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Despite the obvious benefits of greater collaboration, engagement and creativity, there are challenges when it comes to implementing edtech successfully. This is particularly true for multi-academy trust (MAT) schools, where standardisation and collaboration are crucial to success.

So, what are the top challenges faced by MAT ICT departments?

1. Inconsistencies in technology usage

Under the MAT format, different schools may have come together for a variety of reasons, and it’s unlikely that they are all at the same level when it comes to using technology. Some schools might have adopted the digital classroom and invested heavily in BYOD initiatives, while others could be struggling with unreliable broadband. Where discrepancies exist, creating a single, joined-up approach is always going to be a struggle. But, to deliver the high educational standards expected of a MAT, establishing a unified technological ethos is a must.

The good news is that there are ways to accomplish this. For example, by moving to a cloud-based model – using tools Apps and platforms such as ClassFlow – MAT ICT departments can leverage collaboration and productivity tools that create greater consistency across schools.

2. Infrastructure investment

The number of schools that believe they are well-equipped with ICT infrastructure has dropped to its lowest point in six years. What’s more, according to our annual State of Technology in Education report, just under half of educators believe that schools are either not allocating enough budget to technology, or are investing in the wrong things.

Of course, budgetary pressures are presenting a significant problem across the sector, but for MATs there is the additional challenge of ensuring that ALL their schools receive the necessary level of investment to succeed. As such, significant one-off investments are not feasible for most MAT ICT departments.

However, MATs do have the power to leverage their scale to save costs and achieve greater value for money. One way to accomplish this is to consider total cost of ownership and invest in appropriate, upgradable and long-lasting technologies. For example, with a front of class display like ActivPanel, schools can benefit from the world’s first upgradeable Android-based interactive display.

3. Sharing ICT staff

MATs often need to share resources. For example, technical staff employed by secondary schools may have to help primaries who were previously supported by local authorities. While this can help to keep costs down, if not carefully monitored, resources can be stretched to breaking point and create resentment from ICT teams who are forced to adapt to new roles and new responsibilities.

However, there are some things that can be done to reduce the burden on IT staff:

  • Transition all schools to the same collaborative productivity software
  • Organise remote access for ICT systems
  • Develop a comprehensive IT strategy to support future growth
  • Enforce due diligence ICT audits for any joining school
  • Consolidate ICT suppliers
  • Invest in training to ensure that support across the trust is consistent

By ensuring that IT teams are supported, MATs can develop more sustainable models that deliver long-term savings while moving forward with the strategic adoption of edtech.

4. Geography

As MATs expand and grow across a larger geographical area, this can bring further challenges for ICT teams.

Broadband speed is an obvious example, with MAT network managers all too familiar with the logistical challenges of managing multiple sites. One solution to this problem is Managed Wide Area Networks (WANs), whereby schools privately connect via the same high-speed, high-capacity, private network. MATs are also turning to the cloud as an easy and cost-effective way to join up systems.

When it comes to schools across catchment areas, different demographics can also cause problems, with parents in one area often able to provide better IT access at home than in another. While, technology can level the playing field for students across the socioeconomic spectrum, the key to using it to reduce the attainment gap is doing so correctly. Giving all pupils the same level of access and ensuring ongoing in-class support is essential. Otherwise, advantaged pupils having greater access to digital tools at home only compounds the disparities in achievement.

5. Online security

Keeping students safe is a key challenge for all schools in 2018, regardless of the educational model. So, issues such as cyber-bullying, grooming, data protection and digital literacy are sure to be part of any ICT team’s priority list over the next 12 months and beyond. Check out these top tips to keep your pupils safe online.

Ultimately, while ICT departments in MATs have a number of challenges to overcome, by formulating a robust ICT strategy, they can ensure that any educational technology they have invested in is delivering as it should; and benefiting the trust as a whole.

The post Top 5 challenges for MAT IT departments appeared first on ResourcEd.

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There’s concern across England that the recruitment and retention of quality teachers is gradually decreasing. This is leading to a core knowledge shortage and skills gap across our schools. Government figures published in October 2016 indicated that nearly a third of teachers who began work in British state schools in 2010 were no longer teaching five years later. There’s little indication this will shift anytime soon; a recent teaching union survey highlighted that four in ten young teachers could quit the classroom within the next five years. So, why the worrying departure?

Teachers cite various factors impacting their job satisfaction from increasing levels of stress; a growing amount of paperwork, high expectations for formative assessment and a requirement for accountability tasks, resulting in an overall lack of motivation. This comes at a time amidst fears for teachers’ poor mental health. We’ve identified the top five reasons teachers are leaving their profession:

1. Work conditions

Most teachers realise that their working hours go far beyond those spent in front of their pupils. Due to its very nature, education is not a standard 9-5 job. On top of this, demands around extra marking, data entry, lesson planning and additional classroom admin have increased, according to educators. When asked in a survey by NASUWT about the key concerns about their jobs, 90% of teachers cited workload as the primary issue.

According to a recent Government Social Research report, good quality leadership, teacher cooperation and manageable workloads are three of the top contributors to higher job satisfaction in education. Good leadership, in particular, is strongly associated with higher teacher satisfaction and reduces the odds that educators will change jobs. This is perhaps no surprise, but it emphasises how much of an impact Senior Leadership Teams (SLTs) can make on teacher well-being. Effective management and support, in turn, will likely have a positive influence on many of the other factors identified in the report.

