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How to build relationships with students, parents and colleagues in the new term

08/09/2021 @ 10:00 - 11:00 BST

Now is the moment for schools to focus energy on intentionally building relationships.  Make your data and assessment meaningful at the start of the new academic year.

Spark conversation between colleagues, students and parents to lay the foundations for improved academic outcomes in the year ahead.

In this webinar Melanie Evans, (former teacher and Education Specialist at Learning Ladders), discusses how schools can utilise their data and assessment to create:

  • Consistency for parents and students during the transition
  • Collaborative working between colleagues across different year groups or phases
  • Maximised progress for students in the Autumn term
  • Accurately pitched planning with visibility of gaps in learning
  • Continued impactful intervention groups for challenge and support within the first half term
  • Insights into development through access to evidence from prior years

If you didn’t have time to join in live, catch up on the recording below:

Automated transcript of the session (created by Trint, please let us know if you spot any errors)

Melanie Hello and welcome to joining our webinar today, I’m Melanie Evans, education specialist at Learning Ladders. Thank you for taking time out of the busy start of term. It’s all too familiar for me as a former teacher myself. I know that it’s a really busy time welcoming the children back to school into the New Year groups. And so we’re delighted that you can join us here on the webinar.

So this webinar today is all about forming relationships and really great quote that I liked is, “the little conversations that build the relationships that can make the impact on each student”. And that’s from Robert John Mehan.  Now, why have Learning Ladders created a webinar today about relationships? It’s because we believe at Learning Ladders that anything that promotes conversation in school is something that we would like to build and something that we would like to work with our member schools on, because we know that it’s the conversations about learning that build those relationships that have the impact. And that’s why we’ve chosen this topic of conversation today.

Who are we thinking about when we’re talking about the conversations and the relationships in school? So we have four different stakeholders that at Learning Ladders we are referring to when we’re talking about conversations, about learning, we have the children at the centre of everything that happens in school. We want them to be actively engaged and supported. There’s the parents who need to be able to have access to their child, learning to know exactly what their child’s learning and how they can support that. We have teachers who require easy to use tools to be able to monitor the progress and attainment of the children in their classes. And then the senior leaders in school having that visibility, making that reporting process as simple and consistent across the school, because we know that when there’s a focus on these relationships and all the stakeholders in a child’s life work together, then there’s a positive effect on well-being, but also the motivation and the performance of students and their teachers. But sometimes when we’re thinking about creating these relationships in schools, there are barriers to this.

So one of the biggest barriers that we’ve come across and what we’re speaking to schools, it can be the lack of a shared vision. So it may be that the senior leadership team had a vision in not able to create these relationships with students between colleagues and with parents at home. But because there’s lots of systems in use, that consistency across the teams, isn’t there? So it really is important that the influence of the senior leadership teams and their vision is communicated effectively to everybody, and that will spill out into the teachers communication with the students and also the teachers, communication between the parents and the parent with the child. So it really is giving senior leaders one whole school system that can support that school improvement and communicate that message so that these relationships are built up effectively and consistency across the whole school. And the way that Learning Ladders does that is through the curriculum. It might be through consistency around data sometimes is about the way that we engage students in school and around the parent communication as well. So that’s what I’m going to be focussing on today, how we can remove some of these barriers from the relationships that are being formed in schools and so that we can move towards that consistency in forming these relationships.

So first of all, of our stakeholders in a child’s learning is we have the parents. And so we have some barriers specifically to making relationships with parents that we’ve come across in our conversations. And one of those is an unclear senior leader approach in order to how to communicate to their teachers that we need to acknowledge parents expertise so nobody knows their child more than the parents do. They spend a huge volume of time. They’ve known the child since birth and they’ve seen the child applying, learning in minimal context and just in the school. So it’s really important as senior leaders, how do we find a way that the teachers can listen and learn from what the parents have to share with the teacher about that child’s learning at home?

We need honest and open communication and conversations to allow the collaborative relationship to form. And this time of year is key to that case. We may get distracted by lots of the other settling activities that go on. There’s a lot of talk around curriculum at this time of year and routines, but it really is important that we’re focussing on relationships as well and acknowledging that parent expertise and this really came through in the lockdown’s in the pandemic because for the first time ever, we had parents taking on the key role of the learning with their children. So they, for the first time understood the learning journey that goes on in school, as well as their perspective from home. And it was really clear that that is one of the things that came out of the pandemic, that actually parents expertise needs to be shared. So if you’re using a system that doesn’t allow parents to be able to communicate with your teachers, how are we sharing the expertise that parents can share those insights from home? So we also need to think about the reach of engagement.

