Thismonth, in our ongoing feature highlighting thework ofmembers of the UK education suppliers’ trade body BESA,we hear fromSENCo Julia Clouter on sensory boxes, andwe find out about Derventio’s SchooliP .


Using edtech to boost pro

rofessional development

The busy nature of school life means that teachers/leaders are constantly juggling

finances and priorities. As a result, staff development is sometimes not given the

investment it deserves. This is detrimental in the

improvement of teaching and learning. Professional

feedback and dialogue does not always take place.

However, edtech is helping to raise the profile of appraisals and professional

development which are then linked to school improvement.

CharlotteWardle, Deputy Headteacher of Richmond School has introduced edtech to efficiently manage her staff appraisals. Using the SchooliP solution, has made staff development a priority in the school. “Appraisals are spoken about a lot more, they have become part of our daily conversations as a positive influence on further developing teachers’ expertise.” A simple colour coded system for staff objectives means progress can be tracked with ease.

Powerful data means that individual, departmental and overall needs can easily be identified, focusing resources, saving both time and money. Professional development is given greater focus and CPD needs are easily identified via the teachers’ standards. KaminiMistry, Head of Sudbury Primary School identifies that technology is helping to shape training. “As a school leader, analysing performance

management data for our CPD is now much easier and a lot less time- consuming.” The time saved can be focused on teaching and learning rather than administration.

Gareth Butcher, Deputy Headteacher of Southfield School, also uses SchooliP and the use of edtech has led to increased accountability. “A range of crucial processes are now interwoven with demonstrable value and measurable impact. School and departmental self-evaluation forms are linked to improvement planning.”With specific activities assigned to staff, evidence is uploaded in one central place. The automatic collation of data reduces the amount of administration time that is required. Governors and inspectors are able to log in and immediately view relevant information.

The advent of multi-academy trusts has led to the creation of large education networks. Overseeing performance on different sites presents challenges. SchooliP contains aMAT view that is proving very useful for Academy Business Director, Patrick Taggart at the Romero CatholicMulti-Academy Company. “We can see how every employee, department and school are progressing. It serves as an effective competency check and if any development needs are identified, we can immediately support them.” Increased accessibility to data is helping to streamline processes and save valuable time.

Moving to an efficient electronic appraisal system means that paper is no longer required. Information is easily accessed and analysed avoiding replication of tasks. Information is collected once and used many times. Directly linking staff obj

bjectives to wider school priorities

helps to communicate a vision to enhance overall standards. School improvement has never been so easy to manage. Teacher professional y processes and sions.

empowering leaders to make informed strategic deci development is the central focus. Edtech is linking ke

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opportunitieswith Inclusive classroom

scanning pens

can be used to support emotional health and wellbeing with a versatile SENCo Julia Clouter demonstrates the ways in which Scanning Pens

Do you have a box available for students who struggle with feelings of calming strategy for individual support.

anxiety? Some schools call them “FiveMinute Boxes” or “Sensory

towards self-regulation and individual validation can also be achieved opportunity to mindfully take time out and regain control. Guidance time is the best option. The Sensory Box is a great way to provide an place, so sometimes the opportunity to take a break for calm down don’t have the balance of brain chemicals to allow learning to take decompression. Anxious students on the edge of a meltdown just Boxes” and they are a wonderful tool to support emotional

with a Scanning Pen.

It is easy to create a sensory box; you just need objects with some different textures and some visual impact. Things in the box should have the potential to distract, soothe, or re-direct thinking. In Sam’s box I have a plush sequin heart that changes colour when you rub your hand across it, a soft unicorn toy with huge eyes, a kaleidoscope, fiddle toys, books, and a sensory mat to feel. This green rubbery mat is just a heat-proof pot stand with a honeycomb texture. It feels bumpy when you rub it and it is stretchy. Happily it takes a fair bit of pulling and twisting, this is just one of many little re-purposed objects I have found in the Pound Shop.

Scanning Pen, because Sam is an undiagnosed dyslexic student who has very weak reading skills. She can look at the Little Book of Calming Thoughts or her reading book without the need for TA support. I have also included some exercise cards with simple instructions for breathing. Reading is a natural bridge to being classroom ready and the Scanning Pen helps Sam to feels empowered to read, providing a much needed boost to her self-esteem. One of Sam’s message cards says “Take a long deep healing breath; you are feeling more safe, more calm, breath out slowly.” I have printed out a couple of cards

message for her Sensory Box so I can choose the right

personalised message on the I have also recorded a


voice record function of the Scanning Pen. Today’s

message says “Sam, I think you are amazing, I know you

you are taking control of your calm. I am so proud of you; are doing your best to feel

feelings and you are going to be okay.We would love you to come back to class when

Sam loves her Sensory Box, we you are ready.”

have clear guidelines about how we use it and where we

class and using our strategies about our aims of staying in go with it.We are also clear

in class as much as possible.

In Sam’s Sensory Box, I have also included a

July/August 2019 y/

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