We recently had a chat with Dan Oakes, Headteacher and Rachel Bristow, Deputy Headteacher from St Bartholomew’s Primary Academy in Swindon, Wiltshire. The academy, which is also an accredited Apple Regional Training Centre and part of the Diocese of Salisbury Academy Trust have been using TrilbyTV since 2017. We wanted to talk to them about their experiences with digital signage and to discover how TrilbyTV fits into the day to day school life at St Bartholomew’s.
How digital signage has evolved through the years
Since our Under the Hat blog post with Dan, a lot has changed. We decided to find out a bit more about the school’s experience of using TrilbyTV and how it’s developed over the years. Dan began by telling us about how the journey with TrilbyTV started, the reasons behind incorporating digital signage into St Bartholomew’s Primary Academy and what was there when he arrived as the new headteacher;
“There was absolutely nothing. We had a very small entrance back then, which had a very dark sombre display board. Being an entrance hall meant that when the doors opened, the paper got ripped or tattered, so that didn’t give the best first impression of the school. So, we put a tiny little screen in there, got some nice colourful content on, then suddenly people started to notice it, not only the parents but the children as well.”
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Dan had some initial ideas of implementing digital signage, envisaging how this could transform the school;
“I always wanted the school to have a real sense of identity and to be a little bit different to a normal school. I also wanted the staff to have a sense of pride in what we do and the only way you can do that is if you are continually able to broadcast the things that we do really well. What I wanted to do was to liven up the entrance, to give the parents a sense of what the school was all about. But I also wanted to give the staff a sense of what our school was all about, because it has been on quite a journey and the signage was part of transforming how the school was viewed.”
The significance of digital signage location
Dan then told us where they located the screens and why this is important when making an impact on staff as well as the student;
“We started with the entrance, first and foremost because it has a fair degree of footfall, then we moved onto the staff room. The reason I put it in the staff room was so it would showcase what was happening in the school, we have things like staff meetings, or if we’re having a focus on classroom environments, sharing our social media feeds, that show a really good classroom environment. Also the minute you put it in the staff room and the staff see it, they start asking about it more. What’s that and how have you done that? Then the minute they’re hooked, that’s when they want to start uploading their content. Once we’d done that, that’s when we started thinking about putting screens in communal areas, which again have the most impact.”
It was then great to hear about the relationship with TrilbyTV over the years and why it was initially used; “The platform itself is easy to use and there’s not much like it out there. But behind all that it’s just the ethos of the company. I buy into people, with TrilbyTV you’ve got the best of both worlds. I do think you’ve got an absolutely amazing team that wants to do the best for their customers. They show an interest in the school, want to know how well it’s been used, but equally how we can make it even better. It’s a good platform, it’s cost effective and the ethos of the company to me is just so important, I think TrilbyTV have really got it right.”
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Student TrilbyTV ambassadors
St Bartholemew’s are trying out new ways of sharing the ownership of using TrilbyTV. By getting students involved, this has increased engagement, as Dan told us; “What we’ve found works really well is that we’ve had some children that have really struggled to engage. We have been trying to find what’s the thing that’s going to get them to invest in the school, to make them feel like they are part of the community. We had one child in particular that we gave them a little TrilbyTV badge, and got them to go around to the classrooms and film some of the activities. We then showcased them on the screens, this became their responsibility they just needed something to buy into just to feel that they were part of something. TrilbyTV was a great way to do that because they can see the instant gratification. They filmed their videos, then all of a sudden their work was on the screen and seeing people walking past stopping and looking at it was fantastic.”
It didn’t take Dan long to realise that TrilbyTV would be worthwhile; “Neil had been in, all he had done was uploaded a few pictures onto the screens. We had a few pupils all scrunched together in that small entrance, looking at the screen all with massive smiles on their faces. That just encapsulates everything we try to achieve by having something that people are interested in, getting the staff involved and getting the children buying into it as well. That was just a small thing but it was the start point and that’s when we realised this is the right journey to be on.”
St Bartholemew’s now have a fantastic variety of content on screens throughout the school, the integration of apps on TrilbyTV has helped to keep content updated and fresh. As Rachel confirmed; “I think that the thing that we use and that is the best is having the social media feed, the fact that we’re consistently putting stuff online every day and it magically comes up on the TV.” Dan added; “Today a little girl came in, she’s part of the Eco schools team and just off her own back, she went home, made a little presentation and she wanted to come and show it to me so she came in and I said to her if you share that with me now, I can get it on that screen outside the office straightaway, which we did. And then she said thank you, thank you, thank you. Like I’d done something magical, it’s all her work and it’s great being able to celebrate that straightaway.”
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Increasing communication, engagement and future plans
Dan explained about possible future plans for digital signage within the Diocese of Salisbury Academy Trust; “So we’ve got 23 schools and there’s great things happening across the trust. But we don’t know how to celebrate that, equally there are times when the trust wants to communicate things with us. If every school has got a screen in the staff room then that’s the way to do it. Thinking big it would be really nice if we could get it across all schools and the trust. If we can get more schools on board, start celebrating what we do and use it as a way to get the trust to communicate a little bit more easily with us, then I could see that as an avenue to explore in the future. Getting the kids to use it a little bit more, just hand ownership to them, so they can use it and then train up the next lot of TrilbyTV ambassadors.”
We want to give a massive thank you to Dan and Rachel for taking the time to talk to us. It’s great to hear how well TrilbyTV is working for St. Bartholomew’s Primary Academy, not only for celebrating students’ creativity but inspiring them and also increasing staff and parent engagement.
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