Managing costs without limiting learning

Sharlston Community School, West Yorkshire

The leaders at Sharlston Community School, part of the Waterton Academy Trust, were in a quandary: how to manage the cost of a desperately needed schoolwide technology upgrade while avoiding a piecemeal implementation that would leave some classes disadvantaged?

The solution Head Teacher Julie Dunderdale-Smith came to with her team — and expert consultants at Elementary Technology — was to sign up for the SMART ClaaS™ subscription service, spreading the spend over multiple years while upgrading the whole school all at once.

“That meant all the classes, all the children, were having access to the latest technology and more importantly the teachers were given the equipment they need to teach really dynamic, engaging lessons to our children.”

Sharlston’s journey began with Elementary Technology conducting a thorough healthcheck: they assessed what equipment the school had in place, identified what was working and highlighted the areas that needed improving.

“The plans they came up with were key with going to the governing body to get approval,” Dunderdale-Smith says.


With the approval of Waterton Academy Trust – a multi-academy trust that encompasses 10 Wakefield primary schools – Sharlston now has a new SMART Board® interactive display in every class along with tablets and an IT suite that children are scheduled to use regularly.

“One of the reasons why we work together as a group of schools in an academy trust is we try and find the best solutions, at the best possible value,” says Glynn Bishop, Senior School Improvement Officer for Waterton Academy Trust. As a host school, Bishop says, Sharlston is now truly leading the way for Waterton schools with technology.

“Because children tend to be very visual learners, it’s there, in front of the classroom,” Dunderdale-Smith says. “They remember things that are presented to them in a multimedia capacity. There’s no passive learning – they’re all active learning. The teacher has got the whole class in the palm of her hand.”


Along with new hardware, the ClaaS subscription model includes the latest software as well in SMART Notebook® 17 and of course Elementary Technology’s extensive teacher training.

“The activities look really, really impressive, but they’re not that difficult to make,” says James Grayston, Sharlston’s Deputy Head Teacher. “We have regular training sessions with our staff. They’ll be looking at SMART lab™ one session, 3D objects the next; they almost want to leave the room straight away to go and prep that, which is lovely.”