BLOG: How to bring learning to life

A Guest Post from our Digital Partner: Microsoft

Pheasey Park Farm Primary School in Great Barr, Birmingham, seeks to inspire its pupils to “believe and achieve”. Part of the Elston Hall Learning Trust group of schools, the school was recently selected by the UK Department for Education to be an EdTech demonstrator school.

Can technology be a catalyst to raise standards?

In 2014, Ofsted inspectors graded Pheasey Park Farm Primary School as “requiring improvement”, saying teaching was “dusty” and learning was “passive”.

Following this review, when Sally Lanni joined the school as Executive Headteacher, she and the rest of the leadership team saw an opportunity to use technology as a catalyst to raise standards.

Sarah Morgan, Assistant Headteacher at Pheasey Park Farm Primary School, recalls, “We decided that technology could be used very purposefully to help children raise standards, raise aspirations and raise collaboration.”

Microsoft Surface Go ticks all the boxes 

The vision was to create an online learning community to bring together children, parents, teachers and governors. Safe, secure and interoperable technologies would be needed, together with portable devices suitable to support the children’s learning.

“Microsoft has been key to achieving what we’ve achieved here,” says Senior Teacher, Pete Godwin, “We needed a device that was flexible, a device that was robust and the Microsoft Surface Go ticked all the boxes.”

Sally Lanni lists the benefits: “Surface Go’s are durable, they have a long battery life, they come with a stylus, the children can access their Microsoft One Learning Space, it’s compatible with Microsoft Teams, so they can engage in lice lessons and collaboration, and it’s brought learning to life… Children have become very engaged and excited about their learning.”

Loved by pupils and teachers alike

It isn’t only the children who use the Microsoft Surface Go devices. The portable two-in-one devices are also utilised by the teachers in the classroom and when marking – whether at school, at home or on the go.

Sarah Morgan emphasises how easy it is to use the Microsoft Surface Pen to mark work. She says, “For us, lightening the teacher workload is precious.”

Praised by Ofsted

“When Ofsted inspectors returned to the school in 2016, they noted the school was a good school with a strong drive towards excellence,” says Sally Lunni. “They specifically commented that the collaboration had enhanced learning opportunities for the children.”

The school community had successfully harnessed available technologies to transform learning opportunities and drive up standards in two short years. And they haven’t stopped there! 

“We were delighted to be selected by the DfE,” says Sarah Morgan, “now we work with schools across the nation, supporting them with their EdTech vision.”