Online training can overcome obstacles to staff training

Could online training provide the most cost-effective and time-saving solution to staff training?

macbook learningAccording to the recent ‘School Snapshot Survey’ report released by the DfE, “School leadership teams have been encouraged to prioritise the provision of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for teaching staff”.

Despite this claim, 91% of teachers surveyed for the report stated that there were still barriers to accessing effective CPD. 70% of teachers cited cost as the most common obstacle, while over half (51%) felt that insufficient time was a contributing factor.

Of course, CPD is just one part of the training story: there is also all the mandatory training, from induction and health & safety to GDPR and Prevent, which must also be kept up to date.

The cost of training doesn’t just begin and end with the course itself. The school also has to add the cost of supply cover if the training takes place during school hours. In addition, when trained staff leave a school, any knowledge learnt goes with them, leaving the school with the expense of paying to re-train another member of the team.

Add to that the challenge of finding time in an already packed school timetable and the requirement to evidence statutory compliance and the training task can soon become inefficient and time-consuming.

So, could online training provide the most cost-effective and time-saving solution?

Zed TrainingSchoolzYorkshire based ed-tech company, TrainingToolz believes so, and so do their customers. Their bespoke platform for schools, TrainingSchoolz is a simple-to-use yet powerful platform developed specifically for the education sector. It has all the features schools need to create effective training courses, as well as policies and other information for sharing, along with the functionality to distribute, track and audit responses efficiently.

Kim Edwards, Senior Premises and Compliance Officer at Aspire Academies Trust and West Hertfordshire Teaching School Partnership, commented, “TrainingSchoolz makes training the school community easy to manage. Online dashboards allow me to see quickly the percentage of users who have completed the training”.

Darren Rose, a consultant and trainer working with schools and councils across the UK added “Safeguarding and e-safety are at the heart of schools’ compliance. I, too, for my small part, use this very powerful platform to provide data protection training and compliance reporting for schools (SLT, staff & governors). I would strongly recommend it as a platform for other content creators as well as for schools to create their own content”.

The TrainingSchoolz platform allows schools to compile their own training and policy library easily, adding video, audio and downloadable documents to their courses. In addition, TrainingSchoolz also provides a bank of ready-made policies and training courses. The assignments have been professionally written by experts in their field and are designed to save schools time and money over authoring their own training in common areas. Each assignment in this Training Library is fully editable, so schools can tailor it to their needs or use it as it comes.

For schools who would like to find out more about the platform, TrainingSchoolz offers a free sign up, where schools can create their own training courses or policies, or pick one from the fully editable library. And with the 10 training sessions included in the free package, schools can fully test out the system by inviting staff to complete an assignment and see the results.

To find out more, visit

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Written by TrainingSchoolz on February 21, 2019 14:36

Have your say: Knife Crime

5 approaches that help schools tackle knife crime

Knife CrimeIn London, knife crime and youth violence have become depressingly regular features of the news. Week on week we hear about another young life taken, a family heartbroken and a community shattered. But it’s not just London that is being affected. All over the country, young people are under threat because of the carrying of knives. There has been a sharp rise in West Midlands, which includes Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Walsall. The region has already recorded the highest number of youth knife deaths in 40 years, with six young people aged between eight to 19 dying from knife attacks within that police jurisdiction this year.

Ofsted have carried out research into how London schools are dealing with knife crime, looking at how schools are protecting pupils from the threat of knives while they are in school, and how they are educating pupils about the dangers of carrying a weapon outside of school. Many schools have been tackling this head on for a long time, yet it is now clear that all schools, no matter their location or context, have to develop approaches that safeguard children from this threat. This has to be based on the recognition that anyone can be the victim of knife crime because many young people are carrying knives. So here are five approaches that schools are using to help address knife crime.

