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Don’t let past experiences interfere with schooling

 

An area which has been a challenge for our school, and indeed many, is how do we effectively engage parents and carers in their child’s education?  Past experiences often form our opinions in life. For many adults, school wasn’t always a pleasant experience meaning that they are less likely to engage in their child’s education or with their school.  Added to this, the current climate of social distancing, parental and carer engagement and reassuring them of what is happening in class has never been more challenging.

At Heronswood our school ethos is to give children a genuine, emotional connection with their learning, as it is then that they will achieve the highest standards. Fundamental to this is useful and meaningful engagement with the parents and carers of our 410 pupils, helping them work together with our teachers to ensure that every child in every class reaches their full potential.  

Communications fit for purpose

Today, parent communication is more than comments and marks in a school report and a once a year report evening. A key area of focus at our school this year was improving parental engagement.  We wanted every child’s parent or carer to be aware of what was happening in the classroom; to understand what the pupils were learning, why it was necessary and to share in their achievements.  But, with a high percentage of parents with English as an additional language, communications have proved tricky as for some of our pupils, English is not a language spoken in their homes.  We recognised that sending home letters about the curriculum or rewards was not working as some adults couldn’t understand the messages being sent.  This created a further challenge as often; those parents were only receiving basic information from the school.  They had little understanding of what was happening in the classroom and what learning their child was taking part in.  A further challenge for us was that in the current pandemic, we felt giving out physical reward badges to the children was best avoided. Still, we also recognised how crucial they were in boosting children’s esteem after so much time out of the classroom. 

 

Support at home enhances success

EdTech has undoubtedly helped at Heronswood. We’ve gone from communicating to 70% of our families to 100% of parents and carers in just two weeks, and we received thousands of positive virtual ‘high-fives’ from parents and carers, showing that they are engaged in their child’s learning in the classroom. 

The impact of parental engagement can have such a positive influence on a child’s education, and Heronswood is on a mission to ensure that every child goes home each day to parents or carers who are aware of what they had been working on in class and their achievements. Parents need messages of reassurance to home if a child is finding something tricky, or perhaps they would like a reminder to do homework.

We knew the best way to close the engagement gap is to improve parental communications, and here are my top tips to help:

  • Break down barriers by using a familiar format such as mobile comms
  • Pick a format which is easily accessible for parents
  • Share positive news, not just the dreaded ‘phone call home.’
  • Put the onus on teachers to communicate with parents about daily events and rewards
  • Involve parents in the decision process of how you communicate, what do they think of it?
  • Ask parents for feedback regularly, know what’s working and what isn’t

More hours in the day

Teachers across the country know that school life is hectic with minimal hours in the day to pack everything in.  Throw in the pandemic and teachers are stretched to their limits.  With the EdTech platform, our teachers are benefitting from no more writing ‘please remember to read for 20 minutes’ in 30 home school diaries.  Now, Teachers can say, today we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Please ask your child about the characters. Or your child should read for 10 minutes today with an adult.  For our reception children, the teacher can send a voice message saying, “Today we’ve learnt the sound ‘fffff’ ask your child to show you some things around the home beginning with the sound ‘ffff'” and they can easily and quickly send through the reward badges to parents and carers. It’s a fantastic way to help parents support their child’s learning in the right way and saves so much time. 

Looking forward, I can’t see that we’ll ever go back to traditional communication methods.  EdTech is the way forward if we want to ensure effective communications with parents and carers, reduce the number of hours that teachers spend on admin, and in turn, ensure that every child achieved their full potential in learning.

Mrs Pierpoint is Head Teacher of Heronswood Primary School and pre-School, part of Rivers C of E Academy Trust in Worcestershire.  The school use http://www.marvellousme.com/ to improve parental engagement.

Overcoming the hardware hurdle is just the first step to achieving remote learning harmony

Overcoming the hardware hurdle is just the first step to delivering high quality remote learning, according to digital experts – usability, cross-device capability, accessibility and the end-to-end user experience all need to be considered too.