2. Limited ongoing training

As well as the need for more support in schools by senior leaders, there’s an inherent lack of ongoing training at a national level. Research by The Teacher Development Trust shows that schools spend £12,000 on teachers in their first year of practice, compared to £400 each year thereafter. What’s more, in England there’s no official requirement or entitlement for Continuing Professional Development and Learning (CPDL).

Schools would benefit from a prescribed programme of training with specific funding allocation. This would help to ensure that all staff, regardless of experience, have access to high quality professional development which is relevant to them personally.

3. Assessment and data collection

According to a survey by the National Union of Teachers, 91% of teachers agree that the expectations on teacher assessment by the Department for Education is beyond the reach of the majority of children. What’s more, the survey highlighted that 86% of teachers believe changes to assessment have led to a significant increase in their workload.

Technology can contribute towards streamlining the administrative tasks and reducing teachers’ assessment burdens. Despite this, our annual State of Technology in Education report revealed that only 35% of educators use digital technology to track formative assessment. Is it a missed opportunity?

Schools may benefit from reducing the expectation for excessive paperwork, observations and ongoing assessment procedures, unless the teachers believe it would genuinely enhance their development, or their students’ learning.

4. Lack of forward thinking

Some teachers believe our current education system is old fashioned, lacking the innovation and intuition to prepare pupils for the future. According to recent article by TES, schools ‘live in the past… [occupying] a system that has become narrow, polarised, restrictive and divisive.’ In an age where digitisation, automation and other emerging technologies will dictate many pupils’ future careers, there could be more focus on fostering transferable skills. The use of interactive technologies give pupils the opportunity to develop their digital literacy.

At the same time, teachers have reported a ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning, with little consideration for differentiation and mixed ability classes. More schools, then, could consider basing less of their core learning on a fixed curriculum and more on the pupils’ passions, their skills and their individual needs.

5. Inflexibility

The same TES article by Colin Harris highlights a sense that schools are becoming ‘exam factories’, in which the needs of individual pupils are sorely neglected.

Schools which adopt a more flexible approach to accommodate the diverse learning styles of their students, putting the needs of the learners first, may see an improvement in outcomes.

As high teacher turnover in schools is directly associated with reduced pupil attainment, it’s important for SLTs and other school leaders to consider teacher wellbeing in their institutions. What’s more, the gap in staffing levels could worsen still, with the number of secondary school-age pupils expected to spike by more than 500,000 to 3.3 million by 2025.

Collaboration and support from SLTs, therefore, is essential. Allow teachers to talk about systems or processes that are inadequate or could be improved. Consider retiring systems that are burdensome and have little impact on the pupils’ learning. Another approach is to invest in time-saving technologies that support and empower teachers, leaving them with more time to provide pupils with a more inspiring and valuable learning environment.

The post Why are so many teachers quitting the profession? appeared first on ResourcEd.

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Following the decision by French Schools to ban mobile phones from classrooms beyond September 2018, we thought we’d put the question to UK teachers to find out if they think we should follow suit. The results (gathered via Promethean’s Twitter & Facebook pages) have shown that 55% of teachers agree with the French decision to ban the use of smartphones in the classroom. However, with only 10% in the difference of opinion, it shows that UK teachers are divided on the use of mobile phones in classrooms. So, what factors could be driving the divided opinion?

1. Travelling

The reason most children tend to have mobile phones is because parents want to have a point of contact for when they aren’t together. This is something that the French government will seriously need to consider before the ban comes into force. Parents being able to be in contact with their children is precisely the reason why New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, lifted a decade-long ban in 2015, he believed that parents should be able to call or text their children when necessary.

One teacher we spoke to suggested a way around this, particularly concerning primary schoolchildren: “In my previous school, Year 6 pupils did often use to travel home alone and, as a consequence many brought phones to school. However, our strict rule was that they were to be signed into the office in the morning, not accessed at all throughout the school day and then collected at home time.”

2. Wellbeing

Access to screen time remains a big concern among parents, it’s natural that because of this, some schools are wary of introducing another piece of technology. However, using personal mobile devices only needs to form a small part of the day, or even feature one day a week. What’s most important is that personal devices are being used to enhance learning and are relevant, rather than being used for the sake of having additional tech in the classroom.

3. Budgets

School budgets are increasingly strained and because of this headteachers are having to make difficult decisions about where best to allocate funds. With this in mind, for some schools having a BYOD strategy in place makes more financial sense than purchasing a full set of mobile devices for each class.

4. Cyber security

This remains a newsworthy topic and can put schools off encouraging children to bring in their own technology. However, as long as a policy is in place that ensures students use their devices on the school network only, schools should feel confident that they are reducing risk. By using personal devices in schools it actually provides teachers with the perfect opportunity to further educate children on the importance of online safety and encourages collaborative discussions on how they can stay safe.

In fact, one school commented: “Children should be educated to use them in the right ways instead of banning them.”

While another added: “For older pupils in this day and age they need to be aware of the dangers of social media and phones and I think it is important that we make this part of our curriculum.”

5. Primary vs. Secondary

Whether primary schoolchildren should be encouraged to use personal devices vs. secondary schoolchildren is also highly debated. Deciding if it’s ethical that primary schoolchildren should have smartphones is a discussion that often crops up, but in the modern world, the reality is some primary-aged children do have mobiles. In this instance, it’s important that children (both primary and secondary) are educated on using tech on a personal level, outside of the classroom and what it’s expected to be used for inside the classroom e.g. as an extension of a set task or as an opportunity to work collaboratively in a more interactive way with their peers.

