10 years on…

10 years ago a struggling headteacher had an idea and so our story began.

That (now ex) headteacher is our founder Paul Rose.

His idea emerged as a result of him leading a failing infant school that rapidly improved.

He left headship and ever since has worked to turn that idea into reality.

For years he wasn’t sure whether he was building a tool, a system or a platform. 

The tool he wanted to build would help every child reach their potential and thrive in life.

The system he wanted to build would help teachers become more effective and better supported, whether newly qualified or very experienced.

The platform he wanted to build would help parents become fully engaged with their child’s learning.

With the kind support of mainstream, special, deaf and hospital schools, and AP, peripatetic and ITE/ITT providers, it’s now built.

And to our surprise it’s not a tool, system or platform. It’s turned out to be an approach; a new approach to education.

We call this approach YouTeachMe.

YouTeachMe helps schools deliver more than any other tool, system, platform, software or EdTech that’s on the market today.

We say this because YouTeachMe helps school leaders to rapidly and sustainably deliver real school improvement; whatever their unique circumstances.

It’s inclusive and accessible, so anyone (including adults!) can be taught anything, anywhere, anytime.

That might be a parent seeing how long division is taught, a child in secondary setting needing to learn maths from primary teachers, an ECT needing to access wide ranging CPD, a SEND child needing to access their lesson in a safe space, a governor gaining deep understanding of how their school is workings or a deaf child in mainstream setting learning from BSL signed GCSE maths teaching created in specialist deaf schools….the list is endless.

Have a tour of our features; have a listen to our founder (YouTube link)

YouTeachMe is ready to help you improve your education setting TODAY.

If you’d like to talk to Paul about the YouTeachMe approach book here

The Forgotten

The House of Commons Education Committee has reported on the forgotten status of White Working Class in education.  In 2014 and in 2021.  During a seven-year period not much has changed.  This group of young people continues to underperform against all groups except travelling and Roma communities.

The Opportunity Areas say things have improved there.  Yet the Committee points to the huge sums spent (£108m) and the reported benefits being in narrow areas.  Ten out of the twelve Opportunity Areas are largely white ethnic areas.  It is also clear from the report that many other areas around the UK are struggling too.

The data is incomplete and insufficiently granular to clearly define common reasons for the problem.  What is clear is that many factors contribute and have been doing so for many years.  Intergenerational disadvantage, geographic inequalities, family experience of education, disengagement from school, and policy failure to engage in further education are cited as reasons for the situation.

The Committee recommends that Family Hubs are created based on their understanding of the success of one such Hub in London.  This ‘cradle to career’ support model involves the whole community and several agencies.  However, the report also highlights the huge differences between London and the South East with almost every other region of the UK.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies found the UK to be among the “most geographically unequal countries in the developed world”.

At YouTeachMe we do not have the resources or influence of the Committee or the Government.  We do have experience of helping vulnerable groups learn and making a difference to all.

For years, family experience of education has been an area of interest for us.  We strongly believe that parents and carers are central to educational attainment, and more importantly to developing rounded and well-prepared individuals to contribute to the world.  We share our school work with parents through YouTeachMeToo.

So what does our school work look like?

We work with schools and settings of all phases and types. In every school, parents and carers are supported to be fully involved in their child’s learning. This is possible simply because personalised video content, designed to help their child learn, is accessible at home on any device.

The response has been amazing.  Parental engagement has increased dramatically, not just with homework but in increased activity at home to support learning.  We’ve even had parents saying how much they have learned and grown by seeing the teaching for themselves.  One parent admitted gaining knowledge of English grammar for the first time.

Children learn at different speeds.

This is accepted across the education world but it’s very hard to support.  YouTeachMe uses video to deliver personalised teaching and learning.  Video allowing the learner to watch, review and repeat as necessary to increase understanding and learning. Video that can be seen on any internet device including phones and smart TVs.

Although there remain a small number of households where internet access is limited or lacking, our ability to use phones and TVs (connected to a dongle) does help penetrate into homes where computers and laptops are missing.

