By Claire Harvey

MANY aspects of our lives have changed because of the pandemic, but significant effort has been put into keeping things as normal as possible for our young people. Schools across Glasgow did not have their challenges to seek in 2020, as Covid-19 has robbed us all of a settled classroom.

However, like many parts of our lives, we’ve seen the use and application of technology become more apparent, none more so than in the classroom – or the kitchen table.

We recently reached the important milestone of delivering the city’s full complement of 50,000 iPads and associated Apple support for teachers and parents. Every P7-S6 pupil and their teachers are now more connected than ever before.

Glasgow City Council’s digital strategy was created before the coronavirus arrived and is rooted in the ambition to equip our young people with the digital skills and confidence for their futures.

Our Digital Learning Strategy Group was established in 2016 with the objectives of raising pupil attainment, developing leaders in education and engaging with parents. Learning, rather than technology, was at the heart of our ambitions.

We’ve accelerated our plans because of the pandemic and completed the rollout a year ahead of schedule, partly out of necessity but more importantly because of a strong partnership between teachers, parents and young learners. However, this was a journey we were already on, and its effects will be felt for generations to come.

Our focus should be on what technology allows our learners and teachers to do – and how education can be enriched through digital learning. Consider the young people with additional support needs, or those whose first language may not be English. Using an iPad, which was chosen specifically for its accessibility features, we are able to engage with those young people on an even footing.

The application of technology should be viewed in the context of delivering long-term socio-economic benefits which connect our young people to new opportunities, create a level playing field, and allow far greater flexibility both in and out of the classroom. Technology breeds creativity – and attainment is known to improve if a young person feels more engaged and able to tailor their learning.

We also recognised that the plan would not work based solely on new equipment but ensuring that our dedicated teachers and supportive parents and carers were on board. We created Digital Leader of Learning roles in each school, who are now working together across the city, sharing knowledge and experiences in a way like never before. We also created easy-to-use guides for parents so learning and teaching can continue just as easily at home as it can in the classroom.

Our approach is being noticed across the world as an example of how we can support children and young people to become digital citizens and develop skills for the future. We have some of the best technology and software at our fingertips, but it requires everyone working in the same direction to achieve something which will benefit Glasgow for generations to come.

Claire Harvey is a Quality Improvement Officer with responsibility for Digital Learning, Glasgow City Council