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School support staff face violent attacks from pupils, with some receiving death threats, new research finds

Teaching assistants have reported being kicked, punched and spat at by pupils in mainstream primary and secondary schools, new research by the University of Roehampton released on Monday 17th October finds. 

 

The analysis is the first to look at the violence and aggression faced by teaching and classroom assistants in England, Scotland and Wales. Extensive data already exists into pupil-on-pupil violence and aggression towards teachers and senior managers. 

 

University of Roehampton criminologist Dr Amanda Holt led the qualitative research that involved in-depth interviews with 16 teaching and classroom assistants. 

 

All described being the target of student aggression in a range of ways, including being hit in the face, punched, kicked and bitten. Researchers found that in several cases staff reported receiving death threats from pupils.  

 

Physical injuries included cuts, a black eye, a dislocated thumb, a broken finger and ripped ligaments. Staff also reported a range of psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression. Two workers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

The report also noted that the response of schools to attacks was sometimes inadequate. Teaching assistants felt the message from their employers was that it was their job to manage pupil violence. This, combined with their low status, normalised violence against them.

 

The report includes guidance on the steps schools should take to better protect teaching assistants in future. UNISON helped recruit the support staff who took part in the research and is rolling out the new advice on dealing with violent behaviour. 

 

Lead University of Roehampton academic, Dr Amanda Holt said: “For the first time there’s an understanding of the ferocity of attacks on teaching assistants and their devastating physical and mental toll. 

 

“This knowledge will help schools better understand and improve their response to violent behaviour by pupils. Setting out the steps every school should take to protect staff and support them in the aftermath of an attack is an important first step. 

 

“The shocking experiences described by staff who took part in the research reflect a much wider problem highlighted in an earlier survey by UNISON. This found that 53% of teaching assistants had experienced physical violence from students in the previous year*. 

 

“This raises big questions about the expectation of schools, and in some cases insistence, that teaching assistants should be the first line of defence against pupils who display violent or aggressive behaviour.

 

“With the profession dominated by women, forcing them to become classroom enforcers could do long-term harm. This, combined with the role’s lack of professional status, risks creating an environment where violence becomes normal, particularly towards women. As pupils become adults this worrying development could have serious ramifications for society.” 

 

UNISON head of education Mike Short said: “Teaching assistants are the backbone of every school, but their wholly unjustified, low professional status is stopping some schools from seeing their true value and vulnerability. 

 

“Schools seem to have forgotten that without teaching assistants risking their health, and that of their families, during the pandemic, schools would have been closed to vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers. 

 

“Improving the reporting process around attacks, providing staff with medical and psychological support and ensuring they don’t have to continue working with the young person who’s just assaulted them must be adopted as a matter of urgency. This would also be helpful to pupils given the stress and disruption to learning that violent behaviour can cause. 

 

“Low pay and high stress are already fuelling an exodus of teaching assistants. Expecting them to put up with attacks and assaults will force more out of the door, and that’s bad for pupils and schools alike.”  

 

New research shows that 3 in 10 children see footballers as role models as Marcus Rashford Book Club engages 25,000 children to inspire a love of reading

 

New research from the National Literacy Trust finds that 3 in 10 (29.8%) children and young people see footballers as role models, rising to almost 1 in 2 (45.8%) of boys, with over a third (35.5%) of children saying that seeing a role model read would make them want to read more. With almost a quarter of children saying they have no one that inspires them to read and with children’s reading enjoyment at an all-time low, the Marcus Rashford Book Club project is more important than ever.

“Marcus Rashford is a true inspiration for children. He and other footballers are crucial to reaching children and young people who aren’t engaging with the more familiar reading role models of teachers and parents,” says National Literacy Trust’s Chief Executive Jonathan Douglas. “It’s alarming to see that a quarter of children say they don’t have anyone who inspires them to read and act as a reading role model. That’s why it’s so brilliant that Marcus Rashford, a role model for so many children, is championing the joys of reading and that the Book Club continues the National Literacy Trust’s work in finding the places and spaces that children love to be in – on the football pitch! – and bringing reading to them.”