When asked, a school commented: “From a certain age upwards it should be very much a part of what we do.”

Another added: “I can see no point in permitting primary aged children to have access to mobile phone technology during the school day at all.”

Proving that it’s a topic that continues to create discussion, with professionals even having a difference of opinion.

The debate for and against mobile phone use in the classroom is likely to be ongoing, however, with a clear strategy in place regarding the use of personal technology, schools and parents can be confident on the intended use and expectations when using mobiles in the classroom. We’re continuing to see education technology evolve at an extraordinary pace, so to have a blanket ban on the use of one piece of kit at this stage could be self-limiting further down the line. For an in depth view of education technology in the UK, download The State of Technology in Education 2017/18 Report.

The post Teachers divided over smartphone use in schools appeared first on ResourcEd.

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Technology influences young adults everyday; developing the core digital literacy of teenagers, and educating them on the dangers as well as benefits of connectivity, will benefit their future careers and employability. On average, secondary school pupils spend 55.5% of their class time engaging with edtech. Research by Oxford University has shown that digital connectivity enhances creativity, communication skills and development in young adults.

Despite this, according to the National Association of Headteachers, 72% of headteachers believe that school budgets will be unsustainable in two years’ time, severely impacting future technology investments. Budgets, however, aren’t the only issue.

Peter Millar, the IT Technical Consultant at Promethean, has extensive experience as a college IT Services Coordinator and a public sector ICT technician. He has shared with us his top 5 challenges faced by secondary school ICT departments:

1. Safeguarding

More sophisticated digital technologies and social media access, particularly in the hands of young adults, open pupils up to online vulnerabilities and exposure to cyberbullying. Worryingly, though, British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) found almost 50% of secondary school teachers need training in e-safety issues.

Secondary school ICT departments, as well as primary and higher education institutions, should examine carefully whether their e-safety curriculum is age-appropriate, whether they have a recognised internet service provider with actively monitored, age-related filtering.

2. Data protection & GDPR

The reformed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is designed to improve the safety and security of all data held within any organisation — including primary and secondary schools, academies and other educational institutions — and will fundamentally change the way schools handle their data. ICT departments should think about what systems they are putting in place to verify the age of individuals and to gather consent from parents or guardians in regards to data processing, and to what purpose data is being stored. Redundant data cannot be stored under the GDPR.

School ICT departments should make time to check whether their data is managed securely and in accordance with the statutory requirements of the GDPR. Alternatively, work with an an accredited data processor who is also compliant with GDPR obligations and IT asset disposal. What’s more, the use of cloud-based applications help protect critical information by removing the need for repeated data back ups, mitigating the risk of data breach.

3. Edtech training

Over 60% of IT leaders in secondary schools cite adequate technology training as the biggest challenge in their schools. This is corroborated by our 2017/18 State of Technology in Education report; only 5% of polled teachers believe that they receive full training and support when it comes to edtech, down 2% from last year.

While it can be time consuming in a busy school schedule, it’s vital that ICT leaders spend more time training their teachers and staff on the use of their new digital technologies, or investments will be wasted.

4. Spending

According to our annual report, only 36% of school leaders think that the level of investment in IT is correct in their schools; down from 58% in 2016. The average ICT budget for a secondary school is expected to be £58,230 in 2017/18, according to the National Education Research Panel (NERP). This is a year-on-year decline of 7%.

There are, however, a variety of ways that technology in schools can be used for collaborative learning, optimising your investments. First, conduct an audit of your school’s current ICT framework to identify if any legacy hardware is no longer fit for purpose. Our school IT audit framework template will help you form the basis of this audit.

With an interactive front of class display like ActivPanel, for example, schools can benefit from engaging, mobile learning from one device, without necessarily having to find the budget for a full 1:1 edtech program. Free cloud-based applications and software, like ClassFlow and ActivInspire, can also be used to incorporate digital learning at a lower cost.

5. Infrastructure

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) found that schools agreeing they are well-equipped with ICT infrastructure has dropped to its lowest point in six years. Only a third of secondaries specifically say they are well-equipped — down from 37% last year and 64% the year before that.

A 2018 poll by TES, assessing the quality of edtech in schools, found that 47% of educators believe the IT infrastructure at their institution inhibited adoption of more educational technology. With a poor network and internet speed, cloud-based digital learning is impeded. By reducing onsite resources and saving costs that way, however, schools can reinvest in better infrastructure and network performance.

The bottom line? Technology has countless benefits for the development of teenagers and young adults. Secondary school ICT departments, however, have complications to overcome before they can fully reap benefits of their new platforms and devices, and to maximise their ICT budgets. Formulating a strong ICT strategy first and foremost is essential, to ensure technology is fit for purpose.

The post Five top challenges for secondary school ICT departments appeared first on ResourcEd.

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There is mounting pressure placed upon educators; the workload, the expectation to meet Ofsted standards, marking to take home, and the challenge to do more with increasingly tight budgets. With Mental Health Awareness Week approaching, it’s an appropriate time to consider how teacher mental health could be affecting education.

A study by Leeds Beckett University of 775 educators indicated that more than three quarters of teachers believe poor mental health is having a detrimental effect on the learning environment and progress made by their pupils.

Sadly, many teachers — particularly NQTs — are leaving the profession, citing workload and stress as their primary concern. But for others, it’s simply not considered a viable option to quit and attempt to enter a new profession.

