Mark Ownsworth, Year 4 Teacher at Romiley Primary School, previously won an ActivPanel through the Promethean Grant. A year into their journey with the interactive flat panel display, Mark explains how the technology has changed the classroom environment for the better.

Situated in Stockport, Romiley Primary School is a two form entry school of over 400 pupils from Nursery to Year 6 and our aim is to foster the development of the whole child, preparing them to take a happy, full and active place in society.

We strive to set high standards of work and discipline in an environment that is positive, encouraging and respectful and support to create an educational community in which students can thrive.

Why did we enter?

As a teacher, the most important thing in the classroom is the students and ensuring that they’re happy, comfortable and motivated to learn. This is fundamental to educational success. That being said, it is also important that we prepare students for life outside of school and ensure they have access to tools and knowledge that will support them going forward.

With this in mind, the Promethean Grant was an opportunity for us to enhance our classroom environment with technology. There are many issues facing schools right now and the Promethean Grant was a chance to try the technology and see the difference it made to the classroom – without the budgetary barriers. At Romiley Primary School, we have been using Promethean software and hardware for 18 years but hadn’t upgraded our technology for some time – winning an ActivPanel as a result of the Promethean Grant was the first interactive flat panel at our school and it has already changed the environment for the better.

One year on…

The Promethean ActivPanel has been installed in my Year 4 classroom and it has made an incredible difference on the comfort of the environment for the students. First and foremost, the visuality of the ActivPanel has allowed the students to have a brighter, more vibrant classroom which has helped to create a happier environment. Not only this, but the quality of the panel also is clear and crisp and it helps to attract the students’ immediate attention.

As well as its audio-visual capabilities, the ActivPanel has also increased engagement in lessons by encouraging collaborative learning. We are able to invite two students at a time to write on the ActivPanel – usually using the Whiteboard App or ‘Hit the Button’ games, meaning the entire class get involved by encouraging healthy competition and student enjoyment. We also regularly use the annotation feature on the ActivPanel when we share work to the front of the class. This not only helps to increase student understanding and improve their future work but it also helps to encourage peer assessment.

The ActivPanel has helped us to enhance traditional teaching methods using technology and as a result student engagement has naturally increased. In some cases, teaching styles need to change quite drastically when introducing technology but we owe it to our students to adapt and ensure that they have visibility of and access to technology within education.

What happened next?

At Romiley Primary School, we have a powerful relationship with our PTA, more commonly known as Friends of Romiley Primary School (FRPS), who is proactively involved in supporting the school in terms of fundraising and ensuring the students have what they need to succeed.

Shortly before Christmas, our headteacher approached FRPS, explaining that the school’s current classroom technology was nearing the end of its life span and needed upgrading.  As Romiley Primary School is one of the lowest funded schools in the Stockport Local Authority and there was simply no provision in the school’s budget to buy replacement boards.

“We had been so impressed by the information we received about Mr Ownsworth’s board that we did some further research of our own and decided to launch a very ambitious fundraising campaign to install Promethean ActivPanels in every classroom. In January 2020, we purchased two new ActivPanels for our Year 6 classrooms and set ourselves a target of funding another two boards before the end of the academic year,” explained Cassie Chantrey, Chair of Friends of Romiley Primary School (FRPS).

Particularly in comparison to previous technology which had reached the end of its serviceable life, Year 6 teacher, Mr Dunbar commented: “Our new Promethean ActivPanel is fantastic. It is bright, clear and has features such as the annotate function that allow both teachers and students to overlay notes and ideas easily and confidently on any piece of work. Whether captured on the visualiser, a page from a presentation or a website page/image, the annotation feature makes interacting with models and examples simpler and much more effective.”

Similarly, Miss Ross highlighted the increase in student engagement and participation when using the ActivPanel’s pre-loaded apps: “The children love the Promethean Instant Whiteboard app as they can record their answers with someone else for support, challenge another child or have space to record team ideas. The ActivPanel has made using technology in the classroom much easier.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school has been closed for mainstream lessons and we have taken our learning online. Supporting our students to achieve a certain level of normality has been incredibly important to us, however, we are looking forward to getting everyone back in the classroom.

In regards to the campaign for the Promethean ActivPanel’s however, FRPS has been working incredibly hard to support the school. “All plans for our traditional fundraising events were understandably cancelled due to lockdown and our focus switched from our fundraising activities to supporting our school community.

“Despite not being able to hold traditional events, our fundraising target still remained and thanks to the overwhelming success of a sponsored sports event in our Early Years setting and a school-community wide virtual balloon race, we were able to reach our target and a further two ActivPanels have been purchased and installed in our Year One classrooms,” concluded Cassie.

The classroom environment will be different and re-engaging students after a prolonged period away from school will be a challenge, but our students are involved and enthused about the ActivPanel campaign and we do believe that this will help in the readjustment back to the classroom.

Mark Ownsworth, Year 4 Teacher at Romiley Primary School