The Marcus Rashford Book Club, a partnership between the National Literacy Trust, Macmillan Children’s Books, and KPMG, picks accessible books that appeal to a wide range of young readers and has so far gifted more than 200,000 copies to encourage reading for enjoyment. Reading for enjoyment is associated with higher literacy levels as children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read above the expected level for their age group, which in turn is linked to not just success at school, but better job opportunities, higher earnings, and better physical and mental health throughout their adult lives.

The best-selling The 13-Storey Treehouse, written by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton, has been chosen by the Marcus Rashford Book Club for this October and 25,000 copies will be gifted to children in schools with the lowest levels of literacy and the highest rates of poverty, alongside classroom activities specially designed to encourage a culture of reading in the classroom.

Andy Griffiths comments: “I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by books with reading being modelled by my parents as a very natural and pleasurable way to spend time. I’m aware however, that not all children have such easy access to books which is why I’m so happy for The 13-Storey Treehouse to be included in the Marcus Rashford Book Club. I’m passionate about the power of reading to change lives and the more books that young readers can get their hands on, the more lives can be changed!”

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, MD Macmillan Children’s Books says: “Marcus Rashford speaks to children and young people in such a powerful way and it is clear that they listen to him. Marcus gives his readers permission to focus on their dreams; he is both aspirational and inspirational. The Marcus Rashford Book Club has reached hundreds of thousands of children since its launch in 2021 and, through our partnership with the National Literacy Trust and KPMG, we are now able to donate more books to those who need them the most. We are delighted to embark on this new stage in the campaign together this autumn.”  

The 13-Storey Treehouse is the first in the multi-award-winning Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton that has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Full of slapstick humour and a laugh-out-loud combination of text and cartoon-style illustrations, this book has been picked for the Marcus Rashford Book Club for its easy-to-read style and accessibility, and its side-splitting humour that will engage even the most reluctant of readers.

Rachel Hopcroft CBE, Partner and Head of Corporate Affairs at KPMG in the UK, said:

“Alongside numeracy and lifelong learning, literacy is one of the major building blocks of social mobility, and yet 1 in 8 children don’t have a single book at home. As a firm, KPMG UK is committed to improving social mobility, working with our local communities and partners to raise skills and aspirations. We’re thrilled to be working alongside Marcus Rashford, Pan Macmillan and the National Literacy Trust, helping more children experience the joy of reading while also building a fairer and more equal society for all.”

For more information about the Marcus Rashford Book Club, please visit literacytrust.org.uk/ marcus-rashford-book-club/

To read Role models and their influence on children and young people’s reading, please visit https://literacytrust.org.uk/research-services/research-reports/role-models-and-their-influence-on-children-and-young-peoples-reading or see attached.  

SPORT ENGLAND PROGRAMME FINDINGS REVEAL HOW TO CREATE AN INCLUSIVE PE ENVIRONMENT FOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS

 

Sport England, in association with Sheffield Hallam University, Youth Sport Trust, Activity Alliance and Association for Physical Education, has shared key insights taken from its Secondary Teacher Training (STT) programme. The research explores how secondary schools can adopt inclusive practices and incorporate student voice to provide a better PE, school sport and physical activity (PESSPA) environment for students.  

Inclusivity, increased participation and student voice were the dominating topics brought to life through pupil-focused research. It found that giving young people, especially those who are less active, the chance to shape their PE lessons created a happier environment. How getting to know and understand students’ motivations and barriers can help encourage enjoyment and engagement, and that the least active students don’t recognise opportunities to be active at school, as easily as their active peers.  

To showcase the findings, Sport England has created five infographics detailing key outputs from the STT programme to be shared far and wide across the teaching community. Teachers can find tips which answer questions about why PE matters and why PE makes a happy school, as well as insight on how to make PE great and accessible for all students.  