So quite often the challenge is engaging as many families as possible. So it’s usually the younger groups where you have parents who are engaging in the child’s learning. It may be children with additional needs. Quite often they have a very good level of communication with teachers, some aspirational parents who want the best possible education. But really, it’s how do we reach every single parent and adults that’s involved in a child’s learning as well? And also the barriers. How do we do that without overwhelming teachers with workloads already putting lots of pressures on that time? So we need to find ways to be able to automate that reach to make sure we’re reaching as many parents or protecting our teachers while being how do we also reach parents so that it’s an accessible way.

So we know that there are parents who may not speak the same language as the country or the as the curriculums being taught in. How are we reaching those parents as well to make sure we’re being inclusive? We have the barriers of traditional opportunities as well, so quite often over time, routines in schools are in place. We may have communications coming at the end of the year. So if we think about traditional pupil reports that come out at the end of the year saying how a child has been achieving in that learning, and then it’s time to go on to a new teacher. It’s almost like a summative summary of what they’ve been doing, but that doesn’t help us throughout the year and be able to address any of those issues that may have arisen. We have parents evenings, for example, that traditional 10 minutes with each parent on a rotation when there’s not really a great amount of time to be able to delve into the specifics about learning and strategies and opportunities to actually collaborate with the parents. Those parents evenings don’t particularly afford themselves to that. And when there’s a problem, it usually can be left until these points of a parents evening for 10 minutes, or it can be at the end of the year and report that then Rubins and damages that relationship with the parent is saying, I wish I would have known that that was happening because I would have worked with you to do that. So it’s looking at the traditional opportunities and thinking about all the more opportunities we could be using through systems that allow us to communicate more often and therefore to be addressing issues along the way throughout the year and the final barrier.

And sometimes we have in schools is the parental involvement in schooling versus learning. So quite often, traditionally, parents involvement in school has been to do with school trips coming up. It could be to do with P.E. sports days and events that are happening in the school asking the volunteers and all this information is valid and necessary. But there are barriers when we are not involving our parents in the learning and giving them the opportunity to support it.

OK, so that’s the first issue that I wanted to talk about today, the parental involvement in schooling. So it’s really having a look at your parental engagement systems. Have we just got involvement with the school? So by that we mean are you including parents coming in to read us volunteers? Are they coming in to parents evenings? Do we have involved with the schooling? So particularly the key stage two and stage three, we may have parents who are helping with homework or making sure their child submits that homework and the timetabling of when that’s done. So that’s actually with the schooling. But what we’re really thinking about here and it’s worth thinking about your own parental engagement strategies is do you have true parental engagement with the learning itself? Do we have guidance for the parents to be able to support them in supporting their child at home? OK, do we have the moral support so we know that relationships and towards learning and between relationships with parents and learning and teaching and learning, it’s those moral supports and attitudes towards learning as well that we need to get the parental engagement with so that we’re all working together, mutually beneficial and working on those morals and attitudes that are going to allow the child to make progress. So it’s worth thinking about that type of involvement you have in your school and ways that you’re going to be able to increase the amount of parental engagement with the learning itself.

So the first area that I spoke about was valuing the expertise of parents about their child, because we know that they are the experts about their child. If we’re going to truly be collaborative with our parents to maximise the academic and pastoral outcomes, we need to find ways to communicate and for parents to tell us what they’re seeing at home in the context that they have their children. So some of the ways that we do that in Learning Ladders is through a Two-Way chat. So in Learning Ladders, we are really conscious as former teachers ourselves. Matt and I have been in the classroom. We’ve experienced the pressures that teachers have on workloads and ways to be able to protect them, but also to be able to make sure that the parents have access to talk about the learning. And that’s why Learning Ladders we’ve restricted the communication to be around learning. So there’s communication in response to pupils reports that communication around a piece of evidence or observation has been shared with the parents or there’s an opportunity for communication around the homework. Now, that’s not to say that we don’t need communication systems for reminding parents about paying dinner money or about bringing a certain pecky on a certain day. But that’s not what we’re talking about here when we’re maximising academic and pastoral outcomes here. We want to be able to protect the teachers while giving those effective ways. So if I’ve shared a piece of observation about Joe who’s been able to practise using money in the context in maths, the parent may like to view the observation that we’ve seen in class and then chat on the chat, be able to message that teacher and say, I saw Joe using change from five pounds at the cinema on Saturday and he was able to calculate that change already. Now that’s feeding into my formative assessment. I know that Joe is practising that, learning independently and in other contexts, and that kind of information is really useful. And I wouldn’t get that as a teacher if I didn’t have that communicative relationship with the parents at home. And that’s an avenue for the parents to deliver that communication and the same amount of homework that we have in the system.

