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Support As Important As The Software
Written by Matthew Bramley - OTrack Director

Recently I’ve been doing some work for a school that’s very close to my heart as all four (yes four!) of my kids having attended there. I was doing a bit of analysis of our users to identify schools that hadn’t yet engaged with OTrack’s assessing without levels features.

Parkwood came up as one of those schools and, having known Jackie Mell and Helen Butler for a few years, I thought I’d give them a call to offer some support.

It turned out that they weren’t fully aware of what we had to offer post levels and had started putting information back into Excel spreadsheets and Word documents so I said I’d come in and have a chat, see what they’re doing and suggest a way that OTrack could meet their needs.

Up until this point they had tried many different ways to track, without any concrete support or one way of completing any assessment. Their academy trust had developed a coloured system and as an individual academy they had further developed this. The problem they were having was that staff found it difficult to pitch and assess where a child was and how this could be transposed from old levels to colours, especially further up in KS2. KS1 was a little easier as children have moved from EYFS which uses a similar system of emerging, expected and exceeding.

Support and Understanding are Key

A really interesting meeting followed where we discussed the different options available. After careful consideration we agreed that the Deeper Learning tool would be the best model to implement with the custom codes that would help them report back to their trust on a regular basis. This is a colour coded approach with Red, Amber, Green and Platinum. Due to their own needs Parkwood wanted to break this down further so we agreed that Amber would be split into Amber Emerging and Amber Developing.

I set up the codes with Helen and Jackie in school and we looked at the ‘off-the-shelf’ Deeper Learning reports, discussed which ones they would like to personalise and we re-booked another appointment. I left them to enter some assessment and target data.

Reports are Easier to Read and Analyse as a Group

As assessment lead Helen really needed to be able to focus on different groups as well as whole school/class tracking so we discussed the Specific Groups feature in OTrack. This area allows you to set up your own custom groups, in addition to the usual contextual groups that you’ll find.

Following the changes Helen felt that “Staff are able to see a snapshot of their own class and use the data for progress meetings and ongoing tracking and assessment” as well as reports being “easy to read and share at meetings to give a whole school overview”.
Another of the major benefits is that the information can now be more clearly communicated with parents.

A Really Rewarding Experience

It’s always nice to receive good feedback if you’ve done a piece of work but there’s something extra special when you know it might change lives. By customising the reports we’ve saved Helen and Jackie loads of time and this can only be beneficial to the pupils of Parkwood. I wish them well but they know I am always at the end of the phone (or occasionally in the playground!) to take any questions.

Find Out More

If you would like to find out how OTrack can be customised to suit your needs please get in touch or have a look at our features page.
#PrimaryTracking #SLTChat #EYFS #EdChat #PupilTracking #EdTech #Attainment   #Progress #Formativeassessment  

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Well done to our lads +Mason Cook, Rob Roe and David Surfleet for running the North Lincs half marathon yesterday! It was a lovely day with Dave and Mason running new PB's and Rob's first time. They all did great and Mason managed to raise £320 for the British Heart Foundation in the process! 

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Focus Academy Trust Pupil Tracking
Written by Tom Parkinson

We have been working with Focus Education for a numbers of years now, being involved with Clive Davies and the team has been a brilliant experience. We have worked on numerous projects and developments together and will continue to do that in the years to come. Focus Education created their own charitable multi-academy trust in 2012 and, like all other academy groups, Focus Trust were faced with making a decision on how the schools would assess and track pupils in a life after levels. Read on to find out how we customised OTrack as their academy trust pupil tracking system.

Academy Trust Pupil Tracking

Early in 2015, Helen Rowland, the Chief Executive at Focus Trust, invited me to demonstrate OTrack to the eleven principals of the academies. The principals wanted all the academies to be using a common assessment and tracking method – at that time, each academy had their own individual tracking system and this wasn’t quite working for the trust as a whole. I showed the group how we could customise OTrack to work based on their theories and ethos, and enable the trust to get rich cross-academy analysis of attainment and progress. After the principals had taken a good look around the market, I was really pleased to be told that they all agreed OTrack would provide them with the tools they needed.

Customised for School Leaders

Helen suggested that I meet up with the principals again, this time we would discuss their exact requirements for tracking and analysis. We booked an afternoon session where the principals and Helen made several suggestions for improvements to existing features and also asked for bespoke reports to be created. After the session, we got straight to work on the developments and after a couple of months the new reports were live in OTrack and ready for the academies to use. The developments didn’t stop there, as theories and ideas developed, we adapted OTrack and the analysis it creates to meet the needs of the academies and the trust as a whole.

