To improve student performance, Danesfield School in Marlow transformed their educational vision to centre around the effective use of technology. Danesfield moved to the cloud, brought more computers into classrooms and gave teachers training and access to the Microsoft Educator Community for professional development. Teachers can now learn at their own pace and they
have discovered areas of interest which they then share with their peers. Student performance is up and there is a waiting list of teachers who want to work at Danesfield.
At Danesfield, computers and educational technology are more than just a supplement to the curriculum – they are a core part of teaching and learning across all subject areas. The school prides itself on being at the forefront of 21st-century learning and teaching techniques.
However, the outlook at Danesfield has not always been so bright. The school is one of the lowest funded in the country and, in the past, it struggled to retain and recruit talented educators. In an effort to turn things around, the school developed an ambitious vision aimed at creating an inspiring school where learning, innovation, and risk-taking are core values.
“At the heart of our new approach sits technology,” said Sarah Morgan, Headteacher at Danesfield School. “Not technology as an end itself, but as a facilitator for creative approaches, collaboration, personalised learning and professional development.”
In 2016, Danesfield rolled out Office 365 Education and Windows 10 into classrooms. The school paired the increase in technology with a transformation in the way teachers work and how they think about education. To assist with this cultural shift, Danesfield teamed up with Microsoft to help teachers become more confident with technology and aware of the wealth of opportunities it presents.
Mandeep Atwal, UK Education Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, said: “We were really pleased to work with Danesfield School to develop their use of technology. At Microsoft Education, we support schools every step of the way with deploying Office 365 Education and all of our cloud solutions, to help train teachers to deliver 21st-century lessons and provide pupils with the skills they need for their future.”
A key element of this training has been the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC), which gives teachers the opportunity to pursue professional development in their own time and at their own pace, according to their own learning style. Group learning opportunities are also offered during regular staff meetings.
“The MEC is definitely impacting teaching and learning at Danesfield,” said Sarah Morgan, Headteacher at Danesfield School. “There is a greater thirst for acquiring new skills and for sharing those skills collaboratively. And it has really strengthened our staff as a community. The teachers are motivated that they’re determined to carry on their training throughout the holidays to ensure their knowledge is the best it can be.”
To help facilitate the acceptance of new technologies, Danesfield created ‘staff champions’ – teachers who have an avid interest in a particular topic, such as OneNote, Skype for Business, or QR codes, and want to share their knowledge with others.
“Their passion has supported less-confident staff and the development of a mentor/peer learning culture has really helped us, enabling staff to share best practices and bounce ideas off one another,” said Morgan.
With the help of a supportive administration and powerful resources like the MEC, Danesfield teachers are embracing 21st-century learning skills
such as collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation, and real-world problem-solving. Along the way, they have gained new skills, revealed hidden competencies, and found the confidence to explore new subjects, drive innovation and embrace a culture of continuous learning.
A dramatic turnaround
The results of this transformation have been easy to see. Danesfield made a significant improvement in two years, increasing its education standards for reading, writing, and mathematics placing the school in the top 1% nationally.
Danesfield continues to work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education, and communicate a vision for education enabled by technology through the hosting and mentoring of other schools in the community, on transformational educational practices. They are able to share the incredible practice throughout their school with other educators and introduce them to the Microsoft Educator Community, where they can update their knowledge and understanding of how best to use technology and 21st-century learning approaches in lessons.
Through working with Microsoft, Danesfield now pride themselves on teaching in innovative and creative ways, effectively using technology in lessons to enhance and extend learning in order to prepare the children at the school, not only for the next stage of their education, but also the demands of the 21st-century workplace.
In September 2016, Danesfield was selected as one of only six Microsoft Training Academies in the country. Four teachers from the school have also been named Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (or MIEEs).
The school, which once struggled to attract new teachers, now has a host of innovative educators who are dedicated to training other teachers and sharing the latest innovative teaching methods through the use of technologies. Discover how Microsoft can help your school move to the cloud and drive better learning outcomes with Microsoft 365 Education.
To learn more, visit microsoft.com/education