In this webinar Katie Edwards, Deputy Head of Primary at the British School Muscat, shares her advice about how schools can make their Parental Engagement World Class including:
How Learning ladders has supported pupils and parents during the Covid-19 pandemic
Responsive action taken from a parent survey asking for further support for parents
Positive outcomes of recording formative assessments to create target cards to share with pupils
Using consistent language to talk about learning with pupils and parents
As a result of this approach BSM have significantly improved how they work in partnership with parents, increasing parental satisfaction. And not just during lockdown, but day in day out.
We’re delighted that over half of all global ‘World Class’ High Performance Learning schools already choose Learning Ladders for their parental engagement (and assessment). Why not connect with us and find out how we can support your school too?
It’s vital that we all learn the lessons from lockdown, so it was a great pleasure to share reflections on this theme with Professor Deborah Eyre, founder and CEO at High Performance Learning. The video from the session is below.
In the session we referenced a number of things, and I’ve added links to some of these below, if I’ve missed any do let us know:
In true Learning Ladders style, collaboration with our schools was at the core. Seeking out contextual implications of the changes on our schools around the globe gave us both UK and international perspectives on how tech can best support practitioners.
So what did we learn?
We learned that our schools didn’t need answers from us.
They need options to create bespoke systems that reflect unique assessment policies based on their own contexts.
Essentially, our journey took us back to our roots.
A customisable curriculum is key
Whether practitioners feel liberated by the freedom of creating their own curriculum or find the prospect daunting, Learning Ladders gives choices for teachers to decide what is right for them.
We’ve made the Framework statements available as a starting point, reducing time consuming admin for practitioners.
Or, if teachers choose to import their own curriculum (in any language), we’ve made the process painless.
The Creation Zone keeps editing tools simple: drag & drop, rename and add statements. No need to contact system providers, pay fees or wait for changes.
With pre-loaded guidance notes from Development Matters, as well as exclusive exemplification from Early Years Consultant Jan Dubiel, schools have effective support for less experienced practitioners.
Schools can plan a challenging and enjoyable curriculum with embedded links to resources from our Curriculum Lab. Search for resources from our quality partners at BBC, Oak Academy and Developing Experts.
Upload links to environment planning (after all, environment is the 3rd adult in EYFS!) or embed links to Phonics or other schemes stored on the shared drive.
Create an evolving, working document that grows with you as a school.
Parents should be involved in learning
The Framework outlines that practitioners need to communicate with parents if any area gives cause for concern, to agree how to support the child.
At Learning Ladders we say, why wait for concerns?
Share learning goals with parents so that all parents are clear about what their child is learning. Perceptions of ‘learning through play’ and a lack of clarity around how learning is developed in the Early Years makes this even more important in EYFS.
Automate the process of upskilling parents so that parents understand how to support their child’s learning. Support articles translatable in 100+ languages mean no parent will ever wonder again about split digraphs or subitising!
Share Evidence with parents, creating opportunities for conversations about learning.
2-way communication and parental contributions of evidence creates strong partnerships with parents.
Communicate home learning tasks for children to complete via Ladders at Home, or why not share automated pupil reports to keep parents in the loop? Fully customisable to the school and with video and audio file sharing in reports, parents and teachers have a shared understanding of their child’s development.
Practitioners require simplified reporting
It was clear through conversations with UK and international schools that requirements for reporting are driven not only from the Framework but from differences in regulators, varying across the globe.
So we’re giving our schools options.
Options for schools to reflect their bespoke assessment policy. Schools choose the number of judgements and have the option to customise the wording, code and colours.
Choose to record half termly or termly point in time professional judgements by viewing evidence collated by teachers, key workers, parents and professionals- all in one place.
Monitor gaps in observations and identify areas for greater depth, informing future planning with Gap Analysis.
View judgements in easy to interpret graphs within Assessment Summary. Download and print graphs showing the percentage of children at each attainment and progress descriptor and use handy filters for a deeper look at data based on Ethnicity, gender, SEN, FS1/FS2.
Better integration into KS1 and beyond
Critically, a significant learning was that schools require more seamless transition between phases.
The days of separate systems for EYFS and the rest of the school are over.
Foundation stage data, curriculum and evidence can be utilised to form a picture over time- finally a joined up picture of progress and attainment across the whole school.
One thing that is clear to us, there is already great practice taking place in all of our schools within EYFS and we’re looking forward to embarking on the next year together.
The BETA (testing) version of our EYFS Module will be available to schools on request from the beginning of September, with features and functionality being added throughout the year and refinements being made based upon your feedback. You’ll need to have staff training before it’s activated, so do contact the office to help us plan your support and schedule this.
Watch our introductory webinar here:
For any questions or to discuss further contact us or email email@example.com.
“Parental involvement in the form of ‘at-home good parenting’ has a significant positive effect on children’s achievement and adjustment even after all other factors shaping attainment have been taken out of the equation. In the primary age range the impact caused by different levels of parental involvement is much bigger than differences associated with variations in the quality of schools. The scale of the impact is evident across all social classes and all ethnic groups” (Desforges 2003).
There is a wealth of evidence showing the positive impact of parental involvement on children’s achievements.
You may also hear the phrase, ‘parental engagement’ used synonymously. Although there are debates to be had about what falls into each definition. A parent may be very much involved in their child’s education and wellbeing at home. Yet the school may not see that the parent is engaged with them.
Parental engagement is usually parents and school working as a team. Working towards the same end goals for the child.
Although schools may also seek to involve parents more in school life as a whole. Parental involvement revolves around a sense of “doing’ something. Either at home or in school.
Parental engagement revolves around the partnership of school and parent working together. This may look, simply, like good 2-way communication.
In this webinar we want to look at the different areas and ways a school may wish to both engage with and involve parents, to benefit pupil and family outcomes.
If you missed the live webinar, take a listen to the recording below:
Melanie Hi, everybody, thank you for joining us today. My name is Melanie Evans. I’m a former primary teacher across the whole primary phase, as well as the early years. I’m working for Learning Ladders now in an education capacity, looking at the product development and really supporting all of the teams and our schools in this setting up the Learning Ladders. Today, we have a webinar about parental engagement.
First of all, thinking about parental engagement historically. So, we know there are conversations in schools between teachers, conversations with senior leaders. We have lots of different conversations that go on within schools. But one of the more difficult relationships and challenges we have is the conversations that we’re trying to engage with parents. So, looking historically, we know that within every school there are parents with differing needs and barriers to communication. So, thinking about language barriers, particularly for our international schools as well as other needs; the physical ability to be at school to have these conversations, we’ve got a barrier there for people who can’t be at the pick-up. We’re talking to a whole range of adults within a child’s life. Sometimes we’re putting notes into book bags, we’re talking to after school provision to pass on messages. So, we need to look at the traditional methods of parental engagement, having a look and seeing where the challenges are around those and what we can do to move on from those forms of communication.
We have the parents evenings traditional structure. So, parents coming in after a long workday, teachers speaking to parents at the end of the day as well. And that short exchange, formerly the broadcasting of how a child is doing. We have the pupil reports, traditionally sent out at the end of the year and then there’s the culture of communication to think about. So thinking about how typically we communicate with parents if there is a problem. So, if you’ve been on the other end as a parent on the playground with the teacher walking towards you, quite often, the parent feels phew! once you’ve heard what they have to say, because quite often a lot of the interactions, particularly pick up and drop off, can be when a problem has occurred. So rather than exchanging about the learning, often it’s about an incident that’s happened at school, somebody falling over, or a medical incident that’s happened. Not so much that culture of discussing learning on that everyday basis.
