Scotland’s South Ayrshire Council is committed to establishing a quality education system that covers the authority’s vast geography. Guided by an overarching objective to ensure continued education equity for both its teachers and students, the Council has developed a two-part strategy that simultaneously focuses on technology and pedagogy.
For the past 20 years, South Ayrshire has worked closely with Promethean to ensure it delivers the very best learning experiences for its students, with this new strategy marking the latest stage of the longstanding partnership.
“For South Ayrshire Council, equity in technology and pedagogy go hand in hand, so we felt it was important to address these in tandem. We’re currently implementing the next phase of our long-term plan, and Promethean is instrumental in helping us to not only level the playing field of our edtech estate, but also foster a community that ensures our educators can access excellent professional learning opportunities and support” explains Lynn Robertson, Education Projects and ICT Co-ordinator at South Ayrshire Council.
Equity in technology
South Ayrshire Council’s journey into the world of edtech began with the deployment of Promethean interactive whiteboards, which, over time, evolved into the implementation of the ActivPanel.
As an early adopter of interactive flat panel displays, South Ayrshire Council focused on how to best establish equity across a mixed edtech estate. This started with an evaluation of existing hardware, which concluded with the earliest ActivPanel models being refreshed with the latest Android-powered solutions. The main drivers of this decision were providing the same learning and teaching experience for staff and pupils and to unlock access to panel management.
Panel management is a key feature for helping IT administrators efficiently manage larger ActivPanel estates, through over-the-air updates as well as remote security and responsive support.
“Panel management wasn’t available when we first introduced the ActivPanel, so our vision for standardising technology provision naturally started with rolling this out across all displays,” says Lynn. “Panel management now comes as standard with the ActivPanel, but we needed a solution that would make this functionality available for earlier investments.”
For South Ayrshire, Promethean’s partnership with Radix was the solution for delivering equity across its mixed ActivPanel estate. Radix VISO device management with the ActivPanel makes it easier than ever for IT administrators to securely maintain interactive flat panel displays, while future-proofing investments.
As the authority has eight primary clusters, each supported by an IT engineer, and one IT technician for each of its eight secondary schools, Radix would remove the need for IT engineers to physically attend schools to carry out ActivPanel updates.
Therefore, alongside the refresh of its earliest interactive displays, South Ayrshire Council has also purchased 900 Radix VISO licences – which means that every display across the council’s estate can now be added to the authority’s network.
While this presents a practical technology solution, including full visibility of the council’s ActivPanel inventory, Lynn is excited about the potential it will unlock for the authority’s investment: “This is huge for us. Before panel management, updates would need to be made manually – which was a time and resource challenge for our ICT Services department. For our schools, this meant we weren’t accessing the latest ActivPanel features which are continually enhanced over time. By adding Radix to the Promethean solution, we can now fully network the ActivPanels, which means we’ll also have access to downloadable teaching apps that we couldn’t before.”
Equity in pedagogy
With a strategy to establish technological equity in place and access to the full teaching potential of the ActivPanel possible, South Ayrshire Council simultaneously addressed pedagogy. This has centred on pioneering a series of initiatives and programmes to build a supportive community of educators.
Working in close partnership, South Ayrshire Council has implemented Promethean’s ‘train the trainer’ programme to establish a sustainable community of experts to ensure all staff is equipped with the skills and knowledge required to maximise the potential the ActivPanel can offer.
Not only does this enable the schools to become more self-sufficient, but the programme also ensures all teachers have ongoing access to vital training and support. This is true whether they are new to their role and the ActivPanel or require a refresher on core skills.
Amanda Pickard, Primary School Teacher, and Digital Learning Officer, who helped to integrate the programme into the council’s framework, explained the importance of consistent training for equity in pedagogy: “We currently have 12 certified trainers to date, with a view to qualify more. Our ultimate goal is to have a minimum of two certified trainers in each school cluster, which will definitely help to establish technological continuity across all schools and provide teachers with equal and scalable access to training.”
Amanda expanded on the additional avenues of support available to teachers across the region: “The ‘train the trainer’ programme is just one aspect of our wider strategy that aims to foster an established community of educators, which equips teachers with the competency and confidence to make the most of their edtech. The teachers are also encouraged to tap into on-demand training sessions through Learn Promethean, Promethean’s online CPD platform. It’s a great alternative for those who can’t attend the face-to-face sessions.”
The council has also created its own digital support hub, which helps to facilitate a community approach to frequently asked questions and issues. Using the support hub, teachers and trainers within the community can share their experiences and processes, which enhances understanding and builds knowledge.
Finally, South Ayrshire Certified Trainers have been involved in delivering a series of practical webinars across Scotland, which disseminate best-practice approaches for teaching with the ActivPanel.
Amanda elaborates on the role that the close working relationship with Promethean has played in the authority’s achievements to date: “We have a very close and long-standing working relationship with Promethean in Scotland, they are essentially an extension of our own team. They have helped us to develop a flourishing community that aims to level the playing field and build pedagogical equity through sustained training initiatives.”
With the building blocks firmly in place to maintain education equity, Lynn reflects on why Promethean remains a trusted partner in the journey: “We had a vision 20 years ago, to deliver outstanding education through empowered learning experiences. It’s not enough to make a one-off investment in technology and expect it to deliver a positive impact. There needs to be a long-term strategy grounded in pedagogy. Promethean continues to be a valuable partner in this process, ensuring that we have visibility of future technology developments while delivering access to the very best training and support.”