New South Wales

Barker College

High performing school rolls out a BYOD program to help achieve its vision

The background

Barker College is an independent, Anglican day and boarding school for Pre-Kindergarten up to Year 12 located in the north of Sydney. With a large population of more than 2,000 students across all year levels, and 1,000 students in the senior school for Years 10-12, the school caters exclusively to boys until the end of Year 9, after which it becomes co-educational.

Established in 1890, Barker College has a reputation as not only one of the top schools in Sydney, but Australia as well. Driven by a clear vision and strategic plan — inspiring global hope — the school is committed to the future of learning in Australia, launching the Barker Institute in 2015 as a forum for ideas, educational research and professional learning for teachers.


The challenges

Barker College first started its digital learning journey to align with the new syllabuses of the NSW Board of Studies, which encourage the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning so that students can “become competent, discriminating, productive, creative and ethical users” of technology.”1 This change, coupled with the school’s own vision — for students to be able to communicate, collaborate and construct their learning online, globally — cemented the need to introduce devices into the classroom. In 2013, Barker College decided to roll out a bring-your-own device (BYOD) program for the 2014 school year, motivated by the promise of functionality not available in print textbooks, more engaging, interactive learning experiences and less weight for students to carry.

With a plan for students to bring devices firmly in place, Keith Vallis, Director of Curriculum – ICT, had another pressing need to address: good quality content. Teachers varied in terms of their digital usage — while some had already made the switch to online or were in transition, others were still using print textbooks — but Keith knew that in order to make the most out of the 1:1 program, teachers across all departments needed digital resources.

The solution

Alongside the new BYOD program, Barker College introduced the Jacaranda Digital Bundle for Year 7 students in the 2014 school year. Keith spearheaded the decision upon realising that several departments were already using Jacaranda, making the bundle — a package of resources across all subjects at an affordable price point — an obvious choice.

For teachers such as Nathan Dumbleton, Year 7 Science, it was important to take advantage of the digital capabilities of the device to truly engage students and Jacaranda resources are much more than just a PDF, featuring multimedia such as video, audio and links to related content on the internet to create better and more effective learning space for students. What’s more, fully editable teacher resources for every chapter help save time and provide the flexibility to tailor material to meet teachers’ specific needs.

With the necessary support in place, Keith led the implementation for Barker College. Central to its success was a very strong and collaborative working relationship with the Jacaranda team. From the start, it was clear that they were just as committed to a smooth process as Barker’s own staff — from helping to raise internal awareness of the bundle and its resources, to executing a series of small changes to simplify the set up process for teachers and 250 students, no request was too small and the support from Jacaranda was invaluable to the initial roll out. Equally important was a robust training program and dedicated time out of Nathan’s schedule to help both teachers and students become familiar with the technology.

‘The resources that Jacaranda provides for each chapter were a big selling point. They’re fully editable documents which teachers really appreciate.’

Nathan Dumbleton, Year 7 Teacher

‘The little things that Jacaranda did made a big difference to the implementation.’

Keith Vallis, Director of Curriculum — ICT, Year 7 Teacher

The outcomes

After the initial launch to Year 7 students in 2014, and a successful second year in 2015, Barker College is set to expand the program to Years 7-10 in 2016.

Maintaining a reputation for academic excellence is paramount and the new 1:1 program has delivered. NAPLAN achievement levels not only continue to meet the high standards that teachers, parents and students are accustomed to, but grow year-over-year as well. For Keith and his team, strong results confirm that Barker College is headed in the right direction and the school community agrees.

Importantly, students are benefiting from a richer learning experience — the use of digital technologies makes for greater engagement and provides continuous and immediate access to the resources they need, without the bulk and weight of textbooks. For this high performing school, the transition to digital learning has been an important step to advancing its school vision.

‘Critical for us was the ability to build and lean on a strong relationship with Jacaranda and take advantage of what they offer in terms of training and support.’

Keith Vallis, Director of Curriculum – ICT

Explore Jacaranda bundle solutions

Jacaranda Digital Bundle is a high quality digital learning package of 9+ engaging resources that comes with dedicated training and support, making it easy for schools to start or progress their digital teaching and learning journey. Check out the bundle for your curriculum: