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Making waves with Apple technologies in Hackney

By August 31, 2017No Comments

It has been my distinct privilege to work over the course of the past year with the New Wave Federation in London. Already an established centre of excellence around teaching, learning and standards under the leadership of their Executive Headteacher, Michelle Thomas. I have been working with them on a number of different projects over the course of the past year.

You can hear more about their journey with technology in Michelle’s interview on the Edtech Podcast here.

The New Wave Federation consists of three schools in Hackney; Woodberry Down, Shacklewell Primary and Grazebrook Primary. Each school is unique in its own way, despite their relative geographical closeness albeit facing similar challenges.

What did they think?

Here, Executive Head Michelle Thomas gives her feedback on her vision for the New Wave Federation and explains how I have helped with this.

“My vision for the New Wave Federation has always been quite simple – do few things and do them well!

When we started the journey with technology I did this because I knew that meaningful educational technology was an essential element to learning in the 21st century. I wanted our federation to provide the best possible educational experience for every one of our pupils  and ensure they were ready to tackle the challenges ahead of them. Technology, I believe is a key tool to spark their curiosity and enable the potential in each and every one of them.

We came up with the vision ‘The Power of Choice’ for our use of technology. We saw that technology could be a complement to traditional teaching and we chose to seamlessly integrate iPads into our children’s daily lives. This is where Mark came in! He listened to what we wanted to do and helped us plan out a ‘road map’ to get there. Mark was brilliant at keeping us on the right path and keeping us true to our ‘why’.  He was able to take our ‘why’ and show us ‘how’ this could happen. The teachers felt incredibly supported and guided by the work Mark did with them as he made it easy for them to see how little things can have the greatest impact. Mark has a catch phrase ‘Keep IT Simple’- I couldn’t agree more.”

What work did I undertake?

My first undertaking with the Federation saw me supporting their application to be an Apple Distinguished School. What makes the New Wave Federation stand apart from other schools that have achieved the Apple Distinguished School status is that they are three schools; most schools that achieve this prestigious status are individual schools. This is recognition of excellence across three schools, not one. In those first sessions I also worked with the leadership team on developing their vision for teaching and learning with technology, and ongoing support and training across the year to assist them developing capacity across the three schools.

In 2016, the New Wave Federation achieved their Apple Distinguished School status across all three of their schools in recognition of their innovation, leadership and educational excellence. Their book ‘The Power of Choice’ on iBooks which outlines their work which led to them achieving their Apple Distinguished School status. The book can be downloaded from the iBooks Store here.


Leading on from the visioning work I have supported the Federation in a number of ways across the different schools. The largest element of my work with the Federation has primarily focused upon developing the capacity of colleagues across the schools in their confidence around using technology.

In addition to some whole school sessions, the majority of my work has involved one to one coaching sessions with teachers which lead to later on the same day spending time in their classrooms working with and teaching children in their classes. Prior to our meetings, teachers share their planning with me to help decide (based upon the apps they have available to them) which tools will work well in their classrooms around the topics they are learning about in class.

One example saw me meet with a Year 3 teacher who was looking at ways that children could undertake peer assessment of writing. Following our discussion we decided the following route:

  1. Ask children to do their writing in their books
  2. Take a photograph of their writing using their iPads
  3. Add their writing to a Book Creator book which would be their reflection journal
  4. Swap their iPads for peers to give feedback on their writing
  5. Pupils improve their writing

Part of the conversation prior to that saw me discuss with the teacher the ways in which Pinterest can be used for teaching and learning resources. In our coaching session I shared the document below that was found on Pinterest. By the time I reached the class pupils had already developed their writing further by utilising some of the more developed language in their writing.

Another example:

Year 1 teachers wanted pupils to demonstrate that they had understood their recent work on pollination. We decided that creating a quick stop frame animation (we used Lego Movie Maker for this) with a narration added afterwards in iMovie to explain the process of pollination. How did we do it?

  1. Met in the morning to discuss scheme of work and learning activities
  2. Matched apps and tools to support learning outcomes
  3. Decided upon stop frame animation example for lesson
  4. Met later in the day – decided to team teach with Year 1 for 30 minutes to go through learning and the skills required to complete the animation and narration.
  5. Completed activity in 30 minutes with class

Here are the results from one of the pupils in the class:

The New Wave Federation Digital Vision

Hear from teachers and Michelle in this video I made for the school about their digital learning vision and the impact it’s having on raising standards:


So what?

The learning that takes place at the three schools is rich and deep. I always say that technology use should be pervasive but not invasive and used in the right ways to support learning and that’s exactly how it is in the schools. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple visited the school earlier this year. He said that the school he visited “is doing inspiring work” and that he is “looking forward to the future these students will create.”

I am with Tim on that. I am so proud that I am able to work with such a passionate group of teachers and leaders in the Federation. If you ever get a chance to visit one of the schools or attend the free training that takes place there (check out this free CPD session here for example >> I would highly recommend it. I would also recommend following the Twitter accounts of the following the accounts of @mthomas2010, @NorthLondonRTC, @MissWilliamsADE and @rjmgteach

If you think I could be of help to you in your school in similar ways to that which I have with Michelle and colleagues at the New Wave Federation, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist. Click here to learn more.

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