“The support and customisation that OTrack gives us means that all SLTs across the Trust are using a shared system, language and expectations. The variety of reports enables the SLTs to present information in understandable formats to a range of audiences, such as parents, governors, and the Trust. All these reports come with a wide range of filters that enable instant analysis of pupil groups, cohorts and individuals. It really feels like a bespoke Focus Trust system.”
Helen Rowland, Chief Executive at Focus Trust

Valuable Data for Teachers, Pupils, Parents and Governors

The trust use Focus Education curriculum materials to standardise the learning objectives used across the academies. Each teacher in the trust uses our Class Track software, loaded with these objectives. They record the outcomes of assessments to track which objectives have been taught and the depth of understanding by pupils. The use of Class Track also means that the teachers can identify which pupils have missed certain objectives or require additional teaching to securely understand certain aspects of the curriculum.

Pupils are aware of the objectives they will be learning in the particular year group and know which of the objectives they securely understand or need to learn more thoroughly. The schools have worked with the pupils so they understand how Class Track relates to the work in their books and this is used in academy and Trust moderation sessions.

Parents have found the reports help them to understand which objectives their children know well or need to learn in the future. Governors have had input into report design and appreciate that a common language and the same reports are now shared across the Trust.
Cross-academy analysis

Helen has worked closely with the reports development team here at OTrack. They have worked on new reports that enable Helen to analyse the progress and attainment of year groups and contextual groups across the trust. Helen and Tracey Thornton, Academy Improvement Partner, can now monitor which academies are regularly inputting pupil data and then provide support to those that need it. It’s been a steep learning curve but across the Trust they are now speaking a common language!

“At the touch of a button, I have access to live data across the eleven academies. If the DfE request pupil performance data, I can access it live myself rather than contacting the academy and possibly encountering a delay”
Helen Rowland, Chief Executive at Focus Trust

Helen is also very keen to identify best practice in the use of OTrack and then work with academy leaders to share this with others.
On-going support

We are always keen to provide all our users with with various support services – Helen has found these very useful and worked with our support team to make sure she gets the best out of the services we offer. Working together we have delivered initial training sessions to school leaders, in-school sessions at each academy, personalised webinar sessions and supporting help-guides – all designed specifically for the Focus Trust and their academies.

I’m sure we will continue to adapt the tracking tools, analysis and support services for the trust as the needs of the trust change – as always, we will welcome contact from Helen and the academies and look forward to helping them whenever they need us.

“I am delighted that we made the decision to go with OTrack, the service is fantastic and the OTrack team always go above and beyond when we need them.” Helen Rowland, Chief Executive at Focus Trust

Feedback from Schools and Parents

Here is a collection of quotes from Governors, Principals, Teachers and Parents:

“The variety and quality of Early Years reports that OTrack offer is fantastic!

As a teacher it is important to me to be able to easily manipulate data and gain an accurate picture of pupil progress, attainment and achievement across the seven areas of learning. As a result, I can ensure that teaching provision is relevant, meaningful and supports pupils’ progress effectively.

OTrack’s system and Early Years reports make the process of data analysis easy. Filters within reports offer a deeper analysis of data for the cohort, class, pupil groups or individuals. In moments I can find out the % of children on track to reach a Good Level of Development, identify who these children are, establish which children are not ‘on track’ and identify the specific areas where slow progress is being made. This information is priceless and supports teachers in addressing any gaps in learning by planning appropriate targeted intervention for individuals and groups to help get them back ‘on track’.”
Carrie Kiselis, teacher and Assistant Principal at Old Trafford Community Academy

“As Principal I have been really impressed with how quickly the developers at OTrack have produced new reports tailored to the needs of my academy- this bespoke service has meant that I get the information I need, specific to my unique audience.

New systems take time to embed and staff can sometimes feel out of their comfort zone – the OTrack system is simple and easy to use, it relates directly to the end of year expectation statements that teachers are familiar with and there have been very few teething problems. This has meant that after less than a year staff feel fully confident in its use.”
Kyrstie Joslin, Principal at Boothroyd Primary Academy

“The objective sheet from Parent’s Evening was very informative. It has pointed out all the areas that I need to work on at home with my child. It was easy to explain to my husband our sons’ strengths and areas the areas he needs to work on. The green percentages which he has met was very useful as it showed me that he was making progress at school.”
Y3 parent at Deeplish Primary Academy

