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Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Following Google's amazing announcement today I have shared the following with all staff here at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy -

If anyone had any doubts about the use of Google Apps for Education, there has been a HUGE announcement from Google today that from this Autumn all Google Apps for Education Users will automatically have UNLIMITED STORAGE (previously users were limited to 30GB each).

Full announcement here -

I personally believe this is a game changer for Education.

When you couple this with the following -

- Microsoft Office is available now on a Chromebook -

- SMART Notebook (Whiteboard Software) is available now on a Chromebook -

- Photoshop will soon be available for Chromebooks -

These announcements serve to highlight the strength of our decision to go 1:1 with Chromebooks last year.

As we move forward and look towards Maritime House, Chromebooks will be an even stronger feature. I urge you where possible to move ALL YOUR FILES to Google Drive and manage your digital life through this platform.

I also encourage you to continue to share practice with each other, there are some amazing things going on throughout IPACA (check out the Twitter feeds for examples). Attend the Engage, Innovate and Inspire workshops (new timetable coming very shortly) and catch up on those you may have missed at

Google Apps for Education really is the future and we are at the cutting edge in the UK.

Exciting times!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Guest post from James Penny

In the below James Penny, shared his thoughts with me about what makes an outstanding school -

1. Teachers and Leaders are key

Teachers and leaders are the most significant actors in reform. In reforming organisations teachers and leaders are not abandoned or left alone without support and challenge. Teachers are encouraged to work with each other and to ask questions about what was effective and why. Social media is becoming a critical tool for sharing and exchanging ideas on what works. Complacency is not tolerated and there are no assumptions that the personal circumstances of a learner should dictate outcomes. There is no acceptance of a local ‘ripple in the gene pool’ so comments like: ‘This is the best our kids can do’ are not tolerated. The organisation sees their remit extending beyond the physical site into the surrounding community.

2. Professional Rigour

The organisation focuses on high quality outcomes. Difficult questions, like teacher effectiveness, are not ignored. They are tackled head on, quickly and with professional rigour. Organisations ask challenging questions about how resources are deployed, utilised and implemented. Every resource is reviewed from staff to buildings to books to technology. Nothing is assumed and nothing is ignored.

3. Leaders are critical

High quality education leaders are strong and purposeful, they enthuse their organisation with a compelling vision, share insights and expertise, hold people to account, celebrate success and tirelessly focus on Learning, Teaching and Outcomes.

4. It’s All About Learning – Not technology

The organisation understands the difference between technology to run back office systems and technology that is applied to the teaching and learning process. They do not conflate the two. They do not question the role technology has in providing high quality support systems like HR, Payroll, email, communication systems, data tracking, monitoring and analysis. They do not look at the technology to improve outcomes but they do understand that technology is part of the process of achieving outstanding outcomes. They do not allow an individual or personal obsession with a particular technology to dictate the use of technology, instead they evaluate and share the effectiveness of technology on a wide range of activities and outcomes and as part of the other resources they have at their disposal. They do not confuse the process of education with outcomes and they ask reflective questions about why they should use technology BEFORE they ask What technology should be used. Decisions about technology are made by senior leaders, the technology support function implements the decisions. Learning drives change not technology, but the potential for technology to support alternative approaches is considered, understood and embedded into the organisation.

5. Use what works best

‘Physical’ and ‘virtual’ are indistinguishable. Where virtual works best it is used, where traditional works best it is used. Organisations recognise the complexity of the system they inhabit but create simplicity. They are happy to make changes to any part of the system. None of them see technology as a magic bullet, although to curry favour with technology companies they will make statements about the effectiveness of technology if this leads to support or additional resources for less cost.

6. Facilities matter

Buildings and surroundings are important but are not considered to make a difference on their own in the same way that technology on its own is not the key.

Where possible the design of the facilities is carefully considered with an eye on creating spaces where circulation is easy and facilities are well laid out. Buildings are an integral part of the learning environment but success can still be achieved if buildings are not perfect. Attention to detail is paramount with small and cost effective changes being implemented to provide clean and well maintained facilities where people like to spend time.