But the silver lining of the pandemic (there’s not been many silver linings), but one of the silver linings to the pandemic has been the shift in conversation with parents and the engagement and role that parents have taken in learning. And that has really changed. We have the children at home for huge periods of time. So particularly in the UK, we know that we had a three or four month period where the parents were that child’s primary teacher in that period of time. They have all of this information about their child’s learning and now suddenly they have given their child back to the school. And there could be a sense of relief of, ‘my job here is one, I’ve done my best but it’s over to the school now’. But we do have this opportunity as these parents are engaged. They’re understanding the learning. They have a new appreciation as well of the role of a teacher in their child’s learning.
So, the unique opportunity that the lockdown has given us and a survey that we’ve done in collaboration with Twinkl parents found that seventy three percent of parents are now feeling more involved in their child’s education after the period of help in learning at home. Eighty four percent saying that they have a better understanding of what their child is learning. So, we have a shift in conversation. There’s now more focus around engagement with learning and moving away from some of the typical interaction that we may have with parents around the communication of incidents in school. Practical elements such as don’t forget PE kits in notes in the book bags and things like that.
We’re looking for more specific, objective level conversations going on with the parents moving away from that general overview at the end of the year in the reports, in the parents evenings towards more of a consistent pattern of sharing those objectives as the children are learning throughout the year. And then a need for upskilling those parents and a way that that is realistic for teachers to be able to do this remotely. But at scale, you can’t possibly with the telephone conversations that sometimes have traditionally happened, a teacher can’t possibly maintain the 30 conversations in that way, 30 different conversations at hand over a drop of about different objectives for each child. So there needs to be a way to scale this support and information so that we’re engaging more consistently, but still in a realistic way for the teachers workloads.
So, some of the key questions to think about now we’ve come to the end of lockdown in lots of areas though we know that some of our international schools do continue to have a blended learning approach. Looking back at the parental engagement during that time the first place to start could be, what worked well in the lockdown? And what didn’t work? Has your school stopped to ask the parents yet how they found the interactions in the communications? There may have been a need to start using some different technology. Perhaps you needed to find a new communication system. You could’ve used Google hang out, Zoom for example. You may have used other type of systems for sharing evidence and work, for example. How did the parents find that? What did the children learn from some of these new strategies that you put in place?
So, if you’re using a system that is sharing home learning tasks, were the children successful in their learning and accessing the task that you’re setting on those systems? Think about the resilience, flexibility and independent learning as well, the way that you were communicating with parents and the engagement, were the children building that resilience and independence in their learning? And how can we take that forward if we found our pupils in our school are now more independent because they had to take more ownership of that learning when they were at home? Have you found ways to replicate this and continue this in the parental engagement and home learning tasks moving forward? So really thinking about there’s lots of different surveys out there and technology that can support you in sending out these kind of surveys to try and get that feedback from the parents or the adults at home capable of.
Schools also need to consider the time constraints that parents may have. Were the parents able to engage in the live lessons that took place? Was work submitted onto the system? What type of environment were children working in? Whether the pupils were learning at home and how even things down to the Internet connections, is there good access to Internet for sending out continuing send up home learning tasks digitally? And then that idea about how is you going to continue to train children for hopefully not another example of a blended learning situation in the future, but for that continued home learning that does continue throughout the whole of the primary schooling.
So we’re directing schools to consider how they are preparing children to continue that ethos of developing independence and ownership of their learning when they’re at home. At Learning Ladders, we talk about creating opportunities for conversation, and if anybody’s been on a webinar with our founder Matt, he was also a former teacher and started Learning Ladders for the very impact of the parental engagement impact on the children in his class. When he started sharing explicit learning objectives and focusing on that parental engagement, he saw a real difference in learning outcomes and that was where Learning Ladders was born out of. He particularly likes to refer to education as a conversation and not a transfusion. So that quote from Sir Ken Robinson, and that really is the underlying theme behind the Learning Ladders opportunities for conversation.
It was interesting, I recently read an NHS document that was focused on communication and language with children and how to create these opportunities for conversation. And what really struck me was perhaps we need to be applying some of these principles to conversation in general with adults as well. So, thinking about are we giving parents the means to communicate and have a conversation with us? Are we giving them reasons to have these conversations as well as creating opportunity for the parents to have these conversations?
When we think of ‘the means for conversation’, then we are thinking about a way to communicate. So, we’ve got the face to face meeting. So perhaps it could be at handover, the traditional parents evening or through telephone conversations. But is there a way that we could merge some of the new systems that are out there and technology to support us in giving the parents the means to communicate and remove some of those barriers in that communication? The reason to communicate, parents thinking about what is my child learning about? Giving parents a reason to communicate with teachers. Perhaps the reason is to find out how they can help that child at home. Perhaps it’s how is my child doing with their learning now that they’re back in school and also looking at that feedback. Another reason the parents could reach out to communicate could be to provide feedback of the learning from home. So, are we creating these reasons for conversation with parents in our school.
And then opportunities, so not just, as I say, the parents evening, but other opportunities for other school to share learning goals that children are working on, to chat through technology systems, homework evidence and reports. And Ladders at Home, which is our parent portal, really focuses on giving the opportunity for conversation through homework, evidence and reports. If we give parents specific things to communicate around, then we’re creating more opportunities for those conversations to take place. In a system such as Learning Ladders, we have a parent portal to be able to include all parents, no matter those barriers of language, time and access. We have one login for a system, and that doesn’t matter if you’ve got multiple siblings across the school. So giving parents the means to communicate with whatever teacher that child is working within school for all of their children in one place.
The parent portal can be accessed on any device, again, removing some of those barriers and the accessibility around it. So Ladders at Home, for example, can be translated into over one hundred languages. We’re making the means to communicate accessible through this one platform, and it’s consistent as well. So, with our parent portal, whether your child’s starting a nursery or whether they’re in year seven, creating that consistent way to engage with parents through a parental engagement system such as a parent portal. So that’s what I’m going to show you today, how Learning Ladders is supporting that parental engagement.
And one way that parental engagement is supported is sharing explicit learning goals with the parents. We know that in order for the parents to be able to support their child, the conversations need to take place. And if you’re as a parent, you’re receiving your child home from school and you’re saying to them, what are you learning about today? And they say, not much! It doesn’t give much for the parents to go on to continue that articulation of the learning that’s happening in school. So that’s why in our parent portal, we’re sharing the learning goals as the children are working on them and parents can see whether or not the objective is complete or if it’s in progress and the parent can talk to the child about that. You can even see when whether the objective is from a prior year so that you know whether or not children are working on objectives from outside the year group. So, it’s a springboard for that conversation for the parent to then have the information to be able to talk about the learning with that child. And as I said previously, these learning goals can be translated into over one hundred languages. So, depending on the parent at home, the different languages, for example, those can be translated to them from the different languages with a click of a button. So, it’s accessible and sharing that explicit learning so that we can actually have the engagement with learning rather than just with the traditional day to day routines of children in school.
In order for these conversations at home to take place, what we know is that children need to start this process in school. With parental engagement the first step is practicing the articulation of learning with the adults in school. And that’s why we need the pupils to be taking co-ownership of their learning. The pupils need to be aware exactly what they’re working on. So, in Learning Ladders, we have pupil statements just at the top here. The ticks will show whether they’re at the beginning of understanding of that objective, whether they’re developing it or whether they’ve understood that to a greater depth. For example, the teacher can sit next to the child, and they can share the objectives that have already come, those that are going to be working on in the next few weeks. I’m really talking to the child about independence. What can you do to support yourself in this objective, to move your learning forward? How can I support you as your teacher in moving on your understanding? And here is the curriculum journey that we’re going to go on together. That way, the pupils are taking ownership of that learning.