1. Participate in the local area plan to tackle knife crime
Each area has developed a knife crime strategy and we should find out what it is and participate fully in it. We should be proactive. Schools need to take a full and active role in local area plans, understand what is available to them. Many people think knife crime is a policing issue. However, Scotland had great success from making it a public health issue. Schools there would bring in people from all walks of life to talk with young people about knives. This was part of a co-ordinated strategic plan which led to a massive reduction in young knife crime in places such as Glasgow. The years of austerity have affected our ability to tackle knife crime. Youth workers, mentors, youth clubs, community police officers have been proven to help reduce knife crime, yet many of these services have been eradicated. But we can’t allow that to be the end of the story. Schools need to identify and engage with any of these remaining services as part of their approach. If there is a lack of service, challenge the local authority for more! In London, the Mayor’s office has dedicated £250,000 to fund community projects to engage with young people and reduce the carrying of knives. This is in addition to the £1.2 million Young Londoner Fund. The Mayor of Manchester is bringing in similar schemes.

2. Engage with young people in meaningful dialogue
When you look at the stories of knife incidents, you’ll see that one group is often missing from the picture: professionals are not part of this story. Young people often don’t tell us about their experiences and fears. Sadly, many young people don’t tell school staff because they don’t think we can help. In London and Scotland, young people have said that they want to be engaged with by people from their communities who they know and trust, and who have experienced some of the same issues and challenges around knife crime. So where, when and how can professionals intervene in young people’s lives in a way that would reduce the threat of knife crime? Well we need to start by asking young people about their experiences, who they would speak to, what schools can do and listen to them. Scotland’s excellent support materials for schools and youth settings, ‘Noknives,betterlives’ states that we should be involving young people as equal partners which for school staff means observing, not judging, engaging in dialogue and bringing in other people that are not teachers. We need to use this to form an approach in our schools and provide chance for reflection so that we can positively influence attitudes, choices and behaviour. The focus should be on supporting young people to understand who they are, the decisions they make and the factors which influence them.

3. Use the available support resources
Many parts of the country have produced excellent resources for schools to help tackle knife crime. Scotland has been recognised for its success in reducing knife related deaths. These resources are now being used around England. ‘Noknives,betterlives’, ‘Benkinsellatrust’, ‘Londonknifcrimeapproach’ are just some of the free resources available. They include comprehensive lesson plans to promote dialogue, reflection, decision-making. There is also material available to introduce this at primary school too. The resources go much further than assembly ideas. They provide in depth activities to engage young people in dialogue, self-reflection, decision making. They can be integrated into the curriculum and are much more than one off lessons. Furthermore, there are resources for teachers, young people, youth justice workers and parents. So, have you seen them? Have you used them or considered where they can be incorporated into your curriculum?

4. Engage with parents
How do parents feel about knife crime? They are surely thinking about it. In terms of what they can do, they can often feel powerless. The resources mentioned provides help for parents to educate their children. Schools need to educate parents on what is available and what they can use. We also need to give parents the chance to group together, in communities, on their streets, so that adults can look out for children. Isolation is the great threat to parents playing their role in tackling this head on. As schools, we can be a centre point in the community to get parents together, to share the information and resources available and to ensure we are all talking to each other about our children. We need to remember that most schools are very safe places, but the knife tragedies are happening out on the street. Parents, alongside the police and other observant citizens have key roles to play but may need the help of schools to know what is available to support them.

5. Engage with high risk pupils
We know that some groups of young people are more vulnerable to engaging in and becoming victims of knife crime. Pupils who live in areas with known gang activity, those who have been excluded from school, those that get drawn into criminal exploitation as a consequence of being targeted and groomed. While schools need an approach that engages with all children, we need to be identifying potentially high-risk pupils and offer them access to mentors, youth workers and other proven interventions. We need to work with the police, health and social services sharing information to keep our pupils safe. In London, the police will let schools know which of their pupils is on their radar for knife related incidents. A recent YouGov poll found that 72% of parents believed that excluded pupils were more at risk of being involved in knife crime and serious youth violence. Yet currently, 1 in 3 local authorities have nowhere for excluded pupils to go. Couple this with the debate about many schools and academies excluding pupils too easily for not conforming to school rules and it is hard not to be concerned. We need to consider what will happen to young people that are at risk of exclusion and find every possible way of keeping them in school with us. Yes, that will be challenging, but the alternative might be much more serious and ruin their lives. We owe it to young people to do everything we can to ensure they aren’t cast off without any hope or support. They need to see that we will try to help them and that we won’t discard them.