In 2015, the rate of suicide among primary school teachers was nearly twice as high as that of the UK national average. While this statistic could point to other related health or lifestyle issues, there have been repeated warnings about mounting work pressure and a competitive structure within the sector, leading to poor mental health.

As we discuss in our guide, Healthy teachers, outstanding results, why governing bodies need to seriously consider their responsibilities on educators’ core work-life balance.

Teachers on long-term stress leave

According to research by the Liberal Democrats, there were 3,750 teachers on long-term leave for stress during the academic year 2016-17. This is five percent more than the previous year.

“Guidance to governing bodies is clear that they have a responsibility to take work-life balance into account when managing staff. Where staff are struggling, we trust headteachers to take action to tackle the causes of stress and ensure they have the support they need.”
Department for Education

The issue of absent educators naturally points towards gaps in student education. What’s more, studies have highlighted a direct link between teacher health and wellbeing, and school attainment levels and pupils’ results.

Schools should, therefore, invest more in the core development and wellbeing of our valuable education workforce, for the benefit of teachers and our pupils.

The impact on pupils

With increasing pressure to perform summative and formative assessments, studies have found that teacher wellbeing has a direct impact on SAT scores in the UK.

The issue of teacher wellbeing, however, is rarely addressed at the source; more time and better tools for teachers to optimise their time more effectively. Can more be done, perhaps, to support teachers with training and technologies that genuinely enhance their teaching methods, rather than schools investing in technology for technology’s sake?

Teacher wellbeing is a grave issue that is not only affects the quality of pupils’ education, but can endanger lives. According to the Office of National Statistics, the rate of teacher suicides has been gradually rising since 2001.


Office of National Statistics

Giving teachers more flexibility to teach in a way that suits them could alleviate some of the day-to-day teaching pressures, but inherent changes still need to be made within education. Governing bodies should, perhaps, make teacher health a core accountability when rating a school’s performance, much like Ofsted assessment standards.

As part of their increasing workload, teachers report pressure to use technology for technology’s sake, rather than where it is relevant. As a result, edtech is often seen as a blocker rather than an enhancer for education. Too many teachers still see technology as an activity that is confined to the computer room.

Investment is good technology, however, simply isn’t enough. Training and support is essential to ensure that educators benefit from the tools there to assist them. What’s more, raising awareness of the importance of good mental health through campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week helps puts the issue at the forefront of the industry.

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According to British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), on average, primary school pupils spend 53.7% of their time engaging with ICT in the classroom. Well provisioned classrooms and a thorough school digital framework, therefore, are essential. At the same time, ICT strategy is given less emphasis in primary institutions. So, what are the top challenges faced by primary school ICT departments?

1. Unreliable broadband

According to our annual State of Technology in Education report, over half of all teachers think that online assessment, online content and resources will make the biggest growth in the next 1–5 years. High-speed internet access is, of course, crucial to the uptake and use of such educational technologies in primary schools.

Sadly, more than half of primaries do not have adequate broadband. Only 44% of primary ICT leaders said their schools were ‘currently well resourced’ with broadband, compared with 97% of secondary schools, where WiFi is given more attention.

2. Staff training

To keep up with the pace of IT change, teachers need regular and thorough education on the use of edtech and digital resources. In fact, the training requirements in the use of digital materials in primary schools increased from 39% in 2015 to 43% in 2016, and grew again in 2017.
Meanwhile, our report revealed that only 5% of teachers believe that they receive full training and support when it comes to the edtech; down 2% from last year. This training will often fall to ICT departments or third party resellers, and can often be time consuming. It is, however, essential to ensure tech buy-in by the whole school staff.

3. Budget cuts

Just under half of teachers believe that schools are either not allocating enough budget to technology, or are investing in the wrong things, according to our report. Failing technology in primary schools, meanwhile, is preventing schools for making more effective use of it’s digital resources.

The average ICT budget for a primary school is forecast to be £13,800 in 2017/18. This is under a quarter of the allocated budget for secondary schools, and is a year-on-year decline of 4 percent. School ICT departments in primary schools face increasingly challenging environments for implementing new IT strategies.

Consider, perhaps, a trial run with cloud-based technology, or server virtualisation to save costs at your primary school. Read more tips on maximising your ICT budget.

4. Data governance and online security

Maximising online safety and minimising the risk of cyber attacks were agreed to be the most crucial challenges and priorities facing school IT departments over the next 12 months. With the GDPR approaching, data protection is also at the forefront of all IT departments’ minds. In primary schools with less digital maturity, it is absolutely essential that all data collection procedures, as well as online safety strategies, are updated to ensure compliance with the incoming legislation.

Over half of of primary school teachers, meanwhile, need training in e-safety issues, so it is essential IT leaders train and education the rest of the school in how to be data aware.

5. Minimal ICT leverage

As an ICT leader, you will understand that edtech — like a front-of-class Promethean ActivPanel — is essential for ensuring pupils are more digitally literate and are well set up for their futures in the modern workplace, as well as improving attainment across schools.

Ensuring other educational leaders and SLTs in primary schools see the value of a technology strategy, however, is an ongoing challenge. Your IT department plays a vital role in an educational environment, yet the ICT representation at a managerial level is often lacking. Our research uncovered growing calls from ICT leaders to be given a seat at the table to ensure that ICT strategies are championed across the school.

Overall, there are an overwhelming number of new technologies coming to market but limited annual budgets in primary schools. With the continued pressure to exceed goals, it has never been more important for school IT managers and decision makers to consider how to overcome these challenges, ensuring you make the correct decisions and maximise your ICT budgets.

