Designed by teachers for teachers, EduKey’s products are streamlined, relevant and easy to use. Here, ALNCo/Inclusion Manager Kelly Phillips outlines the benefits she has seen at her school.
When ALNCo/Inclusion Manager Kelly Phillips set about introducing some of EduKey’s solutions at Heolddu Comprehensive School in Wales, she encountered a common problem: scepticism from the staff. Teachers have typically seen plenty of “bright new ideas” introduced throughout the course of their careers, with a fair portion of them proving disappointing, time-consuming and temporary.
“Initially staff were reluctant to participate in supporting ‘yet another new programme’, however, after several inset sessions they were fully on board and realised the potential and power of the programmes from Edukey,” says Kelly.
Heolddu Comprehensive School is an English-medium, mixed 11-18 comprehensive school with 570 pupils on roll, including 71 in the sixth form. Around 26% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. This figure is above the Welsh average of 17% for secondary schools. Around 23% of pupils have additional learning needs (131 pupils), and just over 1% have a statement of special educational needs.
The school started out using EduKey’s Class Charts application as a seating plan tool that also enables teachers to store and share data on behaviour and performance, and issue rewards or sanctions to the pupils.
“We started using Class Charts as a seating plan tool and then very quickly began to realise the potential to expand the usage to improve standards of teaching, learning and the wellbeing of our students,” says Kelly. “Once we had built up seating plans and completed cards full of assessment and important information on each pupil, we then wanted to branch out and use the company’s Provision Map tool.”
Provision Map came about after EduKey founder Duncan Wilson identified the increasing workload and demands put on SENCOs with the administration of SEND. He worked with his business partner Gintas Sasnauskas to develop a comprehensive school management information system for SENCOs. Instead of juggling Word and Excel documents, convoluted filing systems, provision maps and complex staff communication channels, SENCOs can now manage the whole process through one streamlined application that also links with other EduKey products.
“Adding Provision Map enabled us to link Class Charts and SEN/ALN,” says Kelly. “We were able to input a One Page Profile for every pupil across the school. We also began the journey of creating electronic copies of Individual Development Plans and were able to start collating all documentation in one place with easy access.”
“Since the initial set up we have also now added other functions such as detentions and round robins. These keep communication as a key focus and contributing factor to the school’s recent success. Staff have access to all important information about every child and are able to use the tools as a form of recording and storing chronological data while monitoring behaviour, progress and attitudes to learning.”
It’s not only the staff who have benefitted: the pupils have reacted positively to the new system, embracing the ease with which they can receive feedback and rewards.
“The pupils have loved the recognition of positive behaviour points and it completely transformed our merit systems for the better,” says Kelly. “The seating plans have proved successful amongst staff and students with students being prepared to learn quickly at the start of each lesson. Students love the consistency of use across the school”.
“Within the school we have seen a huge increase in positive behaviours. We created a system of ASPIRE points – Attendance; Sustained Effort; Pride; Independence; Resilience; and Excellence. The ease of inputting this data and creating effective reports for meetings has proved very successful amongst our pastoral teams. They are able to go in to meetings fully prepared with notes, chronologies and reports for parents.”
She adds that Class Charts has helped drive a shift towards positive discipline.
“Before Class Charts the focus had been on improving negative behaviours, but with Class Charts we were able to set up a rewards system that has a priority focus on the positive behaviours, and since this has been in place with our ASPIRE reward points the breakdown shows that three quarters of the behaviours logged across the school are positive.”
Pupils and staff are now much better informed on progress. ALN knowledge was one of the biggest challenges within the school, but staff are well informed on each pupil’s status on the register and primary needs.
“Staff can also follow generic strategies for each individual and have full access to all provisions (interventions) that the pupils are receiving,” says Kelly.
The school has seen a dramatic improvement to its ranking since using the products, rising from a Wales ranking of 192 in 2013 to a ranking of 99 in 2018, and from one star to three stars in the Real Schools Guide.
Overall, the benefits of introducing EduKey’s solutions have been further reaching than anticipated – and Kelly is now keen to push these even further.
“We are delighted with the products we have purchased,” she says. “They are being used to raise progress levels and standards amongst all our learners. The communication with the company is the best I’ve encountered, and no question is left unanswered”.
“As an ALNCo/Inclusion Manager, these products save me valuable time as they are comprehensive and versatile, connecting all areas of learning and in particular linking specialist needs and the pastoral system at our school”.
“I am now looking forward to branching out with the programmes and involving parents and outside agencies, getting them to track and maintain communication through the use of this software.”