In addition, Sport England has also developed 10 short films which feature case studies of teachers and students positively impacted by the programme. The films highlight the easy-to-adopt ways secondary school teachers have implemented new approaches having completed the STT programme. The films focus on themes such as why an inclusive approach is key to increasing participation, why a changing approach to PE makes students think differently, and easy ways to incorporate student voice. 

The research also talks about the importance of activity in schools, with a view to the benefits it has on the mental health of young people. According to Sport England: 

  • More active students report an average happiness score of seven out of 10 (compared to just five out of 10 for less active students).  
  • Almost three-quarters of students (69 per cent) agreed that being active helps them build resilience.  
  • More than half (62 per cent) agreed that it helps them make healthier life choices.  
  • More than half (59 per cent) said it improves their mental wellbeing. 
  • Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) said it improves their mood. 
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The STT programme was created in 2018 to support secondary schools with access to professional development opportunities that support teachers in placing pupils’ enjoyment at the heart of PESSPA participation. The research was conducted throughout the £13.5 million Lottery Funded programme that impacted more than 2,500 secondary schools across England.  

To view the full suite of infographics and videos that can help secondary teachers to make PESSPA a more inclusive and enjoyable experience with top tips for their students, head to https://bit.ly/3fUZEeO 

Study shows surprise improvement in wellbeing for thousands of special needs pupils, bucking overall trend of deteriorating mental health

New figures published today reveal that while young people’s wellbeing has deteriorated alarmingly since the pandemic, it has unexpectedly improved significantly for thousands of students with special needs.

 

A study of almost 11,000 students in 52 mainstream state secondary schools across the UK has found that despite the pandemic adversely affecting the vast majority of young people, far fewer pupils with special needs can be classed as “at social and emotional risk” now, compared with before the pandemic.

 

This bucks the trend for young people overall, tens of thousands of whom have experienced a serious decline in their wellbeing since the end of lockdown.

 

The study, by young people’s mental health experts STEER Education, found that before the pandemic, an estimated one in five students with special needs could be classed as “at social and emotional risk”.

 

Between the end of the pandemic and this July, this fell to just under one in six. This means that across the country, the equivalent of more than 8,000 students are no longer “at social and emotional risk”. The study counted students with special needs as those with an Education and Health Care Plan – a guarantee of statutory support.

 

In sharp contrast, the findings show that the wellbeing of young people without special needs has dramatically deteriorated in the same period, something the study suggests is the result of the detrimental impact of prolonged school closures.

 

Before the pandemic, one in six students without special needs could be deemed to be “at social and emotional risk”. As recently as July this year, this rose to almost one in four – 24% – the equivalent of nearly 400,000 more students.

 

The study shows that during lockdown many thousands of special needs pupils honed skills that make them more able to cope with the emotional ups and downs of life. Many gained confidence in adapting to change, grew more resilient and developed a healthier approach to trusting others, the study found. 

 

The study’s authors say that while many of these young people may have found the pandemic challenging, the social-emotional skills they have gained will lead to marked improvement in the wellbeing of special needs pupils. They argue that this is largely the result of the specific approach taken by schools to support these pupils.

 

It is well known that many special needs pupils find busy classrooms detrimental to their wellbeing. While the overall experience of lockdown was extremely difficult for all students, many of those with special needs found it easier to both be in school with fewer students and to at least partly study at home. 

 

They also appeared to greatly benefit from increased teacher-pupil ratios, access to devices for online learning and regular calls from school staff to make sure they were coping as well as possible. The combination of these factors – and others – are likely to have had a strikingly positive effect on their wellbeing, the study’s authors say.

 

Before the pandemic, one in seven young people with special needs had significant difficulty trusting other people, according to the study. Over the last few months, this has fallen to just one in nine. These young people are also now better able to adapt to changing circumstances in their lives. Before the pandemic, one in seven young people with special needs struggled to adapt to change, but over the last few months, this has also fallen to one in nine. 

