"...such positive feedback from pupils, parents and staff"
Copy of email from Donna Milford to fellow heads in her county
I just wanted to let you know about a learning platform which we adopted for our school and pupils over the Easter holidays.
It has been amazing and we have had such positive feedback from pupils, parents and staff. The local company have been amazing and have adapted it to meet our needs.
We currently use it as a platform to put lessons, activities, voice recordings, PowerPoints, links to other resources e.g. BBC and video clips on for our children to access at home. The children can upload examples of their work, complete work directly on to the platform, receive messages and feedback from the teachers, they can also work through it all at their own pace. Staff can upload daily welcomes and messages.
There are many other features embedded into the platform which are useful moving forward such as: live video lessons/class discussions. We haven't done it at the moment. However, I pre-recorded a little video and the children loved it (I didn't !). I think we will also use elements of it in the classroom for group work, when we return to school, as well as the home learning features.
What I really like about it is the fact that you can put all the resources in one place without parents being overwhelmed with lots of suggested activities and different sites, platforms and locations to use.
The system is very pupil friendly and easy to use. The staff training was also completed remotely and was quick and easy to pick up and follow. We were up and running within days.
If you are looking to investigate something like this, I think it is definitely worth a look. It is great. I am so impressed by it. I know budgets are tight but the cost is really reasonable and good value for money. Saved the money on not having to photocopy home learning packs for the next half term! There were a few hard to reach parents and children but after chasing and supporting, they are now all are onboard. We let a few families borrow some old school kindles to help get them going but so far so good!
I can put you in touch with any of our teachers, if you want to know more about how they are using it. I am useless when it comes to technology but I managed to get my head around it!
"...we decided to go with Calibrae as they seemed to offer the most comprehensive user experience that most closely reflected what we wanted for the children in our school. "
When I first spoke to Dave at Calibrae back in August, I was very impressed with his sound knowledge of the platform and his reasoning as to why Calibrae would be better for our school than other online learning platforms. He took the time to explain to me exactly how it works and what the benefits would be for the children in our school. After looking at many platforms, we decided to go with Calibrae as they seemed to offer the most comprehensive user experience that most closely reflected what we wanted for the children in our school. We wanted something that allowed us to mirror as closely as possible what we would be doing in class while also allowing our pupils to stay safe online, particularly when viewing YouTube videos or other external websites. Calibrae allows us to do this.
Whilst set-up was not without its issues, the team at Calibrae were extremely quick and efficient in their support to get any problems solved. When I was struggling to get all the children across the school logged in and set up with their accounts, I needed a quick way to see who was verified or not. Calibrae did not have this feature, but the team understood my problem and were able to make a change to the website so that you can now see which children have verified their accounts at a quick glance.
Calibrae worked really well for us whilst still in school. We were able to upload work for the day for any children who were self-isolating to mirror what was happening in class. We also spent some time in class teaching the children how to use Calibrae. The children loved the opportunity to work independently through their learning in the classroom and supported each other where needed. Many parents have reported to me that this was invaluable in the move to full home learning, as the children are now able to use the platform better than they are! Shortly after the set-up of Calibrae, we had an information-gathering OFSTED visit, where OFSTED questioned us on how we had prepared ourselves for online learning as per the government guidance. The OFSTED inspectors had never heard of Calibrae but were very impressed with the platform and what it was able to do. They really liked how we could tailor learning to suit our classes and respond to their learning in a meaningful way. We also found out after the fact that the man leading the inspection was the interim head of OFSTED in the South.
Making the move to full online learning has not been easy or without its challenges but the team at Calibrae have been superb the whole way! I have had more positive comments from parents than I could have imagined about how easy the platform is to use, how much the children enjoy the activities and feedback we are able to provide and how it is flexible to use whenever it suits their family timetable. The staff now have a really good understanding of how to use it too and are constantly creating new ways to enhance and enrich children’s learning through the platform.
I would whole-heartedly recommend Calibrae to anyone seeking a better way to provide online learning to their pupils.