So if we’re setting home learning tasks in whatever system you’re using, is there an opportunity for that, for the parent themselves to be able to communicate that impact and what they’ve seen in the home learning task? It could be a really interesting piece of information. So it could be about the attitude that their child had towards that particular home learning pace. So maybe we’ve set questions on 3D shapes, for example, in maths. And actually the child has grown. They’ve not wanted to engage with the task and actually came out when I was supporting my child, learning that actually it was because he really didn’t understand the 3D shapes. And actually, as a teacher, being able to understand that and to feed that into my planning for future learning opportunities, that’s a real important piece of information that I wouldn’t have gained had I not have had that communication in the system. So I know that during the pandemic, lots of schools had to find parental engagement systems. It was a very quick time where the lockdowns occurred. And if you didn’t have anything in place, the parents engagement, it was very easy to find the systems that allowed communication. But now moving forward, how sustainable is that view of teachers that that communication can be around anything? Is it time to look at the communication that we have in our schools to make sure that it’s centred around the learning? Is giving parents the opportunity to feel heard and to contribute their expertise about their child? And does it incorporates straight back into the data so that if I was receiving this homework back and I was the teacher and I’ve seen the parents comment, I can feed that directly into my assessment of that child. OK, I can add that perhaps as an observation against that assessment for that objective, to remind myself that the parents had seen that at home. So it’s really looking at how they’re valuing that expertise from the parents.

So what we’re looking at automating the parental engagement and protecting the teacher’s well-being, we have some research that was undertaken by Learning Ladders. Now we know that 93 percent of parents wanted more information about how they can help a child’s learning at home and 91 percent saying they want more information about actually what happens in school. But most importantly, the statistic that stood out to us was the 93 percent who said they want to know what their child is learning, why and how it’s taught, because without this information, it’s really difficult to be able to engage your parents with the learning itself in the home, learning tasks that you might be setting. And we want the parents to be involved in the learning. So anything we can do to remove those barriers, thinking about systems that you may be using. Is there an opportunity in your parental engagement systems to be able to share with the parents exactly what each child is working on at that specific time? Now, as a teacher, I know that you have lots of parents sometimes coming to the door and asking specific questions, saying, I’m just wondering what you’re covering your mouth next week because I want you to sit with Joe and look at the resources or to have a go with him rather than, say, 30 times, how can we automate some of this parental engagement if your parental engagements in a separate system is going to be really difficult for you to be able to share the learning objectives and the learning that’s happening as it’s happening. You could email weekly, which I’ve experienced myself giving a recap about. This is what we’ve been learning this week. This is what we’re going to be learning next week about how applicable is that to all children in the class? What type of differentiation is that really explaining to the parent for an individual within our costs? And we remember that although we’re referring to them as a class, they are made up of 30 individuals, for example, in so many ways it’s going to automate.

So if you’re in a system where you can enter your formative assessment data, why not let the system do the heavy lifting and automatically share that learning objective with the parent on a parent device and so they can access that on a mobile. It could be an iPad or laptop and let them access that at the point of need. So if I’m a busy working parents and I want to find out I’m not at the school gates, how am I going to know what my child is working on? We need a way that all parents can access this information at the time they need it. The other barrier we may have is they’ve shared with me the objective ever in an email. That’s how you’re doing it, or more efficiently through a system that shares it automatically, but I can’t access it.

Okay, so we’re thinking about all of the parents that we might have in our community and not everybody’s going to be speak the same language and be able to consume that content in English, for example. So why not use a system that automatically can translate it for them into over 100 languages? That means no matter who the adult is, whether that’s the iPad, the teacher, the sorry, the parent or the grandparent or whoever’s involved in that child’s schooling and can access it, they can translate it into the language and therefore we’ve made that more accessible for them. Now, there’s one thing about all the adults in a child’s life saying exactly the same thing at the same time, in the same way, we’ve achieved that by sharing the learning objective. And that’s what Learning Ladders does.

