New Bridge Multi Academy Trust Oldham, Tameside and Rochdale, caters for young people with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) from the age of four to 19. The Trust aims to deliver the very best provision for its young people through its ethos of “learning together, learning for all, learning for life.” At the core, is the belief that all pupils, regardless of their background or ability, will be successful and valued in, and beyond, their school community.
Made up of five schools, the Trust caters for a variety of needs from generic special needs, pupils on the autistic spectrum, to complex learning difficulties and more. To help empower their students to achieve their aspirations, they integrated Showbie alongside personal devices into the classroom.
Showbie was selected for the high level of engagement and interaction it provides, connecting students, staff and parents all whilst ensuring the maintenance of effective safeguarding. The introduction of the platform has allowed both teachers and young people to benefit from the effective feedback and personalised learning experience the digital tools facilitate.
Supporting every student
Speaking about her experience with the tool, Jennifer Dunne, Executive Director of New Bridge, recalled one particular young man who, before Showbie, struggled to verbally communicate, particularly in front of peers, and would often disengage from learning: “One day, after being set a task via Showbie, he coloured in the whole page on his iPad before submitting it. The staff soon realised he was indicating the parts he didn’t understand as he couldn’t verbally ask for help.”
“Showbie provided him with a discrete, non-verbal way of communicating and it was transformational. His confidence grew even to the point where he could work in the café, taking orders and conversing with people. Showbie really helped us to understand his needs and allowed him to ask for help in a manageable, pressure–free way.”
The verbal feedback options have particularly helped New Bridge to make teaching and learning as accessible and personalised as possible. Jennifer explained, “With some children unable to process written feedback, being able to record verbal feedback related to specific parts of the work makes the method a lot more meaningful; not only does it reduce teacher workload as it is a more efficient way of leaving feedback, but it is also more interactive, accessible and engaging for the students.”
“Our students on the autistic spectrum often finish work and won’t revisit it, but recorded notes from familiar voices help them see it more as an interaction with other students who are also able to record responses to feedback. This all helps consolidate their learning greatly.” – Jennifer Dunne, Executive Director of New Bridge
Showbie has also helped young people at the Trust collaborate and work better together. Jennifer recalls how it had a significant impact on a KS2 group who can display a variety of behaviours and have difficulty regulating emotions: “Before Showbie, students would work independently, and didn’t receive peer feedback or constructive criticism well. However, after the roll-out of Showbie, they have worked together in groups, dropping work and answers on a shared screen, and correcting each-others work.”
Via personal devices and Showbie, students are regularly using technology, and are encouraged to communicate and collaborate with peers, helping to prepare them for the transition into the workforce. Jennifer said: “Showbie has helped teach and reinforce these skills in a highly effective way, something that can often be difficult for a young person with learning needs.”
Business as usual throughout the lockdown
The disturbances to the education sector throughout Covid-19 emphasised the advantages of Showbie, as Jennifer explained: “To say it was a saving grace would be an understatement; to help our vulnerable young people, we needed simplicity and safety. With Showbie already in place, it was easy to maintain consistency as we switched to remote learning.”
“Our non-verbal students would’ve particularly struggled if they had just been sent work to complete. Being able to record and share normal classroom routines via Showbie helped families better understand the work we do with the children, and therefore led to better learning support at home. The familiarity of the content, featuring the faces and voices of their teachers, was also a huge help to our students when adjusting.”
Showbie has helped make teaching and learning more accessible with the flexibility to withstand any external circumstances, like a global pandemic, whilst continuing to provide an inclusive and supportive environment. New Bridge MAT is destination-driven and credits Showbie with elevating its ability to help every child get to where they want to be. Jennifer concluded:
“The platform has played a key role in driving communication, supporting wellbeing, and facilitating knowledge-based learning, not just aiding the young people’s academic achievement but their holistic development as well.”