“A second chance at education, not a second rate education”
– Phil Edwards PRU motto
A key driving force behind this inspiring motto is Ian Walters, Deputy Headteacher at Phil Edwards.
When we first met Ian, shortly after his PRU invested in a Doddle Suite, one of the first things that struck us about him was his passion for re-engaging students in education.
Talking to Ian (who is also a third-year Education Doctoral student at London Southbank University) over the past few months, we’ve learned about the range of inspiring ways he’s been using Doddle with his students to tackle a whole range of issues, from student motivation to supporting students at various points on the VAK spectrum.
Motivating students is a Doddle
A key part of student motivation at Phil Edwards is making students aware of their progress. With Doddle, students respond positively to knowing their results as soon as they’ve completed a homework quiz. As Ian says “The feedback regarding the score – if they get 80%, 85% they want to get more, get 90%, 95%, 100%. That’s motivation in itself.”
Tracking progress is a Doddle
Like most PRUs, one of the main challenges for staff at Phil Edwards is finding ways to narrow the gap between PRU and mainstream school students. Doddle supports this by giving staff access to brilliant resources and an online markbook that records student progress: “From the PRU's point of view it’s about distance travelled. Doddle can help – it’s about things being levelled, that’s the key. Once things are levelled you can track the progress from grade to grade. It helps you to see how far they’ve travelled.”
Personalised learning is a Doddle
Within a class at Phil Edwards, the range of student needs is incredibly diverse; because Doddle is such a vast, flexible resource, staff have access to resources that support each student’s personalised learning programme: “We use Doddle in different ways to provide students with the best form of support – whether that is an individualised programme or group programme.”
For all students, Doddle’s teacher/student communication tools help staff communicate learning objectives to his students: “Teachers can also put messages on there for them with aims and learning objectives. Learning objectives are important to explain – why we’re doing this and how it ties in with the lesson. We’re doing this because we want you to get this by the end.”
Whilst at other times, Doddle’s logically-structured resources help support particular SEN needs: “Young people with ADHD like to be part of a sequence of events, otherwise they go off on a tangent.”
Supporting VAK is a Doddle
For Ian, one of the major benefits of using Doddle is that it’s designed to support all combinations of VAK learning: “You’ve got the audio side, the visual side, the touch things they have to do to move things on the screen. We’re safe if we provide all those elements in our teaching, because some young people have different levels of VAK set-up.”
Re-engaging students is a Doddle
Ultimately, for Ian, the role that Doddle plays in giving his students a “second chance at education” is that it gives him a range of approaches to re-awaken his students’ interest in learning: “What Doddle can do is shine a light on something so the pupil will say “Oh, now I’ve got it”… Being a teacher is all about awakening each individual student and I use Doddle as a part of this process.”
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