Blackburn Central High School is a community school located in Blackburn, Lancashire with approximately 900 students and 107 staff members.
On the day of the first lockdown announcement, teachers at Blackburn High School were invited to visit Head of Teaching and Learning for EdTech Reuben Robertson in his classroom before they headed off to teach from their homes. As Reuben waited in his classroom, he knew that he needed something that would help upskill his teachers’ technology skills. He did what he could to support those who came to him but knew something more was needed.
Fast forward to after the first lockdown and return to school. Reuben knew he had to support his staff and find something to offer them to develop their technology skills. He first heard about Workspace Skills from a colleague at a neighbouring school. He was impressed by the interactive tutorials, interval scheduler and self-paced learning to increase efficiency and competency. Two major factors that influenced Reuben’s decision to go with Workspace Skills were the focus on transferable skills and the package price.
Reuben launched Workspace Skills with his staff in October of 2020 in order to help develop their skills using Google Workspace for Education tools. He sees a noticeable difference in the skills of his staff and how the tools are being used in the classroom. Workspace Skills has helped his teachers develop valuable knowledge and hands-on experience and is documented continuing professional development. He currently has 74% of his staff completing the tutorials.
Reuben launched Workspace Skills with his year 7 students in October of 2021. He used the interval scheduler to assign the Workspace Skills tutorials by tool beginning with Google Drive and Classroom. He then added Docs and Slides. Students were given half an hour a week in their Form class to work through the tutorials.
Reuben reflected on the difference between lessons with year 10 students and year 7 students using Google for Education tools. Reuben’s year 7 students have earned an average of 12 badges per student since the October 2021 launch of Workspace Skills. When he conducts a lesson with these students, he is able to focus on the learning outcomes and not on teaching how to use the technology tool. When he is with year 10 students, though they may be proficient with TikTok and Snapchat, the focus of the lesson is not on the learning outcomes, instead, the focus must be on how to use the tools.
Reuben has since launched Workspace Skills with his year 9 and 10 students and sees a noticeable difference in the lesson focus and student needs.
Reuben has a Workspace Skills use goal of 80% by the end of the 2021-2022 school year for both staff and students. Over the half-term break, he planned to open up the tutorials to his year 11 students. While Workspace Skills is not required for this group of students, those who choose to complete the tutorials will learn additional skills and it will be noted on their certificate of achievement. Reuben talked about the value of knowing the Google tools for the students who will be continuing their educational journey as well as those who will be entering the workforce. Reuben sees the value in the transferable skills explored in Workspace Skills.
Blackburn Central High school is a community school and focuses not just on academics but the community in a wider context. Reuben would like to launch a program designed to help upskill the parents in the community. He hopes that this will help the parents understand more about what their children are doing in school and the tools they are using. He also hopes that this program will help the parents to enhance their own skillset.