This has been fantastic! I have really enjoyed looking at different apps and making our one unique. It was really helpful using Skype to talk to experts who could help us improve our app more.
Year 6 Pupil, Westfield Junior School

What are the best things that Apps for Good has added to your school, teaching staff and students?

Having engaged with Apps for Good this year, we have found it an amazingly beneficial programme to develop our children's thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and team work skills. Our curriculum is under pinned by a core set of learning skills and Apps for Good has given our year 6 pupils a valuable opportunity to apply and develop these in a way which they can relate to (most children have iPhones, androids or other devices onto which they download apps) This has truly enthused them to learn from and with each other.

The entire process supports the type of learning that we value and encourage in our children; active, pupil centred and drive, and their enthusiasm and energy throughout the process so far has been undeniable and commented on positively by various visitors to our school.

How helpful have you found the opportunity for your students to interact with industry experts?

It has been brilliant! The children have really enjoyed speaking to the professionals and have taken on board any suggestions to develop their app further. It has really made them consider their ideas and think them through more clearly. It has also been beneficial for developing their speaking and listening skills in planning to present in a formal way, thinking carefully about language choices and technical vocabulary as well as how to respond to comments, suggestions and questions.

We also provided our children with an opportunity early on to ‘Meet the Experts’ where we engaged community business people and Governors in providing a panel that each group of children could present their initial ideas to. This gave them valuable feedback on their app and the way in which they presented as well as focusing them on key points and making the project real for them in the very early stages. We felt that this worked well for year 6 aged pupils and would recommend it to other primaries considering the programme.

As a head teacher I always find it difficult when people put a ceiling on the ability/talents of my children or talk about age appropriate activities, so when approached and asked if I thought my children could take part in the Apps for Good programme designed for 11-18 year olds I was very happy to say we would love to take part. Why - because we need to motivate and engage our young people in learning that is real, relevant and motivating. Doing less telling, and allowing our children to develop real skills for life, will allow them to become more engaged in the learning process. By engaged learning, I mean activities that involve active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation and the Apps for Good approach enables this to happen. Real skills for life. Children are intrinsically motivated to learn if the activities are real.
Headteacher, Westfield Junior School

How is Apps for Good different from the way in which you were teaching ICT/Computing previously?

There is a really clear purpose to what the students are doing and they are truly motivated by it, but the main difference for us is that it has allowed them to develop such perseverance and to see their ideas develop and emerge over a longer period of time. This has meant that, more recently when they have begun to look back and reflect on their group’s journey, they have been really impressed with themselves about what they have achieved and how their skills and teamwork have evolved. Producing a video outlining their app and promoting it really brings all of this together for them. It has also certainly enhanced the ‘real life’ aspect and the expert sessions have really cemented this for them.

What advice can you offer to any schools in your position who are thinking about applying to be a 2013/2014 Apps for Good partner?

  1. Ensure that you have good technical backup – our ICT technician has been invaluable in supporting our teaching staff to deliver this.
  2. Visit a school already delivering the programme and talk to the staff and pupils.
  3. Before you start, spend time getting really familiar with the platform and all the resources that are available to you!
  4. Don’t hold back when you start the programme and worry about it – just be brave and get going. The children will just explore, learn and problem-solve from the very beginning with energy and enthusiasm!