 

Worryingly, the opposite is the case for students without special needs.

 

Before the pandemic, about one in eight young people without special needs had difficulty trusting other people, according to the study. Over the last few months, this has risen to one in five. The same goes for those able to adapt to changing circumstances in their lives. Before the pandemic, one in ten young people without special needs struggled to adapt to change, according to the study. Over the last few months, this has risen to one in six. This means they may seek help less frequently and be more prone to perfectionism and anxiety.

 

The study analysed the responses of 10,942 secondary school students to 48,890 assessments of their wellbeing. The assessments took place before the pandemic, during it and over this summer. The results from all three periods were compared. Rather than measure a pupil’s own perception of their wellbeing, the assessments measure underlying patterns in a young person’s wellbeing by analysing their ability to adjust to different social-emotional situations and interactions.

 

Students described as those with special needs – 6% of the study’s overall sample – are those with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs). EHCPs give a young person a statutory right to support for their special needs or disabilities. The latest government figures show that at least 4% of students in primary and secondary schools in England have an EHCP so the schools sampled in this study may have a marginally higher proportion of students with special needs. 

 

Simon Antwis, a former headteacher and school inspector who is STEER Education’s Senior Business Development Consultant, said:

 

“These findings give us unexpectedly good news – the wellbeing of students with special needs is improving. Huge credit should go to all school staff who work with these students.

 

“However, the study also shows that while schools have done their very best, overall the wellbeing of many students continues to decline. Schools need to make sure they are aware of as many students as possible who need support. 

 

“Too many use student voice tools, such as online surveys and chat hubs, which only detect a proportion of those students who need support. These tools fail to support the ‘hidden middle’ – those who may be showing early signs of self-harm, bullying, anxiety and unhealthy self-control.”

 

Tania Mayes, who is responsible for special needs at a secondary school in Devon, said: 

 

“This study reveals what is happening in many secondary schools up and down the country. 

 

“In the aftermath of the pandemic, schools have understood much more about the individual requirements of their students with special needs and their relationship with them – and their families – is closer. 

 

“However, if we are to continue to see a sustained improvement in the wellbeing of these students, schools will need to have smaller waiting lists for external providers and additional funding.”

 

 

About STEER Education

 

STEER Education offers a unique online assessment tool to schools which alerts them to students who may have emerging mental health risks, but are not showing visible signs of vulnerability. 

 

Our sophisticated online assessment measures and tracks early signs that students may have unhealthy thoughts about themselves and others. It also helps identify students who may be hiding safeguarding concerns, whether in school, outside it or both. Schools assess students twice or three times a year.

 

We give schools guidance, tailored to each student, so that they can act early and, where possible, prevent problems escalating. Since 2016, we have tracked and supported at least 150,000 students in over 250 primary and secondary schools across the state and independent sector. These include leading MATs, specialist schools and elite sports academies. Our team is made up of teachers and mental health experts who understand the challenges and rewards of working with students from a wide range of backgrounds and schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could speech and language issues be behind a child’s challenging behaviour?

Communication needs can be a root cause of behavioural incidences in school.

 

It’s Monday morning and you’ve asked your pupils to get their English books out then sit down ready to start a lesson on writing poems, but there are a small group of children who are still in the cloakroom chatting about what they did at the weekend.

 

Despite repeating the instructions several times, nothing seems to be prompting the pupils to stop what they are doing and prepare for the lesson. You ask your TA to go over and quietly emphasise the request, but one of the children starts knocking chairs over.

 

Is the child simply misbehaving, or could it be that they have not had enough time to process or understand what they have been asked to do? 

 

A recent study from the Education Endowment Foundation suggests that 76% of children starting school in 2020 required more support in their communication than in previous years. Lockdowns, it tells us, widened the gap in vocabulary acquisition, which could make it more difficult for a child to decipher spoken and written language.