James Penny is Solutions Director at European Electronique - read James' full biography at - -

Sunday, 14 September 2014

BenQ 70” Interactive Screen supports #Chromebook

Had the great news from BenQ recently that their new 70” Interactive Screen supports Chromebook. Adrian from BenQ emailed me to say -

Just to keep you up to date as I know your students are keen Chromebook users…

We've had the latest BenQ 70” Interactive Screen in this week, which now features interactive touch support for the Chrome OS.

Worked very nicely; simply connected to one of the USB ports and I was up and running. Slight issue that my Chromebook doesn’t have a HDMI output but I managed to pick up a microUSB / HDMI adaptor that worked perfectly.
We’ve also integrated some “eye-care” technology from our desk-top monitor range into the large screens now as well. The screens can be set to reduce their blue-light output, which is what causes head-aches and eye-strain etc.
Cannot wait to try one out!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Google Classroom - Guest post from @IPACAMath

The following is a guest post from IPACA Maths Teacher and Google Certified Educator, Lea Spencer (@IPACAMath) 

I have had time to see how Google Classroom works now. In simple terms it is a work diary and will set up your folders and documents for the work your students will do, saving a lot of time and emails.

You can set a timed piece of work if you choose over a lesson - the students do the work as they have admin rights to the document (shared with you so you can comment on it). Once time is up they no longer have editing rights. You then mark it.

It is amazingly easy to use, so easy that in five minutes you can have it set up for your classes.

Go to - or type in the search bar.
Choose teacher as you should be logged into your IPACA gmail account already (may need to scroll down to see this). Then google guides you through it, click the + to add a group, then select students to add students. You can give students a code to add themselves to save time should you choose. This is possible to complete in the first five minutes of a lesson and only needs to be done once.

If you speak to anyone using it I am sure they will agree that it is so simple to use. It is taking place of my planner now, homeworks are very trackable through it, and classwork is very easy to set if you are sending them to links online.

Come and see me any lunch apart from Monday and I can help if you get stuck.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Atmosphere London 2014 - Interview

Just found the below in which I take a look into the developments happening across the education sector in response to the technology-rich environment children are accessing -

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Innovative Teaching to Feature on BBC Radio 4

The BBC Radio 4 ‘Educators’ documentary series came to the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy, IPACA, today to record an innovative maths lesson and interview the students taking part. The series, which sees presenter Sarah Montague interview the people whose ideas are challenging the future of education, will feature an episode focused on Salman Khan founder of the Khan Academy.

Khan Academy is used extensively at IPACA as part of our unique learning mix to help raise student progress and attainment. The Khan Academy, a not-for profit-organisation, was created in 2006 by Salman Khan to provide "a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere."
It's website features thousands of educational resources, including a personalised learning dashboard, over 100,000 practice problems, and over 6,000 micro lectures via video tutorials stored on YouTube. The Khan Academy covers a wide range of subjects including; mathematics, history, healthcare, medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, cosmology, art history, economics and computer science.
IPACA’s rich digital environment and innovative 1:1 deployment of Chromebooks to all secondary phase and Sixth Form students, the first of its kind in the UK, has made effective online learning possible both at school and at home. Director of Digital Learning and Innovation, Gary Spracklen said, “Being able add a mix of superb online resources into a live lesson has a real impact on learning. Our teachers are effectively team teaching with experts in their field from across the globe” he added, “This extra dimension to our teaching and learning improves attainment and it also shows our students and staff that we are truly part of a global learning community.”
Year 8 student, Finley Brown said, ‘Being able to access Khan Academy at home means I can get a head start with my maths’. Rosie Blake, also in Year 8, added, ‘It was great fun having the BBC recording here today to share how exciting our learning is.’ BBC reporter, Natalie Donovan said, “It’s been great meeting Year 8 students at IPACA and to find out how they use digital resources such as Khan Academy to help them understand difficult mathematical concepts.”

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

SMART Notebook for Google Chrome

There are two web-based options that will allow you to take advantage of Notebook on your device, both of which are (currently) available for free:
1. SMART Notebook Express is a “light” version of Notebook available at Here, you are able to open and manipulate existing files, as well as create new ones.
2. SMART Notebook Web Beta is currently available to use at This web-based version of SMART Notebook is still under development, and features are being added periodically. Also note that, because this is a “beta” version, there may be changes, as well as registration and/or licensing fees in the future.