But the next step to that is what about that parent’s own experience of education themselves? How did it feel when they were learning at school and how is that going to translate in the way that they support their child’s learning at home? So I may be a parent who feels a bit inadequate due to my own schooling. Maybe I come from a different country where the education system was extremely different. And it’s not the same curriculum that I experienced myself. I have low confidence. I don’t know how to start supporting my child at home, so why not support that child automatically? So one way that we do this in the system is when we share the learning goal underneath. You can see where we have an article here. We have articles for the reading, the writing, the maths to be able to support the pupils in key stage one, stage two. And the parents are able to click that article and find out what does this learning objective mean. You said they’re working on split digraphs. I have no idea what what that means or how to even go about supporting my child. Why is that important? What can I do? Give me some tasks and I could do a home to help my child. Some teacher tips from a qualified teacher who’s taught that objective before and some home activities and games so that I know if my child has achieved that objective really easily on the home learning, I’m thinking, oh, they got that easy job done. Why not actually support the child and the parent to be able to then look at activities and games that will challenge them or. If my child really struggled with activity, why not include activities and games in these articles that will then support that child so that the parent then knows how to differentiate and how to break down that activity? These parent articles are critical to parents being able to support learning. So we need to be able to share what their children are learning exactly. But we also need to upskill our parents at the same time. And again, looking at ways that this is accessible for all parents. When can they access it? The pressure not being on the teacher to be able to produce these kind of articles for every child on every objective and being able to translate that into a language where parents can actually access that support. So it’s really interesting to think about your parents engagement. How are you supporting your parents not only to know what the child’s learning in school, but how they’re going to support a home and making sure that’s really manageable for the teachers in your school. And then another way to be able to do this, pupil reports.

OK, so I talked about how one of the barriers is that we’re leaving some of the communication in the relationship. Lots of it comes at the end of a term or it comes at the end of a year. We want that relationship to begin right at the beginning in September, at the beginning of that new academic year. We want to be able to talk to our parents and communicate termly. Now, one way you can do this is by thinking about the reports that you send in your school. So pupil reports are a really great way to communicate to parents. But I know as a former teacher, they can take 30 hours plus to be able to write these reports in an individual way so that they are personalised for each child and the parent doesn’t feel that they’re quite generic and maybe don’t suit the level that my child is working at. So why not think about the pupil reports that you send in a different way of approaching this? So in Learning Ladders, our schools and our member schools communicated to us, we want to be able to communicate with our parents, maybe termly. So if at the end of the first term, why not send home a report not having to include all the subjects? It could be in areas that we just don’t to do the primary is maybe we’re just going to do the core subjects maths, reading, writing, but producing these termly reports in a way that’s not going to create another period of the year where your teachers spent hours and hours poring over these reports. So automate the reports. If you have your data and your parents engagement and same system, you’re then able to pull through the assessments that the teachers have already been making along the year anyway.

So if you’re using a traditional tracker and putting in assessments, why not make that purposeful in a system that can do something with it? So the strengths and the challenges for each of these subjects will come from the data. It automatically pours. So all the teacher has to do is click and then the strengths and the challenges are personal to that child. Adequate teacher comment doesn’t have to be a lengthy comment, however long that you would see fit and then a piece of evidence. So in a system where you can upload observations and photographs, videos, why not include that in a Termly report? So that brings the learning to life that parent is engaging them in in the autumn. This is what your child’s been learning about. And here’s a piece of evidence, and here’s what I’ve got to say about them in that subject so far. So we’re building up these opportunities for communication. We’ve got parents evening taking place in autumn. We’ve got a report going out. We’ve got the objective automatically being shared as they’re being taught. And we’ve got the support for the parent as well. And they’re really smart reports. What I love about these reports as a parent as well is if you include a video, it can bring that to life. So if, say, for example, for reading. Why not include an audio file in the reports? Because it’s digital of the child reading or a video of them acting out role for writing before they wrote that story that they’d sent home and did a really great way to try and engage your parents in the learning. And then not just limited to the academic sharing and communication with parents, what about sharing attitudes towards learning because it’s mutually beneficial for parents and the teachers and all the adults involved in a child’s learning as we were all working towards that same goal? Why not find opportunities to communicate these attitudes as well? So that’s what we do at Learning Ladders.