"Easy to use, and a really helpful quick start guide that explains how to set up learning activities clearly."
"Easy to use. Great support"
"Having modules, exercises and assignments is really helpful for me to organise activities daily. Generally it’s user friendly and you can suss things out as you use it."
"A bit tricky for me at first but once you start using it, it soon becomes familiar and easy."
"Definitely, I am able to set a range of tasks, uploading them as I prepare them, then making live to the children when I choose. It has been a good way to communicate with the children, particularly the facility to respond to their work."
"Massively, lots of potential. Enjoying trying the new options."
"Yes! If you want to ‘teach’ it allows you to create videos so children can learn new concepts and follow along with you. And then the discussions can be used to support individual children."
"Yes - we wouldn’t have this facility otherwise and would have to email work to parents."
"So far I have used question bank, hotspot and categories and they are all great. Brilliant to set different activities for different types of tasks and different types of learners."
"I have mainly used articles and assignment exercises. Being able to add in links to these is really helpful as everything’s in one place."
"Yes - gives the children a wide range of activities to access and different types of learning - text, pictures , photos , videos and PowerPoints . I think having the range of activities is the best . The videos and signposting to other resources are good."
"The range of activities that the platform allows you to create are amazing. I have spent many hours searching the internet for online games that allows pupils to recap a certain concept, and often they just aren’t right in some way. Now I can just create my own! And the auto-generated question tool is fantastic."
"The exercise activity helps with assessment of the work as they have to submit answers. It’s great to have one platform on which to set a variety of tasks."
"Massively, extremely useful and gives us the options to still have the link to our classes rather than just generic learning."
"Yes! There are so many different options for how you set tasks, and can personalise it to your children, their age and ability."
"I have been able to constructively read and respond to the children. In the event that they need to address something in their work, they have been able to resubmit a newer version."
"Yes, there’s the opportunity for them to ask questions, for me to respond, for them to give feedback on activities and for me to respond to work they submit."
"The system really does help. Options can be personalised to welcome class, lots of interaction, options to read to them and talk them through exercises."
"The platform definitely helps to maintain relationships with children. It is lovely to have a personalised page. Updating the welcome message whenever I want to is great. I love reading the children's comments on the different activities, and love being able to reply to them."
"Definitely. The children who are accessing it have enjoyed being able to speak to me and tell me how much they’re missing everyone!"
"Very good . The children are motivated by knowing the teachers can see their work. They love having their work marked and seeing my responses. It helps to motivate the children."
"They are really impressed. They like the way it adds structure and timetable to their day. They also like the fact the teachers voices have been recorded eg stories / demo for maths activity. Adds a personal touch. The welcome message helps it be more personal. Good that all the info is in one place, rather than going to lots of different sites."
"They were very happy with the idea and grateful for the work being set in this way."
"Great reaction from parents. Also a parent myself, this is making life so much easier. Thank you."
"Parents loved that I shared videos of myself talking the children through the work. They said that their child worked along with me and meant the parents didn’t have to try to ‘teach’ a concept."
"They’ve been very positive."
"They are enjoying it."
"Since we've had the platform things have settled down. Teachers are teaching again."
"I like being able to set a range of activities for the children to complete in these challenging times, all saved in one place and especially the chance to communicate with the children."
"I like how personal it can be, also how straightforward it is for the children."
"I love that you can create a personalised platform for your children."
"It is great that I can set tasks, then be notified when work is submitted ready for marking. Being able to respond to the children is great. It doesn’t feel like a pointless task for either party.
"Great platform. Thanks for making it the best learning platform for our children."
"The range of activities that the platform allows you to create are amazing. I have spent many hours searching the internet for online content that allows pupils to recap a certain concept, and often they just aren’t right in some way. Now I can just create my own! And the auto-generated question tool is fantastic."
"Really happy with platform and facilities it offers. Looking forward to exploring more of its capabilities over the next few weeks."
"Brilliant! Such a clever platform. This is not something primary schools usually use and we are so pleased that we have been able to use it."