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Keeping schools updated on the latest news and ideas. Read about our approach to assessment, what we are doing and why...


Moving on With Connecting Steps
This week we ran our ‘Moving on with Connecting Steps’ webinar. This webinar is for users who have been using Connecting Steps for a while and want to get more out of the software. The webinar aims to cover the following areas

  • Ethos around Connecting Steps in your school
  • What information do you use from Connecting Steps?
  • How to show the smallest steps of progress

At the start of the webinar I asked attendees what they are looking to learn from the session. The responses covered all the usual questions – showing the really small steps of progress, overview of school data, evidencing progress, what happens with the removal of P levels. We have run webinars on most of these topics already, so I touched on each of the areas and pointed them towards webinars which cover the topic in much greater detail.

The first part of the webinar covered the ethos of Connecting Steps in your school. Is there someone leading the use of Connecting Steps?Has everyone received training? Why are you using Connecting Steps and what are you using the information for? This is quite a big area and they are important questions to ask. I listened to a talk a few years ago at a conference around assessment, the speakers talked about his school’s ‘buy in’ to the system they were using. Over the last 8 years they had used 4 different assessment systems and none of them had worked. The reason? He realised the school hadn’t committed to the different systems, they hadn’t put the effort in to make the system work. As a school they thought by simply having the system it would solve their problems, it didn’t. The speaker took the lead with the last system they used, spent time supporting all the staff, identifying ways to improve how they work and looking at how to use the data the system produced. He concluded that any of the systems they had used over the last few years probably would of worked really well for the school, but they hadn’t fully committed to using them. So how are you using Connecting Steps in your school? Ask yourself the above questions, one of the first questions you should probably ask is what are all the things Connecting Steps does? Are we using it to its fullest potential?

We come across these questions a lot and it’s not something we can answer. We can help you understand what Connecting Steps can do for you, so that you can make a more informed decision. With limited time and money it is important schools know what they have access to already before they make any changes. We offer all our webinars for FREE as a great way for schools to up-skill their staff. Why not ask your staff to all watch the ‘Getting Started with Connecting Steps’ webinar and talk about things they have learnt. As part of this webinar I covered the different levels of engagement and how you can show progress for pupils who haven’t mastered skills with the pie chart. Although we have done lots of work trying to inform schools around this feature 70% of attendees didn’t know this pie chart existed, yet the pie chart is a really important feature for schools who know about it.

I talked about the importance of using the system to show a true reflection of your pupils. In many systems you are putting children into different boxes. You may have a number of children who may be classed as Year 1 but they are all different. Schools shouldn’t be fitting pupils into a box. In Connecting Steps you wrap the system around the child, it is hugely child-centered. Don’t use just 1 level to assess a pupil’s progress within a subject, work across multiple levels. Use Connecting Steps to show that it is only part of writing that the pupils is struggling with at that level and that they are making really good progress in the other aspects on the level above. This will be motivational for the teachers as they can show the progress the pupil is making. It will also be really motivational for the child and their parents that the progress they are making is recognised and that as a school you have a really clear understanding of their child’s needs.

During the webinar I showed a number of screens users find useful for sharing information. The ‘Assessments to be Mastered’, ‘Assessments Mastered’ and ‘Bar Chart’ from the individual reports section are really good to share with parents as they provide meaningful information that parents can understand and they are really quick to produce. I also showed a few reports from CSAM, the ‘Progress Over Time’ graph is a great way to show progress for pupils working across multiple levels.

I was asked a number of questions in the webinar that we have already run webinars on, these include:

There are also a number of handouts linked to these webinars which schools will find really useful. Please check out our other webinars.


Administering Connecting Steps and Evisense Training Webinar

This is the first webinar on administering Connecting Steps and Evisense. A little while ago, we made a decision to split our training webinars into smaller, more focused ones that allowed us to cover in-depth specific parts of the system, rather than lightly covering the entire system. As it stands, we have never really shown much love to the administrators and the parts of the system they have to deal with on a regular basis. We wanted to change that by delivering a focused webinar on all of the administration tools available to help administrators set up and maintain our systems efficiently. The meeting covers a range of topics such as adding users, students and maintaining those on a regular basis. I also covered all of the settings in both My B Squared and Connecting Steps, and how these affect each system.

