Transform Trust is a community of 19 schools based in and around Nottinghamshire and Derby which aims to empower its schools to drive improvement while supporting individual identities and local focus. Key to the Trust’s goal of promoting the autonomy of each school is operating as an enabler for innovation.
To achieve this, the Trust cultivates a strong, supportive environment, utilising and building on the collective skills and knowledge of its teachers and school leaders to foster a transformative learning environment and achieve excellent educational standards. It is this teacher-led, collaborative approach that has resulted in effective digital learning strategies integrated across the Trust and allowed the schools to benefit from a successful partnership with Showbie.
For the Trust, it all started with reviewing the available provision across the schools. During this exercise, Phil Herd, Associate Headteacher, and Digital Lead at Transform Trust soon identified there were disparate systems being used and unbeknownst to them, several teachers and digital leads in five or six of its schools were independently using Showbie to assign, collect, and review student work. The platform was certainly being used effectively in each school, but its full potential wasn’t being realised, due to the lack of connectivity across all the schools.
From here, Jenny Hinton, digital lead and Year 6 teacher at Parkdale Primary, one of the Trust’s schools, created a strategy and fully integrated the platform into her school, making use of full functionality. This was with the aim of showcasing to the other schools across the Trust what could truly be achieved, including an increase in collaboration, accommodating various learning times and needs, and supporting teachers’ workloads.
In her exploration of possible edtech solutions, she was instantly impressed by Showbie’s intuitiveness, explaining: “I chose Showbie due to its functionality; it provides a child-centered space that enables us to implement effective pedagogical choices that have a tangible impact on learning.”
“I chose Showbie due to its functionality; it provides a child-centered space that enables us to implement effective pedagogical choices that have a tangible impact on learning.” – Jenny Hinton, Digital Lead and Year 6 Teacher
Following the successful trial with one year group, Jenny oversaw the rollout of the platform throughout the whole school and has been instrumental in its introduction within the wider Trust. The spread of Showbie to other schools in the Trust has been organic, with teachers sharing their successful experiences with the platform.
Support during lockdown
Thanks to Showbie’s intuitive design and student-focused user experience, Jenny was even able to ensure that both staff and students were trained to effectively use the platform within just one week of it being launched trust-wide to support the schools’ education provision during school closures in March 2020.
Alongside additional training for teachers at home to access throughout lockdown, combined with the embedded expertise of staff members, the Trust’s partnership with Showbie allowed it to establish a substantial digital learning infrastructure. This enabled the schools to support and manage a seamless hybrid learning environment that could maintain learning standards in the face of further covid interruptions.
Teachers from the Trust reported that the experience of adapting to the platform was incredibly straightforward quoting, “if you can work a smartphone, you can work Showbie”. Nevertheless, CPD and up to date training have been key to the Trust’s continual successful optimisation of Showbie. The platform itself has even hosted training with a digital leaders’ class allowing school staff to share best practices and tips easily, in an accessible format.
Reducing the admin
Showbie has helped make learning at Transform Trust mostly paperless, whilst accommodating for handwritten preferences. The platform offers the option to easily scan and upload written documents, ensuring that work in any format can be captured in one place – which has significantly reduced the sheer volume of paper and workbooks.
The platform ensures that all lessons and work are easily accessible and always available by recording teaching, tasks, learning progress, and student work within one central platform. One teacher, Haleema Mayat at Pear Tree Junior School, used the example of a whiteboard to explain how Showbie enables their class to consistently have access to instruction and learning:
“Learning no longer disappears once the whiteboard is cleaned. Teachers and pupils now have their lessons and notes readily accessible on a single device. This allows children to take their time going through and revisiting tasks and topics, helping to reinforce the learning and improve their engagement.”
The platform has also significantly reduced teacher workload and improved work/life balance. There has been a huge reduction in time spent on administrative tasks with activities such as photocopying and printing essentially negated, and marking time reduced dramatically. Teachers also spend less time on planning as they are able to easily share digital learning resources and lesson outlines, not to mention the ease of accessing student work remotely via a suitable device. One teacher celebrated the fact that she was finally able to cycle to work because all marking and lesson plans could be accessed on a single iPad, rather than in workbooks.
All these factors have enabled teacher time and effort to be refocused on supporting the wellbeing and learning of the pupils while helping to reduce pressure on teachers. Showbie’s ability to capture and record all student learning in one place even reduces the amount of time spent preparing for Ofsted inspections as it’s much easier to present pupil work via the platform.
In addition to reinforcing learning, the Trust has found they particularly value how Showbie empowers the children to take control of their learning and “foster their own independence”. During lessons, pupils are able to revisit slides if they fail to understand something at the same pace as the rest of the class. Showbie also removes time limitations to learning; pupils have access to all class content and can ask teachers questions out of hours through the platform for them to pick up straight away the next morning.
It has been incredibly easy for students to use, with Phil stating,
“students adapt very quickly to Showbie. Having grown up ‘digitally native’ they only need a couple of lessons to get used to the platform and they’re flying.”
Showbie has also supported a transition to more individualized learning. Teachers can target support for learning or wellbeing more efficiently through the platform by assigning different tasks or sharing extra resources to support specific problem areas for individual students.
Feedback and instructions can be delivered and responded to in a manner that best suits each child’s learning style, with the platform allowing teachers to leave voice notes or comments pinned to specific areas of work. Phil describes, “Teachers love the voice note feature – it’s a more efficient way of giving feedback.” This has been especially useful in removing barriers for pupils with learning difficulties or even younger children in KS1 who may struggle to fully comprehend written instructions.
Revolutionising teaching and learning
The Showbie rollout throughout the Trust has been a master class in cross-school collaboration, where schools have been able to utilize their own autonomy to explore options that work best for them and support each other by sharing their tips, tricks, and experiences with the platform. Showbie has also significantly improved parental engagement as, in comparison to other platforms, Phil explains,
“whilst some of the other schools within the Trust experimented with other platforms, we found Showbie allowed both pupil and parent engagement instead of prioritising either communication or learning to the detriment of the other.”
Since lockdown and remote learning, the Trust has also been able to make significant improvements with parental engagement, with Phil stating, “throughout remote learning, parental engagement was way better than ever before, with Showbie playing a huge role in this.” This is something that has continued since the return to school, recognising the importance of maintaining these strong relationships and access to information.
Balancing the needs of everyone within the learning community, from staff to pupils to parents, Showbie has provided Transform Trust with the ability to empower their teachers to make decisions that work for their school. Thanks to leaders like Jenny and the platform’s ability to innovate and support new pedagogical approaches, the partnership with Showbie has resulted in a robust and innovative digital programme which is revolutionising teaching and learning at Transform Trust.