 

Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma, a user experience (UX) design agency, which has delivered a number of high-profile education tech projects, said: “Children of all demographics need access to sufficient technology, such as laptops, printers and internet access. But in parallel, we must also overcome barriers to usability, cross-device capability, accessibility and user experience in many digital education environments.

 

“While schools must update their approach to remote teaching based on previous lockdowns, the key to making the transition to online as successful as possible is to make sure each child can use and access the technology they need.

 

“There will again be a rush to new ways of handling remote learning, but as we’ve seen over the last year, not much of the current crop of EdTech delivers the experience that young people, and the parents, teachers and support staff who work with it every day really need and expect. EdTech needs to be easy to use, robust enough for cross-device and often low-bandwidth usage, accessible to everyone who needs to, and to deliver a carefully considered end-to-end customer experience, from device compatibility, through registration and onboarding, to problem resolution.

 

“Many providers are simply trying to digitise their offline learning without thinking properly about the real context of use, and that leads to a sub-standard, frustrating experience for parents, pupils, teachers and support staff. Education providers need to rethink the end-to-end user experience of the whole service, based on a proper understanding of the needs of students, parents and teachers. But in the meantime, they face the pressure of ‘getting something out quickly’ to meet urgent, critical demand. It’s a tough and unenviable job, but a two-pronged strategy – focusing on how we can best meet immediate need while also striving for the best possible long-term solution – with clear communication and transparency along the way is required.

 

“The transition between face-to-face and virtual education needs to be seamless to minimise disruption of a child’s education. For the best outcomes, teaching staff, parents and children are going to have to work together to iron out any creases which were apparent earlier in the year, and any new issues that may arise as learning continues to be primarily digital for the time being.

 

“Looking ahead, a blended approach to learning will becoming increasingly important as digital becomes more and more integrated in teaching and learning. While the coming weeks will be challenging for all involved, schools must assess which blended learning approaches work best for their teachers and pupils. Schools who are able to optimise their use of technology will place themselves in an ideal position as we move more generally to a more modern ways of teaching and learning.”

 

Children’s Mental Health Week 2021: resources available now

With less than 3 months until Children’s Mental Health Week 2021, we’re excited to release our resources to help everyone get involved.

For this year’s theme Express Yourself, Place2Be is encouraging children (and adults) to explore the different ways we can express ourselves, and the creative ways that we can share our feelings, our thoughts and our ideas.

Around five children in every classroom have a mental health problem, and many more struggle with challenges from bullying to bereavement. Whether you’re someone who works with childrena parent or carerpassionate about spreading the word, or keen to raise vital funds for Place2Be, you can get involved and help us reach as many people as possible. 

Free resources for schools

Free primary and secondary resources are now available, including assembly guides, slides, group activities, fundraising ideas and more to help schools and youth groups explore what it means to Express Yourself

As we get nearer to the week, we’ll also share our top tips for parents, and Welsh language resources for schools and families in Wales.

Dress to Express

This Children’s Mental Health Week, we’re asking you to ‘Dress to Express’. The idea is simple – use colour to express yourself during the week by wearing a colourful outfit and donating  £2 to Place2Be.  

Could you organise a Dress to Express Day in your school, organisation or friend group? Download our fundraising guide today, and find out how you can help raise vital funds to help more children and young people get the emotional support they need.

Spread the word

How do you express yourself? How do you express your feelings, thoughts, or ideas? What are your tips for young people on expressing themselves? Why are you supporting the week? Share your stories and help us to spread the word.

Download our free social media guide with template posts, downloadable images and more ideas to inspire you.

If you are tweeting and posting about the week, be sure to tag Place2Be in your posts and use #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek.

 

Learn more about Children’s Mental Health Week >>

Find out more about Place2Be >>

Most say teachers should be in same group as NHS staff for jab

THE UK public (87%) think teachers should be included in a priority group for vaccinations so that schools can re-open.  More than half (55%) think teachers should be in the same group as frontline healthcare workers.