 

Behaviour that might at first look like disinterest or refusal to engage, could in fact indicate the need for additional measures to be put in place to support communication. One way to do this quickly and simply is with visual aids.

 

Making vocabulary visual

 

Verbal instructions are likely to disappear instantly into the ether for a child who lacks key vocabulary.

 

Visual aids can support children to better understand the structure of a lesson, as well as grasp expectations. They can also provide reassurance for those pupils who may struggle to navigate a new topic or routine.

 

The best way to utilise visual aids is to use symbols to represent spoken language. This helps learners focus on the information they need to follow instructions. A symbol of an ear, for example, helps to explain quickly and clearly to children that they are being asked to listen. The instruction can still be given verbally, the symbol will simply reinforce it in a very visual way for children with limited vocabulary.

 

Here are two effective ways to use symbols to boost pupil engagement and encourage positive behaviour in school.

 

Providing the reassurance of a visual timetables

 

Visual timetables are important tools for making routines and expectations clear. For many children, having a predictable visual routine for the school day can ease anxiety and reduce the chances of disruptive behaviour during transitions.

 

A lesson timetable that includes symbols for each subject gives children with limited vocabulary a quick and easy way to see what activities and learning breaks are coming up next, helping them to be more self-sufficient in school. Visual timetables also support the development of skills such as sequencing and time awareness.

 

By making timetables more visual, schools can lessen the frustration, anxiety and confusion some children experience when they are unsure of what they are supposed to be doing and when. Symbolic timetables also eliminate the pressure on children to interpret written text quickly, so they are more likely to be able to stay focussed and learn effectively.

 

Helping children to express emotions

 

A child who feels overwhelmed or angry will struggle to access the high level thinking they need to process new information. Being able to easily explain feelings like these to a relevant adult can make the difference between potential classroom disruption and an engaged pupil.

 

Having a visual chart that represents a range of emotions can be of huge help to children who find it difficult to verbalise how they are feeling. An emotion chart can be easily accessible to a child at all times, allowing them to point to a specific feeling to give context to their behaviour and enable a teacher to help.

 

Visual charts can also promote self-help techniques to help children manage their emotions independently, by counting to ten, deep breathing, or finding an agreed safe space in which to calm down.  

 

 

Foundations for learning success

 

Visual symbols are a helpful tool to support all children, not just those identified as needing extra communication support. Including them in your behaviour management toolkit will help to create the happy classroom your pupils need to learn and succeed.

 

Sue White is a former teacher, SENDCo, local government advisor on education and co-author of Walking the talk: A vocabulary recovery plan for primary schools. In her role as senior educational specialist at Widgit, she advises schools on using symbols to improve learning outcomes.

 

Twitter: @Widgit_Software

New free digital resources and training improve how teachers use geospatial technology in lessons

Esri UK announces new ‘Teach with GIS’ resources

 

27 September 2022 – Esri UK today announced a major refresh of its flagship teaching resources and support for teachers, Teach with GIS, to help them improve how they teach with GIS software (Geographic Information Systems) across major curriculum areas.

 

Consisting of lesson plans, teaching tools such as videos, interactive maps, mobile apps and dashboards, events and training, the updated website aims to be the ‘go to’ GIS destination for those teaching ages 7 to 18. Esri’s GIS software is powerful digital mapping technology, currently used by over 3,500 schools across the UK, helping students learn about geography and gain new geospatial skills.

 

“GIS has been on the National Curriculum for over a decade, making lessons more interactive and investigative, helping students to understand things more quickly but many teachers we talk to still struggle to use it,” explained Katie Hall, Schools Manager at Esri UK. “The latest version of Teach with GIS is designed to help fix this.”