We enable our schools in those termly or end of year reports to be able to report on those attitudes. And these are custom. So you can change what the attitudes of your school are, because actually the parents have probably chosen your school because when they did the visit or read the prospectus, it was the attitudes and morals of that school for their child who was the centre of their world and is the most important person to them. It’s those attitudes and morals are really important, and these are the attitudes to learning that are going to stay with them throughout their life. And they’re learning education. So if we have a child who’s only working on it with the listening, for example, being able to report to the child, it’s the parents that there is that issue in their attitude, then the parent at home can promote that listening. They can talk to their child about it and the same about collaborating. Maybe the parent will find more playdates or team games that that child can join in with so that they work on that collaboration so that in their future education, that’s not holding back their academic progress. So thinking about your friend’s engagement system, how are you communicating your school’s attitudes and morals to the parents that you’re working collaboratively in that way as well? And then we have the students.

So we talked about the student being at the centre of everything that we do, all of these conversations about learning happening to make sure that the students are achieving. But we have barriers to relationships that we form with students that can occur if we’re not careful in certain systems. Now, I know that some traditional tracking systems or traditional observation online journal systems, they have these fixed curriculums. And the problem being with a fixed curriculum is that when a child feels like the curriculum is being done to them rather than with them, that’s where the relationships can start breaking down. So we need systems that are not fixed. We need to be able to make curriculum adaptations that reflect the interests and the context of the children that we’re teaching and that we’re having a relationship with. So at the beginning of the year, there’s quite a lot of focus on building classroom routines. So where do we sit on the carpet? How do we line up when we go to lunch? How do we come in in the morning and how do we leave at the end of the day? And there will really necessary routines as well as focussing on building classroom routines.

What about routines around how we communicate in school with the students at the beginning of the year and throughout thinking about how have we had these conversations as senior leaders have a shared vision about how we want children to be out in the routine of being co-owners, that they’re learning with their interests reflected and time spent talking to the children and building those relationships. So rather than coming to them with a curriculum that’s already being planned and is ready to go, allow them to feel that they’ve shared in the curriculum design of what’s going to happen across the year that they’ve been listened to and their interests have been taken into account because that’s going to form relationships with the children that are going to be long lasting and be impactful. So then what about the visibility of that curriculum? So if you have your curriculum on a shared drive, for example, I know that that can be one place that all teachers can access a curriculum. But what about the visibility of that curriculum for the children? How are you being able to take that curriculum off that shared drive or off that folder from the shelf? And how are the students being involved in that? Have you got a system that allows you to do that quickly, effectively and in a personalised way for each child and then talking and listening? And that’s what I was talking about at the barrio, where sometimes we’re busy telling children what their curriculum is, what the routines for the year are. But are we listening at the beginning of the year to what their interests are? So teachers need to have that feedback from their people so they know how to make the learning meaningful. And that was a quote from Hattie, who we do talk about quite a lot here at Learning Ladders with the formative assessment. So that feedback is pretty important. And in order to get that, we must be listening in that relationship as well as talking. So a flexible curriculum, then, what does that look like and how can that be used in systems?

So we have a visible curriculum for our students? One way we can reflect the interest in the curriculum when we’ve had these conversations and we’re forming these relationships with the students at the beginning of the year, why not go back into your curriculum and use a system that enables you then to be able to add description and notes to particular statements in your curriculum? So I’ve got an objective here and I can add notes and descriptions based on those conversations I’ve been having with the students in my class. So it may just be noting some interest that we have. So if it’s about non-fiction text and I just had a really great conversation with a child, I went to a zoo, why not take the interests of those children into account and make notes in the notes that some of the interest that we have coming through the school. Are these interests that we might want to take into account. So if I’m in year one, for example, or year six, is this objective is why not then reflect those interests and the context of the children in the resources that we use? So if I found a really great resource and it really suits the context of the children that we teach in our school, and I know that that’s going to be effective, why not be able to apply it? That’s against the objective so that everybody can access that. My other team members in year one, it’s very often that one interest in one class, in a peer group is very similar to another one. So why not say if we want to share that good practise and those resources that we know have had impact in the children? So when you have a fixed curriculum and you’re unable to make these changes, that can be really difficult. Again, looking at any curriculum as well. So if we know our children, we formed relationships and we know that actually delivering phonics, we’ve read writing, for example, or Jolly phonics or whatever scheme you’re going to use, that’s the most effective way for our children. We’ve had these relationships. We’ve heard the feedback from our pupils and that’s what they responded to best that active acting out the phonemes in the songs that go with them. So why not import that curriculum into the system? We don’t have to have a fixed curriculum because a system tells us that that’s what curriculum we should be delivering because it’s on the national curriculum. We can import other curriculums that are effective and contextual to the children we’re teaching. So if it’s Singapore maths, for example, you use in your school important or any other scheme, maybe it’s White Rose Maths that you like and that’s affected your children and your children’s talking points. Any curriculum can be imported into Learning Ladders. And just have a think about however you’re making your curriculum. Have you got flexibility?

