Finding the right technology model - The Amaroo School story

Amaroo School is the biggest school in Canberra, with almost 1800 students in years P-10. Finding a technology model that fits such a big and diverse community was always going to be difficult, but good planning and extensive consultation has made the transition to BYOD a lot easier. While technology has always had a place at Amaroo School, it wasn’t having a huge impact on student outcomes, or engaging the students and staff deeply. The school has been working hard to change this over the past two years.
Wanting things to change and actually making it a reality is extremely difficult, as the executive had seen at a number of schools in the past. They wanted to bring about big changes at Amaroo, and knew that they needed a good plan. This plan has been at the heart of their changes, and continues to inform their operations every day. In this post, we'll look at some of the key actions that really helped them as they moved forward:


Engage the whole school community

Amaroo has spent a lot of time and effort engaging everyone in the school community. Teachers and support staff were instrumental in developing the ICT action plan through many different consultation processes.

Students also have had a key part to play in the school’s strategic ICT direction. They were surveyed to find out how they used technology which helped with the formation of goals in the ICT Action Plan. This also led to the development of the ASTEC (Amaroo School Technical Experience Crew) program, with the students involved providing informed and relevant input not only to the school’s ICT plan, but also helping to inform the Education Directorate’s implementation of the Google Apps for Education platform. 

To engage parents and address any concerns, the school held several workshops, which helped them to find the right approach to BYOD. Regular ‘Techie Breakie’ sessions also give members of the school community the opportunity to get help with technology and learn new skills.

Strong leadership

The leadership team at Amaroo School understands the importance of senior leadership engagement in any change initiative. They had seen other exciting and well-meaning projects fail in the past when leaders were not engaged with the project, no matter how passionate or influential the individual might have been.

The senior leadership team at Amaroo understands the technology. This is a key factor in the successful implementation of the Action Plan. They’re not experts, but they have engaged with it enough to understand how it works and the impact that it will have on the school. A little passion in this part of the school goes a very long way.

Distributed leadership

Just as important as the engagement of the senior leadership team is distributed leadership across a range of ICT initiatives. The leadership team identified six teachers that have become ‘associates’; working across the school with other teachers to progress the ICT Action Plan. These staff are empowered and encouraged to develop ICT projects in areas that harness their strengths (and align to the ICT Action Plan), and give them the opportunity to develop capacity in others.



One of the major elements in the success of Amaroo School’s transition to a technology-rich, innovative school is the ICT Action Plan. The plan was thoroughly developed with a small number of key goals based on good teaching and learning practice. The ICT Action Plan is at the centre of all actions related to ICT. It helps the school stay true to their objectives and not to get distracted. If someone comes up with a cool ‘idea’, they check in with the plan to make sure that it’s something that will help them achieve the goals in the long term. And all decisions, from the type of furniture, devices and applications to the deployment of staff and the use of classroom space, are determined by how they fit with the plan.


The ITO at Amaroo School is an integral part of the ICT leadership team. His role has evolved as the Action Plan has been implemented, moving from simply technical support to more deeply engaging with the strategic outcomes within the plan. His understanding of the strategic and pedagogical impetus for everything has made it much easier to support the staff and students.

The ASTEC group also forms a significant portion of the support needs of the school. The students involved in the ASTEC project have played a major role in shaping the ICT support in the school. You can read more about them in issue four of the ‘Insights and Ideas’ journal, a resource generated through AITSL’s Learning Frontiers initiative.


Invest in technology infrastructure

Amaroo’s long-term approach to technology has seen many improvements that will benefit the school (and the environment) for years to come, including the very impressive renewable energy system. The money outlaid for these types of initiatives was deemed to be a worthwhile longterm investment, and within the scope of the ICT Action Plan. This kind of thinking extends to everything, including internet access and devices.
When the school was given the opportunity to upgrade their wireless, they contributed the maximum investment to ensure complete coverage across the school. While many of the devices in the school are now BYOD, the devices that the school chooses to purchase are specific to certain learning areas, and support the BYOD program through the provision of devices fit for purpose, like ChromeBooks.

The other side of this is getting rid of the technology that doesn’t work. Anything too old, slow, or unreliable is disposed of. This makes lessons much more problem-free and the systems just work better when all the parts work.
ASTEC Support (Edited).jpg

BYOD Model

After extensive consultation with the school community, Amaroo School has chosen a BYOD model for device use in the school. In 2015, the school trialled BYOD for years 9-10. In 2016 they will be BYOD from year 5-10. It's a simple model: students select a device that best suits their needs and take full responsibility for the care and maintenance of that device. The school now has 90% of students in these years participating in the program.

Additional devices purchased by the school are used to address equity issues in the school, and to provide students in P-4 with access to a device for teaching and learning. The school is still investigating the best device for use by students in years P-4. We'll share what they find out later.

This post outlines just one way to approach technology adoption and change in the school. We encourage you to read this and other posts on this subject when trying to find the best fit for your school. You might find one way is perfect, or you might find that the best approach combines a variety of ideas from lots of different schools. We'll publish more of these stories over the coming weeks.