Background to the school

Downlands Community School, located on Royal Signals Camp in Blandford, Dorset, is a Primary school catering for children aged 4-11. The school is keen to create an environment that helps build a positive climate and provide stimulating learning opportunities for all their children. Finding creative ways to deliver the curriculum, encouraging pupils to develop a thirst for learning and encourage them to become independent in their learning.

Alan Frame, Head Teacher of Downlands School for the past 8 years, is keen to explore new educational tools that help support these objectives.

What was the challenge?

As well as finding a resource that complemented their high-level school objectives, Alan was also looking for a resource that could:

  • help increase the child's ICT knowledge in a range of areas
  • enhance their learning across a range of subjects, and
  • use the technology with other initiatives to enable real personalisation of the children's learning.

What solution did Downlands decide on, and why?

After considering a number of options Alan selected iPad as the device to trial to help meet the educational objectives of the project. "We considered a number of devices but decided on the iPad. The key advantages being, their quick start up time, screen resolution, our ability to control the content on the iPad and the cost effective software. Plus it offered an intuitive, quick and easy-to-use device that also exposed the children to a new operating system".

"We only had two reservations when considering the iPad - the fact it will not play Adobe® Flash animations, which restricts a significant number of education games that can be played on it. And the price, which can seem higher than other available options". However, the advantages offered by the iPad outweighed these negatives and so were chosen for the trial.

Apple from RM Education - was the trial a success?

The trial, in September 2010, included the use of 12 iPad, which they used in a variety of ways across the school.

"In Pre-School and Reception, the iPad and iPod touch have mainly been used to keep a record of the children in class as evidence for their profile". Alan says, "The advantage of this is with just 4 button clicks a photo for the profile can be saved within an online portfolio. Also, the ability to record short videos of the children proved very useful for evidence. The time saved sorting different photos has been significant. We are also now giving parents access to their child's folder online and using a free automatic program to email the parent when a photo of their child is added. This is proving very popular especially when many of our parents are on service abroad, as they can keep in touch easily.

The constant interaction, the ability to show abstract concepts in a concrete way and the continuous positive reinforcement is very powerful."

Within Years 1 and 2 the children had a few iPad, predominantly used to support the curriculum work using a variety of apps. A very successful one was a simple time telling app that really changed the children's ability to understand time. Alan says, "The constant interaction, the ability to show abstract concepts in a concrete way and the continuous positive reinforcement is very powerful". 

Of particular note in year 6 was the use of video tutorials to support the learning. One example when this was particularly successful was around the area of mode, median and mean. Alan explains "A short video had been taken of each and the children used these to help complete their work. As the lesson progressed some children who were heavily reliant on the videos at the start quickly became proficient. Without the iPad the same outcomes would not have been achieved". Another example of particular success was with a stop/go animation app. Alan says

"Again, nothing that couldn't have been done without iPad/iPod. But using them, the children were able to make the animation, export it as a video to the camera roll and put it online very easily.

Without the iPad the same outcomes would not have been achieved"

What were the results?

Since introducing the iPad, the school has seen encouraging benefits. "When we first introduced the iPad" says Alan, "The initial excitement and motivation from the children was put down to novelty value. However, this novelty value doesn't seem to be going away". Of particular note is the positive impact on the motivation of children with ADHD. Further to the motivational aspect, the iPad has inspired, the ability of the teacher to personalise the learning for each child has dramatically increased. The more the iPad is used, the more creative ways teachers and pupils are coming up with using them - for example, using iPad teachers have started including video to aid their teaching so a child can watch it repeatedly if they do not understand the first time.

Alan is keen to emphasise that "nothing we have done on the iPad is particularly new, however, the advantage has been that some of these tasks are easier, quicker to complete and more intuitive. A good example of this is start up time. For the child to be able to turn the iPad on, select the relevant app and begin their work within a few seconds has been invaluable against waiting for a machine to turn on/log in". When introducing the iPad, the school had clear educational objectives they wanted to meet and having the iPad replace PCs in the school was never the intention. Downlands community see the iPad as a solution that complements their existing ICT.

Since the initial trial, Downlands are so pleased with the results, they have recently acquired a further 88 iPad devices for 1:1 learning in years 5 and 6, a device for all the teachers and a number of units for each class to use around the school. These are complemented by the use of two Apple TVs for pupils to share their work with the rest of the class and for teachers to present from anywhere in the classroom.

"Overall we are very pleased with the effect they have had on the children's learning," says Alan. The school has definitely experienced a positive impact since introducing the iPad. As Alan concludes - "We are already pleased with the results we have seen since introducing the iPad. But we are certain there is a lot more we can use to really maximise the potential of what these devices can offer that will allow us to progress even further.

The initial excitement and motivation from the children was put down to novelty value. However, this novelty value doesn't seem to be going away."

How are the devices managed?

Student Devices - The student devices are managed using the schools MacBook or iMac. It was decided that each iPad would have a single user account. Each iPad is imaged exactly the same and the applications are purchased by 'gifting'. Different applications depending on key stage are then organised into folders.

Once the pupils have finished working on their iPad their teachers are responsible for transferring their work into their PC folders. The school are currently using Dropbox for this process.

Teacher Devices - All teachers can have a personal account on their iPad but they have to be willing to purchase pupil applications for use in the classroom.

Future plans

The teachers at Downlands have just started using iBooks Author to create lesson plans for pupils of differing abilities. The lesson plans include workbooks and quizzes for pupils to test their understanding. This has proven very successful and the school look to be developing these further in the future.

Downlands recommends… IXL & WordPress

IXL is the web's most comprehensive maths practice site. Popular among educators and families, IXL provides unlimited questions in more than 2000 topics. The application allows pupils to work independently and test themselves on a number of topics.

WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a dynamic content management system which schools can use to share pupils work with their parents throughout the school day, for parents to upload work if the pupil is required to work from home or as a homework tool.

Find out more about RM Education's Apple solutions at

Categories: Case studies, In the classroom

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