Connected Falkirk will give children and young people in our schools the confidence, skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an ever-changing, fast-paced digital world.
Digital learning and remote working are now part of all our lives and this innovative project plays a critical role in preparing our young people to live, learn and work in a truly digital age.
Digital technology continues to revolutionise how we interact with the world around us - and this is even more apparent now. That is why we need to better prepare our children and young people for the future. Connected Falkirk will provide them with the general and specialist digital skills needed to thrive in an increasingly digital world. It will also assist children and young people with Additional Support Needs, and those who have English as an Additional Language, with their learning.
By providing a device that goes home with the child, families will also be digitally connected to their child's learning, improving engagement and involvement.
This page will be updated and further communication with young people, their parents/carers, and educators will be issued in the lead up to delivery.
What is Connected Falkirk?
Connected Falkirk is a project that will transform learning and teaching using digital technology as a tool - it’s not just about giving devices to children! Our educators will be empowered to redesign learning experiences using digital technology in order to improve educational outcomes and provide our children and young people with vital skills for the digital world.
Is Falkirk Council the first council to invest in a digital investment programme for schools?
No, similar programmes have already been rolled out in Scotland, across the UK and the world. Results from these programmes show improved engagement and motivation amongst children and young people.
Research has also highlighted that increasing the quality of feedback to a child or young person can lead to an additional 8 months of progress (Education Endowment Foundation) over the course of a year. Effective use of the skills and technology provided through Connected Falkirk will support and implement this change.
Where is the funding coming from?
This is an investment in our children and young people to give them the confidence, skills and knowledge needed to thrive in an ever-changing, fast-paced digital world.
Funding for Connected Falkirk is coming from additional monies raised through the Council budget. This is an ongoing, sustained capital investment in the future of Falkirk's children and young people, preparing them for global digital job markets.
Does this mean Connected Falkirk will be taking money away from other education services?
No, this is an additional capital investment on top of what is already invested and budgeted for in education.
Will Connected Falkirk lead to monetary savings?
Connected Falkirk is an investment in our children and young people's futures rather than a programme to save money. However, there are potential financial benefits including:
- an anticipated reduction in printing costs
- more efficient ways of working
- a reduction in transport costs - as children and young people will be able to learn online rather than travel between different schools to study certain subjects.
Introducing personal devices also means there will be less need for desktop PCs, which will reduce the need for IT support and maintenance costs.
What device will be used as part of Connected Falkirk?
The 8th generation iPad 10.2”.
When will schools get devices?
As of February 2021, all Falkirk Council teachers have received their Connected Falkirk device. Teachers have used their device to support learning and teaching through the recent period of lockdown.
Since October 2020, 2,000 pupils have received devices.
The device deployment will now focus on the remaining pupils, with pilot rollouts taking place in March 2021.
Due to the timing of the deployment in the school year,we will be deploying devices to pupils based on their year stage for session 2021/2022, with current P7 pupils receiving their device when they start secondary school in August 2021.
It is still anticipated that all P6-S6 pupils for session 2021/2022 will have their devices by the end of August 2021.
Who will be delivering Connected Falkirk?
Connected Falkirk will be delivered in partnership with Falkirk Council employees, Virgin Media Business and XMA Ltd.
How will the devices be set up?
The learning devices will be safely and securely managed using Mobile Device Management software, which ensures only the apps and settings required for learning and teaching are on the device. These apps have been selected by Falkirk Council educators.
An additional app store will also be available containing pre-approved apps that educators, children and young people will be able to download as and when required. The app store will be updated regularly with new educational apps. As the devices are managed centrally, other apps cannot be downloaded.
How will we know schools are successfully embedding the use of this technology?
As part of regular self-evaluation, schools use national frameworks such as How Good is Our School? to benchmark progress in how successfully they embed technology in learning and teaching.
Schools will also work towards Digital Schools Award status as part of Connected Falkirk. This is an independently verified national accreditation that assesses schools against 5 criteria.
Through the Connected Falkirk Professional Learning Programme, we'll also be increasing the number of educators gaining accredited training certification from the main technology providers- Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Children, young people, parents and carers
How will you ensure my child stays safe online when using their device?
Keeping all our children and young people safe online is paramount. That is why our school curriculum already contains courses on Internet safety and Cyber Security to promote safe, online activity.
The devices will be securely managed using Mobile Device Management software. This means that the devices can be securely monitored and only the apps and settings required for learning can be used on the device. Children and young people will also only have access to apps that have been approved for use by Falkirk Council educators.
Will this lead to an increase in screen time for children and young people?
Connected Falkirk is about encouraging positive behaviours and using the latest digital tools to enhance learning. That means screen time is focused on creation not consumption.
The Connected Falkirk device is a tool to help children and young people create, connect and learn while improving digital literacy. It is not the only tool an educator will use; it is just one of a range of tools and techniques that will be utilised to enrich learning and teaching.
Connected Falkirk is about providing a digital environment that allows classrooms and children and young people to collaborate and connect locally and globally, bringing learning experiences and access to qualifications that may not otherwise have happened.
See further information and advice on screen time from webwise.
Why do children and young people need devices for learning?
In 2016, the Scottish Government national strategy for Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of digital technology was launched. It sets out the expectation of national groups, local authorities and schools. It also sets out a vision for the use of digital technology in learning.
The national strategy highlights that when educators are supported through professional development, accompanied with resources and leadership, digital technology can enrich learning and teaching.
We already have a device, why isn't this a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme?
A BYOD wireless network, where children and young people can connect their personal devices to support their learning, has been available in all Falkirk Council schools for several years. This has proven to be successful in terms of digital devices supporting learning and teaching, but not all children and young people have a device to take to school. Connected Falkirk will ensure that all learners have access to a device with the same software and apps.
How is this going to benefit educators in Falkirk Council schools?
Connected Falkirk will provide equity of access to technology for children, young people and educators, supporting learning and teaching in all our classrooms. It will provide educators with an additional tool to bring learning to life and help them adopt new skills and techniques to enrich their teaching. Having children, young people and educators use the same type of device will also increase collaboration and peer and educator feedback, making group work and assessment easier.
Do our educators want this to happen?
We recently undertook a Digital Skills survey of our educators and found:
- 90% want greater access to mobile technology and connectivity in the classroom.
- 70% want a dedicated accredited programme of professional learning to support the use of technology in the classroom to improve outcomes for learners.
What support will you provide educators and schools?
To support our educators, an accredited professional learning programme will be rolled out to build the skills and understanding needed to support seamless integration of digital tools into the learning environment. The training will allow staff to make best use of the right technology, when and where appropriate for each child and young person.
The training will help staff gain confidence in their use of digital technologies, enabling them to redesign learning experiences which will transform outcomes.
Technical and pedagogical support will be available through the Connected Falkirk programme, in addition to the ongoing development of the Digital Leaders programme in schools.
Will schools have spare devices? What about breakages?
Yes, all schools will have a small number of loan devices and all devices will come with a protective case in order to minimise the chances of damage.
Will educators be expected to use technology in every lesson?
No, the Connected Falkirk device is not the only tool an educator will use, it is just one of a range of tools and techniques that will be utilised to enrich learning and teaching. However, we expect educators to maximise the use of technology wherever possible and whenever it is right for each child. Professional development opportunities will help teaching staff share best practice in the use of technology to support learning and redefining learning experiences.
Will there be charging points in school? What if the battery in the device goes flat?
The battery life on the device should last throughout the teaching day. If a battery is low the management software on a staff device will highlight this.