Category Archives: training

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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

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

AWARD nominations – Recognising those who change lives and build futures

Looking for awards to celebrate the achievement of some of those who work with children and young people?

The UK office of an Israeli charity called WIZO (www.wizo.org) has just launched its 3rd annual Commitment Awards which recognises people committed to using their skills and opportunities to address the needs of others. They are looking for individuals who can be of any race, religion or gender and nominations close on Wednesday 31 January 2018 so get your skates on.

The nomination process is quick and simple – just one form which you can download here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_s72CMa3fS6ZWtRVWpETXMxRFE/view

There are a total of 15 categories but here are some that might be of particular interest: Commitment to Education – Early Years’, which acknowledges an organisation, institution, teaching professional or childcare provider in early childcare and education services. Nominees will have generated exceptional spirit and energy in providing better experiences for children and families and will have made an outstanding contribution to the early years.

‘Commitment to Vocational Training’, which acknowledges an individual, programme or centre for education with a proven record of encouraging and believing in students who cannot easily be integrated into a regular educational framework. The successful nominee will have given students the tools to develop individual talents, reach their potential and to leave school to become skilled employees.

Commitment to Strengthening Parenting Skills
This Award recognises a practitioner, programme or facility that has been successful in educating, nurturing or counselling parents, giving them the support and tools to strengthen their parenting abilities and ensure family welfare.

‘Commitment to the Betterment of Others’, which acknowledges an individual aged 16-25 who has given time, selflessly, to make a difference to the lives of those around him/her. Examples could include those who have run fundraising events, worked on community-based projects or made time to leave a mark on someone else’s life.

Guest post: Helping Children Overcome Working Memory Problems

Former teacher Jackie Taylor shares her research findings

Having a sharp working memory is essential for success in many areas in life. The working memory (which is part of the short-term memory) is responsible for remembering names, lists, and other information just long enough for us to be able to use that information. There are visual and auditory parts of the working memory that help record the unique kinds of information one can encounter. However, there are many individuals who struggle with the use of their working memory due to the conditions they are managing.
For example, those diagnosed with ADD and ADHD can have difficulties with their working memory, which can make daily interactions and learning challenging. Not having the ability to recall information when needed is especially frustrating for children. At a time where learning is a top focus in life, it is essential for all parts of the memory to be working optimally. Thankfully, recent research has shown that there are certain brain exercises that can be used to improve the working memory for almost anyone.
Why is the working memory so important?
Because the working memory serves the specific function of being a mental “sticky note” (as many experts put it), it is extremely useful in learning. When children are required to learn and store new concepts or remember multi-step instructions, a strong working memory is necessary for success. If a child is struggling with his or her working memory, learning to read, being able to complete math problems, and staying focused become difficult tasks. Although there may be several contributing factors to these kinds of learning challenges, it makes sense to start with improving the working memory.
Research findings on improving working memory
To discover the best ways to boost the working memory, a study was conducted among 136 college students. The students were divided into three separate groups. Two of these groups “received training utilizing different working memory exercises, while the third was given challenging exercises that did not involve working memory exercises.” All members of the three groups were given an EEG at the beginning of the study. At the conclusion of the study (five days of training), it was discovered that students who had used the “dual-n-back” brain training exercise “showed a 30% improvement in their working memory.” In less than one week, these individuals were able to significantly boost their working memory simply by engaging in specific brain exercises.
Dual-n-back” (DnB) training programs
The study listed above shows the importance of choosing an effective brain training exercise when seeking to improve the working memory. While “dual-n-back” (DnB) training programs are relatively new, they have already demonstrated their effectiveness in this area. Numerous computer-based training programs were developed using this technique, including Brain Workshop and BrainScale.net. These programs can be used by people of all ages to help overcome the challenges of a weak working memory.
Training isn’t everything
When looking to help a child improve his or her working memory, the training by itself is not the only key to success. Instead, there are other elements of support that parents and teachers can provide. Encouraging children to regularly utilize brain training programs, as well as providing positive feedback, can make a major impact on their success. Additionally, consistency is also an essential element in improving the working memory of a child. If these programs aren’t used on a consistent basis, it will take a lot longer to reap the benefits and make a difference in the functioning of the working memory. Therefore, in addition to using proven techniques to enhance the working memory, it is important that parents and teachers provide one-on-one support to achieve the best results.

 

Making it easier for students in Further Education to get funding

With the election just behind us, we can see quite clearly that post-16 is going to be back on the agenda. Whatever happens with Brexit, we are facing a skills shortage in the UK because uncertainty has encouraged some migrants to look elsewhere for job opportunities.