New additions to the site include a video showing teachers how easy it is to begin using GIS in the classroom, a live streaming section for upcoming live lectures and the ability to book slots in Esri UK’s free training courses for teachers. A monthly event series ‘15-Minute Forums’ has also been added, providing regular updates on how to enrich key curriculum areas with GIS, from tracking hurricanes, wildfires, and volcanic eruptions from space, to using real Met Office data to understand climate change.

 

“This is the first major refresh of Teach with GIS since it was first launched two years ago, designed to support teachers so they can integrate GIS into different lesson plans more easily and enrich their teaching,” continued Hall. “The introduction of live lectures and a new training booking system will make it even easier for teachers to use GIS and bring geography alive for students.”

 

“Any teacher hoping to start or develop their use of GIS will find plenty of excellent expert advice and ready-made resources on the refreshed ‘Teach with GIS’ website. One of the many great aspects of ArcGIS Online is its capacity to visualise change over time, so that we can ‘see geography happen’ – showing coastal erosion, for example,” commented Brendan Conway, geography teacher at Notre Dame Senior School. “Career opportunities using geospatial knowledge and skills are increasing rapidly. The new website acknowledges this very effectively, with a range of judiciously placed profiles of people who use GIS in their work, demonstra​ting real world applications of geographical learning.”

 

Teachers can also sign-up to Esri UK’s free Education programme on the site, which provides free access to its ArcGIS software, teaching resources and training for all UK schools.

Resource highlights include:

  • A live hurricane tracker app which allows students to track hurricanes in real time and see their predicted impacts on people, using data from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) 
  • 40 years of historic satellite imagery allowing students to go back in time and see the explosive growth of megacities, the impacts of deforestation on Earth’s rainforests, and important changes to their local area 
  • An interactive digital atlas, allowing teachers to switch between 2D maps and 3D models of landforms, to explore geographic processes and landscape histories, with the option to take 3D maps into virtual reality headsets with just a few clicks 

 

Esri UK is holding a free webinar for teachers on Tuesday 11th October 2022, at 4:00-5:00pm, to discuss how best to apply the refreshed resources in lessons. For more information and registration please visit the event website here.

 

Recyclabots: Encouraging the next generation to play their role in a more sustainable future

Are you a parent, teacher or community leader passionate about nurturing the next generation of recyclers and protecting the environment long term?

EMR has released the brand new Recyclabots e-learning platform, designed to educate children in Key Stage 2 (7 to 11-years-olds) about the different properties of metals, how they are recycled and how responsibly disposing of metals and electronics can contribute to a cleaner, greener future.

“As a global leader in sustainable materials, EMR takes its role in promoting the sustainable recycling of metals both at home, at school and in thousands of businesses around the globe, extremely seriously,” says Ian Sheppard, Managing Director at EMR. “Recyclabots is a fun, educational way to ensure this work continues in the decades ahead, empowering young people with the knowledge and skills they need to be the recyclers of tomorrow.”

Recyclabots is a partnership between EMR and electrical retailer Currys. Launched in 2019, EMR and Currys have now relaunched the programme as a popular e-learning platform that can be delivered at home.

A cast of animated robots from the planet Metallum represent the main recycled metals. Characters include: Sycle (Aluminium), Electro (Copper), Magnus (Iron), Oretis (Nickel) and Poly (Plastic).

In addition to providing some key facts about the most widely used metals, the Recyclabots characters emphasise that most metals can be recycled many times over, further underlining the sustainability benefits of metal recycling.

The e-learning platform has been developed by animators that have worked for the likes of Disney and has been tried and tested by teachers. It can be used in schools as well as in Scout groups, Guides, Brownies and at home.

The updated Recyclabots resources include lesson plans, worksheets and stickers as well as an interactive video which includes a wealth of facts about recycling and protecting the environment. These include:

  • In the United Kingdom, a car is recycled every twelve seconds.
  • Every year, 155,000 tonnes of electrical equipment is thrown into the bin – even though it can be recycled. This is roughly the same weight as 95,000 cars or 25,000 African elephants.

