The Transformative Impact of Giving Laptops to all Pupils and Staff

On December 14th 2023, Dr. Fiona Aubrey-Smith’s groundbreaking report was launched at Google UK HQ. Conducted across LEO Academy Trust’s nine primary schools, it delivers revelatory findings on the educational benefits brought about by the free provision of laptops for every pupil and staff member.

Dr Fiona Aubrey Smith launches her report on the benefits of laptops for every student and staff member at Google UK HQ.

Based on outcomes emerging as a result of LEO’s journey, the report delivers notable findings across a breadth of areas, including:

  • Attainment: Children at LEO schools consistently surpass national standards, and the gap has surged from 14% to 23% over the last three years.
  • Classroom Efficiency: Digital alternatives increased classroom efficiency by 23%, allowing teachers to repurpose their time towards a more targeted and inclusive learning environment.
  • Intervention Programmes: The embedding of inclusive practices, thanks to digital technologies, led to the reduction in children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) requiring expensive intervention programmes by around a third.
  • Attendance: LEO Academy Trust’s schools demonstrated higher-than-national-average pupil attendance rates, overcoming challenges associated with persistent absences.
  • Teacher Capacity: Moving from paper-based to digital tasks equated to the teaching capacity of 11 full time members of staff across the MAT.
  • Digital Skills: Nearly 15,000 digital badges have now been achieved by LEO Academy Trust’s children, comparable with MATs 8-10x their size. Additionally, nearly 75% of staff have certified digital skills, embedding digital skills at the heart of children’s future trajectories.
  • Enhanced Staff Satisfaction and Retention: Participating schools reported staff satisfaction levels consistently above national benchmarks by up to 20%, resulting in significant savings in recruitment efforts.
  • Environmental and Financial Savings: The reduction in worksheet printing and exercise book dependency led to saving approximately 400 trees per year. This is equivalent to £78 per child per year.
  • Greater Depth Achievements: The proportion of LEO’s pupils achieving ‘greater depth’ in key subject assessments, as per DfE assessment criteria, was more than triple the national average.
  • Enrolment: A consistent and sustained increase in number on roll has been achieved, with LEO schools being targeted as the school of choice by families.
  • Classroom Inclusivity: Children across LEO classrooms were found to be autonomous, independent, supported, capable, and confident learners with a sense of belonging and purpose.

Beyond comprehensive analysis and data-informed narratives, the report also provides forward-looking recommendations for the education sector, policymakers, and the EdTech industry.

And in order to glean best practices and vital learning points, many of these stakeholders, including representatives from the Department for Education (DfE), the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), the Chartered College of Teaching, and Hachette UK, as well as influential leaders from regional and local authorities, multi-academy trust leaders, and EdTech innovators, were in attendance for its launch.

Stakeholders from the education sector, policymakers, and the EdTech industry were in attendance at Google HQ to learn more about the benefits of digital technology in education.

Report Methodology

The report was supported by a team of 17 researchers and took place over a 12-month period (November 2022 – October 2023). 

Its sources include: 

  • Survey data from 4,500 respondents: This included educators, students, parents, and staff to gauge diverse perspectives on digital technology.
  • 600+ documents: Policy papers, curricula, and pupil performance data were used to understand the technology’s integration and administrative implications.
  • 154 classroom observations and 65 interviews: These took place with various school staff, providing insights into the practical application of digital tools in teaching.
  • 24 focus groups: In-depth discussions took place with a range of stakeholders to enrich the study with qualitative data and personal experiences. 

Reflections on the Report

Phillip Hedger, CEO of LEO Academy Trust:   

“Four years ago, before COVID had even entered our vocabulary, we realised that our ambition to support every pupil to excel could not be achieved without fully embracing digital transformation. This led our Trust to take an unprecedented leap and provide a Chromebook device to every pupil and member of staff across each of the nine schools that make up LEO Academy Trust. 

Internally, we knew our results had gone up, teachers were saving time, and the Trust was growing, but it was important to us that our personal judgement was backed up by independent evidence. We participated in this research project to gain unparalleled insight into how our Trust performs at every level, collect data to guide our future decisions, and share positive solutions with the wider education sector nationally as it grapples with serious and concurring challenges.” 

Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith, Author of the Report, Founder of PedTech, and Director of One Life Learning:

“The implementation of technology in the classroom is an issue of ever-growing importance. Parliamentary sources record UK schools spending around £900 million a year on EdTech, yet impact evidence has been scant.  

This report draws upon a wealth of rigorously compiled evidence and hundreds of hours of professional reflection and discussion. It goes a long way in bridging the gap between ambitions for EdTech and how pedagogically led decision making results in impactful uses of digital technology.”

John Vamvakitis, Managing Director at Google for Education: 

“This report is a profound and insightful examination of the impact that effective, well-conceived, and thorough technology implementation can have. 

This has clearly not been possible without visionary leadership, strong governance, and operational implementation, but most importantly the absolute commitment to providing the very best education to every child.”

Patrick McGrath, Head of Education at Texthelp:  

“This report provides an exceptional exploration of technology’s impact on teaching and learning, raising the bar for depth and rigour in such studies. It shows the transformational realisation of a vision that’s evidenced to be inclusive, effective, and sustainable.” 

John Murphy, Co-Founder of the National Institute for Teaching: 

“In education we have to be fiercely ambitious for every child we serve. This report is pivotal – it is a celebration of everything that LEO Academy Trust has learnt and achieved to date for the children across their schools, and the findings will ignite a new fire in the education world.

The publication marks a significant milestone in understanding the transformative role of digital technology in education and setting new standards for pedagogical research and practice. The findings have already sparked significant interest across the education sector, with schools and educational support organisations eager to understand and potentially replicate its successful strategies.”

The full report can be accessed here.

Updated on: 2 February 2024

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