Invisible barriers to inclusion

Today March 16th 2019 is Disabled Access Day.

Our government has promised to get one million disabled people into work over the next decade. This will certainly be a challenge as many disabled workers will not be able to get to work using transport. Recently, BBC journalist Alex Taylor described finding himself stuck on a train in his wheelchair and apparently Govia, parent company of Southern Rail Thameslink Railway recently is putting profits before people by telling staff not to help passengers who are disabled on and of trains if it is going to cause delays.

If these newly appointed workers are using a website or any form of technology they may find the systems inaccessible. Hilary Stephenson, managing director of digital user experience agency, Sigma, has found that many websites still have barriers to access which make it difficult – or even impossible – for people with disabilities to use.

Her company found that a third of council websites in the UK are not accessible for disabled people. From booking travel to accessing vital health services, poor digital design is leaving millions of vulnerable users confused, alienated and often severely isolated.

‘Living with an impairment, disability or health issue of any kind should never exclude people from accessing the same online and digital services as everyone else,’ she says. ‘It is scandalous that there are still so many companies not willing to invest the time and money into making their sites inclusive to all.’

Accessible Spaces – Exploring access to public, leisure and event spaces By Simon Wissink | 24/09/2018




Peace symposium 6pm Today 9 March London today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Caliph of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is holding a National Peace Symposium at 6 pm today, 9 March 2019 at Baitul Futuh Mosque, 181 London Rd, Morden SM4 5PT

This comes on the same day that we heard the news of the death of the baby of Shamima Begum, just after she was moved from al-Hawl camp in the north of the country to another site nearer the Iraqi border.

Controversy surrounds her actions, and the UK’s responses, from Home secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to revoke the British citizenship to the news that a shooting range in Wirral, north-west England, is using Begum’s image as a target because it has ‘received a large number of requests from customers.’

What is clear is that there has never been more important time to have discussions about peace.

Politics has become a dirty word and many in the UK are hunkering down and trying to ignore what is going on here and abroad. In fact if it’s not rumour and gossip about Brexit, it will struggle to appear in the headlines.

We need to look at the big political issues of the day such as global politics, Islam, terrorism, and the ones that impinge on all our lives: environment and climate change social media, technology.

This Peace symposium is a good start.




When Sal and Anna met Russell

Why do people pay £4000 for a stand at Bett and then have no idea what they are going to do there?

‘We’ll tell people about our products, they say’ but then you see them standing there looking a little anxious, clutching their expensive glossy brochures, willing people to stop and talk to them.

There has to be a better way and indeed there is as Anna Pedroza, owner of PR agency Anna Pedroza Communication, and I explained in our interview with Russell Prue. Click on the bar above the picture and have a listen,

Check out Anna’s blog :  https://pedrozacommunications.co.uk/blog/how-to-secure-pr-during-bett-2019/




Can student planners help reduce stress and improve well-being?

This week is not just about Safer Internet Day, it is also Children’s Mental Health Week #childrensmhw.

A #YoungMindsUK survey of 6,719 teachers showed that teachers spend around 4.5 hours each week on well-being and the recent posts on #banthebooths show that schools can be very stressful places for young people.

There are no simple answers but there are simple tools which can help some children. You might want to look at a company called Penstripe that makes student planners that don’t just contain space for homework and timetables but can be personalised with things like code of conduct, uniform etc. and, even better, have advice on health and well-being. If schools are going to have planners that children have to carry with them at all times shouldn’t they also have advice that young people need and give them helpful strategies?
Penstripe Student Planners




Not just a pretty picture

An overview of a whole topic at a glance

Bett Award finalists Matchware offer top tips for introducing mind mapping into your school
Matchware (stand C142), a Bett Awards finalist in the Higher or Further Education Digital Services category, is looking forward to showing Bett visitors the latest version of their software MindView, the industry leader in mind mapping,

Often described as a visual thinking tool, MindView encourages learners and teachers to structure information in different ways so they can see the whole, the different parts and the connections in between.

It is well known that the visual approach of mind mapping can help the 10 to 15% of the population who have dyslexia or associated Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), but it is also a wonderful tool for EAL students and those still to develop full fluency in English who will find that the visual representation of knowledge is so much easier for them to understand and recall.

