Posted on Leave a comment

Digital leaders, tricky parents and rogue inspectors – PP66

The topic of the week is Digital leaders, tricky parents and rogue inspectors.

In a varied episode this week, we managed to catch up with our Educational Technology Correspondent, Chris Mayoh, as well as answering some questions from listeners about tricky parents and Paul shares both a tweet of the week and a strange thing he learned this week.

Student Digital Leaders

Chris introduced the idea of Student Digital Leaders, He says the concept is really quite simple. It’s about capitalising on a skill set and an interest which lots of children of different ages around the globe already have. It’s about children using thes skills and interests for the benefit of themselves, their peers and their teachers.

There should be tech experts in every classroom in the world but that needn’t necessarily always be the teacher.

Chris MayohWe should be devolving some of this to the students to help embed technology into the classroom really effectively. This is more than just being a ‘digital helper’ – it’s about leading the development of technology – maybe:

  • reviewing ICT, technology or whole-school action plans
  • being involved in creating the next year’s action plan
  • training and supporting other children directly in the classroom

It can be a real position of responsibility in schools.

Chris-MayohThe three categories of teachers Chris has met:

  1. Already keen to embed technology in the classroom – happy to have others involved – a natural process
  2. Find the whole area of students taking any kind of responsibility challenging – the most difficult group to win over – tackled by having others near by proving that Digital Leadership works
  3. Reticent to use technology in the classroom and keen to have an expert in there, even if it is a student who, of course, can have quite high levels of technical knowledge, particularly in Key Stage 3 and 4

What do Digital Leaders actually do?

It’s a great opportunity for students to demonstrate things in school they are good at which fall outside the National Curriculum. These leadership and technical roles are very transferable and can be of great benefit to students moving on to higher education or work.


  • Meet regularly to develop their own technical skills and research new hardware and software – developing ideas about their potential use the classroom
  • Support other students in the classroom in the use of technology – 1 to 1, leading groups sessions, taking the lesson ‘starter’
  • Running staff training events – even whole-staff sessions
  • Run whole-school events like Safer Internet Day etc. in a student team
  • Run after school or lunchtime computing or coding clubs
  • Work cross-phase working to support transition

Digital Leaders Clusters

Chris is working with 3 different Digital Leaders Clusters in the North West of England. Chris believes there is great strength in a small group of schools working collaboratively. It’s great if they can all begin at the same time and work on some shared and common goals and outcomes.

This makes a Cluster Suppport Model possible – in this case Chris provides training for each school team – children and teachers as well as encouraging events where the schools come together and also publish shared challenges and resources online.

This model helps to increase the impact and make each individual initiative more sustainable by sharing some support.

How to start on the road to Student Digital Leaders

Chris points out that all schools already have all the tools they need to start.

  • Work out the ages groups Digital Leaders should come from – e.g. Year 6 pupils may not have time to focus on this and will leave a few months into the project so year 4 and 5 might be best in Primary schools
  • Decide how many pupils should be involved – start small and increase it rather than going for too many students first
  • Work out a specific area of focus e.g. a new set of iPads or laptops – how can we encourage better use of the resources in classrooms?
  • Use a professional recruitment process to choose the children – take it really seriously and it will be successful – use formal, written applications and panel interviews – it’s a great introduction to the world of work and the realities of life

Find out more:

Digital Leadership Network website – a huge set of resources – sign up for free!

Twtter hashtag – #DLChat

Chris on Twitter

Questions from listeners

“I was wondering if you would be covering anything to do with parents and their role with regard to their child’s behaviour at school? In particular, where sheer defiance is concerned and how some parents often, in my experience, back their children up and act just as defiantly towards school sanctions?”

If the only tine you speak to parents is when there is a problem, then they bring with them their emotion and defensiveness around their child. So:

  • Send home the boundaries and explanation of your A4 sheet and what happens day-to-day in behaviour
  • Make this clear at parents’ evenings
  • Prepare parents before they come up to school
  • Separate the parent from the child and talk to them separately – they sometimes need the rational to come in and the emotional to be left at the door
  • Don’t challenge what goes on at home – that’s not your role
  • Talk about something else when you first meet the parent – divert them for a moment – Is that a new car? Are you coming to the bingo? Avoid the explosion of pent-up emotion.
  • Do home visits to parents who may find this difficult – with other members of staff – build trust – or at least a phone call

“I would be interested to hear thoughts on how schools can make an impact with children who have a range of significant home and societal issues, in particular with regard to behaviour and attendance. These are the cases where I regularly see a massive amount of multi agency intervention (some long-standing) with the family. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that boundaries have not been put in place for their children when younger and the child consequently struggles to accept responsibility for their actions.”

When the work has not been done with young children, the behaviour can become more ingrained, more people get involved, it gets more expensive and it’s more likely to fail.

The number of people working with an individual child is also an issue. Children who have wobbly behaviour don’t like a churn of adults. Have one key person in place if at all possible. For some children, including looked-after children, it’s impossible to put bounderies in place. However, when the culture of the school is right, the pastoral care is balanced with the academic support and we see so many success stories. When the family is wobbling and the school isn’t strong enough to provide that real concrete support, then you have a real problem.

We also need more theraputic support and Pivotal Education is doing it’s part – there will be an anouncement soon on a major conference on children’s mental health which will tackle exactly these sorts of questions.

Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks

PEpocketbook-BUNDLE2Newly-created Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks are now available from Amazon including one on Restorative Practice. There will be a huge range of Pocketbooks from Pivotal Education, starting with the edited transcripts of some of the most popular episodes of the podcast.

The idea of releasing written versions of episodes came from listeners who wanted to be able to make notes and use the content in different ways. If you would like a particular episode to be converted into an ebook, please let us know!

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –



Announcements and events:

Pivotal Curriculum training


What would you like to hear covered in forthcoming episodes? Let us know by emailing or by leaving a comment below this post.

Get involved:

Appear on the podcast yourself by sending in a comment or question via either of the two answerphone hotlines:

Telephone Hotline Telephone Hotline – 0844 579 6949, Mailbox number 23161 Microphone Computer Hotline (SpeakPipe)




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twenty − 8 =