It provides a good overview of everything, so you could easily see where the learning gaps are – plus, what areas we needed to observe each child in.
Reception teacher, Miss Lauren Prodrick, and Teaching Assistant, Miss Lottie Slack-Humphrey, from Hampton Lakes Primary School in Peterborough explain their experience of using ReallySchool.
Tell us a little about your school…
Miss Prodrick: We are a brand new school that opened in September 2019. We are currently in temporary accommodation but are moving over to our new building this September! At the moment, we only have 30 children in the school, but next year there will be two reception classes, as well as the Year 1 class. We are part of a Trust of schools, which is really good.
What were the main challenges you faced with the observations process before you used ReallySchool? (We realise you’re a brand new school, so perhaps your experience from another school?)
Miss Prodrick: We started using ReallySchool at Hampton Lakes Primary School around the beginning of November 2019. Previously, I used paper journals, and it was quite difficult to record how many of each type of observation you had for each child and then easily refer to them. It was quite time-consuming going through the book and looking to see where the gaps were and what areas you had to assess children in and where more evidence was needed. ReallySchool is good, as it shows you all that straight away and you can easily find the learning gaps whenever you need to.
What were your first impressions of ReallySchool?
Miss Slack-Humphrey: We thought it was handy as it was so quick and efficient – if we were doing an observation, we could put it in straight away. And it’s lovely, because the children can see them too. It took us a little while to get fully used to it, but once we had, it was easy – so quick – and we were ready to put ReallySchool on the minute we got things going in class! Miss Prodrick: We really like that you can use video and audio assessments as well. Sometimes, your day can be so busy, but if you take a video, the evidence is there and you can always go back to it later if you need to write any comments about it. We really like that it just captures their learning experiences, or what they were saying to us, there and then. It’s not quite the same when you’re writing it down on a Post-It note! It’s been helpful to have the variety of ways that you can celebrate children’s achievements.
Miss Slack-Humphrey: I was new to Reception this year, and before, I didn’t know any areas of learning. Having it all on ReallySchool in front of me has meant I could pick it up more quickly because the assessment criteria and curriculum was presented there for every observation. I could see how it was linked to everything and it made it quicker for me to learn.
Did ReallySchool have an impact in your classroom before lockdown?
Miss Prodrick: I was the class teacher when we were still looking at assessments before lockdown. It was a really good way to see if my and Miss Slack-Humphrey’s observations matched – and that we weren’t duplicating our evidence. I liked that it gave that picture and the assessments were there so you could easily see them. It provided a good overview of everything, so you could easily see where the learning gaps are – plus, what areas we needed to observe each child in and get extra evidence for those who needed it.
What are the main benefits for you, in your roles as a teacher and a TA, of using ReallySchool?
Miss Slack-Humphrey: It’s so quick and easy, so you don’t have to try to remember the observations once the children have left or when you’re having lunch! Instead, you can still have the conversation with the child, whilst quickly popping it on to ReallySchool. And because the video and audio quality are so good, you don’t really need to write much about it. Linking to the areas of learning is so quick and easy – then you know you’ve got those observations and can refer back to them. That’s really good.
Miss Prodrick: I really like the range of ways you can record and capture students’ achievements. I think it’s effective – and especially being able to bring up a report up at any time and refer to it.
Are there benefits for students?
Miss Prodrick: They’ve really enjoyed getting their badges. That’s a nice little extra! They’ve also really enjoyed looking back at their videos and pictures too.
Do any benefits extend school-wide?
Miss Prodrick: As our school grows, we’re hoping to use ReallySchool throughout. So next year, we will continue the learning journeys from our current Reception class as they go into Year 1. It will be useful for the Year 1 teacher to then pick up on where we’ve left off and take them on further – especially as it has been an unconventional school year.
Would you say that ReallySchool is inclusive?
Miss Prodrick: Yes, it has a variety of ways to capture what is appropriate for different pupils and different tasks. A video might not be appropriate for a certain task; it might just need a picture, or you might just need to write it up. It’s been good to have a choice in how we record the learning evidence for each task and individual.
What’s your experience of using ReallySchool with parents?
Miss Prodrick: We only put the app out to our parents just after Christmas 2019 and they loved it! They loved that they could get the app on their phone and check to see what their child had been doing. During lockdown, we have put activities and challenges onto ReallySchool and sent them out to children and parents to do at home. The parents really liked that we kept in contact with them this way to give them some ideas that they could use with their children. They used ReallySchool to comment as to whether they had completed the activity or not, or what they liked about it.
Did ReallySchool mean you had a greater level of dialogue with parents over lockdown, or was it about the same as normal?
Miss Prodrick: We probably did have a little bit more dialogue with parents. Not masses, but we definitely had more, because it was another means of communicating with them. We will continue to use it with parents in the new school year.
Has ReallySchool meant that you have been able to track your students’ progress remotely?
Miss Prodrick: It’s been a bit different this year, and we haven’t officially been required to track their progress during lockdown. But instead, we have been able to supply activities to extend and challenge students at home, as well as give parents ideas for home learning, so it was very useful in that sense. Parents are sometimes unsure about how to make activities a bit more fun, so I used ReallySchool to send them examples; a little video or photo of myself doing the activity, so that helped them too.
Would you recommend ReallySchool to others? If so, why?
Miss Prodrick: I would recommend it because I think it’s a useful tool to capture achievements and whole learning journey. I like the idea that, the journey will continue throughout school and the transition between year groups will be much smoother.
Miss Slack-Humphrey: I like how the parents can comment on all the things on there. Sometimes sending an email is a bit formal, but with ReallySchool, they can just put a quick comment of, “I love it, thank you!”. And it’s so easy and accessible for both us and the parents, and we’re all involved together.