White Working Class is a weak description and contrasts with popular political propaganda around White Privilege.  The term ‘the Forgotten’ seems more appropriate since, in the intervening 7 years between reports, little has happened to make real improvement.  Perhaps we need to consider the methods of intervention.

We know YouTeachMe makes a difference.

It is not the only way of teaching remotely but it is the only sustainable way to deliver high quality, equitable education to every learner (including the most vulnerable) online.

The Committee suggests spending £14m on a national infrastructure of Family Hubs.  We suggest spending £14m on putting YouTeachMe in the hands of every child on free school meals (FSM) and giving each of them a designated teacher from their school to deliver personalised and differentiated teaching, anywhere.

‘Lockdown hurts child speech and language skills – report’

There are many factors that contribute to the social mobility gap here in the UK, not least the huge variances in day to day childhood experiences.

Today’s report highlights ‘There is growing evidence that the past year of lockdowns has had an impact on young children’s language skills, according to research. Data from 50,000 pupils and a survey of schools across England have shown an increased number of four and five year olds needing help with language.’

You can read more from the BBC here

From the perspective of YouTeachMe’s founder Paul Rose, an ex-headteacher here’s our contribution to the report findings.

“As a teacher, I taught many children who didn’t have the experiences we commonly expect children to have. Whilst learning about the alternative location of Skegness in our Y2 geography lessons, it became clear that many children (average age = 7) had never been on holiday and had never seen the sea. After discovering this, our Y2 school trips became an annual pilgrimage to ‘Skeggy’ to learn about its ‘geographical features’ (i.e. to play on the beach and each fish and chips).

The absence of these types of life experiences harm a child’s development. If they haven’t experienced something, how can then learn from it or talk about it?

Which leads me to today’s report showing that the Covid lockdowns have delayed children’s speech and language skills. It’s clear to see why this would be the case – if children don’t do anything, they don’t have anything to talk about. If they don’t have anything to talk about, they will quickly stop talking as much. Practise is king where speech is concerned in my teaching experience.

In many ways, the lockdowns have given many people insights into aspects of the life experiences of young people with inclusion needs.

Through our work with special schools, we saw that fear of unknown situations could prevent young people from many aspects of life. To overcome this, we created thousands of short videos about real-life, everyday situations which give young people the chance to experience situations in a safely realistic way. Talk naturally follows, and learning with it.”

Lockdown has shown that every child needs this kind of support, in many aspects of their lives and not just during a pandemic. 

Our work to create triggers for talking about all of life’s experiences has just begun.

YouTeachMe currently contains 1,250+ conversation starter videos which are available for any school using our platform to access.

Let’s get our children talking again so that they can interact with peers and adults in a way that helps them grow each and every day.

Raising awareness of Autism

“One of our young people has just passed their driving test and is driving themselves to school. Now lot’s of our young people want us to help them learn to drive! We’re just a school and don’t have capacity to help them with this. Could you help us please?”

This was our very first conversation with the leader of a school that had just joined the YouTeachMe community. The school was a community special school for learners with communication and interaction needs.

We talked about the ways that young people could be helped to achieve their goal of learning to drive. We could see ways that using asynchronous (pre-recorded video) could really help. It wouldn’t be with the mechanics of driving of course, that would up to a qualified instructor. Instead, we felt that we could help with the hidden challenges that many people, especially autistic people, face; how to confidently manage unfamiliar and unexpected situations?

Learning to drive is a right of passage for many young people, as is learning to travel alone on public transport, interacting with strangers or going shopping independently. In these unfamiliar situations, ASD massively increases the difficulty.

I’m not an expert in ASD, however, I understand what it feels like to be unsure of myself in a new situation. It’s this fear of the unknown, and the lack of confidence in dealing with it, that can prevent young people reaching independence.

Fear of the situation leads to a physical fight/flight response that prevents learning – so, to learn you have to be placed into a situation that prevents learning.

This is clearly a massive problem. So how do you help someone experience a new situation in a way that helps them to learn at the same time?

Step forward asynchronous video! 

We got in our car and went out filming. We made loads of short videos showing situations and asking a question about each one:

❓ I’m lost. What should I do?

❓ My passengers are messing around. What should I say to them?

