Academies and Schools Future Summit
July 5th, 2018
How do your products and solutions empower schools to deliver outstanding education through the use of technology?
At Texthelp, we focus on two core areas - literacy and maths. These two, of course stretch across the curriculum and underpin successful outcomes in many different areas. It’s clear that if we support these areas and give pupils the tools to succeed that it can positively impact engagement, attainment and fulfil potential. As ‘toolbars’ or extensions, our tools work with existing technology that schools use and they then enable access to a comprehensive set of support tools for every student, right when they need it. Our aim is simply to focus on ‘outcomes’ for pupils - and ensure our technology helps everyone from struggling readers, those with individual needs, EAL students or high achievers. Our tools enable pupils to personalise their experience whenever, wherever they need it.
So no matter the platform, the strategy, the focus for improvement - our tools are there to impact the teaching and learning experience for everyone. We simply like to think that we ‘level the playing field’ for all pupils and give them the tools to succeed, irrespective of age or ability.
How is texthelp helping to overcome the challenges that schools are facing today?
We help at some very practical levels. We make deployment simple and we work across every platform, we support what we do from an education perspective and provide schools with the tools to measure success with technology - any purchase needs to have that success criteria to show its effectiveness.
As we empower students with personal learning tools, there's less of a need for teacher CPD or creation of new resources.
In terms of budget, we think of value. Our solutions are cost effective because they stretch right across the curriculum and have a wide impact. More than that though, they are designed to meet some key needs that every school has. As an example, one of our tools, Read&Write has the ability to help pupils with individual needs such as dyslexia. It also has the tools to help EAL pupils - an increasing portion of our school system - with in built translation. Tools to help high achievers study better, tools to replace human readers in exams - the list goes on, so from a budget perspective it makes sense - one tool helping solving challenges from inclusion to attainment.
With the number of MATs increasing, how can texthelp help them to succeed?
We help MATs focus on very specific targeted areas within their improvement plans and targets - for the group as a whole and at a more granular school level. We work closely on building those targets into a plan with Texthelp tools which can be implemented across each school. As things progress, schools within the MAT see clear lines of progression, they see impact and crucially they can measure their success against outcomes. It’s about putting teaching and learning first and helping them understand that technology is the enabler.
What does texthelp see as the future of technology in Schools?
We’re in a better place now for cross platform tools, so there’s less of an iPad vs Chromebook vs Windows discussion, which has been really important to drive innovation and adoption. We need to support better teacher CPD and create more flexible opportunities for pupils to use technology. We should be embedding what we have now and working on adopting our curriculum to match rather than looking at the ‘next best thing’.
There are wonderful, exciting tools that really engage pupils such as augmented reality and ways to support pupils by using machine learning and track and analyse data. But we need leaders and teachers on board, we need support mechanisms, and we need to see edtech companies work on how best to use data that's useful to help track learning when tech is used. We can only do those things if we integrate what we have now. should be embedding what we have now and working on adopting our curriculum to match rather than looking at the ‘next best thing’.
There are wonderful, exciting tools that really engage pupils such as augmented reality and ways to support pupils by using machine learning and track and analyse data. But we need leaders and teachers on board, we need support mechanisms, and we need to see edtech companies work on how best to use data that's useful to help track learning when tech is used. We can only do those things if we integrate what we have now.
That all said, it’s important that we understand and accept that technology is not a standalone ‘thing’ - it should now be a natural part of learning because it’s natural to all of our lives. Good practice is good practice with and without technology, but when we understand the opportunities that technology offers we open up so many possibilities.
How do your products and solutions empower schools to deliver outstanding education using technology?
Frog is focused around 4 main areas right now:
- Enabling the construction of a strong digital curriculum. At one extreme this can be just a clearly defined curriculum, with exemplars of standards for teachers to work to, at the other it can be the creation of interactive learning resources, low stakes quizzing in a gamified environment and online testing.
- Providing rich information about each individual child’s learning needs, empowering teachers to focus their time on the things that matter. In practice, this can mean different intervention strategies and assessment models, as well as the creation of moderation systems that have a significant impact on the quality of teaching. It’s about enabling focus on the needs of every individual child - which can only enrich results.
- Taking the burden away from teachers and school staff. Frog includes a wide range of administrative time saving tools, from options portals, to governor portals, but more importantly a toolkit that allows you to modify or even create your own systems. We also provide quizzing and testing solutions along with pre-built quizzes to test children’s knowledge against the entire UK curriculum. This not only provides instant homework assignments that are curriculum linked, and automated marking saving huge amounts of teacher time, but more importantly, detailed reports of where individuals may be struggling. Every minute we can save for teachers is an extra minute working with their learners or planning their work.
- Saving schools money. We are currently running a project calling the “1 Million Pound Challenge” where we are aiming to save UK schools at least this sum over the coming year. A typical saving for a secondary school can be around £10,000 without too much effort.
With the number of MATs increasing, how can Frog Education help them to succeed?
Trusts working with Frog use our technology in a variety of different ways. An example would be the development and sharing of central policies and procedures, or even enabling central provision of administrative and technical services, reducing the burden on individual schools.
Others are using their subject experts to develop high quality learning materials to provide to their schools. In some cases, these are developed centrally, in others this is a process of co-construction across all the schools in the MAT.
Ultimately, whether it’s reducing admin, providing quality learning materials, or saving money, this is about empowering your schools to focus on children’s learning.
For schools that want the benefits of Frog within their school as well as at MAT level, our FrogConnect solution facilitates a centralised hub for MATs which links every school in the group so that they can collaborate, share resources and best practice, while receiving the individual benefits and control of Frog within their own school environment - the best of both worlds.
What does Frog Education see as the future of technology in schools?
Frog believes that technology should be enabling and transformative; it’s not about using technology to teach the children, it’s enabling skilled teachers to do a good job by giving them tools to engage all their learners. We do not believe in a world where teachers are replaced by computers.
We are encouraged to see schools and MATs start to use technology in a transformative way; moving past the idea of just digitising what they already do on paper and being brave enough to look at their model of education differently, to reshape their school in ways that wouldn’t be possible without the use of technology.
This is the future we are aiming at, an education system that does things better through technology, not just differently. We want to be part of a positive transformation in education.