We have other ways to do this through the system. So, for example, in the bottom corner here, we have the pupil booklets. So, these can be ordered for the maths. reading and writing. So, schools often make them for key stage one so that that booklet will stay with that child throughout year one and two. It’s a really clear, engaging visualisation of the next steps in learning the objectives that they’ve achieved so that actually they can take some independence and say, I think I’ve achieved this objective, now I understand this objective. And perhaps they will even instigate these conversations with teachers, giving the teachers the feedback and that pupil voice that they feel that they’ve met an objective. So, we think about the parental engagement, about what parents do at home with their child but it’s about really thinking about what’s happening in school that’s enabling pupils to practice articulating their learning so that their parents know the objectives they’re working on. The pupils come home and they’re aware of what they’re working on. And all adults in a child’s life are saying the same thing at the same time, in the same way.
It’s that consistency for everybody involved in that child’s learning. And then not just sharing those objectives. We’re thinking about the opportunities for conversation that you may have. So, thinking about, for example, a parent who’s received those learning goals, I now know what my child is learning about in school, but I don’t have the confidence to be able to support my child with that. The language isn’t familiar to me. There’s a lot of jargon around education that needs unlocking. So, things like, oh, working on split digraphs. This week we’re working on a number of bonds to 10. Now, when we were at school thinking back, not everything is the same. I know. Certainly, when I was at school, phonics and phonemes and digraphs, those terms were not used. So, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the parents who haven’t heard this language before, as we’re all very familiar with these terms. But that jargon is a barrier to the parents being able to support their child at home. So, what can we do about it? Can we send out 30 different emails explaining objectives to the different parents who don’t understand the different terms? Am I going to create a video that’s going to take me a very long time to explain each objective as they go along? Is that practical or realistic as a teacher? Or can I look to systems who have in place support such as Learning Ladders when the objective is shared? You can click on articles and it will take you to qualified teachers understanding and explanation of what the objective means, why it’s important, how it’s taught in school. Here are some examples of websites that your child could go to challenge them, to support them if they’re not understanding the subjective and straight away, we have parents feeling more confident, upskill and ready to support their child.
We’re really looking at how parents perceive the learning, and we are all products of our own feelings around our educational experiences. And if that experience was of no understanding of panic and anxiety around maths then supporting our child in subjects will cause stress. How can we support the parents to become involved in their child’s maths learning in a positive way, feeling confident and in control, and of explaining to their child exactly what it means? So, we have the support of schools across the reading, maths, writing objectives, and they can be translated into over the hundred languages. We’re making them accessible to everybody to consume.
In terms of flexibility as a teacher, sometimes you’d like to create an article, perhaps around using Numicon, which is a resource in maths, for example. And as a teacher, I could go to the door, I could print out a letter and put it in the book bag. Whether or not it will reach the parents I don’t know. I could talk to parents one to one, write an email, or perhaps I could utilise the technology to write my own article about this is the Nunicom we use in school. It’s a specific resource. This is what we’re doing with it. And this is how you could talk to your child at home about recognition of the colours. So, we allow our schools to create their own articles as well. Sharing evidence as well is another way to give opportunity for conversations and reasons for parents to open up those conversations.
Moving on to the evidence that we collect naturally as teachers, as we’re going along across the subjects, why not share that evidence with parents in a portfolio that will come through? So, this might be a video, it may be a photograph or even an audio recording of a child reading in school, for example. And that gives the parent an opportunity to have a window and insight into the learning that’s going on in the classroom with that child and a springboard for conversation when that child comes home to discuss that moment in learning and to trigger that conversation for the child to say, oh, yes, we’ve been learning about number bonds in school and this is what I was doing in this piece of a piece of writing here or my piece of work or in that photograph. Sharing that evidence with parents at home gives them an opportunity to have conversations not only with their own child and to celebrate learning with their child as well as successes, but to be able to have opportunities of conversation with the teacher.
So, we have the two way conversations around the evidence. If I’m receiving a piece of evidence of my child using money in a role play situation at school, I may want to feed back to the teacher. Actually, I saw them using coins in the shop this weekend and they calculated the change that they were going to get back. So, it’s really having that two way information and valuing the information that the parents can feed back to us about how they’re applying those skills in real life context. Sharing that evidence is a really important journey.
Another way to create opportunities for conversation with the parents is looking at the home learning tasks that we set. So, during the lockdown periods you may have had to find systems to be able to share this home learning. At Learning Ladders we’ve been banging the parents engagement drum for a very long time. Parental engagement has been core to the Learning Ladders product since Matt created it. So, we already had lots of these systems in place for sharing and learning. One of the new developments was the Self marking Homework. And as a former teacher myself, I think that this is one of the elements that is particularly useful for feeding into planning and learning.
So as a teacher, I can create a home learning task. I can tell the system the questions, the answers and what the correct answer is. That enables the child to get immediate feedback and a result of how they got on in that task. They’ll get a percentage, and they also get a score, and the parent can see that as well. So already I know as a child, I didn’t quite understand that rather than that traditional process of handing in homework and getting feedback a week later. The teacher has to look at 30 pieces of homework, does the child ever get that specific feedback and is it too late? A week later? We know that the best type of feedback is immediate feedback. And that’s why something like the self marking homework is really effective.
Not only that, but we also have the pupil voice as well on reflection. So, as I’m submitting the answers to that question, I’m able to using some accessible smiley faces and textbox to respond to my teacher, to say whether or not I found the homework easy. Was it hard for me? Did I enjoy that particular topic? What did I find difficult? And the parent and the teacher can then view these comments within the Learning Ladders system and also the results for the multiple choice questions. So, I can then analyse a class, I haven’t yet taught this topic, perhaps I’m going to use a multiple choice homework to find out the prior knowledge of the class I’m teaching. What that will do is I can see each question, how children have access that and whether or not they have got this right or wrong, which questions and look for patterns. And actually, if 90 percent of the class have all got all of the questions right, perhaps I need to look at the pitch of the lesson for next week. If it’s coming back that there’s a real gap, a misconception in knowledge across the class then I need to adapt my planning next week or moving forward as well to address the facts that we have lots of misconceptions in that particular area. So, it can be a really useful assessment tool to try and gather prior information and knowledge. But it can also be used after teaching to see children’s understanding in an independent context when they go to apply it on their own at home.
And the very management of setting homework within a system like our parent portal that we have is that you’re even able to say which children have access to homework and which children haven’t. If we know consistently that Liliane, for example, isn’t accessing the homework, it’s giving a means for that conversation. For the two way chats, I can then comment and message the parent. They can message me saying we haven’t quite understood this. This is why we haven’t access is homework this week. I’ve been really busy at work. We have no Internet. I don’t have access to the technology. These kind of conversations that then come up that you may not get in the traditional homework that might just slip under the radar. It really gives you that insight. You could initiate the conversation with the parent and say, how can we support you in accessing this type of learning? We’ve noticed that Liliane hasn’t been able to access the home learning for the past two weeks. Is there something that we can do to support you? And already that’s opening up the conversation for Lillian’s parent to get that feedback about the environment at home, her ability and time to be able to scaffold her child. Perhaps we’ll see that there’s gaps in confidence and we can then support Lillian’s parent towards the articles to support her understanding upskill her confidence levels to be able to then feel that she can access the homework. So, we’re being able to speak to parents, even if they’re not the ones that drop off and pick up, it’s the nannies or au pairs we’re really getting through to the parent to be able to find out and unpick what the barriers are to accessing the home learning tasks.