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January is the month for preparing for the coming calendar year and making resolutions to improve behaviour and practices. In the teaching profession this is even more crucial; concern over high levels of stress and excessive work loads among teachers point towards falling retention and recruitment in education.
The start of the year, then, is the best time for teachers to reflect on what they think went well in the previous year, and what can be improved for the benefit of their pupils and their own health and wellbeing. Here’s ten New Year’s resolutions for teachers:

1. Address work/life balance

Education is never destined to be like other 9-5 jobs; those desperately hoping for minimal work to take home may be in the wrong profession. At the same time, teachers should assess how many hours they can work in a week. Set a realistic and achievable target and try not to go over it. Try hard to allocate designated time to yourself rather than letting school work take over every aspect of your life. Easier said than done? Perhaps 2018 is the year to initiate a teacher wellbeing strategy.

2. Spend more time with individual students

Each learner fits a different profile and each will respond positively and negatively to various teaching methods, particularly in a mixed-ability class. Incorporate more time with each pupil informally, rather than in one-to-one formal assessments or meetings, tasking each on rotation to help with projects or activities. This will help you gauge their readiness to learn. If you’re still unsure, try our mix and match tool to generate a unique learners report.

3. Apply technology to learning and assessment

One of the biggest pressures reported by teachers is the need to perform box-ticking exercises and informal, ad hoc formative assessment. Technology, when used effectively, can significantly streamline administrative tasks and reduce teachers’ assessment burdens. Go out of your way to learn how to use your new edtech; without proper training, any benefits of technology could be wasted. Find out how technology like the ActivPanel can aid assessment.

4. Prepare pupils for the future

Teachers spend a great deal of time teaching children facts, dates and other nuggets of educational information to help them pass exams and provide inspiration for future learning. This, naturally, progresses their academic capacity, contributes towards students’ attainment and boosts overall school performance. At the same time, however, consider the skills that children will need for the future; digital literacy, communication, collaboration, research, data analysis and problem solving skills all help young adults stand out and progress in the professional workplace.

5. Streamline your communication processes

Do you spend too much time responding to emails? Are you always sending files, saving new versions of documents or sending endless attachments? Email as a mode of communication is outdated. Consider collaborative, cloud-based tools such as Google docs or free online software like ClassFlow to streamline work processes and share resources. Utilise more synchronous communication methods; chat, DM or even face-to-face communication. Sending fewer emails will mean fewer to respond to, too.

6. Plan your career development

This year, consider your long-term personal development plans and career goals; what’s required to get there? Today, CPDL funding allocation is minimal within schools; a product of tightening budgets and restrictions in the sector. Take more ownership of your goals and move towards them in 2018. Discuss with SLT, for example, how INSET days could be more productive; without your collaboration and input, changes are less likely to come to fruition. Avoid starting the year in autopilot mode.

7. Focus on health

Teachers shouldn’t always sacrifice their precious personal time for work-related tasks, better physical health gives you more energy to be engaged and inspiring in the classroom. Try, where possible, to make your gym appointments. Refrain from skipping meals to ‘get more done’. Go further; promote movement among your pupils in your classrooms, too. Encourage your pupils to look after their bodies, as well as taking care of your own.

8. Mix up your teaching methods

It’s easy to stick to what you know, but with more modern tools, software and technologies out there to enhance your teaching, now is a great time to consider injecting something new into your classroom. Perhaps try one new technology, application or instructional technique each month to keep things new and challenging for you pupils and yourself. Start with checking the latest trends in edtech for the coming year.

9. Encourage peer-to-peer collaboration

Teachers can learn so much from each other, but often within schools, there is an untapped wealth of knowledge and experience. Encourage more peer-to-peer collaboration in your school with the ‘observe me’ initiative; teachers post a message by their classroom door inviting their colleagues to stop in and observe their class and ask for feedback with 3-4 simple questions.

10. Stay positive!

In a landscape of extremely high expectations and perceived disempowerment, some education professionals lose sight of why they joined teaching in the first place. When asked, teachers cite interacting with their pupils and seeing young children progress as the most meaningful aspects of their career. Continue, then, to recognise and vocalise what you genuinely love about your profession.
Teachers and school leaders should take time to praise themselves, each other and reward individual achievements. Try, this year, to learn new skills and develop your use of genuinely helpful technologies for your own teacher wellbeing.

Good luck with your teacher resolutions and education goals in 2018!

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January is the month for preparing for the coming calendar year and making resolutions to improve behaviour and practices. In the teaching profession this is even more crucial; concern over high levels of stress and excessive work loads among teachers point towards falling retention and recruitment in education.
The start of the year, then, is the best time for teachers to reflect on what they think went well in the previous year, and what can be improved for the benefit of their pupils and their own health and wellbeing. Here’s ten New Year’s resolutions for teachers:

1. Address work/life balance

Education is never destined to be like other 9-5 jobs; those desperately hoping for minimal work to take home may be in the wrong profession. At the same time, teachers should assess how many hours they can work in a week. Set a realistic and achievable target and try not to go over it. Try hard to allocate designated time to yourself rather than letting school work take over every aspect of your life. Easier said than done? Perhaps 2018 is the year to initiate a teacher wellbeing strategy.

2. Spend more time with individual students

Each learner fits a different profile and each will respond positively and negatively to various teaching methods, particularly in a mixed-ability class. Incorporate more time with each pupil informally, rather than in one-to-one formal assessments or meetings, tasking each on rotation to help with projects or activities. This will help you gauge their readiness to learn. If you’re still unsure, try our mix and match tool to generate a unique learners report.

