Student Digital Leaders shape the future of technology-led teaching at Norwich High School for Girls

Posted on 21st March 2023

Our current Student Digital Leaders.

At Norwich High School the use of devices is fully integrated into school life. Every member of staff and every student, from Reception to Year 13, has a school-owned device – iPad or Chromebook, and use of the Google Education Apps. This gives them a powerful set of tools at their fingertips and provides them with all the functionality they need to manage their role in the teaching and learning process.

Over the last six years, this investment in technology has been transformational, affecting every area of school life from the way we work as a staff body and the way we teach in the classroom, to the way our girls learn and the way we share that learning with their parents.

Students use information and communication technology (ICT) expertly to enhance their learning. The current Year 13 pupils have been using devices in lessons since they were in Year 8, and they have been carefully guided to make the most of them. They are now experimenting independently with fresh ways in which technology can enhance their learning.

Being Technologically mature has been adopted as one of the key pillars of our ACTIVE approach to learning which is embedded across the Senior School. Our ACTIVE ethos encourages students to be Adaptable, Community minded, Technologically mature, Independent, Visionary and Eager to learn.

Working with Mrs Fiona Kempton, Director of Digital Strategy at Norwich High School for Girls and GDST Trust Consultant Teacher (EdTech Strategy), the next stage of harnessing the power of technology has been to provide the students with agency to shape the future themselves. From Year 6 to Year 13, our Student Digital Leaders Programme has made a huge impact in harnessing technology to make a difference to pupils’ learning experiences.

The Student Digital Leaders

Students put themselves forward for the Student Digital Leaders position in every Form Group from Year 6 to Year 13 for a year in the post. One or two chosen Leaders per form have stickers on their iPads to identify themselves to their fellow students and teachers.

The group meets with Mrs Kempton every Friday to undertake training and discuss what they want to accomplish. They have also been working with Mr Braybrook, Deputy Head Academic, to set policies, for example for setting homework on Google Classroom, so all teachers follow the same format and include the same level of information. The Year 6 Leaders have even been preparing an Assembly to give to the rest of the Prep School about online digital safety.

“The Student Digital Leaders have had an amazing impact. They are brilliant at helping each other, members of their classes, and the staff. The Leaders collated content for our most recent parent tech seminar, as they wanted to educate parents about social media without causing alarm. Having authentic content written by them really helps parents to understand the role of technology in their daughter’s lives, and to understand a little more how to support them outside of school. The Leaders bring suggestions to me covering what staff may be having problems with, so I can help provide information and training to make improvements.”

Mrs Fiona Kempton, Director of Digital Strategy at Norwich High School for Girls and GDST Trust Consultant Teacher (EdTech Strategy)

We interviewed the Student Digital Leaders for their comments:

“I volunteered as a Student Digital Leader as I wanted to learn how to use technology a bit more and how to help others with their queries. I enjoy learning about things that I didn’t know how to do before.”

“I am interested in helping make other students, staff and parents all more aware of the social media apps and age-appropriate use of them.”

“I like being able to help teachers if they have problems during a lesson with tech. It tends to be smaller issues which I can give a hand on like how to change the volume, or how to link Chromebooks through to the big screen with a dual display setting or changing displays around. If an issue needs more thought, I can raise it with Mrs Kempton and chat it through in our Friday meetings. I often help friends if their iPad is glitching and their settings need adjusting.”

“I am studying Computer Science GCSE and find content I learn in my course is transferable to help with the queries I come across as a Student Digital Leader.”

“The use of technology to help with our independent study is great. I find it helpful if there is an option for a piece of work which might suggest producing either a Google Slides presentation or a Jamboard so students can choose. Knowing how to use each option, and alternatives makes it easier as I have more flexibility and can share ideas with my classmates.”

“We have seen a real improvement in how teachers are setting homework projects since we started looking at the policy for independent learning with Mrs Kempton. Specifying that work should be set as an Assignment, including the due date and attaching relevant materials really helps when we are planning our time to complete homework.”

Parents added:

“When my daughter joined Norwich High Prep School she had never used technology much in school or at home. Straight away, using an iPad made a big impact upon her. She became so enthusiastic about her learning, always chatting about the different apps that she was using in class. With a little encouragement from my daughter, we now have a family iPad, which she uses to create films with iMovie, produce Keynote presentations for homework and has even designed her own website. My daughter is now the iPad guru of the family!” – Parent of a Year 6 student

“My experience at parents’ evening has been revolutionised by teachers who use their iPad to refer to their records of my daughter’s work over the term, test results, homework and even actual pieces of her work, brought up on the screen for us to discuss during our meeting, making it infinitely more constructive.” – Parent of a Sixth Form student

Staff said:

“The Student Digital Leaders are setting a brilliant example amongst the student body in terms of digital autonomy and independent learning. Technology is enabling students to manage their time and we have moved away from the traditional concept of homework towards a model where students extend classroom learning in their own time to suit their own requirements and interests. Being in charge of their own learning helps students to better understand how they can make progress and excel in their chosen subjects. It will equip them to make the most of their time at Norwich High and beyond. Additionally, teachers have noticed that workflow is easier, saving them time and effort, which has resulted in a reduction in their workload.”
Mr Mark Braybrook, Deputy Head Academic

“Technology is embedded in Science at every level in society and we reflect this in our teaching. I am delighted that students are so fluent in their use of technology and know when and how to access information to support their understanding. I can explain complicated concepts with the support of technology and students are then able to re-visit models and animations out of the classroom whilst revising. The Student Digital Leaders are a huge help with ensuring that we are sharing efficient methods of working.”
Mrs Anne Farthing, Head of Science & Physics

Other students commented:

“I like it when we work together as a class on the same document. It is useful to see what everyone else is writing when I fill my section in so I can make sure what I say is different. It makes us think more and we learn faster.” – Year 7 student

“Having an iPad gives us wide access to everything we need. Technology is the future so it’s useful to start learning how to use it properly in school before we get out into the world. Having our own iPad means we can find things out straight away which helps satisfy our curiosity. It also makes the learning quicker as we don’t have to wait to know something. Our iPad devices help us to keep track of our homework and be organised too. If we don’t understand something in a lesson we can easily get in touch with our teacher and they can help us sort it out so we start the next lesson in a better position. It makes the learning accessible for us.” – Year 8 student

Most Innovative Technology-Led Teaching Shortlisting

We were delighted to learn that we had been shortlisted as highly commended in the Most Innovative Technology-Led Teaching category at the 2023 Muddy Stilettos Schools Awards for our Student Digital Leaders programme. This success is testament to the hard work from the students and the Senior School Computer Science team, and is a fantastic accolade which we are very proud to have received.