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My experiences of developing school 'Digital Leader' systems.

12:18 Jamie Edmondson 0 Comments Category :


What are Digital Leaders?

The use of Digital Leader systems within schools is something that has become really popular recently and for good reason. If you're not aware of what Digital Leader's are, they are basically pupil's that have a responsibility within school for developing and improving the way that technology is used. 

Why Digital Leaders?

My own experiences of developing school Digital Leader systems started when I developed a team of Digital Leaders a few years ago when I was ICT subject Leader at a Primary School in Oldham. At the time I ran an after school code club with pupils from Key Stage 2 and right from the very first session, I was greatly impressed with their skills and understanding. Wanting to tap into this, and with staff confidence towards the impending new Computing curriculum low, I decided to enlist the help of a select few that had been attending the club. Alongside the STEMNET ambassador that I had recruited and with the permission of their class teachers, I timetabled them to visit classes for one lesson each week. Each 'Digital Leader' was tasked with delivering an appropriate code club project that they had already completed, adapting if need be, so that it was suitable for their particular year group that they would be in. 

Having the pupils taking on the role of the 'experts' enabled the class teachers to develop their own knowledge, skills and understanding and ultimately helped to develop their confidence in terms of delivering key Computer Science elements of the new curriculum. The Digital Leaders themselves developed a range of valuable skills and I think the pupils that they were 'teaching' also appreciated having their peers on hand to show them these new skills and supporting them with their work.

Application Process

Fast forward a few years and I'm still utilising the immense knowledge and skills of carefully selected pupils as 'Digital Leaders'. At Our Lady's we have a fantastic team, who were 'recruited' just over a year ago, when I first started working there. Since then, those that were year 6's have now left and have been replaced by peers who have proved themselves just as capable in helping us in our quest to improve the use of technology throughout school. 

These new Digital Leaders all had to apply for the role by submitting an application. Some schools, who use Digital Leaders have an application form that they use, such as the one that @BrianEHarkins has made available in this really useful blog post here. Others simply ask pupils to submit a written letter of application. In our case, we asked interested pupils to submit a IT - based piece of work, demonstrating clearly why they would make an ideal Digital Leader. Some pupils submitted videos of themselves, some an eBook, some a PowerPoint and others a simple email to me, in which they stated their case! The one's who were chosen, were carefully selected by myself and the existing Digital Leader team (after much careful deliberation)! 

What we do

As a team we meet formally every Wednesday at our 'Digital Leader club'. During this time we plan and carry out tasks that we have identified as priorities. So far the Digital Leaders have;
  • Helped me with designing and setting up the new school blog
  • Wrote blog posts each week on behalf of their partner class. 
  • Planned, prepared and delivered a staff meeting for teachers and SLT, which has enabled staff to take over the responsibility for publishing their own blog posts. 
  • Planned, prepared and delivered a whole school assembly on e-safety and using social media. 
  • Held a drop in session for parents, in which they showed them the features of our new school website, Primary Blogger site and also how our new Twitter account works. 
  • Planned a 6 week series of lessons using a different iPad app each, which they will then deliver this half term with their partner class (the idea behind this is that as we are starting to get some more iPads in school, we felt that this would help teachers with having the confidence to incorporate the use of these within their future teaching).

Action Planning


The Digital Leader's are immensely proud of the role that they have in school and are rightly pleased with the work that they have done so far. They all have badges that they wear as part of their school uniform. This ensures that other pupils in school are aware of who they are and they know that they can approach any of them if they have any ideas for them, or if they need assistance with any technology matters. 

We spent the final Digital Leader club before Christmas writing an action plan for this year. In it we have agreed on the following plans of action;

  • To create a separate Digital Leader's blog. This will include more information about the Digital Leader's and what they do. 
  • To embed some Google Forms within the blog. This will enable other pupils and staff to be able to suggest ideas for what they would like them to do and also give them the facility to log requests for jobs or assistance. 
  • To embed a Google Form which gives prospective Digital Leaders the option to apply online if they are interested in becoming a school Digital Leader in the future. 
  • To set up regular 'kids/teachmeet' type drop in sessions (one per half term). This will give interested pupils and staff the opportunity to share ideas around using technology. We have agreed that it will be organised and 'chaired' by a different Digital Leader each half term. 
  • To register our school as part of the Digital Leader Network and explore ways of working with other Digital Leaders within different schools. 
  • To organise and deliver a lunchtime or after school 'drop in' session for TA's and other support staff who are interested in contributing to the new school blog. 
  • To assist me with drafting new curriculum/e-safety documents. 
  • To liaise with the IT technician and complete a list of manageable follow up 'tech' based jobs to be completed each week. 
  • To plan and organise a 'drop in' session for pupils who are new to the school blog or are struggling with aspects of it. 
  • To create an anonymous 'e-safety box', where pupils can leave concerns, questions and queries for the Digital Leader's to respond to and give anonymous feedback on.

What do you think?

Do you run an established Digital Leader system within your school?
What kinds of things do your DL's do?
What do you think about the things that we do and our plans for the future?

I also work independently to support schools in setting up Digital Leader projects such as this. Please contact me through my website for further information.

* Main image taken from www.digitalleadernetwork.co.uk

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