“While most people know that paper, glass and many plastics can be recycled, they are a lot less certain about how metals and electronic products can be sustainably recycled,” says Ian. “Recyclabots is about giving young people that knowledge early so that they can help encourage parents and schools to be better recyclers and – even more importantly – to be ready for the sustainable, circular economy that the UK must quickly transition to.”

For those interested in delivering the Recyclabots programme in their school, youth group or at home, EMR has launched a dedicated webpage which provides information about downloading the interactive video and how to access the accompanying learning resources.

“EMR has a goal of becoming a fully net zero business by 2040 but that mission doesn’t stop at the gates of our state-of-the-art facilities. To really play our part in increasing recycling rates and decarbonising our industry we must work closely with the communities in which we operate,” says Ian. “Recyclabots is just the latest chapter in this journey and I’m excited to track the impact it will have.”

A message from Louisa Hunter -Bett Director

 

I am excited to announce the most significant change to Bett in our 37-year history. Starting with Bett 2023, we are transforming the way you and everyone in the Bett community connects and collaborates by launching a groundbreaking new programme called Connect @ Bett.

Connect @ Bett is a tech-enabled meetings programme that will drive more meaningful conversations between education buyers and EdTech solution providers than ever before. This new programme will be at heart of your entire Bett experience. You’re going to love it.

Connect @ Bett empowers education buyers to discover the right solutions for their learners, in a fraction of the time. And it allows technology providers to find the people within institutions that can unlock the potential of their tech. All meetings are double opt-in and just 15 minutes, so you can tackle your strategic, pedagogical, and operational challenges in the most time-efficient way.

Here are some important updates and changes to the show:

  1. Bett will be held on Wednesday 29 to Friday 31 March 2023 at the ExCeL, London
  2. Bett registration will open on Monday 3 October 2022
  3. Unlike previous Bett shows, there is now a deadline to register that ensures you get to fully participate in Connect @ Bett. Anyone can attend Bett for free if they register on-time. On-time registration ends on 3rd March 2023. Late registration tickets (4th March 2023 onwards) will incur a fee.

Find out more about Connect @ Bett

OrCam Technologies launches learning companion solution

 

OrCam Learn empowers students with learning challenges to read and learn with confidence

 

22-09-22: OrCam Technologies, innovator of life-changing, personal “AI as a companion” solutions, has today launched the OrCam Learn, an innovative, powerful new solution that supports teachers and schools, enabling every student to explore their full potential – by offering vital, practical reading support, and feedback, analysis and reporting.

 

An evolution of the 2021 TIME Magazine 100 Best Inventions Winner OrCam Read, the interactive OrCam Learn empowers students with learning challenges – including dyslexia – to effectively read and learn, resulting in enhanced comprehension, reading fluency, and improvement of overall confidence in an education setting.

 

The OrCam Learn is a wireless, compact handheld solution with an intuitive point-and-click operation that “captures” and immediately reads out loud a full page, paragraph, or single word of text – of the student’s choosing – from books, digital screens, or classroom handouts The learning companion will listen to and provide feedback on the student’s reading, and test reading comprehension.

 

“Reading is crucial to access the school curriculum and we know that children who find reading difficult will struggle across all subjects. In fact, students with dyslexia or another specific learning difficulty (SpLD) are twice as likely to fail to achieve a grade 4 or above in English and maths at GCSE”, said Irie Meltzer, UK regional director at OrCam Technologies.

“The OrCam Learn solution has been designed to help teachers to support their students as they read and study. Integrated into day-to-day school life, it empowers students with learning challenges to develop and maintain reading and learning skills, gain confidence, and thrive – both inside and outside of the classroom. We are driven to level the educational playing field for a wide spectrum of students who can benefit from OrCam Learn.”

 

Moon Hall School in Reigate is one of 50 schools in the UK currently collaborating with OrCam Technologies in offering the OrCam Learn for use to their students with learning challenges.

