Often described as being like an extended family, Great Abington School is a reasonably small-sized school with 140 pupils based in a rural part of South Cambridge. The team encourages children to develop values and responsibility in their learning and social interactions. Ambition is high for pupils and staff and a strong leadership team (staff and Governors) ensure the best solutions for all pupils.
With the implementation of their Google infrastructure, all pupils can collaborate simultaneously as and when required becoming motivated and confident users of technology.
Great Abington’s Headteacher, Guy Underwood has been the spearhead of change over the last few years with his staff and Governor team. Here he explains how the change came about.
“About four years ago, we took the decision to move our IT infrastructure to the Google platform and purchase Chromebooks to provide a safe, efficient and sustainable solution for the school community. As a result, we became one of the first Cambridgeshire Primary schools to complete this transition.
We are a small school and have to look after our budget, spend wisely and make the right strategic choices for all. When I arrived at the school, pupils were challenged by old laptop trolleys which housed some large out-of-date laptops. The total cost of ownership was high with the need for software updating and hardware replacement.
The Google solution using Chromebooks drastically reduced they hardware costs and with no licencing fees it reduced our technical burden. Google takes care of updates, so we can focus on using technology effectively for pupil learning and staff efficiencies.
We now have 80 Chromebooks that start up as soon as you open them, making it easier for our children to use, and giving students and staff more access to the devices when they are needed.”Guy Underwood
"Once we had sorted infrastructure, we needed to safely store and charge the 80 new Chromebooks, whilst keeping them secure when not in use. We have a great team here at the school, and we find practical common-sense solutions that suit our needs.
At the time, I had a vision of what I needed but struggled to find the right solution. We needed something that would fit our school layout and allow all students access to the Chromebooks.
Each year I travelled to the Bett Show in London, and on those visits, storage and charging solutions were always on my list to see. I often saw things that may have worked with compromise, but when I saw the ClassBuddy™ Locker solution on the LapSafe® stand, I instantly thought yes, that’s the one! It was a new product launched by LapSafe® in January 2019.
We hadn’t used LapSafe® before, our old trolleys from a different manufacturer were basic metal trolleys with shelving and extension leads coming out of the back. They took up a lot of unnecessary space and they cluttered the corridor. Our school has one main corridor that links all the classrooms which isn’t very wide - space is at a premium. We also have steps in the school therefore mobile trolleys would be an impractical solution. The ClassBuddy™ Locker has a small footprint, a good 10cm smaller in depth than the trolleys we had and they suited our restricted corridor space perfectly.
The sales process was very straight forward, our Account Manager, Michelle was helpful from start to finish and we received excellent communication throughout. Two lockers were installed at first and then added a third later. We were amazed that the LapSafe® delivery team were prepared to take them to our chosen location and not just drop them off and leave it to us. The two delivery personnel from LapSafe® were professional and very customer focused. We felt it was more than just a delivery, and showed great customer service. The first instalment took place in 2020, and the final one was installed in the Easter holiday during the pandemic in 2021.
During Covid-19 lockdowns, Great Abington Primary School loaned out a third of Chromebooks to students for their home studies. However, they still had lots of students attending the school so the majority of the Chromebooks remained in school for their use. Being able to access the Chromebooks from the lockers worked so much better than the trolleys and even with the schools Covid restrictions in place they provided easy and safe access for the children without stressing them or the staff out during a challenging time.”Guy Underwood
With the lockers installed outside his office, Guy explains why he picked the corridor to install them.
“Being a small school, it works well for pupils to be responsible for the devices and have easy access via the central corridor. Staff can also keep an eye on the usage and it enables access at other non structured times such as before, after school and play and lunch times.
The ClassBuddy™ lockers maximise the use of our space and the colour coding makes it simple for different years and classes to identify which locker to go to. The teachers have keys and open the lockers at the start of the day. The children are excellent at getting them out and placing them back in and connecting them back up to charge again.”Guy Underwood
It has undoubtedly been challenging times for many UK schools and young students since March 2020. Despite the challenges Guy and his team feel very optimistic about the future and building on the successes of the remote learning experience. He concluded
“We have certainly seen children’s independent skills with technology improve during the two lockdowns. There hasn’t been much positivity surrounding the lockdown. Still, we can see that even the Key Stage One children have shown they have the skills to do research and engage in a range of collaborative software applications back in school and during home learning.”Guy Underwood