As well as the Self marking homework, we have all files that you could upload. So, if you’ve already got a specific homework, that’s been created, Learning Ladders enables the teachers to upload that file and share it with a particular pupil or, the whole class. Open-Ended tasks such as this weekend, if you can go on a learning walk in an environment, notice the change in seasons and bring back your thoughts on Monday. So, there’s Open-Ended tasks as well. If you’ve created a video through a different site and a video platform that’s holding that video, you can drop the link in to a homework and say watch this video about this or a link to a useful game. Access this game here, the challenge one. And if you’re finding a little bit difficult, perhaps you could try this game. So, differentiating the homework as well. So, lots of options to set homework within the same system. Then parents get in contact with the teacher to unpick if there’s any problems, if they need support then signposting off to the other support that you have within the portal. And that really supports the teacher in building a picture of learning.
Looking at your formative assessment, all in the same system as your parental engagement system and saying, actually, this group of children all started at the beginning understanding of this concept, I’m going to send out the homework, encourage the parent to give me feedback, and that’s going to feed back into my assessment of the child. If the parent is then coming back saying they understood this really well, they work independently. You are then getting more of a picture of learning to be able to inform your formative assessment and you’re planning for next week and then in the Gap Analysis looking for those gaps, thinking about your homework on a more targeted level. We don’t need to send the same homework to the whole class. We can use the formative assessment to identify groups of children with a similar need who are all needing support to be achieving that objective. Similarly, all those children who are at a developing understanding that we need to move towards more of a greater depth and then targeting our homework so that we are accessing that differentiation challenge and support.
We’re thinking about those opportunities for conversation, so that’s why our communications are around certain features. So, the homework, the evidence, the pupil reports, and then that’s all managed within a notification center. Another really important aspect to think about parental engagement is it needs to be manageable for your teachers. So, it’s OK having that open communication where parents can message about anything, but that opens up a teacher to be able to reply to maybe 50 messages across a week from parents asking about timetables, about PE lessons next week. If we’re really keeping that communication around the learning, then we’re giving that message to all schools and to the parents that we’re interested in the learning that you’re doing with your children at home. And we can manage that within the notifications because we can see what the communication was centered around. Was it centered around pupil reports I sent out or a particular homework or a particular piece of evidence. So, it’s always keeping that parental engagement realistic for the teacher’s workload and not overwhelming with that communication.
So, in Learning Ladders, we have sharing the goals as we go along, we’ve got the articles to support the parents and we’re doing these home learning tasks, this ongoing parental engagement. More formal communication through pupil reports are normally printed reports put into the book bags to be sent home. What if there was a better way to be able to do this remotely at scale. So digitalising reports and saving teachers time so that they can communicate in a more clear and explicit way about objectives.
All reports enable you to customise the logo for your school, the name of the school, even if you’ve got a school motto. That’s really nice to get that kind of feeling of belonging and ownership of the reports. And you can use these reports on an interim basis. So, we have schools that use them termly because what we find is if we’re sharing this information as we go along, being able to give some kind of a summary within maybe the core subjects on a termly basis is another way for the parents and the teachers to communicate on an ongoing basis rather than just at the end point at the end of the year.
In our reports, the strengths and the challenges are pulled through from the formative assessment we’re already adding on the system. This is why it is a huge benefit to using an assessment system that’s also got the parental engagement as part of the system. But really thinking about whatever system you’re using, are you using your assessment to take away some of the workload around the reports? I think parents are often left a little bit dissatisfied when they feel that reports are bit generic, that there’s nothing specific that they can work on with their child, or if there is something specific, it’s taken the teacher 30 to 40 hours to write 30 reports on average. So, it is taking that huge amount of time to get that personalisation and those specific objectives in. So why not automate that process using a system that generates these pupil reports and pulls through the strengths and the challenges from the formative assessments on the system and include more than one? You can have multiple strengths and challenges for each subject if you wish. The teacher comment is still there and sharing that piece of evidence means you can have a photograph or what I think is really lovely as a parent perspective as well is the ability to even have a video shared per subject. And I think that’s a great insight and a tool for communication, not only for the parent with the child, but for the parent to be able to comment back to the teacher and give their feedback on what they’ve seen. So, these kind of reports are personal and contextual to the school. So, if you have particular aims or I know we work with high performance learning schools that work on particular attributes, for example, you’re even able to report on the custom attributes of your school. So, if you talk about resilience, cooperation, you can report on those things, because after all that is the reason why a parent may have chosen your school, for those attributes. So, reporting back about those attributes, it heightens the importance of them and also enables the parents to know what type of moral and attitudes are being developed in school so that they can also support those morals attitudes towards learning at home with their child. Thinking about some of the work that goes into these reports, there is still a place for predefined comments that you may want to use across multiple reports. There are comments that are reflective for children who are finding something challenging, perhaps their comments that apply to children who needed greater depth. In Learning Ladders, you were able to upload those comments from a file. You might have already import them into the system to be able to then put into the report even when you need them.
All of that information that I’ve shown you can be achieved in different systems, perhaps you’ve got lots of different systems going on at the moment. Perhaps you’re using one for assessment, one for parental engagement, another for setting home learning tasks. What I would say, though, about the parents engagement is really think about whatever you’re doing, is having the child at the centre of all of the adults around that child saying the same thing, at the same time? We want the parents understanding what their child’s learning and to know exactly how to help at home and take the stress out of that home learning, because if it’s more of a positive experience for everybody, it’s more likely that we’re going to replicate that home learning with the child at home. We need the teachers knowing exactly what the child needs for every lesson. And part of that is the feedback that you get from the teachers and the senior leaders in school to know exactly what’s happening, those interventions that are happening and are being informed by what we’re hearing from the parental contribution as well, and that parental involvement in learning and the engagement.
So not just the reading in class, the volunteering that’s involvement with school. And they’re all really important aspects we’ve got helping our children with homework, making sure they’ve submitted their homework. But the true engagement of learning is what we’re thinking about at Learning Ladders. Are we providing those opportunities for conversation to give the moral support, the guidance to develop attitudes at home, as well as make progress in the learning at home? So whatever parental engagement system you’re using, ensuring that as well as the traditional methods of notes and book bags, telephone calls, updates about Sports Day next week, we’re also engaging the parents in these learning conversations because we know at Learning Ladders research shows parents want to be involved, 93 percent on the survey saying they want more information about what the child’s learning, why, how it’s taught. So, the parental engagement that we provide needs to be supporting the parents with those things and looking at the research as well. When we think about the why, we have research such as parents engagement needs to be part of a whole school strategy, not a bolt on activity, OK, it’s not something that we can suddenly start doing at the end of a year. The strategy has to be on the needs analysis. So, as I spoke about at the beginning of the webinar, have you looked back at the parental engagement? Have you assessed the needs of the parents in your particular cohorts and had the feedback from them about what they need from the school to be able to support their child? It needs to be focused on students learning all those other useful things, like reading with children, finding out when the money’s due and things like that, that all important communications. But in order to see the impact on learning outcomes, the parental engagement needs to be around explicit learning objectives, and there needs to be regular reviews that involve parents. We’re not just broadcasting how a child is doing in their learning, we’re actually communicating and having conversations about the learning that’s ongoing throughout the year and something that Learning Ladders the system. And it may be really important for you to look at the systems you’ve got in place.