 

“The OrCam Learn solution enables our students to be as independent as possible with their learning experience, and as headteacher I absolutely recommend it,” said Michelle Catterson, Executive Headteacher at Moon Hall School and Chair of the British Dyslexia Association.

 

Makes reading and learning flow for every student

 

Researchers have observed the benefits of reading out loud to improve reading comprehension and literacy. OrCam Learn’s innovative “Reading Pal” feature harnesses interactive AI to support students in improving reading fluency by allowing them to read any text to the OrCam Learn, and then receiving immediate, conversational, and encouraging feedback about their reading.

 

OrCam Learn listens to the student’s reading, provides positive feedback to elevate confidence and positive feelings about reading, and then generates reports through a web and mobile app that provides teachers and support staff with a comprehensive analysis of the student’s progress.

Enables teachers to focus on teaching

 

“Every teacher’s priority is the development of their students, and those with learning challenges typically require more time and attention to succeed. We developed the OrCam Learn to partner with teachers, providing access to the insight and support they need to guide students with learning challenges more effectively. Allowing schools to direct resources where they are needed the most, and enabling students to work independently which can free up teaching assistants and alleviate logistical pressures like finding extra classrooms or scheduling separate times for exams”, said Irie Meltzer.

 

Every OrCam Learn reading session generates an automatic analytics report identifying areas of challenge. Listening to the student’s reading, it captures a variety of metrics that help evaluate their performance, including those that are commonly used by reading specialists:

  • Text difficulty level
  • Fluency (measured by Words Correct Per Minute)
  • Accuracy (% of accurately read words)
  • Reading rate (Words Per Minute)
  • Total reading time

 

OrCam Learn also has an ‘Exam Mode’ that teachers can select by scanning a QR code before the student enters an examination. This offline setting ensures there is no possibility of any WiFi or cloud connectivity and that the solution complies with general school exam requirements. It also guarantees that students can complete examinations without the need for a human reader.

 

In June 2022, OrCam Learn was awarded the 2022 EdTech Breakthrough Award for Remote Learning Solution of the Year, joining winning submissions in other categories from companies including Discovery Education, LEGO Education, Logitech, Spotify and Verizon.

Poor School Communications Have Left Parents Frustrated With The Lack Of Contact

New study from Sangoma outlines 1 in 5 parents are confused and frustrated with lack of updates from their child’s school

Poor communications between schools and parents have left 1 in 5 parents frustrated with the lack of contact and updates on their child’s progress and education, research from Sangoma has identified.

In its latest research Sangoma, a unified communications specialist, found that a fifth (20%) of parents felt out of the loop about their children’s school events due to a lack of contact with the school.

Additionally, when attempting to contact their schools, more than half (56%) of parents agreed they experienced long wait times to have their calls answered, with a further 40% of parents saying their calls went unanswered.

And despite many schools having answering machines for parents to leave messages if calls went unanswered, 46% of parents stated that they do not have calls returned when they have left a message, or were often unable to speak to the person they left a message for (47%).

Parents of children attending primary school, secondary school, and colleges were interviewed for the research survey. The research report highlighted the drastic need for schools to place an increased emphasis on improving their communication with parents to ensure parents feel confident they are completely up to date with their child’s progress and education.

Simon Horton, VP of International Sales at Sangoma, says: “It is clear that schools are not keeping parents up to date with the latest updates concerning their child as a result of poor communications. Schools must begin to look at new technologies to help solve this issue.

“It is vital that parents are constantly in contact with their child’s school and receive updates on their activities and wellbeing, and are aware of the latest updates and events that may impact their child. This disconnection between schools and parents is leaving many parents feeling, understandably, frustrated and confused. And this raises concerns about how effective schools’ communications are when emergencies arise.

“With effective call management, call diversion, and messaging systems, schools can ensure parents are confident that when their contact their child’s school their call will be answered or returned.”