Dan Roberts: Empowering students, teachers and parents to access technology to impact learning

Dan Roberts, (soon to be) Head Teacher, Devonport High School for Boys

Dan began looking at the last few years in education in terms of news stories and how the purpose of education and role of teachers has been perceived. From Gove’s appointment to Morgan’s recent coasting schools announcement, the situation can be seen as quite depressing. Potentially, these are the conditions for destruction and frustration. Despite the negative aspects of this publicity, there is still reason to be optimistic. And in fact, Dan explored, there is a lot of positive practice happening and being developed in schools and education systems around the world. These times call for brave leadership. This is a really important point that particularly resonates with the messages of bottom-up disruption from Sir Ken Robinson’s talk yesterday. By  leadership, it is not just head teachers that can make a difference. Leaders at all levels (teachers, subject coordinators, middle and senior leaders…everyone!) can be the driving force behind positive change. 

Why do you do what you do? An important question for all teachers to consider. What is the motive behind your decision?


Embrace social media Parental engagement increases. As an additional benefit you raise awareness of your school in potential employees. We are facing a recruitment crisis in schools so now is the time to use this opportunity.

Accessibility for all DHSB have used Pupil Premium funding to fund tech projects and develop hardware for pupils at school. These have included purchasing an iPad and supporting broadband costs.

Brave teachers Teachers should be encouraged to embrace and be open to new technology. The culture and ethos of the school must support this.

Collective capacity Teachers need to work together, connect and share good practice. Twitter is an excellent tool for this. A ‘Market Place’ has been developed at DHSB. Teachers pick an area of practice they want to develop and work on this area, carrying out a research project. Towards the end of the year they share the outcomes of this in the ‘Market Place’.

Blogging Get pupils and staff to blog. David Mitchell (@deputymitchell) is an advocate of this and the man to speak to if you want to get started.

The right tool for the job Take a Swiss Army Knife approach. The use of ICT must impact on learning. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.

Social enterprise Pupils at DHSB have approached staff with digital solutions to problems or opportunities. These have been used to improve practice at the school. These include a house group display/tracking system and a flipped learning approach that supported teachers with their marking (using Flubaroo). Some amazing stuff in this area: have a look at Thinkspace (developed by pupils in Plymouth) and Space Lounge (a start up company created by an A Level student).

Every teacher and every learner has a legacy. What is yours going to be?

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