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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...


'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.


'What is Good Progress?' Webinar

This is a question we have been asked a lot over recent years. The removal of Levels and now also P Levels has left schools unsure on the progress pupils with SEND should make. Our webinar below is designed to help schools answer that question. It would be great if I could pull out a number or a formula that you could use to judge progress, but it is not that simple. Progress needs to be judged by those who work with the pupil. There are lots of questions that need to be asked and schools need to use their assessment data to make decisions and make changes within their school.

The webinar doesn’t give the answer to what is good progress but gives schools things to discuss, ideas to reflect on within their school. Our products can help support schools in making decisions and evidencing progress, but the teachers need to use this data to make their own decisions and be confident in these decisions. In the webinar I covered a range of advice from Ofsted, I also covered some of the Ofsted Myths and talked about some of the changes planned for the 2019 Ofsted Inspection Framework.

As part of the webinar there were a number of handouts, these can be found in the links below:

  • Primary Steps – Progress Guidance – This document is designed to support teachers working towards End of Year outcomes to judge progress. The document gives simplified progress values for pupils that teachers can use as guidance when judging progress, teachers will need to take into account previous progress, the pupil’s needs, how effective provision has been and have there been external factors to judge if progress is good enough.
  • Progression Steps – Progress Guidance – This document is designed for schools using our Progression Steps. The document contains a range of progress values for pupils working at different levels in different key stages. It gives 3 progress values for each level. These are not ‘below’, ‘at’ or ‘exceeded’ judgements, they are bands of progress, professionals will need to have conversations about progress taking into account previous progress, the pupil’s needs, how effective provision has been and have there been external factors to judge if progress is good enough. A pupil could be in the lower quartile, but still have made good enough progress.
  • Making Data Work - Workload Advisory Group Report– This report was released on the 5th of November and is designed to help leaders think about the workload and impact their assessment and data process has. It has a number of recommendations to reduce teacher workload by reducing unnecessary work - “Attainment information should only be compiled centrally as frequently as it is possible for others to act on it. Without actions, it is not possible for collation of student attainment information to play any part in the work of a school.”
  • Government Response to the Workload Advisory Group Report - This response shows that the government agrees with the recommendations of the Workload Advisory Group
  • Ofsted Inspection Framework 2019 – Ofsted has started talking about the changes that are coming in the 2019 Ofsted Inspection Framework. It appears to be really good news for pupils with SEND as it moves away from the heavy focus on outcomes to focussing on curriculum, pupil development and preparing pupils for their future.

The initial feedback from this webinar has helped us understand where schools are on the journey around the removal of P Levels. We can also find out about changes schools are implementing now they have more flexibility around the assessment process, how they judge progress and how they communicate with parents.

If you have any questions on this webinar, please contact me via email – dale@bsquared.co.uk


Introduction to CSAM Webinar

Last week we ran a training webinar on how to use our Connecting Steps Analysis Module (CSAM). It was nice to see so many people eager to learn how to use this tool to its full potential and to find out how to gain insights into students' progress across their school. It was unfortunate that just before the webinar started, I burnt my finger on a microwave meal and had to spend the entire meeting with my hand in water! Hopefully that didn't affect my presentation.

Don't worry if you missed it, you can watch the recording here:

 

 

Handouts

As part of the webinar we included a number of handouts, these can be downloaded by clicking on the links below:

If you wish to upgrade to CSAM please contact us on 01252 870133 or by emailing sales@connectingsteps.com for a quotation. The cost is based on the number of users, so will need to be priced individually for each school.

If you have any further questions about CSAM please contact our support team by calling 01252 870133 or by emailing support@connectingsteps.com.


Transitioning to Our New Frameworks Webinar

Earlier this week we ran our ‘Transitioning to B Squared's New Frameworks’ webinar. The webinar not only helped customers understand how easy it is to transition to the new frameworks with Connecting Steps, but answered a number of questions we have already been asked as well as others we believe we will be asked in the coming weeks.

Don't worry if you missed it, you can watch the recording here:

 

 

What has changed?

Our new assessment frameworks are similar to our old frameworks in approach, they break down the Primary National Curriculum into smaller steps. Our break downs have been designed to be age-neutral so can be used by pupils from key stage 1 to key stage 4 - the highest levels contain content from the secondary curriculum.

The biggest difference is the levelling structure the frameworks are based on. Another difference is the order the government feels skills should be achieved; a number of skills have been moved around in Maths compared to the P Levels, which schools need to be aware of.

We also released our framework comparison chart in the webinar. Schools will find this chart extremely useful as they move away from P Levels and change the language used in school. The conversion chart shows how Engagement Steps, Progression Steps and Primary Steps compare to the P Levels and National Curriculum Levels.

How to transition?

Transitioning to the new frameworks is nice and easy and is completed in 6 simple steps:

  1. Contact our Support Team, let them know you want to transition
  2. We will recalculate all your data (may take 24 hours), we will let you know when this is complete
  3. Run ‘Confirm Levels Complete’
    ***You must remain logged in for 10 minutes after you start this process for the process to complete***
  4. When this is complete let our support team know (reply to your ticket)
  5. We will transfer your completed level data and let you know once this has been done
  6. Turn off old frameworks

The important thing to remember before you transition is to make sure both you and your data are ready. As part of the webinar we included a number of handouts, these can be downloaded by clicking on the links below:

If you wish to upgrade to our new frameworks please contact us on 01252 870133 or by emailing sales@connectingsteps.com for a quotation. The cost is based on the number of users, the number of subjects and when you purchased Connecting Steps, so will need to be priced individually for each school.

If you have any questions about transitioning please contact our support team by calling 01252 870133 or by emailing support@connectingsteps.com.


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