Repton School & Microsoft: Empowering Pupils and Teachers to Achieve More

“A Repton education is a precious and powerful gift, because who we are, what we do, and what we believe in could not be more important or relevant for young people growing up in the modern world.”

In December of 2019 Repton School once again was awarded the Microsoft Showcase School status – for the fourth year in a row. Repton School is one of only eight Microsoft Showcase Schools in the Midlands, all of whom are committed to transformation in digital teaching and learning.

This recognition follows an innovative year for Repton School, in which the School introduced the use of Microsoft Surface Tablets to the classroom. Every pupil in each year now has a tablet to enhance their learning experiences, providing the opportunity to research information, interact with teachers and use applications that are likely to be used in their future endeavours. One example of the new technology in action is the ability for students to construct audio-visual presentations in the course of a single lesson. The introduction of the tablets has generated an increase in student engagement and participation, and has provided the students with a more personalised solution to learning.

Microsoft Showcase Schools like Repton, with the support and guidance of Microsoft, create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning and stimulate the development of essential life skills, so students are empowered to achieve more.

The faculty members who are recognised as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts include: Lucy Jones, Teacher of Biology and Resident Tutor; Dr Peter Siepmann, Director of Academic Music; Rebecca Auterson, Careers Co-ordinator and Teacher of Maths and Computer Science; and James Wilton, Director of Digital Development, Housemaster and Teacher of English.

Furthermore, James Wilton has also been recognised as one of just six Microsoft Fellows in the UK – a select group of experts working to grow regional engagement and effectiveness in the use of educational technology. He will now work closely with Microsoft to spread best practice and strategy across the schools commissioning region of East Midlands and Humber and is a regular contributor to the Microsoft Education Blog.

Wilton’s most recent contribution was his article titled “Improve student outcomes, OneNote at a time.” He introduced the use of OneNote in his classes to help improve the student’s engagement, which he found “reinvigorated teaching and learning.” According to Wilton, OneNote has allowed him to “put the learners at the centre of the knowledge construction,” improving the students level of confidence, engagement and determination, and ultimately improving the learning process.

In addition to being identified as a Microsoft Fellow, in 2019 Wilton also represented the UK at April’s E2 Education Exchange, a global conference in educational innovation this year held in Paris, France.

Moving into 2020

Information and communications technology (ICT) are bridging the gap between students and teachers, accelerating learning and enhancing the confidence of students.

Between January and March 2020 the goal at Repton School is to ensure that every academic program will engage in an exciting, custom-built ICT project designed to enhance the way their specific subject addresses one of four key 21st century learning needs:

  • Accessibility
  • Modern assessment
  • Autonomy
  • Collaboration

This commitment will create a very exciting partnership with the Greenwood Academies Trust, forming a key part of Repton’s shared learning in the field of educational technology and also shaping specialised case studies. It is anticipated that these case studies, when published, will drive further improvement not only for Repton, but across the education sector as a whole.

Repton School Grounds

“This kind of collaborative endeavour is exactly what educational technology facilitates,” James Wilton states, “but more importantly it is readying the teachers and pupils in an almost 500-year old institution for the unknown challenges of the mid-21st century. We want our pupils to be empowered in the skills that will fit them for success in 2020, 2030 and beyond; not just technologically confident, but collaborative problem-solvers with the capacity to create and innovate.”

Repton School aims to aims to produce people that are technologically fluent and committed to excellence in all they do, and the implementation of ICT in the curriculum is helping them achieve just that.

What are Microsoft Showcase Schools?

Microsoft Showcase Schools are a global community of schools engaged in innovative change to improve teaching and learning using Microsoft’s K-12 Education Transformation Framework –  an effective, flexible platform for education transformation grounded by research from academics, experts, and policy makers.

In order to be identified a Microsoft Showcase School, the school is rated on a specific scoring rubric. Schools are then identified as either leading, emerging, developing, and/or initiating on each topic. The five metrics that the schools must exemplify include:

  1. Leadership: The school must demonstrate thought-leadership in building a school-wide vision as the starting place for a holistic digital transformation using Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework. This leadership must: be evidence-based; have specific, concrete goals for learning and the outcomes of schooling; use technology as a strategic lever where digital access is not the end goal – learning is the goal and technology is a means used in some of the initiative; and have a clear vision for how learning defines how technology is integrated.
  • Modern Teaching and Learning: The school’s leader must be an innovator, as evidenced through the actions and attitudes of a growth mindset and commitment to the K-12 Education Transformation Framework journey. The module utilised must: build teacher effectiveness through meaningful professional learning; have an intensive focus on school-based professional development; establish mentoring and collaborative working groups in the school; provide teachers practical experiences and an ability to innovate using a range of techniques to meet the needs of every student; and, the school leader must continually practise distributed leadership – where several individuals share leadership responsibilities which can result in improved organisational performance.
  • Inclusivity: The school’s leader must empower educators and students to innovate and exercise a growth mindset. The school’s training must enable teachers to help students personalise the technology they use and emphasise personal learning through the use of digital learning devices and learning with current technology such as Office 365 for Education, Teams (Staff/Student), OneNote, Skype, and Minecraft: Education Edition; additionally, the school must display an understanding of how successful integration of students with learning disabilities happens when teachers understand how to adjust curriculum and create accessible materials.
  • Innovative Thinking: The school must demonstrate innovative use of technology, using Microsoft solutions, to drive positive impact and student success with 21st century skills; these skills include:
    • Computational Thinking (Thinking about problems strategically in all curricular areas to create solutions through abstraction, algorithms, decomposition, and pattern recognition)
    • Creativity and Innovation (Using ingenuity and imagination, going outside conventional boundaries, when shaping ideas into a product)
    • Critical Thinking (Integrating relevant and sufficient information to address an essential question, gathered from multiple and varied sources)
    • Collaboration (Sharing responsibility to make substantive decisions together about the content, process, or product of the work)
    • Communication (Producing extended or multi-modal communication)
  • A Professional Learning Community: The school’s leader and educators must be learning-leaders who drive efforts to connect with educators locally and globally and share best practices through the Microsoft Innovative Educator and/or Expert.

About Repton School

Repton School, which was founded in 1557, is a co-educational school located in the South Derbyshire village of Repton. The senior school has approximately 630 pupils, both boarders and day pupils, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, many of whom have started their educational journey at Repton Preparatory School, Foremarke Hall.  Repton offers its pupils the opportunities to discover and develop their talents and to fulfil their potential – academically, in sport, the performing arts or elswhere.  Reptonians are encouraged to be resilient and ambitious for themselves, balanced with a global awareness, social conscience and concern for others.

The community of Repton School is focused around its ten boarding houses, where pupils eat, work and live together, and it retains a system of family-style meals in-house, meaning that the house community sits down together three times to eat and share their day.  Pupils benefit from a spacious and green campus in the setting of this historic village and the School is sufficiently large to be able to provide first-class facilities and a wealth amount of opportunities and thus to compete at the highest level, while simultaneously staying small enough to allow students to grow and flourish individually.