 

If you are an administrator and want to find out more about how to properly administer our systems, then please take a look.


'Getting Started with Connecting Steps' Training Webinar

We have now been running our training webinars for over 6 months and have helped lots of new and existing users get more out of Connecting Steps.

 “I just wanted to say how useful the webinar was. I've been using B Squared within my school for a long time but there were areas that I didn't know existed. I didn’t know that you can write comments. So useful when students are changing classes. It’s really useful for my school to decide which yellow areas to use and what they mean to us all and I didn’t know that pie charts show yellow areas. Great for showing engagement in skills. I took notes from the webinar and have passed them to senior leadership. Great work you and your team are doing. I can't praise B Squared highly enough, especially engagement steps. I look forward to the next webinar.”

 

 

Last month we decided to make some changes around our training webinars. We had tried to cram everything into a 1 hour session each month, this meant we covered the majority of the software’s functionality but not in much detail. This month’s training webinar was the first of our new training webinar series. We will now be running 3 different training webinars:

  • Getting Started with Connecting Steps – This will give users an overview of all the basic features that they will use on an ongoing basis and the ever so important, how to baseline.
  • Moving on with Connecting Steps – This webinar is designed for those who have been using Connecting Steps for a while, it looks at the use of Connecting Steps within your school and ensures you are getting the most out of Connecting Steps.
  • Administering Connecting Steps and Evisense – How to use My B Squared to administer users, groups and students and the different settings for Evisense and Connecting Steps

We will run one of these webinars each month and they will be available on our blog for users to watch at a time that suits them. If the webinar system is blocked by your internet provider (LGFL for example) the you will be able to access the webinars on here afterwards. If you want to register for a future webinar, click here.

As part of the webinar I covered the different frameworks available in Connecting Steps and their differences. I focussed on the Primary Steps in the webinar, but the features are the same in all frameworks. I talked about the importance of using our 7 levels of engagement/achievement and how they can be used to show small steps of progress. For the majority of schools using 7 levels of engagement will be too much so we recommend reducing the number a school uses and turn the rest off. It is important to have a clear understanding on what each level of engagement means in your school.

Connecting Steps has lots of different ways to show progress and share information. As part of the webinar I went through a variety of different options that show progress and attainment in different ways. My favourites are the ‘Assessments to be Mastered’, ‘Assessments Mastered’ and the ‘Bar Graph’ in the Individual Reports. They show key information in an easy to understand format that can be used to engage parents.

As part of the webinar I covered baselining and also talked about how to complete levels. There are a number of options. The default is the ‘Use Best Fit’ this is a percentage that the school can set and when a pupil reaches this percentage the software will show that the level is complete. The majority of our schools use 80% or 85%. For most pupils this will work well, but there are times you may want another option. Teachers also have the option to mark a level as complete based on their professional judgement.

The training webinar will give users all the basic information they need to start using Connecting Steps, they will still need to know how Connecting Steps is used within their setting. What is the best fit percentage? What levels of engagement are we using? How often and when are they data drops? How do we share information with parents?

If you have any questions about this webinar you can contact me via email at dale@bsquared.co.uk


FREE online Connecting Steps training - Don’t miss out!

The second of our new monthly FREE Connecting Steps training webinars took place yesterday.

It’s not too late to access your FREE training. Don’t worry if you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here:

 

Listening to our customers

We know the pressures schools are under and we want to support schools as best we can. Schools are under increasing pressure to show progress for pupils with SEND and although they use Connecting Steps, we have found they don’t know all the different ways they can show progress. Our training webinars allow us to show how easy and simple it is to show progress in different ways and how you can use this to increase engagement with parents.