❓ I’m stuck in a traffic jam and I’m worrying about being late. What should I do?

❓ I’m driving on the motorway and I think I’m going to be sick. What should I do?

We uploaded them into YouTeachMe, where the staff in the school accessed them during an after-school car club for young people interested in learning to drive. They watched the videos we had made (as many times as needed), talked about the situation and possible answers to the question posed. They then role-played the situation, guided by the staff. This enabled them to understand the situation, learn the best way to respond and practise managing it.

The feedback from the staff about the impact on the young people was amazing!  

When you think about it, this is a tremendously powerful learning model for all young people; experience something real, in a safe place, with adults they trust, at a time that’s good for them!

The fears and challenges facing autistic learners are much the same as those faced by every young person, it’s just that they might be faced at an older age.

Unpicking these challenges enables us to create a more understanding and inclusive world.

A different approach to a school improvement plan

There are few harder tasks than to rapidly improve a school.

I know because I did it.

I’d like to share some of the things I learned along the way…

To improve a school quickly, you have to improve teaching so that learning increases and achievement rises.

To improve teaching quickly, you have to focus on the professional development of the teachers, but teachers can only be contractually directed to work for 1,265 hours a year and almost all of this is spent in the classroom teaching lessons.

So, you have to support it during the school day, in the form of release time from classroom teaching responsibilities.

However, this is problematic because it’s both costly and damages the learners progress in the short term.

It’s costly because to release a teacher for one day costs about £600. Half of this is the teacher’s salary, the other half pays for the supply teacher.  Imagine the number of days it takes to fundamentally improve a teacher’s teaching.

It damages progress because every time a lesson is delivered by someone who doesn’t know the learners well (i.e. supply teachers), the learners make less progress. Do this too often and you’ve got inadequate progress over time and you’re a failing school for supporting staff CPD.

I made some very bold decisions as a headteacher. Some probably called them rash, stupid or crazy, but the gamble paid off and we rapidly raised achievement, rapidly improving the school.

But here’s a thought. What if the process of teaching was teacher CPD? How transformational would that be? Teachers, developed by the very act of their teaching.

That would be quite something wouldn’t it?

Paul Rose

Teacher conundrums

As a teacher, I once taught a boy called Jay*.

Jay was lovely; a 5 year-old bundle of energy who lit up our classroom.

He was also a flipping nightmare to get work out of.

If I sat beside him he could get on.

If I moved to the table next to his, his work slowed dramatically.

If I went to the other side of the classroom, he might as well have stayed at home.

This wasn’t naughtiness though.

Jay’s additional needs meant he needed regular reminders of what we were learning and the work he had to do.

If you’re a teacher then you’ll know Jay; you’ve taught him many times too.

You’ll also know that Jay is not alone.  Many children need our supportive prompts and quiet re-teaching of key learning.

Of course, children like Jay make up only a fraction of the classes we teach.

The reality is that for every child to reach their potential, their learning needs must be met too.

It might be for consolidation.

At times it will be for extension.

Occasionally it’s because they’ve just come back from the dentist and have no idea what’s going on.

These are challenges of personalisation and connection.

For every child to make the progress of which they are truly capable, they need their teacher sat next to them, guiding and pushing their learning in every moment of every lesson.

I left education and founded a company because I could see that technology, if it were designed to enhance the way that teachers teach, could deliver this level of personalisation and connection.

I could also see that there was a desperate need to bring schools together, to share knowledge and expertise across phases and sectors.

I left education to take what I’d learned and build it into a platform that enabled teachers to give teaching the reach their learners need.

In doing so, we’ve built a uniquely powerful teaching community that is working together, including everyone and reducing workload too

The teachers we work with often refer to their ability to be teaching in multiple ways and multiple places as amazing and the impact as revolutionary.

It allows them to support, guide and extend their learners wherever they are; next to them, on the next table or lately, at home.

YouTeachMe doesn’t solve a pandemic-driven remote learning problem; it solves a much bigger problem, one that’s always existed in classrooms, that the pandemic has simply exposed.

