aged 9 – 18 years, who have a range of moderate and/or complex learning difficulties. The school mission statement is: “We are united in the belief that together we can inspire all learning to dream, persevere and achieve so that we can change lives for the better now and for future generations to come.”
Teaching staff at Oakwood Academy have been helping other schools to raise their standards for many years. The school is a National Teaching School and works with a large number of partner schools (primary, secondary and special) to help them improve the quality of teaching, leadership and pupil attainment. Ofsted rated the school as ‘outstanding’ in November 2017.
The PE Challenge
The goal is to provide teachers and pupils with the very best in learning resources, also in PE. Darren Jones, Head of PE, emphasises that PE is often a subject where technology is used very little or not at all. However, he saw the potential to harness technology to make PE lessons more challenging and inspiring for the Oakwood pupils.
Darren explains: “PE teachers rarely make use of audio visual technology but I wanted to develop a system to give pupils instant feedback on their performance. I wanted the system installed into the sports hall so it could be used at the same time as the pupils were involved in activities.
I started by experimenting with systems involving projectors and also monitor screens. I soon realised the system would need some particular design features. It was very important not to have trailing wires which could be a trip hazard and also not to have any sharp edges which could injure participants. Finally, the system would need a software package which was easy for the teacher to use within the lesson. We wanted the technology to enhance and extend what we could do with pupils in the sports hall rather than get in the way and slow the lessons down. The 86” EntryLine screen ticked all the boxes.”
“Using technology during PE lessons became part of our department aims and objectives and we had the strong belief that the use of technology could positively enhance and develop pupils’ engagement and learning in physical education. The most important part of this was to find the most suitable solution which enabled us to keep teaching time efficient and allowed pupils to continue to be physically active without technology slowing lessons down. The technology has revolutionised the way PE lessons are taught in our school and pupils benefit greatly from the instant visual feedback they receive from the Prowise screen which links in seamlessly to their learning.
After consultation with key staff, a Prowise EntryLine UHD 86” panel was installed into the wall of the sports hall. This allows the teacher to control content interactively and is large enough for the entire group to gather round and review content. The screen is also linked to a large projected image which takes up the end wall of the sports hall and is visible from everywhere in the space.
With the hardware in place, Darren and Jack Ellis (PE teacher) began using Prowise Presenter to achieve the next stage of their vision. In Presenter, they could allow data on pupil performance to be recorded in real time as they complete activities. The software is simple to use and, crucially, the files are stored in the cloud.
This means teachers can share pupil performance data and update it form a single access point – data is always up to date! Video content can be embedded into presentations, which allows the team to show short videos during a lesson without breaking the flow of activity. The built in ‘screen sharing’ functionality, Prowise Reflect, allows pupils to share the contents of their laptop or mobile device. This gives even more options for teaching and the types of lessons which can be delivered in the space.
After the system was being used for a couple of weeks the PE teachers comment that it has led to better outcomes for pupils. Formative assessment of pupil performance is now done in real time and pupils are given clear objectives on how to achieve success in the lesson. The large screen with sharp image and great viewing angles ensures the pupils understand what is required of them. Video of performance in lessons can be taken with an iPad and using AirPlay can be replayed in the lesson so pupils receive immediate feedback and are able to improve their skills. Prowise Presenter provides a visual and easy to understand environment so pupils can easily see their strengths and where they need to improve.