Find out how the International School of Penang (Uplands) have harnessed Hero as their tool to drive future-focussed pedagogy, and streamline practices in their innovative school!
Background & Catalyst
Established in 1955, the International School of Penang (Uplands) takes its roots as one of the oldest international schools in Malaysia. With a vision to “provide an exemplar international education in a dynamic multi-cultural environment” (Guiding Statements), their philosophy is guided by a community-centric approach - encouraging students to be active learners through engagement with the local and wider community.
Gavin and Cherie Clark joined the Uplands team in 2019. Prior to becoming Principal in August of 2020, Gavin was the Head of Primary school - during which time Uplands had been using various systems to wrangle their many day to day administrative needs. They quickly recognised that tracking student progress in a clear and visual way, that reflected their unique school context and innovative nature, was challenging with such systems in place. In particular, they were looking for a solution to consolidate their use of Google Sheets for data management, and their learning portfolio system, which lacked the student management functionality to underpin it. So, the mission began to implement a software with the breadth to serve dual purpose, connect their community and provide a clear picture of progress across primary years.
Choosing Hero - the decision making process:
Hero first crossed Gavin’s radar when he was in capacity as Head of Primary. While carrying out their due diligence, what particularly stood out was that the software reflected the education background of Hero’s founders.
“Hero has been created for the right reasons, for student engagement, made by people at the coalface.”
There was also a strong uptake of Hero in the New Zealand market which, when paired with industry connections, piqued interest in what this product could offer for Uplands’ online, real time reporting journey.
Increased visibility & accessibility...
It was imperative that introducing a new system would provide better visibility over learning, in an accessible way for both staff and parents. In particular, the team had a vision to bring assessment practice to life, making the tracking of progress and achievement intuitive and easy to understand.
Being relatively transient with staff, as with most International schools, it was a positive push that Hero could track student progress across multiple years, allowing teachers to tap into a rich learning history for each student. They knew that this powerful functionality would support by “filling the gaps” in new teachers connecting with their students in the classroom. Teachers could quickly identify students strengths and interests, to help build relationships and empower student agency in the classroom.
Customisable against their context...
Gavin details a “massive factor” in their decision making process being Hero’s customisable functionality. This would allow them to shape the software in alignment with both Uplands’ pedagogical vision, and the needs of their dynamic community.
Unlike other systems they had explored, they took note that Hero was built specifically for primary schools, and would therefore work in synergy with their junior school. Hero’s flexibility in supporting a diverse range of curricula would allow for them to mix and match appropriately to meet their goals, and have learning be both relevant and inclusive for all. This would be particularly important in accommodating for the 40+ different nationalities represented in the school. They needed a software capable of reflecting this - one easily customisable, that could bridge the gap between home and school to make learning accessible and visible.
“International schools often have a mix of curriculums. What we have really appreciated is that we have been able to make Hero fit us. Progressions aren’t mandated, so we have the ability to be flexible.”
The Results - easy data through streamlined processes, improved visibility and a connected community.
The decision making process had led them down a path to success...
Since adopting Hero, Uplands have benefited from a customised system that gives them easy data, streamlines processes and increases visibility across both the primary school and the wider community.
Easy data & streamlined processes = ✔
Hero has removed the need for manual data entry, and particularly the use of Google Sheets and their Learning Management System, which was a desirable and time-saving outcome for the Uplands’ team.
Having access to easy data has been a game changer for teachers, who are able to review student progress and better understand learning outcomes with current data in front of them. This has particularly supported them throughout the reporting process, enabling teachers to pass on meaningful feedback informed by accurate data, that also aligns with their own style of reporting.
Improved visibility = ✔
For Senior Leaders, being able to track student progress through Hero has been a “massive positive”, particularly on a pedagogical front, where it’s essential that learning is made visible across years:
“It can take more than one year to see progress, and Hero gives us markers in the sand of improvements in a student’s progress over multiple school years. This visual evidence and data improves conversations between teachers and parents, and helps new staff better understand our students.”
With the most recent round of parent-teacher conferences, teachers have been able to talk directly to the Hero “parent view”, to walk parents through the concept of online, real time reporting. This has enabled parents to visually see and comprehend where their children are sitting, with clear data provided to support understanding. Looking forward, Gavin and team can see that Hero’s window into the classroom will continue to simplify the reporting process - as they settle into the routine of parents receiving timely learning updates throughout the year.
Community connections = ✔
A goal which the team adopted early on was to have all families on board and able to receive updates. At the time of our discussion, Cherie confirmed that 100% of all families were connected through Hero. As an International school with families who aren’t all confident in English, Hero’s visual and intuitive UI has been a great support for parents in making this possible.
More recently, the software has played an essential part in keeping connected during the region’s lockdown which has continued since March - particularly in communicating and bringing visibility over learning for parents.
“For over a year we haven’t been able to have parents onsite at our school, so being able to show them learning through Hero has been massive.”
Since transitioning to Hero, Uplands have been able to consolidate their systems, strengthen 3-way learning partnerships to improve visibility over academic progress, and bring assessment practices to life. Through having a clear vision of their direction with Hero, driven by future-focussed pedagogy, the team are flying with the software - with sights set on the next height!
Ready to take to the skies with Hero? Contact our team today, by clicking here!