Exceptional Education at the Heart of the Community

Growing Digital Fluency - Horizons as a Tool for Learning
Growing Digital Fluency - Horizons as a Tool for Learning

OCL invested in the Horizons project to give every primary and secondary student in the trust a personal iPad for the duration of their time in an Oasis Academy.

Embedding technology into our primary approach, including individual iPads for all students and staff, allows us to analyse children’s needs across our 33 primary schools so that we can tailor our approach in real-time, offering them the support they need whilst reducing teacher workload.

Over the last 12 months in our primaries, we have tightly focused on ensuring that learning is accessible and suitable to all contexts and cohorts, allowing for local and personalised delivery of the Oasis curriculum. To do this, we have identified the core learning expectations for each year group and then focused on how children access that content in teaching and learning and independent learning through the power of technology.

Horizons offers a unique opportunity to allow our secondary students to grow and develop their digital skills alongside and within different subject areas. This includes regular use of the devices for notetaking, emails, research, workflow and annotations – skills pertinent to potential professional or academic pathways our students may embark on following their time with Oasis.

A study in America based on over 43 million job adverts (Closing the Digital Skill Divide, 2021) found that a whopping 92% of jobs now require candidates to have digital skills to successfully fulfill the role. While this is expected in many industries, such as technology and data, digital practice is embedded across most sectors now in some capacity. Teaching practices are now increasingly tech-based, and this was true even before the Horizons project.

Therefore, what Horizons offers, has a direct positive impact on developing the employability of students in the trust. Their iPads are used as a tool to access and engage with their learning across a range of subjects – whether this is the regular annotations on Showbie (an app that connects students, teachers and parents in one simple, easy to use platform) or Formative (a tool that helps teachers engage, instruct, and assess students in real time). It allows students regular access to technology to support their daily workflow and discreetly develop their digital fluency, mirroring how they will use similar skills in the workplace further down the line.

The average ratios of similar devices across UK schools are 1:4 children in primary schools and 1:8 students in secondary schools. This means that the information technology aspect of the computing curriculum will be taught explicitly in targeted sessions when devices can be made available to students. Having 1:1 devices used in most lessons means that many IT skills are acquired implicitly, and computing time can be dedicated to the digital literacy and computer science curriculum aspects. Students grow proficiency both from direct instruction and from regular usage and practice. Inclusion is another key factor in the Horizons project. It is at the heart of the trust’s practice; ensuring all students receive high-quality education regardless of socio-economic background, SEND or other characteristics. With the demand for digital skills in the workplace being as high as previously mentioned, students without access to technology or devices outside of school are put at an immediate disadvantage to their peers with access. Horizons helps to close this gap by providing all students with access to devices for their time in Oasis; ensuring they develop these fundamental skills and grow confident in their digital fluency beyond education.

We have also taken this approach to reduce teacher workload, whilst having data and fact driven analysis leading our work, allowing us to more effectively intervene with individual student support and understanding school and trust-wide needs.

From personal experience, I have seen the project have a huge impact on learning firsthand. As a Y3 teacher, my students grow their digital fluency daily with the use of Showbie for a plethora of subjects; annotating, composing and uploading work consistently with an ever-improving degree of quality and proficiency. As the National Lead Practitioner for Secondary Horizons, students have a wider range of usage options. I have witnessed examples of the devises used effectively in written-based subjects with OneNote for annotations and records of note taking, photos and videos in PE and music for evidence and critique, impressive use of coding programs in computing to write and create working software and much more.

We are developing an outstanding Oasis curriculum an the technology provided by Oasis Horizons puts this exceptional teaching and learning into the hands of every Oasis student, at school and at home, helping them to develop a range of essential digital skills. 

Growing Digital Fluency - Horizons as a Tool for Learning
Jemma Limbani