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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.
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 attack 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
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 – email@example.com
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…
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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:
We have also been asked to provide an approximate age to level conversion for Autism Progress, this can be found below.
If you would like to get in contact with Jasmine, you can find her on twitter @CoachJasmine, by email at email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01252 870133 or arrange an online consultation by clicking here.
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