Learning from experience

This month we focused more on the basics of Connecting Steps, navigating around and the different screens within Connecting Steps. We also covered how to start off, making sure pupils are baselined correctly and using the different levels of experiences and how you can use these to show progress. We have found that schools who have used Connecting Steps for years are unaware of some of the features we have introduced in the last few years and the difference this can make. Teachers who have used us for years often benefit hugely as we may show them a screen they haven’t seen or we explain one of the screens they didn’t understand. Come and join the next webinar to make sure you are getting the most out of Connecting Steps.

Prefer to take part in a LIVE session?

Register now for our next Connecting Steps training webinar taking place at 4pm Tuesday 11 September (we are not running a session in August).

Next webinar - Transitioning to B Squared's new assessment frameworks, 7pm Tuesday 10 July

B Squared has 3 new frameworks that have been developed in response to the Rochford Review: Final Report recommendations and the release of the new pre-key stage standards. This FREE online webinar is designed to inform our existing customers about how our assessment frameworks are changing, how to transition and the effects this will have on your data. This webinar will cover:

  • Introduction to our new assessment frameworks: Engagement Steps; Progressions Steps; Primary Steps
  • How the new levelling structure looks
  • An overview of getting started with Engagement Steps
  • An overview of the differences between the old P Levels and National Curriculum and the new Progression Steps
  • An overview of Primary Steps
  • How to transition from P Levels and National Curriculum to Progression Steps or Primary Steps

Register now by clicking here


FREE online Connecting Steps training – What’s the catch?

It’s true, it’s FREE and in all honesty, there is no catch! Apart from maybe the challenge of finding a quiet place at school to join in one of our online sessions. Find out for yourself - just ask any of the teachers who attended our first FREE Connecting Steps online training webinar which took place LIVE online earlier this week (Tuesday 5 June at 4pm).

Experimenting with webinars

I was bowled over by the great feedback we received from teachers who took part in our very first webinar ‘Introduction to Engagement Steps’, held just a few just weeks ago. The aim of this first session was to introduce our newest assessment frameworks, developed in response to the Rochford Review. This webinar, scheduled outside of school hours on a topic of interest for our teacher customers, proved a big hit! So what next?

Listening to our customers

I spend most of my working week visiting schools, to introduce them to B Squared or train staff on how to use our Connecting Steps assessment software. I have listened to feedback from a number of our customer schools who have identified a training need for their new staff, but due to tight budgets it is not financially viable to pay for someone from B Squared to come and deliver training in-person for a small number of staff. In response to this need, we have decided to offer a FREE Connecting Steps training webinar on a monthly basis (4pm on the first Tuesday of the month). Open to all our Connecting Steps V4 hosted customers, this session is ideal as a refresher for existing users or a starting point for new staff, who can then talk to colleagues at their school about how the software is used within their setting. These webinars have been designed to complement, not replace, whole school face-to-face training which enables us to customise the delivery to meet each school's individual needs.

Learning from experience

This week’s first training webinar has shown me that a basic overview of the software and all its functionality is a bit too much of a squeeze to fit into 30 minutes! So, we plan to extend the next session to 45 minutes (plus 15 minutes questions). We are also considering breaking out some specific areas, such as ‘student baselining’ or ‘CSAM: Connecting Steps Analysis Module’ for more in-depth training (dates/times TBC). If there’s a particular element you would like to see covered in more detail, please do let me know via the comments section below.

Sound good? 

It’s not too late to access your FREE training. Don’t worry if you missed this first training webinar, you can watch the recording here: 

 

Prefer to take part in a LIVE session?

Register now for our next Connecting Steps training webinar taking place on Tuesday 3 July at 4pm.

Our next webinar: Are you ready for the removal of P-Levels? - 7pm Tuesday 12th June

This FREE online webinar has been designed to inform teachers on the implications of the Rochford Review and how our assessment frameworks are changing in response to the removal of P Levels.

To register for any of our webinars, simply visit our Webinars page www.bsquared.co.uk/more/webinars


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