And then are we looking at trends based on the children that we’ve got to know over the years? So, for example, in my maths curriculum here, why not create reports as a senior leader that tests that curriculum over time? So show me the results for addition when year five are in year five. Now, show me the progress and attainment for one year for in year five. And can I spot any patterns in the context of the children that we have in our school specifically? And then what changes shall I make? So if there’s lots of children that are not achieving in addition or whatever aspect that we’re looking at in the curriculum and that’s happening year after year, perhaps it’s time to look at these relationships. We have our students and to understand why maybe it’s that their interests aren’t reflected in that curriculum. Maybe it’s that we need further CPD or it could be the way that we’re approaching the curriculum in those areas. So we need a system that retains that data over time and then promotes to conversations between senior leaders and teams about effective curriculum for the students that we have in our classrooms, in our school, not in a generic school. The system has told us that we need to teach. So then also looking at those conversations with our students at the beginning of the year, creating those co-ownership of learning routines. So if right of beginning the year, the students have the impression that they are co-owners and they have independence in their own learning, then that’s going to carry through throughout the year. So one way that we can do this is an effective way is these people statements. So, for example, how are you going to take the curriculum off of whatever system you have it on to share it? That can be really difficult as a teacher who’s teaching lots of classes, perhaps, or 30 children for every single area, how are we going to have those conversations to build those relationships if it’s very challenging to get that off of the system?

So in a few clicks on Learning Ladders, you’re able to select pupil, you’re able to select the subject that you’re looking at, and it will pull through that child’s assessments from either their current year or you can include previous years as well. Is really inclusive, so if you have a child who’s working at an academic clinic for registration, actually they’re working on your three objectives, so why not share the curriculum objectives that that individual child is going to be working on? So it prints out, it takes the curriculum off, shows that child, this is where you’re learning at the moment, done really well. I can see really understood those objectives. I can see here that maybe you weren’t quite understanding that. How can I support you with that? How can you support yourself? What resource is it going to use? Who are you going to talk to when you’re not sure about how to do something? These are the objectives we’re going to be covering in the next few weeks. And these are the objectives that you’ve you’ve already met already. So as the child, I’m not being spoon fed one objective at a time. I need that overview of what’s going on in my curriculum so that I can field. I’m a co-owner in that journey and I’m coming along with the teacher. It’s not happening to me. And we know that when we have the conversations, when teachers share objectives and share the curriculum of children in school and have these conversations, they’re far more likely to have the conversations at home with their parents because they’ve rehearsed that conversation. They know how to refer to learning. So when the parent says, what do you do at school today? That I’d say nothing because they don’t have the language about learning to say. I spoke to Mrs. Oberle about decimals. Today we’re learning about using the column edition for it. And already as a parent, I’ve received the parental communication saying that my child working on it, now my child’s coming home, telling me they’ve been talking about it. And already we’re all having a much more effective conversation about what’s happening in the learning because we have the visibility and the sharing of that.

We also have some really smart looking booklets because we know that children like colours to be engaged, have something that was their own, that they own that learning, having these booklets that you can share and take up into from year one to year two, for example, it has Mima’s objectives. That’s different from the person sitting next to me. And actually this is done to show me the journey of where my earnings going. And I’m able to take control of that and to play a part in that as well. So it’s really finding those ways that will engage the children in interesting, colourful ways and ways that they feel included appropriately.

