Schools UK wide are struggling with the same issues -children entering school with low levels of language and lacking social and emotional skills. Why is this? It’s all about the quality of the interactions happening for children in their early years. This is currently a hot topic and a focus area for the DfE.
When I ask my Sixth Form students what they want to study at university or what they want to be later in life, I am often in for a surprise. Their answers often include degrees or professions that I had not heard of and could not have imagined even ten years ago. At this point I would like to make it clear that I am not old (obviously!), but that the world has been and is changing at a breakneck pace and it is hard to keep up with it.
The DfE listed ten challenge areas in its EdTech Strategy, one of which was formative assessment. It’s so important, in fact, that they’re offering funding to EdTech companies who can offer innovative ideas to transform formative assessment - we’re fortunate enough to already work alongside several companies who are making a real impact in the world of assessment, and this week we’re celebrating their amazing work.
Designed by teachers for teachers, Mappix makes assessment simple. Teachers can access Mappix from anywhere on multiple devices, and see real time data on pupils’ performance in digestible, user friendly formats. This teacher team have thought of everything, from automatic reporting to gap detection - and if you think of something else Mappix could do, simply tell them!
Read more: Mappix full profile on Edtech Impact
Customer rating: 5/5 (2 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
SATs Companion’s unique bank of over 28,000 questions and 40 different question styles will save you time with instant marking and feedback - and 88% of teachers we surveyed agree. From Geometry to Fractions and Determiners to Reading Comprehension, questions are styled just like the real tests, and pupils’ progress is tracked in real time.
Read more: SATs Companion full profile on Edtech Impact
Customer rating: 4.5/5 (25 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
The award winning Pobble allows you to deliver lessons and share with other teachers. Track results and plan assessments based on the evidence at your fingertips, and improve teaching efficiency.
Read more: Pobble full profile on Edtech Impact
Turnitin’s integrated Feedback Studio saves you time by allowing you to easily check for plagiarism, give feedback, and see students’ progress at scale - all in one platform. Their predefined or custom marking rubrics ensure you give consistent grades and connect criteria to feedback.
Prepare pupils for exams with realistic exam questions, which can be self-assessed and marked against detailed marking schemes. All of their work is stored and easily accessible on the Get My Grades platform, which will give both you and the pupils an idea of expected final grades.
Read more: Get My Grades full profile on Edtech Impact
Customer rating: 4.5/5 (11 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
Learning Ladders have made spreadsheets and data drops a thing of the past! Giving you an assessment framework that aligns with your curriculum and a series of “I can” statements, assessing progress is made simple. What’s more, 100% of teachers we surveyed agree that Learning Ladders improves attainment.
Customer rating: 4.5/5 (4 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
Transform the way your school collects, interprets and acts on assessment data with askEddi. askEddi’s assessment system reduces admin by pinpointing gaps, providing instant results, and letting you see the whole school’s assessment performance.
Read more: askEddi full profile on Edtech Impact
Well, here we are again! The summer holidays are over, batteries have been recharged and, in my case, a new hip is in place. I love September, embarking on another exciting and, inevitably, action packed school year, and I’m looking forward to so many things.
It really goes without saying that the best part about returning to school is seeing the children again: their smiles and excitement, and that zest for learning. Then there’s the cohorts of 2, 3 and 4 year-olds brand new to our schools. These children are often nervous about coming to school for the first time but, with such skilled and caring staff, it doesn’t take long for them to shrug off their shyness, and, instead of hiding behind their parents, begin running across the playground to get into school. Already, after 1 week, our new children are settled and happy. In fact, at this time of year it is usually the parents of the children starting school for the first time who find it the most difficult. There are certain tools we use at both Copthorne and Holybrook that help make the transition easier for parents. Online assessment and reporting tools are so valuable in keeping parents involved in their child’s learning and celebrating the experiences they are having each day – as well as reassuring them that all is well. We use cloud based systems such as Early Essence and Tapestry, which allow us to share those ‘magic moments’ with parents by sending them regular photographs and updates about their child’s developmental steps.
As a school leader, parental engagement continues to be a real priority this year as - if we can secure this – we know that our teaching and children’s learning will be further enhanced whilst our children will feel supported, and what is happening at school will become part and parcel of daily conversations at home. At the end of last year at both schools, we launched the use of an APP-based parental engagement package: Marvellous Me, which I am so looking forward to seeing being fully implemented and embedded in our practice. To date, this is proving invaluable in providing a means of touching base with parents in an instant, sharing pupils’ learning, and, most importantly, sending positive messages and praise to parents about their children. This means that parents are collecting their children from school with smiles on their faces after having being sent a variety of ‘praise’ badges for their child and, often, a ‘super-parent’ badge for themselves. Children’s after-school experience now starts positively and the links between school and home are being effectively strengthened, with children seeing teachers and parents as partners in their education. Use of such systems has already reduced workload: sending praise is instant and no time is spent rooting in drawers, looking for stickers or praise postcards; newsletters can be very easily uploaded via the APP for parents – this is helping the environment and our budget, too – we are going to be using much less paper and our busy admin team are delighted about the reduction in photocopying.
It’s also always wonderful to see our staff team returning to school refreshed and so enthused about the year ahead.
Like most school leaders though, I continue to be most concerned about 3 areas: teacher workload; financial constraints; and ensuring that our curriculum is effectively planned and delivered whilst being meaningful and enjoyable for every learner.
