St Paul’s is a Catholic school for girls situated within the city of Birmingham. It was founded in 1908 by the Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle and 110 years later still retains the same sense of community and excellence built on faith and tradition.
Why did you choose Firefly?
We chose Firefly because it offered a truly user-friendly option for all of our stakeholders. Staff had very varied levels of confidence in their use of technology, and this had not been helped by the previous VLE solution that the school had tried. We wanted to genuinely reduce workload whilst moving forward in our use of technology. There was a constant battle to free up server space and our shared areas were increasingly cluttered and hard to navigate. What we wanted was a learning environment that would facilitate and encourage independent study and provide support for the full range of abilities. For us Firefly seemed to offer the potential for us to fulfil our mission statement allowing us to “do your very best for the children.”
What are the challenges you experienced and how did Firefly solve them?
The initial challenge for us was to make sure that we took staff, students and parents with us when we launched Firefly. We received very constructive advice from the Firefly team which helped us design the site so that its structure was clear and easy to navigate. Training was then planned over a number of weeks with staff “hands-on” in front of computers so that they were learning and doing.
Maintaining a culture of continuous development as time has gone on has definitely provided challenges. Fortunately, Firefly has also developed the level of support and training with the regular webinars focussing on new developments being particularly useful. Because the Firefly team are constantly improving and innovating this supports the school’s forward momentum.
In the Summer of 2021, we conducted a survey of students to get their feedback on Firefly. The feedback has been great. When asked 93% of the girls said that they would recommend Firefly, 95% said that they found it easy to use.
The growth in our hit statistics tells its own story. In 2018 we saw 724,948 hits on our dashboard page between the start of September and the end of January. The same period in 2020 to 2021 academic year saw 1,545,171 hits.
What have been some of the unexpected benefits?
When we embarked upon our journey with Firefly remote learning and marking online were not big considerations. However, adopting Firefly meant that we were well placed to move to remote and hybrid learning. Where initially some staff might have seen adopting online marking as a low priority for their own development, there was a real sense of confidence that Firefly had given everyone an easy tool to facilitate this when the pandemic made it an essential change.
Where we were previously using Survey Monkey or paper-based surveys, we have embraced Firefly surveys wholeheartedly. These are especially useful for gathering and collating student voice data.
Peer tutoring has been another unexpected success introduced over the past couple of years. Sixth form students have been matched with Year 11 pupils to support them in specific subject areas as one form of intervention. Because their interaction is within Firefly the teachers are able to monitor their interaction but the girls are able to work with one another outside of school at mutually convenient times.
What has it been like to work with Firefly?
Firefly have been a joy to work with from the start. The technical expertise is undoubtedly there but there is also a very accessible training and customer support team. Because help is genuinely available around the clock queries can be dealt with at times that suit busy school staff. Our Customer Success Manager has provided superb support and has a great understanding of the nature of our school and our needs.
What plans do you have to broaden your use of Firefly? What specific features and practices are you looking to implement next?
We are following the new and forthcoming developments with Teams with interest. Additionally, the Insights feature has huge potential and we would love to further develop our use of this in school.