So then we talked about talking and listening with all students, particularly when we’re thinking about children and our home, learning that we’re setting, maybe during the pandemic you had to use a parental engagement system that sets home learning. How were you seeing the reflections from the children? Are you getting that people voice back about these tasks that you’re setting for home so traditionally rather than on a Friday afternoon? I’ve got to set some homework and I’m photocopying something. I’m trying to get out homework. It’s really difficult to be able to provide differentiated homework that suits the needs of all the children in my class. It’s far easier if I can then set tasks for certain groups of children based on the differentiation. And in a system where I’ve got my parental engagement at home, learning, sharing with my data, I’m far easier to be able to identify which children need, which level of homework supports. So when we’re setting tasks, being able to set tasks, that one suit the level and the need of that child in particular, but then ways for the child to be able to give our feedback and to give that person a reflection on how they found that. So that having a self reflection here, when I submitted their homework, I’ve completed the task and I’m given appropriate symbols to be able to say how I felt about that task. And that gives the teacher an insight into how the child is fit and confident about an objective, because sometimes when we’re looking at an academic lack of progress, we know that it can be the wellbeing side of things, that maybe they’re having a lack of confidence and we need an intervention that deals with the confidence rather than the actual skill itself, because then that will come. So this gives us an insight and a window into that confidence level. And not only that, I can type a message to my teacher and say I really found that difficult. I don’t think I understand what that is, really. All the shapes. Can we go through this next week, for example, another teacher, I then get that feedback from each an individual child in my class. I can see which percentage of children have said and each level of their self reflection. I can see that comments. If it’s been a multiple choice question homework. I’m able to see how many children, for example, got the same question wrong with the same questions. I’m spotting misconceptions in my class already. So that kind of feedback and instant feedback is enabling me to have a more effective relationship with that child because they’re going to feel heard and we can look to find ways in our pupil reports as well. How are we finding ways that the pupil can have that voice when we’re reporting to the parents about how they’ve been getting on Termly and end of year? Why not include a pupil comment on their let the child say, choose a piece of evidence or piece of what that you’re really proud of? You want to show your parent at home and will include it in the report. And you can have a comment about how you find what’s been successful, maybe what’s been a challenge and you want to carry on working on. So we’re having that reflective practise of building independence and most of all in our relationships with children. We are talking and we’re listening to them as well. And then we have relationships with teens.

OK, so we’ve talked about all the different stakeholders working together to have an impact on a child’s learning. And one of those key relationships and conversations that need to happen are between your teachers and the colleagues across the different key stages or across the year group. So quite typically at the beginning of the year, we’ve had to hand over in the summer, we’ve had a meeting with the teacher we’ve run through. You might be talking about some of the parents that we might come across. We might talk about attitudes to learning who doesn’t sit well next to each other, where they were in the learning and who’s working above expectations, below the progress that we’d be expecting. But what about those conversations when the new year starts? And actually we’re starting to plan for our new class and we’ve had those conversations.

Where can I look now to find information about that class so that I know I’m not causing an overlapping of learning when children are rehearsing, learning, they’re not actually learning anything new. So there can be a danger in the autumn term. Sometimes objectives are revisited again, and we’re not picking up from almost where we left off. And that can be a lack of visibility around the data. So in systems like Learning Ladders, where we have the Gap Analysis reports, where the teachers have been adding formative assessments throughout the year, this now allows the system to do the heavy lifting and to give something back. Because what I can do if my team, my class is for age and I’m about to plan my reading curriculum and I’m looking at my next two weeks, why not be able to flip back to prior year? I want to see the children and how they’ve understood the objectives. When they were in year three for reading, and if we’re building up that picture of learning over time and we’re in a system that allows us to look back on learning, then we’ve got that rich data that we need to be able to make sure there aren’t any overlaps or we’re not inaccurately pitching our lessons at the beginning of years. So here I can see all the children in my class. I can see the objectives reading, and I’m spotting patterns in a really clear, colourful way that indicates to me. So all I know already, I can see that the children have lots of children out there who have achieved the third milestones. They’re secure in that objective. So when I’m teaching for my year four objectives, that reading, I know the starting point of where I’m going to continue from. But actually on one of the objectives here, there’s a lot of children that only met the first milestone. I’ve only just got a beginning understanding of that in year three. So when I’m planning for my reading curriculum and I’m going to plan my lessons next week, I think I need to go back and make sure that the foundation understanding is there.

Before I start introducing the year for detectives, I’m addressing those misconceptions straight away and the clear reports help me to do that. So it’s really useful if teachers are working together to build up that picture of learning so that we’re all helping teachers in future years. And so that if teachers leave a school because we know that we have that information, that formative assessment in our own heads, we know the children well when we’re teaching. Actually, what happens when that teacher can’t come to school? What happens if that teacher leaves the school? Where is your information going? And that data that’s really useful to make sure that transition is really effective so that access to prior years and prior reports about show me a report for year for in reading, for example, show me last year’s reports for that. Every class, what percentage of children were working significantly below which how many were working above? Maybe I’m going to fill to that report and see how the boys attainment and progress looked in that subject. Show me how the children with additional needs, what percentage of those children for certain ethnicities were achieving in that subject. And all of this information is going to help me in accurately creating a curriculum that’s going to be effective for the students in my class. So we’re not losing any of that key data that’s going to inform transition.