Mr Paul Rose (previously a teacher)

*not his real name

Shhhhh it’s too noisy in here!

I bet if you’re a teacher you’ve not said that in a while! I imagine it’s something you’d love to say again soon… a class full of children is better than a muted live lesson, right?

Right now it’s really noisy out there when it comes to all the EdTech tools vying to support online pandemic-affected teaching.

And because of this, if you’re not Microsoft, Google, Zoom or Oak National then it’s highly unlikely you’ll be heard (we know that feeling!).

Here’s where YouTeachMe stands. And it’s not making loud noise for the now, it’s about encouraging quiet consideration of what comes after the pandemic.

Let’s be honest, education has needed a rethink for a while.

We all know that high-stakes accountability has driven the obsession with measurements, outcomes, progression and data. It’s obvious to us all that this is the wrong road, we should be driven by the needs of children; all children not just those in the middle.

So our ‘what’s next’ is about looking around, learning lessons from the pandemic and making sure that when normality returns, it does so with embedded technology that enables every child to achieve their potential, every lesson, every day.

You might look at those noisy services mentioned above and wonder how they will ever enable every child to succeed post-pandemic. The truth is, they won’t. They cannot improve outcomes in a live lesson in the classroom.

To do that, you need something simple to use, that harnesses teachers new found confidence with video technology, and that’s designed to embed within the pedagogies they use in their daily classroom teaching before COVID.

And that’s where YouTeachMe comes in.

YouTeachMe is like Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner for teachers. Great teaching means great outcomes for every child. To achieve this, every child needs challenge and support. YouTeachMe delivers this in spades. It facilitates you being in many places, supporting a range of learning, ALL AT ONCE.

More able learners who are ready to master concepts; send them to watch your video and complete the more challenging tasks you’ve set. Those who are struggling and need a bit more support; send them to watch your video during the lesson and see them keep up. A single child who just didn’t grasp the lesson; send them a personalised video to watch at home, helping them keep up.

YouTeachMe enables teachers to make a difference to every child in their class, in every subject they teach, every day. They can do so in class, at home, in hospital, anywhere. Importantly, learning is supported even on a phone – learners don’t need a laptop.

And those video’s aren’t 1 hour lessons, they’re not even 30 minutes. The most effective videos are just a couple of minutes long, augmented by well planned activities to embed learning. It’s just what you already do.

So hush now, pandemic products. Your use won’t last much longer and you’re distracting us from the important stuff. 

Let’s have some real conversations about how we can improve education for every child in the country no matter what their ability is. One thing is for sure children have a range of abilities in abundance and they should be given the chance to shine brightly.

What’s your gold standard?

A recent TES article debating whether live teaching is actually ‘gold standard’ online teaching has got us on our soapbox (you can read the full article here https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-schools-online-learning-are-live-lessons-really-better-recorded-ones).

Think back to your pre-Covid teaching, the days when you had a classroom and you taught ‘traditional’ lessons.

Imagine if you taught a series of lessons, had just 2 or 3 children engaging and the progress of all learners, especially the outliers, was minimal at best.

You might feel you’d got something wrong with your planning or anxious that you’ve lost the art of engaging teaching. Either way, in a classroom environment, you’d know that there was something seriously wrong and make swift changes to address it.

So how is it, almost a year down the line, that low engagement and poor outcomes are acceptable on Teams or Zoom?

The fact that it is accepted is all the more confusing when you factor in how hard live lessons are to deliver. On Twitter recently, one teacher described the experience of live teaching as ‘soul destroying; like shouting into a vacuum’. Another added ‘Whatever you think you can deliver in a live lesson, halve it, then halve it again’.

This is the reality of live online teaching; difficult delivery, low engagement and poor outcomes.

So why are live lessons still seen by many as the gold standard in lockdown teaching?

As former school leaders we understand that Teams and Zoom lessons feel most familiar in terms of delivery methodology. Transferring much used pedagogies to new mediums feels safe; recognisable. But surely, this can’t be the only reason why ineffective live teaching continues in most schools?

