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B Squared Blog

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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...


Cyber Essentials Certification

We have now completed our Cyber Essentials Certification for the year. Whilst this is broad in its approach, it helps to ensure that even the smallest of companies are thinking about online security and helping to keep themselves secure. As a company or school, going through the Cyber Essentials certifications helps draw you attention to the flaws in your internal processes and security. Raising these early helps prevent your system from being compromised. 

This is particularly poignant at the moment as an email phishing attach seems to be making its way across the internet, which encourages people to try and view a message they have been sent, but with a goal of harvesting your login credentials to then use these to send out more emails and perpetuate the problem. Cyber Essentials alerts you to the possibility of this and forces you to think about how you can reduce these risks satisfactorily. In this particular case, good staff training is required to help them understand how they can protect themselves and their/your data.



Cyber Essentials Certificate 2019-2020.pdf

 


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.


Evaluate progress across the Curriculum for Excellence the easy way - B Squared products for Scotland

Towards the end of December last year we ran a webinar introducing schools in Scotland to our new assessment products we have been creating in partnership with schools in North Lanarkshire.

Over the last few years we have been developing our Steps to Excellence assessment framework to give teachers the ability to track the small steps of progress pupils with ASN make. Steps to Excellence covers from the Pre-Early Milestones through to Fourth level across the 8 areas of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Steps to Excellence is an assessment framework which sits with Connecting Steps, our assessment software. Connecting Steps is used in over 1000 schools in the UK, helping schools by supporting their robust assessment judgements and report on curriculum level achievement. Reinforced by a range of powerful reporting tools, this framework enables schools to represent detailed progress and achievement information to pupils, parents, staff, governors, local authorities and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE).

 

"Connecting Steps is a fantastic resource for recording, tracking, monitoring and evaluating progress across the entire school community. It enables us to easily measure the effectiveness of our teaching and programmes of work - and clearly target next steps."

John Hamilton, Headteacher, James Reid School, North Ayrshire

 

Schools in Scotland are also using our evidence for learning platform, Evisense alongside Connecting Steps to record and highlight the achievements of pupils. Evisense creates a portfolio of a child's educational journey through the CfE. The portfolio can be shared easily with parents either through the app or using printed reports.

This webinar gives schools an overview of how Connecting Steps and Evisense work together and how they support best practice. If you have any questions about our products or would like to know more, you can either send an email to myself – dale@bsquared.co.uk or you can arrange an online meeting where we can show you the software and answer any questions you may have. To arrange an online meeting click on the link below…

https://meetme.so/bsquared-scotland


'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


'An Introduction to Profiling Autism with Autism Progress' Webinar

This week’s webinar was an overview and history behind Autism Progress and the aims of the project, with our first guest presenter Jasmine Miller. Jasmine was involved with Autism Progress from the very beginning, over 5 years ago. She was involved with every stage of the project, including getting B Squared involved. Autism Progress started off as a project between 3 autism charities – Scottish Autism, Autism Wessex and the North East Autism Society. The charities wanted a way to better support pupils and adults with autism and part of this was a better understanding of how someone’s autism affected them. This involved building a detailed profile of a person’s autism. Autism Progress compliments SCERTS, but is designed to be more accessible by a wider range of professionals.

As part of the webinar we conducted a few polls. The first question was ‘How confident are you in working with an autistic individual and understanding levels of support and levels of engagement?’ Over half were very confident, another 35% were gaining in confidence and only 7% were not very confident. 

The second question was ‘Do you currently have a way of profiling Autism in your service or school?’ 56% of responses said they didn’t have a way of profiling autism in their school, 13% didn’t know and 31% had a way of profiling autism.

The third question was ‘How many times a day do you refer to an autistic person’s profile/assessment/support plan/all about me overview?’ 35% of responses indicated that they never referred to the plan/profile on a daily basis, 38% refer to the plan/profile once or twice a day, and 22% use it 3 or more times a day.

The final question was ‘How often do you create opportunities for an autistic individual to learn about creating strategies to address their feelings?’ Responses show that 50% constantly create opportunities, 43% create opportunities once or twice a day and only 7% do not create daily opportunities.

Overall the responses to the polls were positive around profiling, but in terms of how someone’s autism is supported on a daily basis, there is room for improvement. There could be many reasons for this including time, sufficient training, support, school ethos or access to tools to support the professional.

Autism Progress has 2 equally useful aspects. The first is the ability to profile someone’s autism in an easy to manage way. The profile is detailed, but Connecting Steps (B Squared’s assessment software) makes it manageable to create and also provides information to professionals in identifying next steps and celebrating progress. The second aspect is the strategies. Professionals can use tools to profile someone’s autism, but once you have built the profile, what is the next step? How do you help create learning opportunities? What resources are available? When I first got involved with the Autism Progress project I was focusing on the profiling and the benefits the profile gives. I hadn’t realised the importance of the strategies and how powerful/useful they would be to professionals using Autism Progress. Schools are now using these strategies as part of the EHCP process.

Handouts.

As part of the webinar we have provided a number of handouts you may find useful when evaluating  Autism Progress, these can be found below:

  • Autism Progress Guide28 page document giving you an overview of Autism Progress. It goes through the 4 different areas that are used as part of the profile, it explains how the Autism Progress tool can be used and it has the level descriptors which show the developmental range of the tool.
  • Sample from Autism Progress – a 2 page document which contains the profile for Communication Level 6 (neurotypical developmental age of 15 months approximately) and also the strategies for Communication Level 6.

We have also been asked to provide an approximate age to level conversion for Autism Progress, this can be found below.

Autism Progress level to age conversion

If you would like to get in contact with Jasmine, you can find her on twitter @CoachJasmine, by email at jasminemillercoaching@gmail.com or on LinkedIn

If you have any questions about Autism Progress or how it could be used in your school, please get in contact. You can email me at dale@bsquared.co.uk or call on 01252 870133 or arrange an online consultation by clicking here.


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