Who knows what will happen to Philip Hammond’s proposals for new T-level qualifications? Indeed, at the time of writing, who knows what will happen to Hammond himself?

Bob Harrison FE champion

Bob Harrison, chair of governors at Northern College and education adviser for Toshiba Information Systems Northern Europe, said, “The new Vocational pathways to Technical qualifications will provide enormous challenges for all those involved in 14-18 education, not just for schools but also for the awarding organisations.”

Whatever happens longer term, there is likely to be an impetus to get more students to train for apprenticeships, for jobs and for university courses.

At present FE is a minefield, especially when it comes to getting funding. It can be a traumatic experience for those who are most reliant on funding, that vulnerable group of students who are already at a high risk of withdrawing from college.

At most colleges in the UK the task of applying for financial support is a complex, paper-based process. Often FE students come from non-traditional backgrounds and may be deterred by complex forms. Some will lack family support, many do not have the financial literacy skills needed to make decisions about whether they can afford to come off benefits or give up a job, while others worry about the impact on their dependants.

New software could simplify the process. CAMS software, developed by Scottish firm Inisoft, is now available to further education providers in England and Scotland.

CAMS helps FE providers to streamline their funding application and approval processes. Colleges have experienced significant cuts to their administration budgets and this is likely to get tougher as access to the European Social Fund, worth millions to UK colleges, will end when the UK leaves the EU.

The software will rationalise and manage the entire student funding application, saving time and resources for both students and college staff.

Oonagh McBride, Head of Inisoft
Oonagh McBride, Head of Inisoft

Oonagh McBride, Head of Inisoft, said: “Further Education colleges often find that they are overwhelmed by the volume of enquiries from potential students and hampered by incomplete information or applications that are likely to fail based on a mismatch between criteria and grades. This takes time for administrators and makes life very difficult for students. By streamlining the process, we can introduce certainty and a rapid conclusion to application processes, giving potential students clarity and enabling administrators to respond more promptly to applications.”

CAMS software is already being used by 80% of regional Scottish colleges, delivering real costs and efficiency saving while improving the student experience.

For further information: http://inisoft.co.uk/

Yoga therapy for children with disabilities provides an oasis of calm

Set in the heart of Islington, just a five minute walk from Highbury and Islington station, the MahaDevi Yoga Centre is a unique place of tranquillity and peace.

The centre opened its doors just over a year ago offering yoga therapy to children with special needs from 6 week old babies to teenagers in wheelchairs.

It is a specialist centre for the Sonia Sumar Method. Forty five years ago, senior yoga teacher Sonia Sumar had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. At that time in rural Brazil, there were not many interventions for children with special needs so Sonia used her skills and knowledge of yoga to help Roberta. Soon she could see the benefits as Roberta grew strong, well balanced and developed new skills.

After her daughter’s death, Sonia Sumar decided to develop her approach and share it with other parents who faced similar challenges. Now she works with children who have cerebral palsy, autism, attention deficit disorder and ADHD as well as children like Roberta with Down’s Syndrome.

The MahaDevi Centre offers 100 therapy sessions per week in the centre as well as treatment in schools, day centres, nurseries, hospitals and children hospices across London.

There are also regular Hatha Yoga classes every day and monthly workshops and 25% of each payment goes directly to the MahaDevi Fund. This subsidises the yoga therapy sessions for children with special needs whose families cannot afford the fees.
This little community is making a difference. “My son Derek is 8 and has Cerebral Palsy. When he started yoga therapy his muscles were so tight and he was unable to sit unsupported, with very weak core strength and generally floppy posture. The main change is his increased ability to hold himself up in a sitting position more independently. He has a lot more core stability and head and neck control.”
For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://mahadevicentre.com/

What could be more important than saving lives?

I have agreed to give money to St John Ambulance once a year. It is a respected charity with a high public profile at sporting events, festivals and big community gatherings. But that is not why I have signed up.

They have a new campaign to help children in primary schools become life savers.

first-aid-for-children2St John Ambulance believes that every young person should have the chance to learn vital lifesaving skills. Their research shows that seven out of 10 pupils wouldn’t know what to do if someone they knew was hurt. Children want to learn these new skills and parents are keen too. In fact, 95% of parents agree that these skills should be taught to secondary school pupils.

teresa pearceTeresa Pearce, Labour Party MP for Erith and Thamesmead, proposed an Emergency First Aid Education Bill so that first aid, including CPR, would be taught in every state-funded secondary school.

Over 14,000 people joined the campaign by writing to their local MP and 40 MPs turned up to support the Bill but the Government opposed making it mandatory for every pupil.

