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.
Want to receive cutting-edge insights from leading educators each week? Sign up to our Community Update and be part of the action!
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.
Finnish education and EdTech has always been an area of great interest to me. Of late, it has greatly influenced my professional journey - I’ve been doing a Masters in Education Entrepreneurship with a Finnish university for the last year, and I very recently moved to Finland to work in the education space. So, when Edtech Impact asked me for my reflections and views on why and how EdTech is utilized and implemented well in Finland, I was more than happy to add my two cents.
In 2018 there were over 80 EdTech startups and 150 established EdTech related companies in Finland, a significant achievement from small beginnings in 2013. This article unpacks the factors behind this success story and how a country of 5.5 million people is able to punch well above its weight globally.
Technology provides dynamic opportunities for teaching and learning of maths. It can enhance the learning process and make concepts come alive through engaging and interactive media. Edtech tools can also offer additional support to address the needs of all learners and create personalised learning experiences. Here are some edtech tools focused on raising numeracy standards in primary and secondary schools.
Purchase price varies by single class, whole school or intervention only | Customer rating: 4.5/5 (29 reviews) | Edtech Impact scores:
First up is Maths-Whizz, a fun, online maths tutor for 5-13 year olds. The interactive lessons can be personalised to match each student’s unique strengths and areas of improvement. Not only does Maths-Whizz offer exciting, valuable maths tuition, it also provides free resources and features that help you plan the perfect maths lesson. Its because of this in-depth functionality that 100% of teachers agree that Maths-Whizz builds student knowledge. Their passion to build the best maths resource for schools earned them the 2019 Bett Award for Best Collaboration with a School.
Read more: Maths-Whizz full profile on Edtech Impact
Mathspace is the world’s first adaptive learning workbook for 6-18 year olds. Their lessons differ from other online maths tutors as they are built around the most important aspect of maths learning; the students reasoning process behind the final answer. Mathspace is an adaptive program, which means that students get graded and given feedback on every step throughout the process of problem solving. This gives students a deeper, more robust understanding of maths. It comes as no surprise that £2 per student.
Read more: Mathspace full profile on Edtech Impact
Sparx Maths Homework has an inspiring mission; to improve numeracy for over 5 million learners by 2030. It’s this ambition that lead them to develop an online platform that automatically sets one hour of personalised maths homework for every student, every week. Their platform boasts over 7’100 video tutorials and 30’500 questions, with each software is currently helping over 4’500 learners, 100% of which agree that daily use improves both student attainment and parental engagement.
Mathigon is a free, award winning online mathematics course for secondary school students. Unlike videos or conventional textbooks, students using Mathigon are encouraged to participate in engaging activities covering the whole of the curriculum. As well as an interactive textbook, Mathigon also features a virtual personal tutor that and answers direct questions and provides students with feedback. Each chapter of the Mathigon online textbook is brought to life with an interesting narrative that captivates students attention and imagination. It’s because of these features that 100% of users agree that Mathigon helps build students knowledge.
Read more: Mathigon full profile on Edtech Impact
Purchase price: £75 annual flat fee
Times tables with Emile is an impressive online resource for teaching Key Stage 2 children multiplication in a fun and engaging way. For times tables 1-12, the site offers appropriate games, activities and competitions tailored to each students ability. Students are encouraged to compete in groups or as a class to get to the top of the leaderboard and unlock new achievements. Via secure logins, teachers can pick out students that need help and students that are ready to move onto more challenging learning content. Times tables with Emile send out progress reports automatically to teachers, helping to drastically reduce teacher workload.
Purchase price: £199 flat fee
DoodleMaths is a multi-award winning online maths platform that is proven to accelerate children’s progress in Numeracy. What sets DoodleMaths apart from their competition is their powerful algorithm that identifies children’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This is the narrow band between what a learner can do without help and what he or she needs help to do. DoodleMaths harnesses this information to create a unique work program for every student that ensures continual progression and better overall student attainment.
Read more: DoodleMaths full profile on Edtech Impact
Purchase price: £15 monthly flat fee
Mathletics is one of the most popular online maths resources. Used by over 5’000 schools in the UK and Ireland, it offers online courses designed for Foundation Stage learning up to Key Stage 5. What makes Mathletics so sought after is their vast array of curriculum-aligned learning resources; activities, eBooks and videos proven to significantly increase levels of student engagement, confidence and progress in Maths. Mathletics’ success has been proven in a study conducted by Oxford University that concluded students who made regular use of their resources did significantly better on a range of measures. You can read more captivating case studies on the impact Mathletics is having on students learning here.
Read more: Mathletics full profile on Edtech Impact
Popular mathematics and coding platform, Mangahigh, is used by 100’000 teachers in over 5’000 schools globally. Mangahigh uses gamification to encourage student engagement and make learning fun. Covering a wide range of topics including algebra, geometry, probability, statistics, measurement and coding, finding an activity that fits into your lesson content has never been easier. A basic version of the platform is currently available for free.
Finally, MyMaths is a subscription based website used by approximately four million students each year. Serving age ranges from Primary School up to A- Level, MyMaths is an all-in-one solution offering content applicable to all abilities. AQA and Edexcel GCSE maths courses are powered by MyMaths with direct links to MyMaths resources. This makes MyMaths the best option when considering maths revision tools.
Trial numeracy software such as Mathspace, Sparx Maths Homework, DoodleMaths, Maths-Whizz, Mathigon, Mathletics, Times tables with Emile and many more, free of charge from Edtech Impact - a school review driven discovery engine, supporting schools to make the best edtech choices to achieve maximum impact.
Want to receive cutting-edge insights from leading educators each week? Sign up to our Community Update and be part of the action!
Many say that education is not yet transformed by technology. Well, not to the extent that other industries can claim. But this has a lot more to do with the complexity of schools choosing, adopting and implementing edtech, rather than there being a lack of innovative tech out there, solving problems for teachers and creating opportunities for learners.