Possibly it’s because it was the obvious, go-to solution at the beginning and the regular DfE guidance updates are preventing leaders from looking for solutions that actually work? Maybe it’s our natural human desire for contact; to see, hear and interact with others? Could it be because these tools are free? Perhaps it’s because it’s what everyone else is doing and that makes it feel safe?

I doubt it’s because Gavin says it’s best and therefore it’s more easily justifiable to Ofsted, but whatever the reason(s), it’s certainly not the best way to engage any child in learning.

We’re not decrying schools. We know how exceptionally hard staff are working, and that everyone is trying their very best with the tools they know are available. It’s just that we understand that online learning can be so much more than classroom delivery through a screen. Giving your students the ability to receive personalised teaching, view the lesson multiple times on any device and go at their own pace will embed learning.

Live teaching doesn’t facilitate this; you’re most capable are bored, your middle ability learn a little (if they are still listening) and those with the greatest needs are totally left behind.

I know that many wait for the EEF to announce what’s effective and what’s not. But too many learning opportunities are being lost, so I’m going to speak the obvious truth – pre-recorded teaching videos, targeted to specific learners and viewed in child-friendly, carefully structured ways, are the only way to ensure high engagement and outcomes for every learner.

I know this because I’ve spent the last 10 years working with leading Deaf, mainstream and special schools to develop a service that  improves educational outcomes for all using pre-recorded video.

If you are now seeing the limitations of live teaching and understand the benefits of pre-recorded video, you need to book a demo and see YouTeachMe.  It will revolutionise learning across your whole school community now, and post-Covid too.

Is free always the best option?

Today it was announced that the mobile phone companies are going to make thousands of government-funded lessons, produced by Oak National Academy, available free of charge until schools re-open.

You might think that we, as a company that sells our online learning service into schools, would be up in arms about this.

Not so! 

We can see that the £millions of public money spent creating resources that are then made available ENTIRELY free to consumers is great for our business going forwards.


Well, Oak National Academy now sets the standard for ‘free’ online education.

This pandemic will end (eventually!), and when it does, Ofsted will immediately start inspecting schools on their readiness to deal with another one.

They will judge each school’s readiness for high-quality online learning and in the cold light of day, these free resources will be found to lack impact on learning.

That’s when schools will look around for services that offer high-quality learning wherever learners are – in school or at home.

Companies like ours, who’ve spent years developing online teaching and learning services underpinned by powerful pedagogies will be able to answer the call. I look forward to those conversations.

In the meantime, if you’re a school leader who understands that free is not best (and has got a spare moment in the midst of this craziness) give us a call and ask how YouTeachMe is hands-down better for your learners, families, staff team, governors, MAT and for you.

School leadership with 2020 vision

If you are new to a senior leadership position in a school, either from an expected promotion or unexpectedly due to resignations, what is expected of you?

School improvement planning straight out of the window?

The first thing to do is be clear in your own mind that being a leader is not something you do in isolation. So before you think about reimagining the vision you set for the school gather your team.

Leadership and Management are different but rely on each other.

Perhaps as an NQT you remember those dictator style headteachers?

Leadership is about setting a direction, a vision of the future (maybe only as far as next week in the current COVID climate) along with strategies for change to produce that vision.

Management involves planning and budgeting, organising staff, solving problems and providing control to deliver the vision. This is where the support of a great school business manager helps.

Management produces the capacity to achieve and leadership the context in which to work. At the moment, with teachers at the highest risk of burnout and breakdowns, giving them this context is like giving them a gift of Gold.

So, do not try to act on your own.  Both the leadership and management of the school needs to be connected, as do all of the staff, governors and other stakeholders in your setting who are trying to deliver the vision and the day to day solutions.  If you are not all in agreement about where you are going and why the delivery will be difficult and ineffective.

Who do heads outrank is the question of the moment in 2021.

Leaders are not born.  They learn the skills, hone and practice them to be more effective.  Managers are similarly skilled in some areas, less so in others.  No one person does everything better than the team together. It’s critical you are the glue to this team today.

One final gift you as a leader need to consider today, how to make the job of your school staff safer, easier, less work heavy. Listening is a key leadership skill so tune in to what your staff are telling you today.

Peter Buglass

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