Kensington Park School is an independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 11 to 18. Split across two sites on either side of London’s beautiful Kensington Gardens, the school offers an exceptionally well-rounded education right in the heart of Europe’s biggest city.
Although it’s a small school—there are only 244 pupils in total—it has big ambitions for its students. The belief is that young people flourish when they feel happy, confident, and challenged, and this underpins everything that happens at the school. Being so small comes with a real advantage; it allows every member of the school’s team to build a personal connection with the students and their families.
Despite being relatively young — the school itself is only five years old — the school has quickly established a reputation for its fresh approach to education. It is focused on the individual and offers high standards of teaching and learning.
When Kensington Park School opened five years ago, one of its commitments was to innovation. It wanted to deliver education in the most effective way by harnessing the benefits of technology and research. That meant embracing technology and placing it at the heart of every classroom. It needed the right tools to make that happen.
As part of its commitment to innovation and technology, the school adopted Vivi in every classroom from the outset. Vivi is firmly embedded in each classroom and has really enabled teachers to spend time building a personal connection with their students.
“When equipping the new school before it opened, I looked at several smart screen systems,” says John Maxfield, the school’s Head of IT. “I stumbled across the Vivi system and it married an affordable and well supported system with great and developing functionality.”
“Having a Vivi system is like having a Tesla,” he continues. ”It improves with software updates over time and brings new functionality. I saw the opportunity to match a robust and commercial TV panel with the Vivi boxes and not have to worry about budgeting for new and expensive smart screens every 3-5 years.”
With the help of Vivi, Kensington Park School has been able to:
- Play crystal-clear videos on classroom screens. With Vivi, the streaming quality is far better than it would be running a video directly from a laptop, and there is also no lag. This was one key factor in the school’s decision to implement Vivi.
- Engage students in their learning. By running polls and quizzes through Vivi, teachers have fostered engagement and excitement among their students.
- Give teachers a real sense of freedom in the classroom. With timers, polls, annotation, and the ability to teach from anywhere in the room, Vivi has set the school’s teachers free from the front of the class.
Enabling Freedom and Autonomy When Teaching
Throughout her teaching career, Abigail Gammon, the school’s Head of English and Classics, has tried to be as mobile as possible in the classroom—which is not easy in an environment where, traditionally, everything is wired to a desk at the front of the room. What Vivi gives her is the freedom to move around. It heightens the level of engagement and interaction in lessons. “At no point am I stuck at the front of the class,” she says. “Vivi is a fantastic tool for student engagement. I can take off my keyboard and go and sit next to a student who might be a bit chatty, and still be teaching the class. I absolutely love the freedom it brings me.”
Vivi is a tool she uses in every lesson. “It’s rare that I’m not using it,” says Gammon. “I particularly use it during English classes. We do a lot of annotation.” She often uploads the material they are studying to Teams or Firefly, and then the students mark it up with a stylus. “We’ve got different types of tablets,” she continues. “If I want the students to present their feedback, I can request them to share their screens. They can then pop it on the board and we can talk through what they’ve done. They almost become the teacher.”
In fact, Vivi has become so much a part of the way Gammon teaches that she would find it difficult to go back to a world without it. “I’ve been at schools with interactive whiteboards,” she says. “You can’t move around. It’s incredibly limiting.” Before Vivi, in an attempt to free herself from the front of the classroom, Gammon created PowerPoint slides and used a remote clicker. It helped her to move around but limited her to scrolling through slides rather than involving the students in something more engaging and interactive. “I think what Vivi brings us is a sense of autonomy,” she says. “It gives us incredible freedom in the classroom.”
Simple, Engaging and Full of Impact
In her role, Gammon often walks around the school and observes other classes. She sees Vivi being used in each and every lesson. In math, there might be graphs being drawn on the main screen from afar. In other classes, students might be engaging in a quiz through their tablets. She describes Vivi as not necessarily the software that’s driving the teaching but the software that’s making it happen. “Although Vivi’s poll feature is quite exciting!” she says. “Again, it creates a real sense of engagement.”
Across the school, Vivi’s timers are an important tool to help teachers pace their lessons. Before Vivi, Gammon and other teachers would have had to search for and operate a timer through Google. “It makes the lesson quite clunky,” she says. “Now, if I’m at the back of the class, I can use Vivi to set my timer with a single click.”
Vivi also offers real advantages in the way it plays videos. Indeed, the streaming from Vimeo and YouTube and the general low latency of screen mirroring were what made the school choose Vivi over other solutions. And the impact is felt right at the front line: “If we play a video on the screen directly through our laptops, it can look awful—sometimes it’s unwatchable,” says Gammon. “With Vivi, the videos are always crystal clear.”
Digital Signage Too
The school is using digital signage in its entrance ways and foyers, where the screens carry notices that show how many merit points the four school houses have accumulated. The notice board feature is especially handy to help parents find out where their meetings are on open days. Recently, the school has also incorporated the emergency screen system into lockdown events, and has coupled lockdown screen alerts with an audible alarm.
Vivi is proving to be an excellent tool for displaying information and showcasing images in the reception area, as well as celebrating particular events or occasions. Around the time of this interview, it was Halloween, and the school was using Vivi to set the theme. “We used digital signage to give the home screen in every classroom a Halloween theme,” says Gammon. “It was a lot of fun, and the kids really enjoyed it.”