Jamf Blog
May 19, 2022 by Tim Herr

Balancing tradition with innovation at RGS Worcester

RGS Worcester admins provide a case study of how the British school, which traces its origins back to the 7th century, managed to succeed at digital transformation by laying the groundwork at the level of culture.

It’s not uncommon for schools to recognize the importance of digital transformation through introducing technology that extends and complements the classroom learning experience. But simply acquiring new tech does very little when a long-term strategy is lacking, or when the culture of a school does not evolve to embrace new teaching tools. This can be especially challenging for educational institutions that are particularly set in their ways. So who better to comment on the challenges of balancing tradition with innovation than administrators serving the sixth-oldest school on the planet, an institution that is also recognized as an Apple Distinguished School?

In this session from the Bett 2022 conference in London, we hear from John Jones, director of innovation at the RGS Worcester Family of Schools, and Matt Warne, head of computing and digital learning at RGS The Grange. They comment on the thoughtful and far-seeing approach that school administrators employed to ensure educator buy-in and competence in respect to the Apple devices they were planning to introduce.

History of RGS Worcester and its Digital Learning Programme

The Royal Grammar School Worcester is thought to have been founded around 685 A.D. by the bishop Bosel. In modern times, it has expanded beyond its original location in the heart of the city of Worcester to include three preparatory campuses: RGS The Grange, RGS Dodderhill and RGS Springfield. The school motto, “Rescipe et prospice,” which translates roughly as “look to the past and look to the future,” sets out its mission of preserving heritage while remaining receptive to new practices and resources for education.

In 2014, the RGS Worcester Family of Schools initiated the Digital Learning Programme, which supplied each teacher with an iPad and MacBook. It also began a 1:1 device program using the iPad – younger students had access to a school-owned device, while fifth-year and older students were to come to school with their own iPads. “When our devices arrived, we didn’t just hand them out in the hope that they would somehow work.” Instead, the school deliberately laid out a long-term strategy for success in digital learning, based chiefly on nurturing the necessary developments in school culture.

Conceptualizing the “Dimensions of Change”

In striving to transform their culture, RGS Worcester employed a conceptual approach designed around the “Dimensions of Change” derived from the Lippitt-Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change. This approach focuses on the following six key facets of adjusting a culture:

  • Vision
  • Consensus
  • Skills
  • Incentives
  • Resources
  • Action plan

Jones and Warne go through these points one at a time, providing examples of how each one constituted part of their process of introducing Apple technology to the classroom. One particular area of focus under the Skills category is RGS Worcester’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) efforts, which include tailoring the trainings to the needs and interests expressed by the teachers. Educators are also encouraged to participate in the Apple Teacher program, providing a shared base of skills and perspectives on digital learning best practices.

Maintaining and planning digital transformation practices

In the next section of the webinar, Jones and Warne outline their efforts to evaluate the performance of the Digital Learning Programme to look for pain points and signs of success. This is accomplished by gathering data and publishing infographics that can demonstrate, for instance, varying degrees of consensus among the staff of different campuses. This data is also available to outside researchers, who have used it to illustrate the effectiveness of technology in K-12 education at mitigating learning loss during the pandemic.

Cultivating a culture of innovation requires not only evaluating past and present performance but also continuously looking to the future and planning new and innovative practices. The session ends with the question that administrators at the RGS Worcester Family of Schools must constantly ask themselves: “What’s next?”

Read more BETT Apple at School content:

Watch the on-demand webinar now!

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Tim Herr
Tim Herr, Copywriter.
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