“OTrack has been an invaluable tool in identifying coverage of the curriculum. It gives teachers age related expectations at their fingertips. As Principal I can quickly produce reports which track the attainment of all my pupils.”
Ewan McPherson, Principal at Deeplish Primary Academy

“OTrack looks like a suitable system to monitor progress and attainment in the absence of levels… after 4 sets of data we are starting to see clearer positions developing and with some validation of our predictions compared to SATs outcomes we will have a better view for next year.”
Bob Richmond, Chair of Governors at Rudheath Primary Academy

#PupilTracking #PupilTracker #PrimaryEd #EYFS #FormativeTracking #LifeafterLevels #FocusTrust #AcademyTrust


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A HUGE thank you to Parkfield School for sending a hamper full of goodies! This is why we do what we do!
#OfstedReady #PupilTracking #PupilTracker #PrimaryAssessment # EYFS

Parkfield Schools Twitter: @ParkfieldSchool

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OTrack International – Kings’ Dubai Experience
Written by James Carroll at Kings’ School Al Barsha.

When making the transition to the new National Curriculum, the thought at the back of all our minds was ‘how is assessment going to look?’. This was the hot topic of conversation for the majority of the year prior to launching the new curriculum in September 2015. As a group of schools, we had made the decision to get inside the new curriculum for a term prior to making any final decision on the best way to assess. Luckily we have some great experience on the team in the shape of Bede Higgins the Head of Kings’ Dubai, a long serving senior leader in the UAE and the font of all knowledge with regards to the KHDA inspection framework. Unlike the UK, Dubai schools are inspected on a yearly basis. This was always going to add an extra level of pressure to get it right. Kings’ Al Barsha were very lucky to have the leadership of Simon Camby formerly of Focus Education for the start of the year. His insightful knowledge and understanding of the new National Curriculum helped us understand clearly the expectations of the new curriculum and how we were best to assess it. However, there was one major problem, we knew how we wanted to assess but it was not in line with any typical ‘off-the-shelf’ assessment platform. Then we were introduced to Optimum OTrack.

It did not take us long to know we were on the right track. After a couple of conversations with the OTrack team in the UK, we realized we had found the perfect assessment platform to help us assess children’s learning of the new curriculum. A very charismatic +Al Powell helped us understand the intrinsic features of the system and what set it apart from the rest. We had found a cloud based assessment platform that offered boundless options and enabled us to build a bespoke platform that allowed us to meet the needs of the children, staff and KHDA. We had hit the proverbial goldmine. Over the course of the next couple of months, the curriculum objectives we uploaded, historic data mapped, bespoke reports created and onsite training delivered by Al to all 3 leaderships teams and over one hundred teachers. Introducing a new assessment platform to staff is always a challenge but because of the simplistic and accessible way OTrack is designed, this was not an issue. Staff were quickly onboard making formative assessment judgements in the days after the training. Within a week we had 25 teachers inputting live data for nearly 600 children. Since then, teachers have set about addressing the gaps that have been highlighted by the manipulation of assessment data in OTrack. We now have the ability to build a learner profile of a child within seconds against a bespoke set of curriculum expectations.

As I write this, only 6 weeks after the initial training, we are constantly referring to the data and are able to manipulate and share it in so many ways. It has formed an integral part of pupil performance meetings throughout the school. On Tuesday May 10th, we launched the platform to our parents. The reception was unanimous; this is what we have all been waiting for. ‘Real’ information about our children. Without a doubt, OTrack has proved a valuable and unique addition to the learning community at Kings’ Schools. We look forward to building on this success in the future.

Twitter Links:
Optimum OTrack: @optimumotrack
Al Powell: @TheAlPowell
Kings School Al Barsha: @KingsAlBarsha
James Carroll: @james_e_carroll
Russell Smart: @rustysmart

#EYFS #Formativeassessment #Pupiltracker #Primary #Edtech #Edchat #PupilTracking #SLTChat

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OTrack International – Pupil Tracking in Dubai
Written by +Al Powell

During April, I took up the great opportunity to jump on a flight and spend a week working with schools in the ever growing city of Dubai. To stress the speed of Dubai’s growth; in September, no fewer than twenty-four new British International schools opened!

I learnt a number of things while I was out there, but what surprised me most was… in that amazing city and in those amazing buildings, pupil tracking is still pupil tracking. Teachers want to document progress and senior leaders still have to report data for their ‘Ofsted’, called KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority). I’ve jumped forward in time here; I’ll start at the beginning…

In February, three schools who form part of Kings’ Education contacted me to ask what OTrack had to offer and how we could help. After some really interesting conversations and a remote demonstration, the group decided to roll out OTrack in their schools. That was great news! But this news was soon topped, James Carroll (one of the senior leaders) called me and explained that all three schools use the same method of assessing and tracking, but all have slightly different ideas, so he invited me to go out to Dubai and spend a full week working with them, I was more than eager to accept the Pupil Tracking - Internationaloffer! I had a chat with Matt (my manager) and he happily agreed! Great, I was on my way!