To help schools and colleges not yet up to speed with mind mapping, Matchware’s manager David Kidd offers these top tips for introducing it into the classroom:
• Fire up your students: MindView is an excellent notetaking and idea generation tool classroom that encourages students to brainstorm and organise ideas for written documents and presentations. As a starting point choose a topic where students have prior knowledge or strong opinions and can collaborate.
• Think visual: Young people switch off if they are listening for too long. Mind maps often work better than linear presentation slides but for maximum effect incorporate pictures, colours, different fonts or text styles to make the ideas stand out.
• Expand and contract: Remind students that they need to crystallise their thoughts into a word or key phrase, a picture or symbol, a vital skill in an age where we are all overloaded with information. Then show them how to build on key words to create fuller accounts or more detailed work, gathering examples and evidence.
• Stretch the mind: Mind mapping helps us to gather, sort, structure and create in different ways. It also is a great aid to memory and learning. Once you have a fairly detailed mind map, switch off the screen and ask students to recall sections.
• Use MindView in the flipped classroom: It is often hard for students to evidence the work they have done before coming to the classroom and for students new to English it is a good way for them to process and interact with language and build their comprehension skills alongside curriculum learning.
• Try mind mapping as a planning tool: Teachers tell us that they use MindView to help with lesson planning, report writing and for curriculum planning, using the built in Gantt chart and Office integration. This gives them a clear visual overview of what needs to be covered.
• Make MindView a regular feature in the classroom: Mind mapping should not be a one-off. Plan to use it regularly for several weeks so it is seen as an accepted strategy in class and not as something special.

There are so many advantages to incorporating mind mapping into teaching and learning. Find out more from the MindView team on stand C142 at the Bett show https://www.matchware.com/mind-mapping-software

Ends

Press contact:
David Kidd
Matchware Ltd
T: 020 8439 8220
E: david.kidd@matchware.com




Making an impact with music technology

 

Music is no longer just about playing instruments or singing. Many careers now require  young people to be familiar with industry standard music technology and this is where so many schools fall down.

Not so Gable Hall in Essex, a performing arts school, part of the ORTU Federation, where almost every year group routinely uses the technology for composing, performing and recording.

This has paid off. As well as achieving academic success – a 100% pass rate in Music GCSE – students have gone on to greater glory with Louisa Johnson winning the X Factor in 2015 and Ruti Olajugbagbe winning The Voice UK in April 2018.

‘The profile of music and our students’ success is largely attributable to the excellent facilities. We try to get every year group to use the technology and get them doing sequencing and composing on the computer,’ said Faye Beamish Head of Music, Ortu Gable Hall. ‘It is really important that the technology is seamless so lessons run smoothly and the young people can just get on with making music.’

Their technology is supplied and managed by Counterpoint Ltd, and means that the students are building the skills they will need when working in professional recording studios in the future. It also gives the staff and students confidence: ‘When the music technology works in the classroom – put simply – we can then focus on what we do best,’ said Beamish.

As well as producing stars of tomorrow – or even today- Ortu Gable Hall runs a roadshow every year where the students go out and perform their best work in local schools putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom. This helps to build student confidence performing in front of large audiences.

They have been shortlisted in the Impact Award category of the BETT Awards 2019. See their video entry here – bettawards.com/impact-award-2019-finalists/




Pupils with autism are victims of bullying in primary schools

According to the NHS, there are about 100,000 children in the UK with autism and 70% are educated in mainstream schools. They can find it hard to read facial expressions and body language and misunderstand what other pupils say and do. Girls with autism are especially vulnerable because of:
• great sympathy or emotional empathy
• social naivety
• misinterpreting other people’s intentions
• being less able to read facial expressions and body language
• not understanding the unwritten social rules
• being overly idealistic about relationships
• social immaturity
Some of the key challenges for pupils with autism in school are:
• understanding the social world
• understanding instructions
• being misunderstood and misunderstanding others
• being bullied for being different (because they are ‘odd’, ‘out of the box thinkers’, or ‘weird’ as described by neurotypical pupils)

Tania Marshall, Autism Ambassador at Education Placement Group, suggests how children with autism can be supported. ‘It is important to educate all pupils about autism and tolerance of difference. Students with autism could also be assigned a ‘neurotypical buddy’ who makes sure they are safe and supported. Friendship skill acquisition, from as young as possible, is crucial for pupils with autism to learn. The best basis for this is through commonly held interests with peers. ‘
Watch out for some of the key signs that a child is being bullied- refusing to join in, staying physically close to a member of staff, hiding. If left undetected these small signs may escalate into more serious behaviour such as selective mutism and school refusal. The less structured parts of the day such as breaks and mealtimes can be a source of anxiety so give them alternatives such as supervised lunchtime clubs, library activities.

Teachers must instil values of acceptance, inclusion and tolerance among all pupils says Marshall: ‘The type of teacher a pupil with autism has can make or break their school experience – teachers who are patient, creative, accepting and intuitive can help children with autism thrive in the school environment.’

Tania Marshall, M.Sc. is AspienGirl Project lead for girls with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism Ambassador for Education Placement Group, specialists in education recruitment




Nationwide search for the very best EdTech schools

Edtech 50 Schools is on the hunt to find UK schools that are using education technology to make the greatest difference to pupils, staff and parents. Schools can nominate themselves, or be nominated by a third party, and the deadline for entries is Friday 18th January 2019. Successful schools will be featured in the Edtech 50 Schools publication and be invited to a House of Lords reception celebrating edtech in schools.

