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Essa Academy - iPad for every student

Abdul Chohan, a Chemistry teacher at Essa Academy in Bolton,

Lancashire has been instrumental in the huge change to the way the school delivers learning. At this secondary school each child now has an iPad.

How did this happen?

The school takes students from disadvantaged communities in the area and it was clear that it was failing as the school had only 28% pass rate (5+ GCSE's A*-C). Something needed to change at the school. So they trialled iPod Touch devices initially in 2009 and had events where parents could come into school and really understand what the school was trying to achieve. The devices helped them with their homework and students could email their teachers too and get a timely response.

A brand new school

In 2011 students moved from their crumbling buildings to a brand new building. This was the point where the school leaders decided to embrace technology in earnest. Instead of interactive whiteboards in every classroom they installed LCD TV's and Apple

TV as this was a significantly cheaper option and delivered the same outcomes.

With 900 children at the school and now an iPad per child and teacher it made sense to utilise the Apple technology available.

Students can select any screen in the school to follow wherever they are in school and most importantly to Abdul they can make their presence known virtually. Some students who were quiet in class are now interacting online and making their voices heard.

With a number of different languages used in the school it was also helpful that it was possible to change the keyboard for a different language quite easily.

What has been the impact?

As well as saving money on interactive whiteboards, Essa also decided to make extra savings by not using a Virtual Learning

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Environment (VLE), as similar services were being delivered through the apps used by students.

Now teachers don't have to photocopy handouts for students they send them to their iPad instead. In 2010 the annual photocopying bill was £29,976 and this year it is £9, 240 which is a substantial saving.

The most dramatic change though is in the pupils exam results.

This failing school has changed to an outstanding school and now instead of 28% pass rate it is now 97% (5+ GCSE's *A-C).

The school have also made use of a communication app for the iPad to replace the schools traditional phone system too, making further savings.

Learning using apps

They are using the global platform 'iTunesU' to create electronic textbooks and they make use of the existing content there too.

'Showbie' is used to create a virtual classroom and enable students to share work with their teacher. 'Book Creator' is a particular favourite of the students as they can create their own multimedia books.

Abdul Chohan, now a Director at Essa Academy says "Technology allows you to do something you couldn't do before and it deepens learning"

More information

Essa Academy Website

Essa Academy: Trading textbooks for tablets 2013 video on


Date: 1 August 2013

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