I started the week at Kings’ School Al Barsha, where I met with James and his team of school leaders. The day started with an introduction to the team, I would be spending a lot of time with them over the next five days, so it was great to get to know everyone on the off-set. We started off setting up certain features to make sure OTrack was working in line with their shared ethos, I took them through the system and focused on the powerful analysis that they had access to. It was an interesting and very useful day – at the end of it, I understood how the school leaders wanted to track pupils in each school. I was ready to get out to the schools and show them what we had done and how we could tailor it further to meet each school’s specific requirements.

Travelling around Dubai and getting to schools is (as I’m sure you can imagine) very different to my usual M1 and M62 experiences! Travelling through the high-rise city centre, past infamous sights and many beautifully designed gardens was an eye opener to say the least. But then, within minutes, being surrounded by a vast desert landscape, made school visits a completely new experience for me! Amazing!

When in the schools, we started each day the same… meeting with the leadership team and going through the system, making any needed tweeks and customisations. In the afternoon, I would meet with the teaching staff and explain how the leadership teams wanted them to use OTrack.

What I liked about my visits was the enthusiasm everyone showed when seeing the system, and how they appreciated that we had spent time to understand their needs and setting OTrack up according to their specific requirements. The work we did allowed the schools to continue to track how they want but to simplify the recording of data and vastly improve their ability to analyse data.

Now I am back in England, I have already started working with the application development team and the report development team here. We will be making further customisations for the schools and we will be getting those ready and enabled in their systems over the coming months.

Over the week, there were four main people I dealt with, James Carroll, Russell Smart, Hannah French and Bede Higgins – I would like to thank them for making me feel welcome. I would also like to say, publicly… if they want me back out there just let me know!

Now, I just need to pass that by my manager… over to you Matt!

Twitter Links:
Optimum OTrack: @optimumotrack
Al Powell: @TheAlPowell
Kings School Al Barsha: @KingsAlBarsha
James Carroll: @james_e_carroll
Russell Smart: @rustysmart

#EYFS #Formativeassessment #Pupiltracker #Primary #Edtech #Edchat #PupilTracking #SLTChat

We have details of a great networking opportunity that will help you to demonstrate that you are an outward facing school in respect of assessment, during these uncertain times assessing the new curriculum without levels.

Following Teachmeets inaugural event in November 2015, they are again meeting with fellow Otrack users to share experiences, successes and difficulties of using this potentially very powerful assessment tool.

The meeting will take place at Birchen Coppice Primary School in Kidderminster on Monday 23rd May from 4.30-6.30pm. The post code for Birchen Coppice is DY11 7JJ.

The format will be an initial series of short presentations by teachers and school leaders currently using Otrack, and an additional presentation by James Bellamy from Otrack. Then there will be the opportunity to go into specific discussion groups for more detailed follow-up from the presentations.

James Bellamy will be presenting on deeper learning, as opposed to best-fit and he will also be showing a new version of class-track with a more spreadsheet-like layout, designed to be used more on a termly, as opposed to weekly basis.

Further presentation topics will broadly cover:
Feeling Ofsted-ready through Otrack
Reaching a judgement - what 'on-track' looks like
Approaches to moderation of judgements
Impact of use of specified reports
Tracking progress of disadvantaged children
Other topics may emerge as more presenters come forward with their area of interest.

As well as inviting you to come along, we are also seeking more people willing to share 5 minutes of their knowledge and experience of Otrack.

If you would like to attend, please email Andrew Kilbride, stating the names of the people attending.
If you would like to offer a presentation, please get in touch regarding the content, so he can recirculate an amended agenda nearer to 23rd May.

We look forward to welcoming you to Birchen Coppice on Monday 23rd May.

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Entering assessments has never been so simple! Call to book a demo of the OptimumOTrack system. 01302 360246

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ERA Award Winners – 2016

“I’m really pleased to announce that we are the 2016 ERA award winners for ‘ICT Tools for Leadership, Management & Assessment’ for primary schools. We have made significant changes to OTrack and its suite of tools since the removal of levels – we think that we have a pupil tracking system that will help schools greatly – its nice that ERA think so too.”
– Tom Parkinson, Director
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