Demonstrator Schools and Colleges
La Sainte Union Catholic School
“La Sainte Union is a Catholic school with a long history and tradition. The tradition builds on values of ‘warm relationships, integrity and justice’. We experienced how these values influence the pleasant, welcoming atmosphere in the school.” Ofsted 2019
Outstanding achievement and progress: LSU is consistently in the top-rated schools nationally. The school received awards for being in the top 10% for both progress and attainment for its GCSE results in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
We are a Catholic school and we strive to provide a caring, secure environment in which girls realise their full potential.
We aim for our pupils to:
· Have a clear set of values by which to live their lives
· Have a strong sense of personal and social responsibility
· Be motivated, creative and confident learners
· Be respectful of each other and value the diversity of our society
· Enjoy learning and take an active part in their school life.
Our rigorous academic curriculum ensures broad progression pathways post-16 and post-18. There is a constant emphasis on high levels of literacy, intellectual challenge and pupils’ development as independent learners.
Pupils are expected to engage fully in the life of the school and are given many opportunities to lead and organise key events such as assemblies, school council campaigns and charity fundraising. Pupils frequently win awards in debating, drama and sports. There are many opportunities for student leadership, through committees, action groups and individual positions of responsibility.
Our Journey With Educational Technology
La Sainte Union has always been a proud promotor of using technology to improve the outcomes of our learners as well as to help develop our teaching pedagogy. In 2018 it was identified that the school needed a clearer and more direct digital strategy approach. Two members of the teaching staff were recruited to lead the digital strategy team with support from the school’s in-house IT team and the headteacher. The school felt it was important that teaching staff were recruited to lead this group as ultimately the key benefits would be realised by the teaching staff. The key challenge facing the team would be the financial constraints due to continuous government budget cuts. It was therefore important to look at how best to use the technology we already had, where could we make savings and where the biggest impact would be to spend the limited funds available to us.
At the heart of our digital strategy was making sure that the school was making the most efficient use of technology both inside and outside the classroom. It was identified early on that the best approach was to move the majority of our services to a Microsoft platform. As we were already using a number of Microsoft services it was logical that we would be able to combine them and others in the
SharePoint framework, utilising Teams as the main interface for staff and pupil collaboration. Another reason why Teams was chosen over other providers was the realisation that we are training the next generation for the workforce. Many businesses already use Microsoft services and Teams within their business and thus our pupils would have a technological advantage over their peers, who may be using alternative providers.
Some of the guiding principles of our digital strategy included:
1. Use technology to make the organisation more efficient.
2. Reduce teacher workload while maintaining / raising outcomes for pupils.
3. Develop training that engages and meets the wide variety of staff needs and technological competencies.
4. Introduce new technology in a gradual, yet sustained pace, to ensure that we meet the overall objectives of the digital strategy focus.
Using these guiding principles, the digital strategy team looked to introduce this new way of using technology and developed a three year plan to achieve this. The key was to drip-feed new tools and ways of working, rather than overwhelm staff with lots of changes. Those that successfully utilised these tools were then shown more advanced tools and techniques, thus developing their understanding of how to most effectively use these services. We also believed in using an organic growth mindset, giving staff the opportunity to explore these products on their own. Those staff members who had chosen to delve into these tools were then asked to showcase their learning and achievements to the rest of the staff. These were all recorded so that staff are able to dip back into these resources as and when they need to.
Another key approach that worked well in our school was the early adoption of this technology by SLT. In 2019 we realised that we had progressed significantly with the adoption of Microsoft services and were successful in our application to become a Microsoft Showcase School. This is a global community that shares and helps develop schools’ use of Microsoft products. We were once again successful in our application to become a Microsoft Showcase School for the current year.
Covid-19 had an accelerating effect on our ability to teach remotely which was not yet an integral part of our teaching strategy in March 2020. We were fortunate to already have the systems in place for this to be activated in a short space of time. We are now a fully hybrid learning school, able to use technology to deliver effective lesson content in school as well as deliver the same effective content virtually.