Digital pollsters Findoutnow.co.uk asked over 4,000 people: It is argued that teachers’ vaccinations should be prioritised so that children can return to school sooner. In which priority group, if any, should teachers be included?  The answers are:

Same time, or sooner than frontline healthcare workers:  55%
Same time, or sooner than over 70s: 63%
Same time, or sooner than at risk groups: 77%
Same time, or sooner than over 60s: 83%
Some kind of priority: 87%

You can see the full results here

There is growing concern for the mental health and education prospects of children who cannot attend school.

Chris Holbrook, founder of findoutnow.co.uk, said: “The results show people are desperate to get schools re-opened.”

 

About the survey

The survey of 4,214 members of Pick My Postcode was conducted on Wednesday 6th of January. Find Out Now adjusted the results to get a nationally representative sub-sample of 1,500 within +/-1% of ONS quotas for Age, Gender, Region, social economic group and past voting using machine learning. 

 

For further information, or to request a poll or survey, contact us on ask@findoutnow.co.uk.

Schools lockdown: statement from Cambridge Primary Education Trust

Statement from the Lesley Birch, CEO/Executive Principal at Cambridge Primary Education Trust, on the national lockdown and provision at their schools.

 

“We are once again faced with the desperately sad news that we are having to close our schools to the majority of Cambridge Primary Education Trust (CPET) pupils as the country is placed in a national lockdown. All our schools are closed today (5th January 2021), but will re-open tomorrow (6th January 2021) for some children as detailed in the Government guidelines.  

 

For those children unable to attend school due to new restrictions, we will be offering remote learning from tomorrow. As part of the offer, we will be using Microsoft Teams. Parents have received information about how to access this and each child has been given their log-in details. We will provide further communication regarding home learning and other procedures via each school. 

 

For those in school, the protection of pupils, colleagues and their families remains our single most important priority. Throughout this pandemic we have regularly updated our Trust-wide risk assessment that is personalised for each school and shared this with Trustees and School Advisory Boards. Clearly procedures for children or adults who show Covid-19 symptoms will continue to be strict, as are quarantine guidelines. 

 

We have prepared for this scenario. Having had to deliver remote learning during the last year, we have reviewed and reflected on what works and will continue to do so to enable us to offer a high standard of learning tasks to all our children. Clearly we have had to implement this plan at very short notice, and our staff have been working hard to do so since the formal announcement was made last night. I would like to thank them for once again stepping up and doing what they always do – putting the children first. 

 

I would also like to thank parents and carers for their continued support and understanding in these difficult times.”

Online learning – beware of ‘Zoom fatigue’ and burnout of learners and staff

Online learning barriers from March may have disappeared, but some colleges and independent training providers are still not using the right systems – and risk learner burnout and “Zoom fatigue”. Following the latest UK lockdown announcements James Earl, Executive Director of Sales at The Skills Network highlights the implications this will bring for further education in the UK, and the importance of working with the right online partners.

 

Now that online learning will once again be the norm for colleges and universities, a blend of online classroom and online content which is engaging will be key, especially for learners.

 

On the other hand, organisations should review their online strategies to support their staff’s wellbeing, by partnering with companies who have been providing online learning for a number of years, with tried and tested systems, as well as tailored online content.

 

Shouldn’t we be letting our lecturers do what they do best and not let them worry about technicalities? Shouldn’t we also be supporting them so they can deliver their classes the best way possible, and give them flexibility so they do not have to worry about transiting class materials from online to real life every time there’s a new lockdown announcement?

 

It is also critical to ensure the tracking and assessment runs smoothly by adopting learner management systems, especially with the announcement of examinations that could turn into assignments and assessments. There are valid and reliable assessment options now open to us through technology; it’s just a question of finding your right online learning partner.