Are those systems giving consistency across your internal team? OK, so what I mean by that is when we have a school join us, we put a lot of time and effort into the onboarding to ensure the buy-in from all teachers. Right at the beginning, this is our strategy, this is how we’re going to communicate with parents. And that’s going to be the same whether you’re in year one or in year six, those parents are going to receive that support, that explicit learning objectives and that feedback to support them with their learning at home. So, again, during onboarding sessions, we talk through the best way to utilise that parents engagement. We have the teacher training and the senior leadership training and all of the support underneath that. That enables all of the teachers in school to be consistent in their parents engagement. So that could be CPD webinars. For example, at Learning Ladders, we had lots of free webinars, monthly and weekly that teachers can go on around things like pupil reports and how to promote conversations with parents and the conversation that happens after the reports. That’s not the end of it to broadcast how the child’s doing. It’s about the conversation that that creates. And that’s why we have the two-way chats so the teachers can jump on a webinar to find out about that. It could be around using home learning tasks to generate conversation with parents. It could be about sharing evidence with parents as well. So, what’s the ongoing support like in those systems that you very quickly had to join? Are you seeing that support to be able to get that consistent approach as a school? And it’s not that. Perhaps if there’s a better way or more of a joined up system that can enable that consistency from year one all the way through to year six, for example.
So, lots of our schools use our parent platform for parents engagement, if you’re interested, there’s a website called EdTech Impact is a bit like TripAdvisor for education. We’ve got real schools on there talking about using the parent portal and how that’s had an effect on the learning outcomes of pupils. And that can be read on the EdTech impact website so check that out. It’s always better to hear it from another practitioner I find to be able to really look for the impact that it’s had on the pupils learning.
And then if you’ve watched webinar today and you’d like to arrange a demo of the system of the parent portal, we’ve got firstname.lastname@example.org is the email address or you can contact Stella directly, she’s email@example.com. Get in touch with the team. Parental engagement is what we do day in, day out. It’s been a core part of Learning Ladders from the beginning. So, we’ve really got the consistency there in the support for setting up that parental engagement, getting the buy-In from the teachers so that we have that consistent approach and those means, reasons and opportunities for conversations to take place. And that’s the built over a long time.
Now, coming to the end of the webinar, I’ll just hang around for a moment, check the Q&A. If you’d like to type them in there. I’m happy to answer those. Thank you so much for joining us today about parental engagement. Keep an eye out on the events page. We have lots of interesting webinars coming up, many of them around parental engagement.
We would all like to think that parents thoroughly read through our carefully crafted pupil school reports. How they must appreciate the hours we put into writing them!
However, the reality is that reports are often not as cherished as we would hope.
It’s very easy to get them wrong. Wrong name in a copy and paste. Blanket statements for the class such as “We had a great time at Arundel Castle”. Then finding out the student didn’t attend that day.
But it is also just as easy to get them right. Being specific. Writing in simple language. Providing opportunities for parents to get more involved in their child’s education. All of these help to create a great school report.
Our webinar looks at some top tips for writing reports to ensure maximum impact from minimum effort. All the personalisation without hours of your time!
Watch the recording of the webinar below: Advice & Guidance for School Report Writing
Webinar transcription, including our top tips for writing school reports:
Welcome to the webinar today. I’m Melanie Evans, a little bit of background about me. I’m a former primary teacher and I work for Learning Ladders as a product specialist. Today, we’re looking at advice and guidance for school report writing.
So, thinking about reports, why have we chosen this topic? It seemed topical coming up to the end of the year where reports are coming to mind for lots of schools and a lot reading on social media in teacher circles about reports and the fundamental issues that we’re seeing.
It’s fair to say the system of report writing is broken at the moment, we’ve got teachers spending 30 to 40 hours producing reports for their classes of 30. And I know in my own experience of my previous teaching, the hours that I would pour into each and every report, the systems that were slowing me down and signing off those reports from being able to create a draft, send it to sign off, wait for that feedback from somebody. There were errors along the way using share drives with documents that get lost between wasted time and drawn out processes. So, we know that there are challenges there. We also have parents feeling dissatisfied with the information that they’re being given, an idea of sometimes feeling that there’s a cut-and-paste element to their child’s report and not quite being able to see the progress and attainment and qualities that they would expect for their own child and a lack of detail of how they can support their child at home. It’s almost become a broadcast of how a child is doing, so we’ve got the lack of two way communication.
So in particular here at Learning Ladders, we’re thinking about partnerships with parents. And never before has that been more important than in the pandemic and the lockdown situations with the home learning. I think that’s really brought to the forefront the challenges we’ve had with traditional report writing to now. There’s no choice about how to access these reports. Currently, parents can’t consume the reports in the barriers with their own languages. So, they receive reports that perhaps they have to try and find someone to translate. There’s a barrier between the communication with the parent as well and the teacher, if they wanted to give feedback as a lots of things standing in a parent’s way. The moment typically lots of schools just using a printed version, obviously with parents less in the buildings and school now and more remote being able to find ways to overcome the challenge of reports being a printed base or it just emailed out or not, given the choice of parents how they like to consume them. So overall, we’re looking at reports being very formal in traditional ways, unhelpful, time consuming, not just for the teachers, but for senior leaders who are involved in signing them off. And it’s a bit like the historical parents evening model where you have the five minute formal evening feedback to parents. Here’s how your child’s done in this subject for a whole year, is what these end of year reports can sometimes be like. And it’s a quick snapshot that just comes at the end of a period of time that doesn’t really leave the parent with anything that they can take away to be able to support their child with specific and explicit learning objectives that they need to work on next.
The good news is we have fixed pupil reports at Learning Ladders. We’ve been looking at what’s wrong with the current process. We have been listening to what schools are telling us. Our schools have been giving feedback about some of the challenges they’re finding with pupil reports. And there are systems out there to support you using the technology to support that process, to be able to eliminate as many of those challenges as possible. We’re trying to save teachers hours of time, trying to streamline the process. We’ve created in-depth, highly detailed reports that can be consumed online in a PDF digitally and accessible for all languages. Our reports are able to be translated into over 100 languages to support parents and access being accessible for the child’s reports. And most importantly, the reports that we have created share specific explicit learning goals are shared with the parents, and we’re moving away from the vague statements of ‘Sarah sat nicely on the carpet. She listens really well and puts her hand up’ and they’re all lovely comments. As a parent myself, it’s lovely to hear that your child is polite and is listening to the rules and following the routines. But it’s that important, explicit sharing of the learning that the teachers need to be sharing with the pupils. And that is how we’ve created our pupil reports and met those challenges that we spoke about previously.
And I’m going to show you the process. Perhaps it’s not Learning Ladders as a system you use, but something that will allow you to reflect on your current pupil report system and your process and perhaps something you can take away today that would support you in making some changes to make the process more enjoyable, less hours and more consumable for parents. And here’s an example I’m going to show you. This is what the reports look like. We’ve got the sleek design, very personalised, informative, accessible reports. And I’m going to tell you how now this works.
So, first of all, with thinking about the reporting process, we need to be finding a way for our pupil reports that is simple and streamlined. So, in Learning Ladders, we have an online management of reports all in one place from the draft to the sign off and to the publishing. So, everything is managed in one system. Now, when you’re working across big teams in in large schools, particularly trying to gain that consistency, when you’re not doing that on an online platform, as I said before, can involve shared hard drives. It can involve reports being passed around to different department heads, different subject leaders, for example, and teachers to contribute to that report. All of that taking time, leaving room for error. And there’s no overview. There with a visible, clear picture of where the reports are, so at the beginning of our reports, it tells you what you can do in the pupil report section and you have a clear indication of the status of each report.
