Litherland High School in Sefton, Merseyside, a mixed comprehensive with over 870 11-16 year-old students, opened its brand new doors in February 2011. Based on the ethos of “Achieving By Caring” and as a specialist language school, they class themselves as a global learning community, with links to schools worldwide. It is very important for the school to be able to connect with schools around the world at any time.
Recognised as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in May for the second time in three years, transformation sits at the heart of everything at Litherland High School. Future proofing technology investment has always formed a core part of the leadership strategy at Litherland. It was essential for the school to ensure the interactive teaching and learning experience provided through the use of technology is sustainable in the long-term and will constantly improve to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students.
Capita Managed IT Solutions was selected to design, install and manage the ICT infrastructure and network.
Project Management and Transition
Capita worked with the school, building contractors, mechanical and electrical contractors and the local authority 18 months in advance of the school opening.
The school had a very clear vision of what they wanted to achieve via their IT strategy and Capita specialists were able to apply their educational and technical expertise to facilitate the school’s ideas, visions and plans to come up with a tailored solution to meet their needs.
This early engagement meant that the school could trial some of the latest technologies available. A great example of this was thin-client technology. This meant that all the school’s applications and data were delivered to machines via a main server environment, removing the need for hard drives and local storage. Initially, the school anticipated around 30 per cent of devices would be thin client; however, having tried them out and discussed options with Capita, they opted to extend their thin client quota to 90 per cent. As they are smaller, less expensive and more robust than normal PCs, the school were able to buy more devices which led to 1:1 provision.
The school trialled hardware and software applications and different scenarios in terms of the curriculum and visited other schools to see how technologies were being adopted in practice. This enabled appropriate solutions to be chosen which gave teachers and students confidence in the new IT when moving to the new school.
To ensure IT was fully operational from day one and teachers were proficient quickly in the use of the new technology, Capita worked with subject groups, training them on the programmes and technology that were going to be available. A personalised training programme was developed to meet the different abilities and capabilities within the school. All the resources were migrated to the new learning network which teachers knew how to access immediately.
Teachers were in one day and the students were in the next. There was a team of Capita floor walkers helping teachers and students to log on, so that students could access their work straight away. A seamless transition was especially critical for the Year 11s who were in the midst of preparation for their GCSEs in February. The result of pre-planning saw them lose no learning time at all on moving into the brand new building.
ICT Managed Service
Over the years, the school often felt the need for a ‘plan b’ when using IT as it wasn’t reliable. Having a managed service means that the school have a dedicated team responsible for their IT with clear Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place to ensure an optimum service at all times. The managed service means that the technology works and is available anytime, anywhere onsite and offsite. This boosted the school’s confidence in IT and has seen it embedded across the entire curriculum.
This also allows the school’s IT manager within the school to focus on developing the IT strategy and how to invest in the future to make sure the students continue to achieve and strive for the best.
In a recent Ofsted report, inspectors commented that the “quality of Litherland High School’s ICT provision was one of its curriculum strengths”.
The school has implemented many new technologies to help drive down costs. One very simple example of this is the automatic start up and shut down of all the computers each day, this complements the energy savings achieved by the adoption of thin client, which all in all helped to reduce electricity bills considerably.
The school’s managed print solution was also a prime example of technology which saves both time and money. In the past, every classroom had its own printer, many of which were very old and slow. Queues would form at the end of lessons as students waited to collect their printing. This resulted in late arrivals to next lessons and reams of material being left behind due to multiple copies being printed. Now the school has just 12 high specification printers located in common areas of the school which students can use to print their work at a time convenient to them. All documents are held centrally and require students to authorise their print jobs with their fingerprint. Each student is allocated print credits each term with the option to purchase additional credits. Handing the responsibility to students makes them think before they print, which means that the school has seen a dramatic reduction in printing and a positive impact on the environment.
There is a mixture of teaching and learning techniques used within Litherland High and the access to different technologies means different methods can be used to suit varying abilities and learning styles.
This is particularly relevant for parts of the new curriculum, such as L3 (which stands for Language, Living and Learning). There are 17 teachers from different departments working together on a current topic, and students are brought together in one open IT-rich learning space to research, write, present, design and create. Now, the students’ learning experience is much more interactive, current and real.
There is a MAC environment in the creative media studio and in the music department, which enables students to have access to the latest media packages which they would use in industry. Key stage 4 students are using Ipads in photography to make use of the latest editing and design packages. The use of personal laptops within Mathematics has been a real tool for learning which has increased results and motivation.
The language department use IPods to video or audio record conversational exercises for peer assessment and to ‘Skype’ their international partners across the world. Students have also taken these devices on their exchange trips; that way they can record their experience to create learning resources which can be shared with the other students. Students can now log on to their area from home and access shared files with teacher notes, which means revision is much simpler, inclusive and interactive.
Maria Sharratt, Deputy Head Teacher comments
“Not only has the new IT helped to further motivate and engage our students, it has increased responsibility and independence. Students can access school resources from home through remote desktop connection and continue their learning. They are in control of their own learning with the teacher guiding them to improve their grades. This is helping us to create independent and life-long learners.”
To view a short video on Litherland click here