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What we do – Cloud-based teaching and learning

Claire Buckler talks us through her school’s decision to ditch the dedicated IT suites in favour of a more nimble, ‘cloud-first’ approach to their edtech needs…

Claire Buckler
by Claire Buckler
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We’ve been a worldwide Google reference school since 2015, an edTech Demonstrator school, and have invested in technology year on year to become a completely server-less, ‘in the cloud’ school.

The decision to scrap our traditional hardware PCs and servers was taken after most of the school’s IT suites became no longer fit for purpose, to the point that they would require considerable expense to upgrade.

Digital skills

For us, Chromebooks were the only devices that did everything we needed, at a price that could scale to meet our vision. Removing our ailing PC suites has sped up our lesson time, while also enabling seamless transitions between home and classroom. This is because students are able to use the same software and systems on their Chromebooks that they do in school, and continue working alongside the same students with access to all resources.

Another benefit of using a cloud-based system is the ease with which you can onboard new students. Our new Y7s are all invited to complete an online digital skills quest before they start with us in September – this is a programme created by us that allows students to earn digital badges as rewards for making progress.

Moving to the cloud means being able to do away with expensive servers, and free up that funding to invest instead in a fibre-based network refresh. This has helped us ensure we have a solid foundation upon which to provide a collaborative, effective and dynamic learning environment in which everyone can succeed.

Leadership and tech support

When you have an IT infrastructure that works, it allows teachers to use classroom technology in ever more creative and innovative ways – to increase engagement, personalise learning and/or work towards embedding blended learning across the whole of the curriculum.

We also have a Digital Leader scheme, whereby students assume the role of IT helpdesk technicians and are made responsible for around 80% of our helpdesk tickets. Digital Leaders also take on various other projects, including making old PCs cloud-ready, presenting e-safety assemblies and taking charge of our Chromebook repair service. Digital Leaders offers an amazing leadership pathway for our students, and delivers a seamless IT support service for our community.

After pursuing this digital strategy, we’ve become a more collaborative, effective and dynamic learning environment for our 1,250 students, who are now better prepared for the work and technical challenges that their 21st century lives will entail.

Claire Buckler is director of learning commons and initial training in education lead at Devonport High School for Boys

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