They’re able to search for particular students that they’d like to see a report for perhaps searching by a class name and being able to see all the reports per class. The status is an interesting one, being able to manage. I know myself from experience when I was writing them or printing them in the more traditional way, trying to then gather and create the system of right, which of my reports have been written which are ready for sign off. Have I had feedback on those ones? Which ones are ready to publish that? Management of the system of creating these reports can create quite a lot of workload for the teacher. So, in Learning Ladders way we’ve done that is through the status of the reports. So perhaps I want to search for all of the reports that are draft. And that way the teacher I know automatically I don’t need to filter through 30. These are my ones. I’m still writing. Perhaps I’m going to then search for all of the ones that are sent to sign off. So, I know then that I’m waiting for the person to sign off and where that report status is, the sticky labels, as well as a little things to say be times. If you go into one report and come back, all the settings that you had there are exactly the same as they were before, which I know can be really useful. When you filtered using one of the filters at the top, you can see what type of report they are. And then the icon making it really obvious how you can then view each report and then coming back to the class to view the next report in the system. So really easy to visually see where all of your reports are. And we have adjustable settings for each school because we know that I know as a parent, if I received a report back, it’s really nice to see the school reflected in that report. It makes it feel unique. It makes it feel like it was a report just for us and it reflects the values of that school.
So, we’ve got the settings all controlled internally by the school and kind of very clear at the top how you can access the school name, sign off settings, custom modules. You can pick your subjects and then general settings as well that you can set for your people reports. So just like the rest of Learning Ladders very bespoke to the school. So whatever system you’re using, it’s really trying to get that unique feel in the reports that you’re generating so that it’s reflecting your school.
So, then we have to sign off settings. We want that smooth feedback process. Sometimes when you can send your report to a senior leader for it to be checked or for feedback or for contribution in the reports, it can be a really timely process. You’re waiting to hear back. You’re not sure who you’re sending the report to. In Learning Ladders, we met that challenge, really making sure it’s clear in your school, whatever system you’re using, who is the person that’s going to sign off those reports? And in Learning Ladders here each year group, you’d be able to select the teacher user who has the permissions to check and sign off that report. So, when they finish the draft, it really quickly clicks, send for sign off. The person with the sign of responsibility gets an email and a notification telling them there’s a report to be checked. They can then check the report, view the evidence, read through the report, add a comment if it’s a senior leader, and then they’re able to then communicate back with the teacher all through this one system. Okay, so if it’s the case that I like the reports, but we’d like some more specific feedback about place value in the maths. For example, as the teacher, they are able to then send it back. I’m able to view that feedback from the person that signed my report off, amend it and then send it for sign off again. So that process of to and fro in that communication is opened with the person signing off and it happens instantly and online as well. Saving time. So, this sign-off process, however, you’re going to use whichever system having this really clear sign off process is going to take out a lot of the hours in the time spent waiting and chasing and wondering who’s going to sign off, which reports. So, this is one way that you could manage it and then report for any time of the year.
So, at Learning Ladders, we really believe that parental engagement needs to be ongoing, it needs to be continuous, and that feedback needs to be sharing explicit learning goals. OK, so we give choices, looking for systems that allows you to have a choice about how often you’re going to send reports home. Traditionally, there’s the end of year report, which summarises how a child has done across the subjects. But we’re also seeing a lot more need and want for the termly or interim reports which happen more frequently throughout the year. If you’re taking that parental engagement strategy that you’re trying to inform parents of exactly what their child is learning in school, we need to be having a report system that’s perhaps slightly different format to the end of year reports.
So, in a system, it’s really looking for something that will support the school in being able to choose the subjects that you’re going to report on termly and yearly and in Learning Ladders, one way we’ve done that is allowing schools to set out the reports and choose the subjects that they like to include. For example, if it was termly, we may like to only report back on the core subjects. So, I’m just going to do three of the subjects term and then at the end of the year we’re going to report on all the foundation subjects plus the core subjects as well. And that is really unique to each school.
Perhaps some schools want to termly report on all of the subjects, and that’s absolutely fine. There’s no limits. There’s no recommended number. It really is, as with everything else in Learning Ladders, a whole school decision and approach to your reporting. So just down the side there, you can see we have the different subjects in my history, maths, music. So, all the subjects are already in the system will be available to report on. So, it’s useful to try and find a system that will allow you to do this. And then continuing in that view of personalised and reflect in the context of the school wider to the academic achievement is the school attitudes that you’re trying to develop in children.
Now, we know for parental engagement and involvement to be successful, parents need to be informed about how their child is being taught at school. And that’s not just an academic. Parental involvement can really improve and support and scaffold their child in developing certain attitudes that the school feels are important to them. So, if we can report to the parents informing of them what these attitudes are, then the parents and the teachers in the school are working in partnership all on the same page. And that’s why we created in Learning Ladders one way we’ve done this is through custom modules. So, what you’re able to do is to create attitudes for your school. So, whether that’s a team player or showing resilience, it could be that you follow something like the Guy Claxton with the R’s, the reciprocity, and you want to put those in their learning powers or whatever approach, perhaps a high performance learning school in those particular attitudes you’d like to develop there and report on to your parents. So, whatever’s important and unique to your school and the curriculum content and where you intend the students in your school to develop attitudes in that time with you, it’s very important that we’re communicating that with the parents as well. In addition to that, being able to mark the child and how they are doing all along, that those attitudes. So, whether they’re always being a team player, it doesn’t come easy, and they want to report that back to the parent, or maybe they’re working on it. And they’ve been put in really great effort with the attitude. It’s really important for the parent to know that at home that perhaps being a team player is something that doesn’t come easy to my child and that’s being demonstrated at school. Perhaps then as a parent, I’m going to play more team games at home and try and support them in those games to be able to work on it and then become got it and always and become a team player. So being able to report on things that are wider than the academic achievement, I think that holistic view of the child is really important, and that’s something that we feel at Learning Ladders. So, again, looking at the systems you have in place, all your reports reporting on these attitudes to support the parents in supporting a child at home.
And further to that, having these personalised reports, we can even go to putting your logo onto the front of the report, I showed you the smart view of the report before having your school’s logo, that belonging and ownership of the school and being part of a school with the school motto as well, that we believe to achieve results. If you have a school motto trying to include that in your reports, to make it feel like you’re taking ownership and reflection in your school’s identity.
So, thinking about what I did to that and the teacher’s workload and we’ve talked about how many hours it can take for that whole process of writing, signing off and then sending to parents, another element to that and something that I remember well is the pulling in predefined comments. So sometimes there are comments that will be used frequently. So perhaps it’s with certain groups of children. And actually, there’s a phrase that works well across and it’s something that I want to use in multiple reports. We’re not we’re not trying to move towards having that copy and paste feel of a report. But it’s just in those instances where there are phrases that are really useful to have in multiple reports. So, we Learning Ladders one way to reduce that workload is to be able to import comments that into the system, add new comments, edit and delete existing comments in there, almost like a bank of comments that you might have on an Excel spreadsheet, just bringing it all into the one system. What’s great about this is it can be in any language as well. You can see in the example that I’ve given here; we’ve imported an Arabic comment so that I can use that in my reports and then I can draw on those comments as I’m building the reports where they’re appropriate. We’re not suggesting, as I say, the copy and paste approach of putting that comment on every single 30 reports. It’s just that for the reports where you need it, they’ll be there for you to reduce the workload in doing that.
Thinking about then the sharing of explicit learning goals and we talk a lot about at Learning Ladders about sharing, learning and having visible learning with pupils, visible learning to the parents and the teachers and everybody surrounding that child, understanding what that child is currently working on, their challenges and also the strengths and the celebrating the learning these people reports are supposed to be a time for celebration of look how great your child has done this year, all these strengths and all the objectives that they met now that they can do that, they couldn’t do before. We really want to make sure that that’s coming across in the reports. But how do you do that as a teacher when there are 30 children in your class? Different strengths for each child, different challenges for each child. Pulling that information from lots of different sources can be time consuming. So whatever system you’re using, it’s thinking about working smarter. So, if you’ve been already inserting formative assessment into a system and tracking that assessment, then systems like Learning Ladders.