“Our sector’s willingness to work towards our common goals positively does pay off – but we have to get this review right”

NASBTT has today responded to the Department for Education (DfE) Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review policy paper https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-itt-market-review and announcement on a new Institute of Teaching https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-institute-of-teaching-set-to-be-established

 

Executive Director Emma Hollis said: “We are pleased that the ITT market review expert group plan to work closely with the sector in developing and testing thinking as the ITT review progresses. We have been invited to meet the group later this month and look forward to being part of an open, collaborative discussion. We expect this discussion to include the new Institute of Teaching, which we broadly welcome in terms of its focus on evidence-based approaches in teacher education, as this will further support high-quality ITT. We note that when the Institute is at full capacity it will train around 1,000 ITT trainees annually. Of course, every year 35,000 trainee teachers and their mentors must be trained. In order to achieve this, multiple ITT providers, of all shapes and sizes, are needed. 

 

Since we were formed in 2000, NASBTT – and our staff, Trustees and members – have acquired arguably unrivalled experience in school-based ITT and, as per the review’s aim, we all want to ensure the sector continues to provide consistently high-quality training, in line with the Core Content Framework, Early Career Framework and Ofsted ITE inspection framework, all of which we have been involved in developing and implementing in partnership with the DfE and some members of the review expert group. Ahead of the review’s conclusion, we will represent the views of all our members: SCITTs, School Direct Lead Schools, Teaching Schools and HEIs, and underpin these views with the evidence of the impact of their provision.  

 

Our sector’s willingness to work towards our common goals positively does pay off. It was a result of this trust that we were able to work with the DfE on a number of key policy adaptations during the last academic year and into this. This included the agreement that QTS could be rewarded based on a trainee’s trajectory, the trust given to providers to ascertain who needed retrieval placements, and the additional funding that we helped secure to support those placements. It also included the relaxations to the ITT criteria, something we worked extremely hard on with the Department, as well as the assurances that we were able to secure that trainee teachers could be classed as critical workers, allowing them to work in schools and providing reassurance to placement school headteachers. We are very positive about working in partnership with the review expert group. 

 

Clearly there is a lot at stake with this review, and we have to get this right. As we have previously said, by every objective measure, the ITT sector is performing exceptionally well. Ofsted inspections have 99% of providers rated good or better, so on that metric alone existing provision must be judged to be high quality. Whilst, as with everything, progress is to be welcomed, the ITT market is not fundamentally flawed – evolution, not revolution, is the way forward.”

 

Print Marketplace – ordering small prints jobs is now as easy as online shopping for schools and colleges

 

  • Access to compliant printed goods at the click of a button
  • On-line templates for ease of use
  • Over 80% of printing companies are SMEs supporting local economies
  • Collaboration between two of the largest public sector buying organisations offering savings to a wider reach of public sector customers. 

 

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and YPO have joined forces once again to launch the first ever public sector Print Marketplace.

The marketplace  works just like those commonly used across the private sector, enabling you to order a range of printed materials, including business forms, brochures, prospectuses, flyers and posters online. 

Over 80% of the companies on the marketplace are SMEs in line with the government’s aims to level the playing field for suppliers of all sizes. Print Marketplace aligns  with the Government’s aspiration that 33% of central government spending will go to SMEs by 2022

Designed for, and in consultation with, the public sector Print Marketplace offers a compliant, flexible and simple way to purchase print, whilst saving time and money. 

You will be able to define your requirements – such as selecting paper size and quality – and upload artwork or request artwork services, before receiving quotes from suppliers across the country or choose from preloaded templates. You can then filter these quotes by your priorities such as price or locality.  Crucially, you will be able to complete your order online too. 

With access to a large selection of pre-qualified printers, 87% of them are SMEs,  the marketplace will make sourcing printed materials feel less like procurement and more like online shopping.

Dave Duncan, Crown Commercial Service’s Head of Document Management and Logistics said:  “Capable of providing  instant quotes from multiple suppliers, Print Marketplace will be a genuinely market-leading solution. Boosted by our partnership with YPO, it will allow customers from the entire public sector to purchase quality print products and, in doing so, save time and money while meeting their social value obligations.” 