I am, therefore, constantly seeking out new ways of addressing these two important areas. We have already embraced cloud based planning tools to reduce the amount of planning and enable teachers to share their planning across the school. This year we will be continuing to seek out cost effective and innovative solutions to support teachers with their workload whilst ensuring that the curriculum is inspiring, learning is effectively sequenced and the highest quality education is secured for our pupils. We’re particularly interested in new technologies which provide easy and quick access to high quality and inspiring resources such as video clips, sound bites and photographs, linked to specific subject areas and specific Key Stages in order to drastically cut down on the internet trawling which so many teachers seem to spend much of their lives doing in their quest for engaging resources.
The new Ed tech we have already purchased ready for this year is giving us a lot to feel positive about as teachers: our new class sets of Chrome Books and mini IPads are available for staff to use to enhance teaching and to support the children with the new ‘knowledge harvests’ which will take place at the end of each curriculum theme. Children will retrieve, organise and present their learning in innovative ways such as through the use of digital technology e.g. Using the IPads to create digital books; creating short films or vlogs using our green screen. This allows learning to be shared with a range of audiences whilst encouraging children to use and apply their computing and digital technology skills.
However, we know we need to continue our journey of improvement by seeking out innovative Ed Tech solutions to inspire and engage our pupils in relation to the STEAM subjects. This is an area upon which we really need to focus in preparing our children for the future and showing them what’s possible in the world of careers.
So, as usual, a busy year ahead but with wonderful learning opportunities to look forward to for our children and staff.
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Over the summer we have had a swathe of exciting EdTech startups and stalwarts join us in our mission to create a more transparent marketplace for EdTech that is driven by impact and customer feedback. We also saw a good number of EdTech companies add to their evidence base, proving their commitment to putting impact at the heart of their products. Here are a few we have handpicked for the first EdTech Guide of 2019/20.
Customer rating: 5/5 (6 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
Purple Mash is a creative and inspiring tool for children aged 3 to 11. It includes a collection of essential child friendly ergonomically designed tools, games, activities and 1000s of digital resources for children and teachers across core subjects and curriculum areas. Purple Mash contains free home access for all pupils and works across a range of different devices, from tablets to interactive whiteboards. Purple Mash is known and loved by so many primary schools. But why do they love it so? What outcomes can you expect from implementing Purple Mash? Well, since being onboarded to EdTech Impact, Purple Mash have already started to add to their evidence base allowing you to answer these questions with confidence, and we are told we can expect much more in coming weeks. Exciting!
Read more: Purple Mash full profile on Edtech Impact
Customer rating: 5/5 (3 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
We’re thrilled to welcome education stalwart Britannica to EdTech Impact. Britannica School is a citable, online learning resource trusted by teachers and pupils. The information in Britannica School is aligned to the national curriculum, updated daily and spans a range of media, including video, images and audio content. Curated and checked by professional editors, it is the must-have learning and teaching digital resource. With the ability to browse by subject, look for biographies, explore the World Atlas, compare statistical information between different countries and discover interactive resources, Britannica School makes digital learning more accessible than ever.
Do we have your attention? Because Tali Train, all the way from Australia, are officially announcing their arrival in this week’s Guide. It’s a must read! Created by Australian scientists, and backed by the Australian Government, Tali Train is a clinically validated digital game-based cognitive training that targets attention specifically, and was designed to help the millions of children that are disadvantaged by diagnosed attention difficulties, as well as those that may benefit from improved cognitive attention skills. Based on over 25 years of research, the Tali Train program has been shown to significantly improve attention and numeracy skills 3 months after completing a 25-session program delivered on an iPad or Android tablet interface. Tali Train exercises core aspects of attention during a period of peak neuroplasticity in early childhood, laying the foundation that allows a child a better opportunity to learn and grow.
Read more: Tali Train full profile on Edtech Impact
Customer rating: 5/5 (1 review) | Edtech Impact scores:
Still with the T’s, we’re so happy that award winning Tales Toolkit have joined our mission to transform EdTech procurement for schools. Tales Toolkit provides interactive, child led resources aimed at early years, all using easy to remember symbols representing story structure. Tales Toolkit's innovative resources give children independence to create and write stories around interests using anything to hand! Resources are provided with online training and support to ensure maximum impact is made across many areas of learning. Tales Toolkit is proven to impact language, literacy, creativity, social skills, problem solving and close the gender gap in Literacy, all with little or no planning involved for the teacher!
Read more: Tales Toolkit full profile on Edtech Impact
And to finish, a special shout out to the busy bee evidence gatherers. We admire your commitment to independently verified school review collation over the summer period. Doodle Maths, SchooliP, Neuron Learning and mySchoolApp, we salute you!
I am a Head of Modern Languages, leading a large department. I use technology in my everyday teaching and I am an MIEExpert. That said, I do not claim to be some kind of guru who knows all the answers on how we can thoroughly prepare our students in 21st Century Learning Skills. And I’m not about to overload you with research. What follows is an opinion piece backed up only with evidence from my own experience.
Nordic companies have exploded onto the global EdTech scene in recent years. The two inspiration articles accompanying this EdTech Guide seek to explore why Nordic EdTech companies are so innovative, and why Nordic schools are implementing EdTech so successfully. What is crystal clear is that there are so many Nordic EdTech stars. Here are ten that we keep hearing about for lots of exciting reasons.