What we’ve done is we’ve been able to put the strengths or the challenges, and it will pull in the formative assessments that I’ve added on the system already. So, you can see here for the maths, I can recall and use multiplication division facts. Now, that’s an objective that’s not yet been marked as assessed as met. So that’s why it’s being pulled through in the challenges. And our system will do that for every single subject as well. So, as well as pulling through the strengths and objective that is pulling through those challenges, I know that it’s unique to that child. I know that it’s specific. And that is the information that parents need to be able to support their child at home. And then, as you can see on the completed report, on the left hand side for each subject, then you can have multiple strengths and multiple challenges within a click of a button. And it really does take the work out. But you’re still retaining that unique approach and that the parent knows that you are aware of the exact strength and challenge and they are now aware of the exact strengths and challenges so that they can support their child at home.
We’ve now shared the explicit learning objectives that the child has either achieved or is yet to achieve. But we can bring those reports to life because reports are supposed to be something that parents for years and years have kept treasured, shown them when they get older. You know, all those lovely, loving things around celebrating the learning, I think is really brought to life. If you can really engage parents to be able to share evidence of their child in that subject and be able to say, look, here is a photograph of your child achieving and celebrating and doing really well in their learning, they can then show and sit next to their child. And that conversation between parent and child then is increased because the pupil can explain to the parent what they were doing at the time. They feel proud that their parent is understanding what they’re doing at school and improving the articulation of learning at home. So, the evidence is a really great way to bring your report to life. What’s really exciting and Learning Ladders and no other reports are going to let you do this is you can have a video. As a parent I would absolutely love to be able to see a video of my child like a fly on a wall, what they’re doing at school and in the subjects. So, at Learning Ladders, you able to upload a video as a piece of evidence around 30 seconds video. And then when the parent is viewing the reports digitally, they’re then able to watch the video of that child and really bring that to life. They can watch the video with their child and ask them questions about what they were doing. And it’s a really nice way to share that learning and to celebrate at home. So, looking for systems and ways to improve your reports by making them more interactive and more visual and exciting.
Further to that, as well as the teacher in a child’s life, we have lots of people involved who have a voice. So, you may have the senior leaders in the school who would like to comment on the reports for each child. I know that was the case in schools I’ve worked in before. This head teachers head of phase for some time, would like to write reports about and a comment about the child. So that’s why in our system, we’ve looked at ways that the senior leaders can add a comment or as a school again and the flexibility in Learning Ladders, you might just want to switch that off and you’re not going to include a senior leadership comment that is completely down to the schools. So, it’s really agreeing a process within your school. Do we want to add the leadership comments? How are we going to manage that process if a senior leader is trying to sign off reports and comments to lots of different reports? And that’s why having a system like Learning Ladders or another system that allows you to be able to track and all contribute to reports online, as long as they are assigned to the classes, they can go in and at the senior leadership comment and you can see that at the top, then the teacher can have a comment at the end as well. And most importantly, and something that we believe in here at Learning Ladders is the pupil voice coming through, being able to allow the child to add a comment to their own reports and also to choose a piece of evidence or a piece of what they’re proud of, their reflecting on their learning. They’re able to share something with a parent that they’re really proud of and tell you why they’re so proud of it and perhaps include that in their pupil comments. So, we’ve got the pupil at the centre, we’ve got the teachers SLT, and we’ve got the parents all working together to celebrate the learning. And they’re all informed and know exactly what the next steps are in their learning.
So then thinking about the parents at home, they receive home a report being able to comment as a parent and being able to communicate about that report. So sometimes it may be in a positive way. You’ve received a report home. I know as a teacher in the past, I’ve sent reports back and you get these lovely comments come back from the parents saying how pleased they are, how glad they are to see that they’ve been working on these strengths and things that they’re going to help the child with at home. Sometimes a report can be can cause some worry or concerns for parents as well and being able to give parents a way to express that and to share those worries and concerns and to ask for help is something we need to think about in this report process.
As I say, typically reports have been a bit of a broadcasting rather than a two way communication. And that really is how we are looking for partnerships with parents. So, thinking about whatever system is being used like Learning Ladders, we’re able to include parent comments so the parent can receive the reports, add a comment and send them off to the teacher. And it doesn’t just end there. You can then have two way communication. So, if you stay in the bottom corner, we have a comment that is a little bit like a messaging system. So as the parent, I would say you mentioned on this report that my child doesn’t know the number bonds to 10. I don’t actually know what number bonds to 10 are. Can you help me, please? And then as a teacher, this is all managed within Learning Ladders, as you can see at the top, that your notifications as the teacher within Learning Ladders, I’m able to then get a notification. OK, so Stella’s mum has come back asking questions. She doesn’t know what number bonds to 10 are. It tells me what it was related to. It was related to pupil reports. It tells me the class and the year group and the child’s name. And I can also see that message. And then we can go back and forth and making sure that Stella’s mum feels that she’s had the support she needs. It could just be a comment back saying, please come and see me after school tomorrow and I’d be happy to talk it through. OK, so having that two way communication is something that Learning Ladders has felt is really important and historically has been a little bit missing. The parents got the report, they wrote comment back and then, you know, sometimes didn’t hear much more.
So, this continues the conversation. Removing barriers then, so if we have a parent who’s received a report and they have. Accessibility issues, so that could be language, how are they going to consume these reports when their home language is other than English? So, in our parent portal, this is what it looks like at the top. When the parent receives a new report, they get notification in the parental engagement site and it would say there’s a new report here, gives them options. They can view the reports, they can download the report, and then they can print it and keep it, or they can view the teacher comments and they can have that two way communication. What is really important and fundamental is to remove the barrier of language away so that it’s accessible for everybody. So, in Learning Ladders, they’re able to translate the report and the whole parental engagement side. As you can see here, I’ve just changed these people report notifications into Arabic. There are over 100 languages in Learning Ladders. So, the systems that we use for people reports need to be accessible for parents in whatever language that they can consume. And that’s something that Learning Ladders can do, as you can see here about a snapshot of what that looks like when they open the report.
These are the attitudes to learning that I talked about earlier. So, they’ve been indicated which ones they are working on. So, I’ve translated that into Arabic, or perhaps it’s a Chinese for the subject. So, everything in that report here can be consumed and read in the language that they need to. And even where there’s dual language at home and maybe both parents speak a different language, they can then translate into the language that they’d like to read it in as well. So over one hundred languages thinking about system, how are we enabling our parents to get this feedback in a way that they can understand and consume and ask any questions that come out of that port? So, when I receive is an example of a report that I might get home for reading and I’ve got the strengths and got the challenges and I feel informed that I know what my child is working on as a parent. If I haven’t in the case of Stella’s mom earlier and if I haven’t quite understood a concept such as number bonds to 10 is the challenge that she’s facing.