Gavin Rimmington, YPO Head of Public Sector said: “YPO have been looking at a print production offering for many years for our wider public sector customers who had small requirements,  current offerings that were accessed via further competitions were not suitable. 

“After much research we realised that these small offerings aggregated together were quite substantial and were excited at the opportunity to collaborate with CCS and were delighted with the outcome from APS. 

“To move away from the traditional way of purchasing print to this futuristic digital market place, where instant production price market quotes are available, saving the WPS not only cost savings buy efficiencies and offering up opportunities for SME printers.

“Current processes would mean 3 suppliers would be contacted for a quote and now this process is instant. SMEs are encouraged to sign up and can be onboarded and customers have alternative payment methods and can even include carbon offset as part of their quotes!”

 

CCS and YPO have appointed Allied Publicity Services (Manchester) Ltd  to manage the platform. To find out more please use the link to CCS website

Accelerating Digital Transformation to Reimagine Education

LONDON, 16 December 2020 – Rene Buhay, VP of Sales and Marketing at AVer Europe, the award-winning provider of video collaboration systems, advices that schools need to keep on top of the new technology available to them in a post pandemic world.

When COVID-19 struck and we moved into a pandemic, the lack of digital capability of some schools was exposed. Many of these schools were likely planning for slow digitalisation before the pandemic. But their long-term plans suddenly became very short-term actions, and many administrators adapted admirably by accelerating digital transformation to reimagine education.

ICT directors  moved quickly to reconfigure everything from basic lesson plans to graduation ceremonies for online access. The contingency plans worked well enough in the short term, but what happens next? Should schools return to the traditional methods they relied on before the pandemic?

Post COVID-19 education is already being reimagined

It is likely that institutions that were on the fence about digitally transforming their curriculums and facilities, now have a little experience with technology solutions, so are more likely to embrace them going forward. Teachers are likely to feel they are better at using technology after going through the pandemic, which forced changes to their teaching processes.

Many teachers who were once passive about their education technology—simply using the few devices that the school forced upon them—will now actively seek more advanced solutions to help them teach, whether they’re doing so in hybrid classrooms or fully online.

Additionally, schools will be afraid of being caught off guard by unplanned disruptions again. This is especially true in the competitive, often profit-driven world of higher education. Digital transformation is now becoming a necessary means of survival as this new digital world requires educators to adapt and adopt digital technologies, methodologies and mindsets.

Many experts and leaders are pushing for what has been termed “reimagining education,” by developing an agile, innovative and future focused hybrid deep learning system.

What accelerating digital transformation means for you

Even if there were no COVID-19 pandemic to shake things up, your school would have eventually had to transform. Digital transformation revolves around agility. It doesn’t mean you need to bulldoze your school building and move your entire operation to the cloud. It does mean that you should be able to do so at a moment’s notice, while also capitalising on digital resources in traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms and homework assignments.

Investment will be required in technology solutions that are easy to install and implement. A good visualiser (document camera) is perfect for teaching from home or enhancing classroom interaction, showing incredible details and capturing step-by-step processes. Interactive Control Boxes instantly upgrade outdated equipment, enabling wireless connection of student and teacher devices for collaboration and sharing. AI Auto Tracking Cameras let you livestream or record content for full-fledged distance learning and online programs.

Buhay sums up that there is “No way” schools should revert back to old ways of teaching. “Digital transformation is here to stay and AVer can offer educational institutions  the flexibility to create customised teaching and learning solutions. By mixing and matching from a wide range of first-rate classroom technology, AVer can provide the latest and best in classroom solutions to enrich learning.”

50% of schools would like more support with remote learning

  • Jigsaw24’s lockdown learning survey finds 50% of schools would like more support when delivering remote learning.
  • 70% reported struggling during the UK’s first lockdown – in some cases, up to 80% of students did not engage.
  • However, 75% of schools say issues are on the mend thanks to resilient staff and investment in mobile devices.