3. Apply technology to learning and assessment

One of the biggest pressures reported by teachers is the need to perform box-ticking exercises and informal, ad hoc formative assessment. Technology, when used effectively, can significantly streamline administrative tasks and reduce teachers’ assessment burdens. Go out of your way to learn how to use your new edtech; without proper training, any benefits of technology could be wasted. Find out how technology like the ActivPanel can aid assessment.

4. Prepare pupils for the future

Teachers spend a great deal of time teaching children facts, dates and other nuggets of educational information to help them pass exams and provide inspiration for future learning. This, naturally, progresses their academic capacity, contributes towards students’ attainment and boosts overall school performance. At the same time, however, consider the skills that children will need for the future; digital literacy, communication, collaboration, research, data analysis and problem solving skills all help young adults stand out and progress in the professional workplace.

5. Streamline your communication processes

Do you spend too much time responding to emails? Are you always sending files, saving new versions of documents or sending endless attachments? Email as a mode of communication is outdated. Consider collaborative, cloud-based tools such as Google docs or free online software like ClassFlow to streamline work processes and share resources. Utilise more synchronous communication methods; chat, DM or even face-to-face communication. Sending fewer emails will mean fewer to respond to, too.

6. Plan your career development

This year, consider your long-term personal development plans and career goals; what’s required to get there? Today, CPDL funding allocation is minimal within schools; a product of tightening budgets and restrictions in the sector. Take more ownership of your goals and move towards them in 2018. Discuss with SLT, for example, how INSET days could be more productive; without your collaboration and input, changes are less likely to come to fruition. Avoid starting the year in autopilot mode.

7. Focus on health

Teachers shouldn’t always sacrifice their precious personal time for work-related tasks, better physical health gives you more energy to be engaged and inspiring in the classroom. Try, where possible, to make your gym appointments. Refrain from skipping meals to ‘get more done’. Go further; promote movement among your pupils in your classrooms, too. Encourage your pupils to look after their bodies, as well as taking care of your own.

8. Mix up your teaching methods

It’s easy to stick to what you know, but with more modern tools, software and technologies out there to enhance your teaching, now is a great time to consider injecting something new into your classroom. Perhaps try one new technology, application or instructional technique each month to keep things new and challenging for you pupils and yourself. Start with checking the latest trends in edtech for the coming year.

9. Encourage peer-to-peer collaboration

Teachers can learn so much from each other, but often within schools, there is an untapped wealth of knowledge and experience. Encourage more peer-to-peer collaboration in your school with the ‘observe me’ initiative; teachers post a message by their classroom door inviting their colleagues to stop in and observe their class and ask for feedback with 3-4 simple questions.

10. Stay positive!

In a landscape of extremely high expectations and perceived disempowerment, some education professionals lose sight of why they joined teaching in the first place. When asked, teachers cite interacting with their pupils and seeing young children progress as the most meaningful aspects of their career. Continue, then, to recognise and vocalise what you genuinely love about your profession.
Teachers and school leaders should take time to praise themselves, each other and reward individual achievements. Try, this year, to learn new skills and develop your use of genuinely helpful technologies for your own teacher wellbeing.

Good luck with your teacher resolutions and education goals in 2018!

The post Ten New Year’s resolutions for teachers for 2018 appeared first on ResourcEd.

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Against a backdrop of shrinking ICT budgets, tackling your school’s technology strategy might not be front and centre of your overall school goals for 2018. But thinking carefully about your school digital framework and its ICT investments is vital if it is to support your improvement plans, and provide the best possible education for your students.

If your school’s ICT strategy is crafted out of a desire for the latest technology, you may end up with a fleet of expensive yet redundant devices. A robust and well-considered school digital framework, however, will save your school money in the long-term if you invest in the most appropriate, upgradable and long-lasting technologies.

Read our guide to planning your 2018 ICT strategy:

1. What does your school want to achieve?

Take a moment to consider the bigger picture to maximise your tech investments. What are the existing pain points you wish to address within your school? How does this translate into solutions, devices and softwares to support these goals?

Ask yourself and your staff the following questions to craft your ICT strategic plan:

  1. What type of learning environment would you like to see within your school in five years time?
  2. How will pedagogy have changed and how will ICT support this change?
  3. Do your staff feel confident delivering effective, engaging lessons with your current edtech?
  4. How will your new tech be embedded into the school and what training will be required to make it a success?
  5. How and where will learning take place, and what role will students play?
2. How can you achieve these goals?

Today, technology is an essential part of a school’s success. Often there is a perceived disconnect between the goals and requirements of SMT and the ICT departments. In reality, the whole school is dedicated to the following:

  1. Promoting a safe and secure learning environment
  2. Providing students with the best possible digital learning experience
  3. Meeting the OFSTED measures
  4. Surpassing national targets
  5. Meeting the requirements to deliver the new computing curriculum

The art to achieving these goals is collaboration. To ensure the buy-in of your staff, parents and wider community, plan out how to effectively use the new edtech in your school’s learning and assessment practices. What’s more, after choosing your tech partner, take the time build a strong relationship with that reseller; when they understand your school’s needs, you’ll benefit from a stronger long term partnership.

Think carefully about the installation process and accessibility of your chosen technologies before committing. You’ll want something fast and intuitive to learn, well supported for technical queries, sufficiently covered by warranty, and involves minimal future maintenance, like the Promethean ActivPanel.