As well as that, are your teachers in your school able to share with each other and have these conversations about evidence of learning, where is that evidence gone? So at the end of the year, I’ve been collecting not moderated examples of work. I’ve been uploading pictures, videos. I’ve got an audio file of that child reading. Where is that stored? Is it on the shared drive? Is it in another system that I collect in a we all using different systems in the school, depending on what year we’re in. And now we’re in two key stages and we found that we can’t then access each other’s evidence. It’s really important that the conversations can happen about learning between the practitioners and saying there’s evidence in the system for the reading. Here’s the evidence. As a teacher now of year five, I can go back, I can look at year evidence and it gives me a starting point to understand that child and the way they approach things. So for the reading, it could be an audio file of that child reading at the end of year four. And that is great insight. I can then hear that child reading five and then I can use that to be able to have conversations with the child and understand where the child is in learning. And the same with the reports.

What happens to the pupil reports from the end of the year? Are they easily accessible? Maybe reports aren’t online yet and they’re traditionally printed off and put in the book bags, for example, or they want to drive each individual person’s computer not on the shared drive. How are we accessing that report that’s been sent home? Termly, can I get an insight into how that child changed over autumn, spring and maybe the summer? And I can get an insight into how that child works. So if we have our pupil reports or evidence or data all in the same system, we’re able to more effectively have these conversations about learning and to share with our colleagues in future years how that child is getting on and how that child learns. And so I can access that report so I can look at the pupil voice, I can look at the comments for different subjects. And the evidence is in that that’s a really effective way to communicate and have relationships between your peer groups and key stages. And then we have senior leaders. I talked about the other stakeholders, the senior leaders.

We need to find ways that senior leaders can communicate their vision about how they would like relationships formed with students between practitioners and with parents at home. And the best way for them to be able to do that is in a system that promotes school improvement, that enables them to have the overview of their assessment policy, their curriculum, their data and their parents engagement and student engagement tools. And they’re communicating that really easily in a central place. So the data is a really great place for them to start. So if as teachers we’re recording data in a system, I’m recording my observations and I can see the learning over time as a senior leader, I can go in and I can create reports to find out maybe how a cohort has been performing over the years. So maybe I want to see the same cohort progress in attainment in one subject when they go over multiple years they’ve been in the school. That’s going to open up conversations with my staff to be able to say I’ve noticed this pattern in the data. Typically what we’re seeing in this particular cohort is that in the autumn term, we have very low attainment and progress happening. Let’s look at the curriculum to make sure that that’s not repeated. Maybe it’s a cohort comparison. So maybe I want to look at multiple cohorts over time. So year five year in and year for the current year six when they were in year four and looking for patterns in there as well and the summative informative data as well.

So in a system where you can upload your summative data, we have GL assessments and we have stats. We may have star assessments. Any assessment is using a standardised score we can import into the Learning Ladders. Where is your summative data? Is that in a separate system to your formative data? And do people have access to be able to compare the types of data to find patterns? So if I notice that we do GL assessments and we look at the children’s wellbeing and I’ve performed these summative assessments, why not compare that against the child’s formative assessments in the system? And I’ve noticed actually that confidence is low when we did the GL assessment, and that’s really reflecting in their formative assessment. That’s the intervention that I think we need for that child. We need to address the wellbeing first so that we can then address the academic objectives later. And by having everything in the one system that’s going to promote this kind of conversations with our teachers to be able to effectively share the vision of how we’re going to communicate about the learning in school.

So in summary, I know you’ve been speaking for a very long time now and I will take questions in a moment, the barriers we have and the relationships that we form, that lack of shared vision of how we’re going to communicate with all the stakeholders in that child. And that can be caused by too many systems as way of addressing all you using separate systems for everything. And is that enabling the best possible relationships with the stakeholders in that child’s learning that we have some inconsistency across teams, which can be one of those barrier. And when we put everything together, we know that the relationships are the key and at the centre of having this academic progress and attainment we’re looking for. So if we can remove these barriers and some of the ways I’ve shown you today, then we know that the relationships are going to be impactful because we have a quote, Ken Robinson, education is a conversation is not a transfusion. And we really believe that here at Learning Ladders. And as I said at the beginning, anything that we can do to promote conversations between everybody in a child’s life with their learning is going to be something that we’re going to build. And we’re really interested in the feedback that we have from our schools and we’re really listening to find out ways that we can promote these conversations. So if you have any thoughts on that, we have e-mail address is hello@learningladders.info. If you want some information, he’d like to book a demo of the system to show you a little bit more. Stella is the person you need at stellaj@learningladders.info.




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Learning Ladders