 

At Jigsaw24, we’ve been providing IT solutions to schools, colleges and universities for nearly 30 years. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned in that time, it’s that things go better when schools work together. However, recent circumstances have made that difficult: communication has become harder, pupils and their families are facing huge challenges when it comes to accessing essential resources, and teachers have struggled to maintain access to their usual resources and support systems.

 

But schools across the UK have risen to the challenge, each finding their own way to handle remote learning and the pressures of lockdown. We spoke to teachers, IT teams, admin staff and school leadership teams from 12 schools across the UK to find out which devices, apps and strategies have served them best, and are sharing the results in our latest whitepaper. We hope schools will be able to see how organisations like theirs have adapted, and earmark solutions that they want to try going forward. You can download the full whitepaper here, or read on for a few of our key findings…

 

Platform-agnostic apps are the way to go

Because the initial lockdown happened so quickly, many schools struggled to provide devices for each child to take home. To offset some of this uncertainty, 33% of schools chose to connect with pupils primarily over email and 25% relied mostly on phone calls. However, multi-platform apps were also popular. Google Classroom, which can be installed on a device or accessed via a browser, was used by 33% of schools.

 

We typically recommend using an app like Showbie, which is device-agnostic and allows for the sharing and feedback of work in a single, unified environment. Some anecdotal feedback we’ve received from parents shows they’re not familiar with apps like these, which are primarily designed to facilitate student-teacher interaction. In those cases, checking in with parents via methods like emails, phone calls or text to ensure they’re aware of what their children should be working on has proven to be hugely helpful.

 

Parental engagement is schools’ number one concern

As any educator will tell you, lockdown learning has not been without its issues. 70% of schools reported having issues at the start of their remote learning programme, the most common one being a lack of pupil engagement – in one case, up to 80% of students were failing to engage.

 

Other issues included pupils having to share devices with parents who were working from home (and therefore not being available for synchronised activities like class Zoom calls or live streamed lessons) and an inability to reach parents.

 

But staff have risen to the challenge

Teachers are nothing if not resourceful, and 75% of respondents said their initial issues – including that worrying dip in engagement – are now fixed. This is largely down to the amazing from staff across the school. 60% of respondents said teachers adapted quite well or very well to remote working.

 

If you’re one of the 40% of schools that are still struggling with the transition, we can provide training that will help boost your team’s confidence. As well as providing basic and subject-specific skills training on new apps and devices that your school has rolled out, we can deliver training on how best to structure remote lessons and keep pupils’ attention on task while they’re learning from home.

 

Mobile device management plays in a key part in safeguarding

Managing devices while they’re off the school network is a key safeguarding issue for schools. Asked how they managed their devices, 60% of respondents said they’d invested in dedicated device management software, which allows them to control permissions, block apps and send alerts to the school when students may have used their device inappropriately. 30% said they have outsourced device management to an external provider, while just 10% said they manage each device manually.

 

The great thing about software-defined MDM is that it can be done “over the air”: devices are managed over the internet, so IT teams have the same level of control (and can offer the same degree of protection) wherever a student or teacher may be. Applications like Jamf Pro and Apple Classroom make it easy for admin staff to group students into classes or year groups and apply granular, age- and subject- specific restrictions in a reliable (yet invisible) way.

 

Only 30% of schools received support from DfE – and 50% would like more support

It’s clear from our survey that schools have worked hard to make the most of limited resources and offset the very real hardships their students are facing. But 50% of respondents wanted more support in order to improve remote learning going forward.

 

That’s what we’re here for.

 

Our regionally based team includes former teachers and IT engineers who can help you make sure your remote and in-person teaching is perfectly synced. From supplying hardware (including pairing schools with compliant financing partners) to device management and ongoing support, we’re here to help schools tackle any technical issue they may face. You can get started by downloading the whitepaper here.

 

For more insights from lockdown learning survey, and to find out more about how Jigsaw24 can help schools manage remote learning, visit Jigsaw24.com/education. Alternatively, get in touch with the team on 03332 409 290 or email education@Jigsaw24.com