Next, fully train your staff so they understand the benefits of this technology. Our 2017 State of Technology in Education report revealed that only 5% of teachers believe they receive full training on their school’s edtech. This, sadly, isn’t nearly enough to ensure the long term success of your investments.

Involve the entire school in your interactive learning plan. Take into account the personal development needs of leaders, staff and teachers, and the views and insights of students and parents or guardians. At the same time, develop core policies and practices for the safe use of ICT by all members of the school community.

3. What is required?

Due to the rise in cyberbullying, the use of technology in schools is under constant scrutiny. You’ll need to ensure you have acceptable use policies and online safety strategies in place before rolling out your ICT investments. Make sure that these policies are freely and readily available throughout your school. Communicate your active online safety measures to parents and guardians for full transparency and peace of mind.

As well as understanding technology usage policies, staff and teachers should be given additional training on data protection and GDPR requirements, to ensure your school is compliant.

It is important to look at your school’s budget and check that what you can afford will match your school’s needs. It’s advisable to put desired items in priority order. If your budget is extremely tight, there are leasing models which have flexibility to opt out of the contract if it turns out that the edtech isn’t suitable for your school’s needs.

With some basic internet searching you can also find a free guides, white papers and practical ideas for different services to invest in. Conduct thorough research, to find which are the most suitable ICT products for your school.

4. How to measure success

Alongside implementing your ICT strategy, communicating the requirements of your teaching staff, ICT team and any third parties involved will help set expectations for the school digital framework, and helps to reduce errors and misunderstandings.

Put documentation in place to outline which systems the staff, teachers and ICT team are responsible for, and the types of activities each new system supports. A successful strategic ICT plan includes a defined set of measurable educational outcomes. This ensures that your technology investment is well considered and contributes towards the school’s educational objectives, rather than investing in technology first and retrofitting it to your school’s challenges or goals.

Your school can then review the strengths and weaknesses of each ICT solution, and consider how well it supports your objectives. Overall, before rolling out a school ICT strategy, consider how and why new investments will contribute to the overall strategic goals and solve the pain points of your institution, both now and in the future.

Interactive front-of-class displays, like Promethean’s ActivPanel, provide your school the longevity of an upgradeable and scalable piece of tech. It connects your teaching staff and students in the classroom for a truly interactive learning experience, and relieves the administrative burden of assessment and evaluation practices. Effective use of such edtech promotes digital literacy and improves your school’s results and attainment levels.

The post Maximise your school tech budget: ICT strategy 101 appeared first on ResourcEd.

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“When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative. When the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.” Robert E. Stake, Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Illinois

Formative assessment and summative assessment are two overlapping, complementary ways of assessing pupil progress in schools. While the common goal is to establish the development, strengths and weaknesses of each student, each assessment type provides different insights and actions for educators. The key to holistic assessment practice is to understand what each method contributes to the end goals — improving school attainment levels and individual pupils’ learning — and to maximise the effectiveness of each.

Both terms are ubiquitous, yet teachers sometimes lack clarity around the most effective types of summative assessment and more creative methods of formative assessment. In this post we will explain the difference between these two types of assessment, outline some methods of evaluation, and assess why both are essential to student development.

Summative assessment explained

Summative assessment aims to evaluate student learning and academic achievement at the end of a term, year or semester by comparing it against a universal standard or school benchmark. Summative assessments often have a high point value, take place under controlled conditions, and therefore have more visibility.

Types of summative assessment:

  • End-of-term or midterm exams
  • Cumulative work over an extended period such as a final project or creative portfolio
  • End-of-unit or chapter tests
  • Standardised tests that demonstrate school accountability are used for pupil admissions; SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels

Why is summative assessment important?

In the current education system, standard-driven instruction plays a significant role. Summative assessment, therefore, provides an essential benchmark to check the progress of students, institutions and the educational program of the country as a whole.

Summative assessment contributes largely towards improving the British curriculum and overall curriculum planning. When summative assessment data indicates gaps across the board between student knowledge and learning targets, schools may turn to improved curriculum planning and new learning criteria to assess and improve their school attainment levels.

Formative assessment explained

Formative assessment is more diagnostic than evaluative. It is used to monitor pupil learning style and ability, to provide ongoing feedback and allow educators to improve and adjust their teaching methods and for students to improve their learning.

Most formative assessment strategies are quick to use and fit seamlessly into the instruction process. The information gathered is rarely marked or graded. Descriptive feedback may accompany formative assessment to let students know whether they have mastered an outcome or whether they require more practice.

  • Examples of formative assessment:
  • Impromptu quizzes or anonymous voting
  • Short comparative assessments to see how pupils are performing against their peers
  • One-minute papers on a specific subject matter
  • Lesson exit tickets to summarise what pupils have learnt
  • Silent classroom polls
  • Ask students to create a visualisation or doodle map of what they learnt

Why is formative assessment important?

Formative assessment is a flexible and informal way of assessing a pupil’s progress and their understanding of a certain subject matter. It may be recorded in a variety of ways, or may not be recorded at all, except perhaps in lesson planning to address the next steps.

Formative assessment helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. It also helps educators and governors recognise where students are struggling and address problems immediately. At a school level, SMT and school leaders use this information to identify areas of strength and weakness across the institution, and to develop strategies for improvement.

As the learning journey progresses, further formative assessments indicate whether teaching plans need to be revised to reinforce or extend learning.

Why is assessing pupil progress a challenge?