Edtech 50 Schools kicks off with a nationwide tour of some of the leading edtech schools in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland including Seaview Primary School in Belfast, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern in Cardiff, and Acklam Grange Teaching School in Middlesborough. These pioneering schools, and others, will be helping to launch Edtech50 Schools and to spread the word across the whole of UK.

Edtech 50 Schools is organised by the Education Foundation and CEO & Founder, Ty Goddard said: “It is a key moment for edtech. Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for Education was clear that the power of technology could provide significant support to help students learn, reduce teachers’ workload and save money. There is great potential for edtech to help make a difference but it needs to be the right technology, implemented effectively, and with good support for staff. The Edtech 50 wants to shine a spotlight on the schools leading the way, which we hope can inspire other schools.”

Award-winning edtech expert and ex teacher, Mark Anderson, joins Ty Goddard on the tour. The duo are taking to the road in a camper van to meet school leaders, host roundtable debates and speak directly to students and teachers.

Mark Anderson said: “I work with schools daily to help them get the very best they can from the edtech they have access to. The Edtech 50 Schools tour is about shining a spotlight on the schools in the UK that are doing amazing things every day to support, enhance and transform teaching and learning with technology to help children get the very best out of our education system.”

You can nominate a school for the Edtech 50 Schools by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/edtech50schools Nominations close on Friday 18th January 2019. Following this, an independent judging panel will select the top 50 schools, which will be announced in April 2019.

Edtech 50 Schools is supported by Intel and partners JISC, NetSupport, and the Independent Schools Council Digital Group.

ENDS




Is handwriting on its way out?

I have always thought I was quite a nice person but I have just discovered I’m reliable, supportive and cynical. This news was brought to me courtesy of a press release from STABILO and discovered a little about the dark art of graphology.

The company surveyed 2000 UK adults to celebrate National Stationery Week back in April. The findings show:

• Almost a quarter have a small-sized writing style – 7mm or less – which can suggest someone is conscientious.
• Just three per cent have large handwriting – 13mm in height or more – and this is typically the sign of someone who is generous and lacking inhibition.
• Handwriting which leans to the right can suggest someone is friendly and this represents 30 per cent of Brits.
• While left-leaning writing, which is used by around one in 10 people, can suggest a cynical nature

Apparently the colour ink you choose is also revealing:
• Two thirds of respondents use black ink when writing which sometimes shows someone wants to be clearly understood.
• Blue ink is often an indicator of friendliness and this is colour of ink is used by 30 per cent of people
I suspect most people choose whatever pen comes first to hand but I did once have a boyfriend who wrote in green felt tip on pink paper. The relationship was doomed after just one note.

Handwriting still has its place according to the survey: for writing shopping lists, to-do lists and filling in forms. Nearly 50% of those surveyed admit they judge people on their handwriting – and six in 10 said their individual handwriting style is important to them.




Providing top quality care for those who cannot care for themselves.

According to experts, one in 10 children aged 5-16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems that still affect how they feel, their relationships with family and friends, their education and job prospects.

Some will get suitable treatment though psychologists, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) or through the NHS and as adults will be able to look after themselves, hold down a job and raise a family but some will have more intractable conditions such as severe autistic spectrum conditions and will need the intervention of specialist services which can provide intensive mental health support, care and accommodation.

Charlie was sectioned in 2005. He is now 34 and has learning disabilities and severe autism. He has limited verbal communication and it is often difficult to interpret the sounds he makes. He expresses his displeasure and anger by smearing faeces over the wall and ceiling and urinating in public. He also vomits a lot – up to 70 times a day. Sometimes this is a physical reaction to food but he also does it when he is frustrated.

But while Charlie has major physical, mental and emotional issues, he is one of the lucky ones. He lives at Options Malvern View, part of the Outcomes First Group, a well-established, specialist residential service accredited by the National Autistic Society.

After accommodation in other settings broke down, Options built Charlie a single occupancy flatlet where he has his own bedroom, bathroom, lounge, kitchen area and garden. It was a major undertaking. They couldn’t have skirting boards because he was strong enough to rip them off and use them as a weapon. The walls had to be scrubbable to keep the accommodation hygienic.

Staff work in pairs with Charlie around the clock and are using symbols systems to help address some of his communication needs. They have also weaned him off Coca Cola and adjusted his medication so these days he is calmer and able to take in what is going on around him.

‘The change in Charlie has been quite dramatic,’ said Nick Waller, house manager at Options Malvern View. ‘We have had far fewer violent incidents, less destruction of property. Soiling only happens a couple of times a week, usually when he is anxious, and he only vomits a few times a day.’

While Charlie will never live independently, hold down a job or get qualifications. Options can help him develop communication and some basic life skills so he will be able to lead a more fulfilled life.