The question is that we have is how do we up skill the parents in a way that doesn’t create a huge workload for teachers? How can we do this remotely and on demand when the parent needs it? So, thinking about how that parent is going to then move forward with the information you’ve given them in order for them to be fully involved in supporting their child with the learning at home. So, one way we’ve done this in Learning Ladders, in the parental engagement Ladders at Home site, they are able to then go for any of the objectives in the system that have been shared with them. They can click articles and at the top what they get is an article for every objective. So, for the maths, for example, about shapes here, what does this mean? Why is it important? How is it taught in school? Because we know that strategies move on, like phonics wasn’t heard of when we were learning when we were younger. So suddenly to be given a challenge around something that’s a different concept or a different way to the way you’ve been taught at school, we don’t want to give children confusing messages about how things are being taught. Typical homework tasks, so given that parent examples of things that they can do with their child at home, teacher tips, for example, about helping your child at home and then any links to useful websites that might then challenge your child or maybe offer that support so that differentiation is coming through as well. So, an article for all of the objectives on the maths and the literacy, and they can be translated into over 100 languages again. So, the whole of the parental engagement site is accessible for parents, not just the reports, but the support that goes afterwards. Upskilling and understanding that that gives the parent the confidence to sit with their child and support them in overcoming those challenges so that they become strengths. And that’s one way that Learning Ladders does this.
So, thinking about your report process, how will you as a school and your system or using how is it allowing you to be able to then support the parent with working with their child at home on the learning goals that you’ve identified that they need to be supported with? And then thinking about integrating it, integrate your reports into the wider parental engagement strategy so that we know we talk about here at Learning Ladders that parental support and engagement should be an ongoing, continuous cycle of feedback, communication with the parent at home. So, if you can integrate these people reports with a wider process of feedback, so not just the end of the year or a term, parents evenings for five minutes, not just an end of year report, but the wider supporting of parents that will improve the learning outcomes for children and the feedback.
So, we’ve got the child in the middle. This is the aim at Learning Ladders. We want the child centric approach. A child needs to know exactly what they’re working on, what they need to do and what comes next so that they can be in control and feel like they’re succeeding. But surrounding this in order for the child to feel that way. We know that we’ve got the parents, the teachers and the SLT working in partnership together. So, we want our parents finally understanding what their children are learning, shown exactly how to help at home and taken the stress out of home learning. Parents are busy. They have work, a lot of responsibilities. They’re keeping a house. They’re also trying to support their child learning at home. So, we need to make sure schools that we’re taking the stress out of that process by making it easy for them to communicate with the school remotely and when they need it. And then we can say we’ve got the teachers in the SLT, both outside of that as well, which come into the school improvement plan approach of Learning Ladders seven Learning Ladders.
The continuing parental engagement that might go alongside is the home learning tasks that are set as you’re going along so that parents are used to sitting with their child and supporting them on objectives as they go along throughout the year, not just at the end of the year. So in systems like in Learning Ladders, we have an ability to set homework. So, this could be self-marking homework. Well, that means I can create a task. I can tell the system multiple choice, and which one is the correct answer. And we’re giving that instant feedback to the parent and the child about what their child has understood and where they are in their learning. It will enable them to have helpful links that you can add in. So, if you’re finding this task hasn’t challenged you, here’s a challenge. Go on this website, play this game. Look at this resource. If you found that the mark that it gives you, it gives you a mark and a percentage. And if you haven’t done as well as you thought, perhaps, perhaps try this game that will support you in your learning and understanding. And that’s all managed a game of in Learning Ladders. So, you get the results for multiple choice questions just at the top here, the names of the children in the class and the task that you’ve set. And I can then start to really analyse how that home learning is going. I can see which questions perhaps 90 percent of the class haven’t understood a question involving multiples of four, for example. And I realise that actually there is a gap in learning as a cohort. And actually, my planning I’m going to use that analysis to make sure in my future planning we’re readdressing multiples of four so that we can have more children achieving that objective. It may be that there’s a child I can identify who’s got all of the questions right. And then I need to think about the pitch of the lessons, making sure that I’m challenging them. I’m getting feedback from the pupils themselves as well. So, at the end of the homework, the ability for pupil voice to come through and for them to say how they felt about the task was easy. Did they find it medium or hard? And they can even write a comment to their teacher. There’s that two way communication as well, where the parents are able to then write a comment to the teacher to say, my child’s attempt at this task and realise that they really struggled on this aspect. What do you suggest I can do to help them? And then the teacher can then comment back.
So, we’ve got the two way communication as well within the Self marking homework and other types of homework as well. For the early years, it might be more of an open ended homework. Or you say this weekend we’re going to go on a learning environment, walk with your grown up, see which to 2-D shapes you can see in the environment, and we’ll talk about it on Monday. So those kind of open tasks as well. So, lots of different types of homework in Learning Ladders getting that engagement, supporting parents, following through from just the reports. Building on that throughout the year so that everybody understands where the child is learning and why we want to do that.
At Learning Ladders, we talk about parental involvement and different levels of involvement. Sometimes we have the first layer of parental involvement. So, we’ve got reading in class all these useful things, parents volunteering, helping with resources, coming to parents evening. And then we have the involvement with schooling. So, thinking about parents supporting their child, submitting their homework on time, helping with their homework to make sure that they’re going online and looking at it. But the true parental engagement with learning is what Learning Ladders talks about. And a bit like I said earlier, there’s attitudes towards learning the parents role in giving guidance to support them and scaffold them in developing the attitudes and the moral support that parent a child needs. Because we know in Learning Ladders, the effect of the parent is over five times more impactful than anything that schools do in school. OK, so we’ve got to have predictive of student outcomes and success, then socioeconomic status. But then on the flip side of that, we know how important this engagement is in primary pupils. But then there’s 80 percent of parents saying they’re not getting the help they need to support their child. So, pupil reports are one way of giving that feedback and allowing parents to feel that they’re getting the help, particularly with that two way communication where they can ask questions. But really, here at Learning Ladders, we’re looking at parental engagement and involvement as a whole and those worrying statistics of 80 percent saying they’re not getting the help they need.
And research that Learning Ladders has showed is 93 percent of parents wanted more information about what their child is learning, why and how it’s taught, which is why when I say integrating your people reports into a wider parental engagement strategy, it’s more successful because then that parent is upskill. So, they’ve been told exactly what their child does or does not yet achieved the objectives. But they’re also given this is how you can support them at home. Here’s information about what happens in school and how it’s taught because we know this research is telling us that this is what parents really want.
So, in summary, I’ve been speaking for a very long time now, but involving parents and granular level learning. And it is the single biggest positive influence school can have. So, if you can look at your report process and ensuring that the granular level detail is in that report, making sure that adults know exactly what their child’s learning and what they need help with, and that’s the real key to moving forward with the pupil reports approach once adults know exactly what their child is working on, how you as a school supporting the adults, the scaffold that learning at home. So that’s like the articles I spoke about that support the parents. And do you have an explicit parental engagement strategy? And as your parents will reporting for pupil reports, part of that process, that ongoing and continuous process, rather than considering it as perhaps an end of year reporting to parents. And really what Learning Ladders speaks about is creating those great conversations about learning so children who can articulate their learning with their parents at home, they’re used to talking about learning with their teachers, with their parents, so that everyone is on board and most importantly, using systems to help you.
The technology is out there. Companies and systems like Learning Ladders are here to take some of the work out of those systems, to streamline it, to make sure that the best supports possible can be created. So, if you’re interested and you’ve heard about the reports, I’ve spoken to you about today, specifically, we’ve Learning Ladders we have EdTech impact review. So, if you’ve never been on EdTech impact, imagine it like a trip advisor for education. We have our schools that have gone on there. People have used pupil reports before, and they leave a review. So, you’ll be able to hear it from a school themselves, how they found that process. Okay. And if you’d like any more information, we’ve got the Hello at Learningladders.info email address or Stella James is the person to email StellaJ@learningladders.info.
Thank you so much for coming today to the webinar. I hope it was useful. Enjoy the rest of your day.