Below are some links to websites offering further support and advice:

Have your say

Have you had experience of knife crime in your school? What is your school doing to tackle the issue? What positive outcomes have you seen from talking to pupils about knife crime? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions using the comments section below.

Written by Michael Hawkins on February 14, 2019 11:22

Screen time and mindfulness

Mindfulness shows children how to recognise and learn how to move away from the harmful effects of screen time

E-safety Training YouTubeThere are many reasons to look at the possible and likely harmful effects that may come to our children through their experience of 'screen time'. Usually this discussion winds up placing the emphasis on either inappropriate content or the delirious effect of staring at a screen for long periods of time.

We here at Oakdale Centre Mindful Teaching believe that it is the actual sensation of the experience of using technology (screen time), that powerfully pulls the attention of the child away from noticing and acting its own experience, and instead places it on external and 'virtual' triggers that frequently manipulates the attention of the child. This leaves children vulnerable in unacceptable ways.

This real time interaction with technology is a very 'brain and nervous system' centred activity: it involves thinking, hand/eye coordination, focus, posture and even breathing - not to mention emotional reactions and other sensations in the body. These brain events happen swiftly and often automatically. And it is in the brain that the changes need to be made to protect themselves from online harm.

This means that children need to develop the skill of choosing to pay purposeful attention on how they are feeling during screen time, and coming to aconscious awareness about what they think about what they see online. In other words, developing the ability to learn how be aware and learning to be able to make distinctions between what they experience when they are 'randomly surfing and clicking', in preference to directing their choices to that of being curious, hungry to learn and excited to explore the wealth of human knowledge and experience. This is after all, the potential great gift of the internet itself.

The problem is this random activity is (largely) decided by the internet (advertisers as well as less healthy influences). This is a powerful draw on the child's attention (which undermines it natural ability to choose a more purposeful use of their time on internet). Their resistance to this draw also swiftly diminishes the longer the child is online.

The more exposure the child has to these triggers (to view other content that the computer is choosing for them) the more likely the child will lose opportunities for its own pleasure and self improvement. This loss can involve aspects of how they experience their wider education, personal comprehension and the development of key cognitive skills.

Not that the average teenager would respond to the question "are you developing your cognitive skills in there, kids?" with anything but a snort!

None the less that is what is happening. Our children are learning how to be constantly connected to electrical technology as a major part of their daily life and they are increasingly under its influence.

That is why it is so important that children and teenagers learn how to tap into their own power, to be more self aware, learn self respect and so make better choices, by learning the skill of becoming more self directed in their use of the internet.

So how does mindfulness help with all of this?

Mindfulness is defined as the skill of practicing 'paying attention, moment by moment, to the present moment, on purpose and without judgement'. That means children learning to become dispassionate about their choices ('being objective') and also not responding reactively (that's the 'on purpose and without judgement' part ) and instead choosing to focus and constantly refocus their attention, by first of all, accepting distractions (so as to not become 'tangled up' in fighting them) and skilfully move their attention to where they want it to be, and in this way learning to disengage skilfully from undesired and unasked for content.

So that when they feel pulled away from what they want to be paying attention to, they learn to practice being mindful of their own power by choosing again what they really want to do.

This skill of focusing their attention keeps them examining what their feelings and thoughts really are (because they notice them as they are having them) so their choices become more and more informed by real needs and preferences. This results in more of their needs being met appropriately.

Mindfulness puts the child in the 'driving seat ' and this skill of 'noticing what I am feeling', moment by moment, becomes an increasingly natural attitude. With practice.

We need to guarantee that all children will always have (at the very least) a safe and - hopefully -useful and fulfilling experience online and yet we must face the fact that this technological revolution is unprecedented in human history. None of us - especially our teenagers and children - really know how to live healthily with this pocket sized computer that connects us to 'everything in the world', healthy or not, instantly, and with minimal cost and little accountability.

It is however certain that it is both a complex and a challenging question.

We here at Oakdale Centre Mindful Teaching believe practicing mindfulness is part of the solution.

With screen time and mental well-being at for forefront of recent news, we would to thank Pete Turner for his thoughts on this topic.

Written by Pete Turner on February 07, 2019 14:48

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