Pupil assessment, both formative and summative, is deemed an imperative part of the education process. Unfortunately, standardised exams and informal testing in schools are also blamed for the narrowing of the curriculum and teaching methods, contributing towards damaging levels of stress among teachers and pupils, and only valuing specific achievements to the detriment of broader learning.

Pearson and LKMco researched the topic of assessment in schools and published a subsequent report, Testing The Water. The report was revealed that a fifth of teachers in the UK are unclear where to go for information on assessing their pupils. What’s more, teachers feel unsupported when it comes to training for assessment; less than half of educators received assessment training as part of their initial teacher training.

SLT and school governors point towards a lack of budgets and limited time as hindering their schools’ abilities to provide more thorough assessment training, and most of the available training is regarded by teachers as being low in quality.

How could teacher workload be reduced?

The summative assessment procedure is tightly woven into the accountability system of teachers and schools. Teachers are often tasked and appraised based on the results of summative assessment, while schools are incentivised to achieve certain results and performance in specific areas over others.

The high-stake nature of summative assessment translates into how the school performance is judged, and SLT often pass down pressure as a result. Statutory assessment, therefore, can cause an great deal of stress for pupils, and a high degree of pressure for teachers.

It’s been suggested that the Department for Education should separate student exam results from teachers’ direct performance evaluations. Summative assessment results should, rather, serve as a discussion point or a means to highlight where additional resources may be required.

At the same time, employing more formative assessment throughout the year can take the pressure of end of term assessments for both teachers and pupils. This could include weekly quizzes or short lesson evaluations that can help improve student learning on the spot and increase pupils’ confidence. This ensures that final summative assessment has a positive impact on learning as well as providing pupils with more tools to improve throughout the term.

How do formative and summative assessment fit together?

The distinction between some types of summative assessment and formative assessment can be hard to identify. For example, schools may use benchmark testing to monitor the academic progress of pupils and determine whether they are on track to mastering the material that will be evaluated on end-of-course tests.

Some educators consider these interim tests to be formative; they are diagnostic and help modify learning techniques, but others may consider them to be summative.

In our current education system, the purposes of both formative and summative assessment are not always mutually supportive.

Traditional assessment — evaluation used for summative purposes — contains key diagnostic data for teachers, but this information is perhaps too infrequent, or comes too late for appropriate action. Selected response and formative written assessments, homework, meanwhile, and ongoing class feedback all serve as valuable activities as part of a teacher’s evaluation toolkit, if used appropriately.

Official standard results like grades A-C may symbolise pupil achievement, yet they rarely incorporate related learning factors such as readiness to learn or motivation. What’s more, grades are not explicit to student progress, nor do they provide teachers with information that might further their teaching methods.

Schools, then, should consider cutting the time teachers spend conducting summative assessments so that they can focus on conducting diagnostic, formative assessments.

Ways to use assessment to enhance learning

There are alternative ways of assessing pupils progress and enhancing learning with summative and formative assessment.

National exams and standardised tests leave little room for adaptation or creativity, but a midterm assessment or a module final, however, could be tasked as a visual presentation, a long-form test, or an individual essay.

Technology-enhanced assessment requires students to interact with exam material in various ways — dragging and dropping answers, highlighting relevant data, and completing sentences or equations in a drop-down menu. This fosters students’ digital literacy and prepares them for life after education.

By allowing students to explain their material in a medium they feel comfortable with, such as on mobile devices or on interactive front of class technology, teachers get an accurate picture of their pupils’ understanding. This gives much greater opportunity for students to demonstrate their particular skills.

Teachers can also set final exams or assessments in a form that resembles vocational assessments or job applications. This style of assessment can cover a broad range of material, and prepare older students for performance reviews and projects in a working environment, providing a stepping stone for the future.

What are the limitations?

All assessment activities have their limitations. Any individual assessment (summative or formative) can only give a snapshot of a pupil’s achievement on a single occasion. This may prevent teachers from drawing clear conclusions about end-to-end strengths and weaknesses.

Some teachers believe that formative assessment can impede upon lesson time itself, with a requirement to rush through learning to proceed with assessments and evaluations. Unlike summative assessment, that cumulates towards the end of a segment and is planned and prepared for, formative assessment relies upon educators to take time from their current learning schedule, even when the results lack weight in the school’s overall marks.

What’s more, with students potentially aware that this type of assessment has no bearing on their final grades, they may take formative tests less seriously. This could lead to skewed results and teachers misreading the feedback.

Summative assessment, meanwhile, has been blamed for forcing teachers to educate with no room for creativity, and teaching ‘to the test’. Students may be expected to spend hours drilling specific exercises instead of other creative and engaging exercises that inspires an interest in less conventional subjects.

Getting the balance right

All types of summative assessment and informal formative assessment are essential to assessing pupil progress. Both contribute towards an improved outcome from the pupils’ learning and ensure a better end result.

Teachers should, however, focus as much energy and resources on formative assessment as summative, despite the lack of weight or accountability on the former. Weaving one with the other will greatly improve a pupil’s holistic ability to prepare for end of term exams or other forms of standardised testing. This contributes towards superior school attainment levels and a more positive impression of your institution. Meanwhile, the Department for Education should consider detaching teacher performance evaluations from summative assessment alone to give teachers more room for creative forms of formative assessment.

Overall, a comprehensive assessment program balances formative and summative student data. With this approach, educators receive the clearest insight on where a student is relative to his or her peers, their overall education goals, and UK learning targets and standards.

The post Types of summative assessment and formative assessment appeared first on ResourcEd.

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