However, St John Ambulance has devised training for both primary and secondary schools. There is a set course https://www.sja.org.uk/sja/pdf/St_John_Ambulance_Student_First_Aid_Primary_courses.pdfthat covers choking, bleeding and CPR but schools can set their own with help from trainers.
• The courses meet National Curriculum requirements for Science, PSHE/Citizenship and PE.
• Trainers have first aid knowledge,
• Experience working with young people
• A valid DBS check
• £4 can give a child a 60-minute first aid lesson in school

The Big First Aid Lesson Live shown in June has been an inspiration to many schools. Now you can watch it on demand at: http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/schools/big-first-aid-lesson.aspx

Thank you, Barclays!

ATEC is coming! Barclays are sponsoring an Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference (ATEC) to be held at Jury’s Inn in Oxford on May 17th.

It is fast becoming a Go-To event for those who assess and support people with disabilities in universities and the workplace and more importantly for people who need assistive technology for work, for study or to communicate with others.

TDebra Charles smallhere is loads of good stuff for people with dyslexia: Debra Charles is doing one of the keynotes. She is
CEO of her own smartcard technology firm Novacroft, the company behind the Oyster Card, and believes that her success is because of, and not despite, her dyslexia.

Find out about the latest versions of Claro and TextHelp, mind mapping from Matchware and Inspiration, The C-Pen Reader which reads text from print books and Notetalker that lets users capture information from a lecture or a meeting.

global autocorrect smallAs someone who uses Autocorrect on Word and types entirely in abbreviations, I am keen to see Global AutoCorrect which works with all programs from presentation software to emails, the web and social media. It frustrates me when I have to type every letter on Facebook. Maybe now I won’t have to.

There is some whizzy new technology. David Finch from Star College in Gloucestershire will be talking about a project called Ember. The idea is to reduce employer or mentor support and help trainees to work more effectively and more independently.

There is also an assistive robotic arm called JacoTM developed by The ACCESS Research & Development Department at Hereward College with charitable funding from Npower.

I am also keen to hear Abi James of University of Southampton and BDA New Technologies Committee. I often wonder why some people embrace technology while others reject it from the off. I used to think it was all about training and support in the early days, now I am not so sure. Abi is researching this area and will be leading a discussion on the role of professionals to improve the take up of technology.

Book your place now at http://www.ateconference.com/
Tuesday, 17th May 2016 Jury’s Inn 30 Godstow Road, OX2 8PG

Campaign – Make a noise for selective mutism

To donate, please text MAKE 15, followed by the amount, to 70070 
Shannon went up on stage one day at the age of 3 to sing in front of a big audience. No sound came out of her mouth but there was nothing wrong with the speakers. Shannon was paralysed by anxiety and was physically unable to get her words out.shannin

 

Most children will have an experience like this, especially when they are very young but for Shannon it was the first sign of a condition called selective mutism. At least 1 child in 150 is affected and it is caused by extreme anxiety.

It is also three times as common in bilingual children. Figures from 2013 show that 1 in 6 primary school pupils in England do not have English as their first language. In secondary schools the figure stands at  just over 1 in 8 (Naldic http://www.naldic.org.uk/research-and-information/eal-statistics/eal-pupils). Figures are likely to increase and more teachers will find themselves working with pupils who have this condition. It can be frustrating.

Children with selective mutism can appear to be confident (even cocky) but then freeze with a blank facial expression (which can look challenging and confrontational) when speech is expected from them. It is not a matter of choice for them. It is a condition triggered by stress and anxiety.

To highlight this condition, SMIRA, the Selective Mutism Information and Research Association, is launching the ‘Make a Noise’ campaign to help children find their voices. Think of creative ways to make a noise. Take a video on your phone, post it to social media and ask viewers to ‘text MAKE 15, followed by the amount, to 70070’.

SMIRA has a special Makeanoise4SM page on facebook where you can upload your video, or use your chosen social media outlet adding the hashtag #MakeaNoiseforSM or tag @InfoSmira on Twitter.

See http://smira.org.uk/make-a-noise-for-sm.html for ideas of activities.

Money raised will be used to develop training for health and education professionals and for those involved in the care and welfare of selectively mute children.

Life changing technology

Technology used in the right way at the right time can change lives. it helps people to pass exams and get jobs. it also gives them back their self-respect and independence as this story shows.

Pete Gustin 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken from All channels open: Inside The Inclusive Radio Revolution first published in Access magazine April 2015

http://www.accessmagazine.co.uk/all-channels-open-inside-the-inclusive-radio-revolution/