Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Encouraging Achievement VIVO/SIMS

The Students and Achievement Team were tasked with the responsibility of looking into Canons current use of electronic systems. We decided that rewards would be our immediate priority and began to research our current system. We have been using Vivo Miles. Vivo is a web-based rewards system that aims to improve student engagement and help achieve school values. Vivo points are awarded to students for positive behaviour, good work and contributions around school. These points can then be used as a currency for students to save up and purchase rewards on their own account.

We undertook a full audit of staff use and student experience of Vivos and rewards.

We used the data recorded within Vivo to determine how often departments/staff use the system and to see which year groups receive the most Vivos.  

We then disseminated a questionnaire for staff on the use of Vivos. The results informed us that 38% of staff rarely or never use Vivos. The main reason being the method in which they are currently distributed is difficult to use on a practical basis. Teachers in a classroom environment found it very awkward and long winded to log in to the web based Vivo system, often didn’t know their login details as they are separate to SIMS and therefore would not use the Vivo system.  

A student survey across all Key Stages informed us that the majority of students across all key stages still value Vivos – even KS5. We didn’t expect to see the KS5 students value Vivos but they overwhelmingly agreed that Vivos are a great incentive to achieve. Almost equally there were requests for more positive comments to go directly to parents/carers.

I visited Whitmore High School to look at their use of electronic systems. They use a SIMS based reward system that utilises InTouch. InTouch can use SIMS data to automatically send messages to parents/carers. This was a “Light Bulb” moment. I thought “Maybe we’d be able to use SIMS to distribute Vivos”. Further investigation taught us that this was possible. We have now simplified the process of awarding Vivos by using SIMS. Within a register as well as selecting an individual or a group of students, any member of staff can simply use the achievement tab to reward a student individually. This means no additional log in for staff. By using this system the achievement is recorded within SIMS and InTouch can send messages home. We have decided that a trial will determine the number of points/Vivos that trigger a message being sent home via InTouch. Promotion throughout the school will be essential. We will produce posters for classrooms and clear guidelines for all staff on how to use the new system. The trial will also determine how data is collected for Heads of Year and Heads of Department so they are able to analyse achievement quickly and easily. 


- Sustains a fair and consistent approach to rewards across the school.

- Fulfils the students’ requests for how they would like to be rewarded (parental notification).

- Fulfils staff requests for easier use thus improving the chances that students will be rewarded.

- Records achievements directly onto SIMS.

- Builds on the Canons ‘talking school’ ethos that promotes open dialogue between stakeholders.

I had the opportunity to present this project in an all staff meeting. It’s still in its early stages, but the feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive. One teacher said “Thank you, it’s so quick and easy now. I never used VIVOs before but I will now.” I have had many other members of staff say similar things. It is now my responsibility to keep this system consistent throughout the school. The trial will inevitably find some kinks but I hope this system will promote the use of rewards throughout the entire school. 


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Repost: What works? Getting to grips with research in schools

This is a repost from Key Insights, The Key's blog on school leadership and governance by Ed Marshall - Lead Quality Assurer


What works? Getting to grips with research in schools

Ed Marshall
When it comes to using research evidence in schools, the only question that seemingly matters is ‘What works?’ So much so that the government created a What Works Network, which includes the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Its mission is to discover what works in classrooms… so we can all sit back, relax and wait for the answer to roll in, right?
Well, no, as those at the frontline are only too aware, it’s not that simple. The EEF’s James Richardson noted that there may be “more similarities between schools than difference“, but there are still no silver bullets when it comes to ‘closing the gap’. Context will always be crucial to the success of an intervention. Indeed, we should think of research findings as telling us what works… some times and in some places.
So where does that leave us? Needing practitioners with the professional judgement and skills to understand not only ‘what works’, but also ‘how and why?’ And, crucially, to ask ‘will it work for our pupils?’

Twitter Logo

Three to follow

You can use Twitter to interact with teachers who are passionate about using research in schools, including:
Tom Bennett – director of ResearchEd and TES blogger
David Weston – CEO of the Teacher Development Trust
Keven Bartle – headteacher of Canons and nominated for best teacher blogger at the TES Awards 2015
A recent visit to Canons High School in Harrow gave me an opportunity to see how one school is tackling these questions. Its headteacher is Keven Bartle, who emphasised the need for teachers not to be mere consumers of research but active producers and critics.
And this philosophy is evident in the school’s approach. For starters, Canons has a designated research advocate and its CPD offer for teachers includes lesson study and a book group that is currently debating the merits of Full on Learning by Zoe Elder.
From next year, Canons will also be trialling a journal club to give teachers the opportunity to engage with academic review articles and discuss how these findings can inform their practice. The school will be working with Sam Sims of UCL’s Institute of Education to evaluate how effective this approach proves.

Importantly, journal clubs are seen as a way of putting teachers in charge of their own learning. As Sam explained:
Participants choose what to read, how to interpret it and work together on how to implement it in the classroom. It’s about empowering teachers by linking them directly with the latest education research.
So if we’re aiming to get teachers enthused about research, school leaders and governors can play a vital role by ensuring that school cultures and CPD programmes encourage teacher-led critical engagement with research. Ultimately, getting to grips with why an intervention is likely to be successful (or not) in a particular context, understanding how to effectively evaluate its outcomes, and knowing when to adapt or abandon a failing strategy are the skills we need to develop. That’ll be what works for pupils.