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Redefining inclusion, redesigning learning

At Texthelp our core purpose is help everyone understand and be understood. That's why we're hosting the Festival of Inclusive Education. To celebrate inclusion and how it can make learning better for everyone.

In this special episode of Texthelp Talks our two in house experts, Paddy and Jason, delve into what inclusion means to them. As they explain why we've taken on the task of redesigning learning for inclusion.

To get your free ticket to the Festival of Inclusive Education, visit: text.help/redefining-inclusion

Transcript

Patrick McGrath:
Welcome to another episode of the Texthelp Talks podcast. As always we've got a host of experts covering a range of topics from education right through into the workplace. Do make sure you subscribe through your preferred podcast player or streaming service so you never miss an episode. And don't forget, you can always join the conversation anytime using the #TexthelpTalks on Twitter. I'm Patrick McGrath, or as most people will call me internally in work Paddy McGrath. I am Head of Education Strategy here at Texthelp. It's going to be my pleasure to be your host for this episode of Texthelp Talks.

Patrick:
And coming up later in October, on the 20th of October we have a pretty amazing event. And that is the Festival of Inclusive Education. So the 20th of October we'll be gathering together a fantastic range of speakers to run through a series of sessions where we're going to be promoting inclusion. And the headline point of that event is redefining inclusion, redesigning learning. And what we thought we'd do today would be to do something slightly different. As you're aware on our podcast we always bring in various range of expert speakers. We do have an expert speaker here today, but it is my one and only colleague and friend, Mr. Jason Gordon. Jason, how are you today?

Jason Gordon:
I'm good. I'm good. I'm glad to be described as an expert, that's possibly the first and the last time that phrase will be used about me. So thank you very much for that.

Patrick:
I would say in about 30 minutes for now for our listeners they can decide for themselves Jason, what do you think of that?

Jason:
We'll send out a Google form at the end of this.

Patrick:
So Jason normally as you know we have some speakers on here which we have invited in on various expert subjects, but today of course, we're keeping it in-house. We're keeping it just down to Texthelp, because we want our listeners to know what we think internally about inclusion. What we do about inclusion, and how we promote that both in what we do internally and what we do externally with the schools, colleges, and universities that we work with. Normally at that stage I get this really long bio to run through and describe all of your talents, all of the achievements, but I think Jason the best thing to do is maybe for you to explain to our listeners where you fit in the Texthelp family and what your background is in the Texthelp family?

Jason:
Sure. Yeah. I'm kind of a new old Texthelper. So maybe the best way to describe it. I was with the workplace division which is the other side of the company for around five or six years. So that was working within sort of private sector, within healthcare, within public sector, not for profit and that side of things. And I've recently came across to the education side of the company which is all new to me. So it's a new hat I'm wearing. Obviously, it's the same company. It's the same culture. It's the same ethos.

Jason:
What we're doing, and what we're abiding, and what we're getting behind, and what we're trying to achieve, but it's interesting to be on the other side of the fence as we might call it. Working within the education sector. And it's been educational for me. I've just started learning about that marketplace because it is very different to the workplace, but I think there's a lot of commonality amongst, because at the end the day the school, or the college, or the university its still a workplace for teachers. So it's still a workplace, but it's understanding the people's needs, and students needs and requirements, and how best we can support them. So it's been a fun few months for me and it's been an interesting challenge shall we say.

Patrick:
So we'll not tell our listeners that your job is to sell stuff, because sometimes when you say your job is to sell stuff sometimes educators will back away, but it's a very different view I suppose in Texthelp because selling I suppose is one thing and of course that makes the world go round, but it's what you're doing. The tools you're using I think are very important. You mentioned earlier on the other side of the fence workplace to education. And you touched upon those similarities between there, but I guess inclusion runs through both of those sides of the fence from your perspective?

Jason:
Very much so. And like you say, I am a sales person. I've been in sales since I left university. I don't think anyone ever goes to university wanting to get into sales. I think everyone kind of-

Patrick:
That's true. If anybody is listening here and their kids they ask, "Guys, what do you want to be when you grow up?" And your kids go, "I want to be a salesperson." Move on. Nobody says that. You’re right.

Jason:
I don’t know what A-Levels to put them through for that one, but I fell into sales just sort of almost by accident. When I left University, I needed to find a job. Ended up in a sales job and I really enjoyed it. And I've stayed within sales ever since, but you're alluding to there Paddy, it is my title. My title is national sales manager and it is my job. And obviously Texthelp is. It is a business. We have to make profits. We do have to bring money in. There's overhead and all of that stuff there. But I don't perceive myself as a salesperson when I'm working for Texthelp, I think for me.

Jason:
And this has been right through my history with the company, within workplace, and within education, I see myself very much as an advocate for those who need our software, but aren't in a position to go to head of procurement, to go to senior management, to make the case, to plead the case for showing them how beneficial our solutions and our software can be. So yes, you can see it very much as I'm going in and I'm making a sales pitch to try and sell software, but the reality is I'm going in and I'm representing students. I'm representing pupils. I'm representing people in the workplace that could really benefit from our software, but their school or their company has never thought before to purchase assistive technology that can make a real difference in their lives and within their education. For me, that's my role is very much in advocacy on behalf of those who require our solutions.

Patrick:
And I think that's a brilliant way to sum it up Jason, because when we start to think about inclusion, whether it's our inclusion festival, or the ethos that we have here in Texthelp. It is a matter of having to champion inclusion at all levels in all ways. And I think that's so important. And you hit on something really close to my heart there which is those pupils, those employees that need to have inclusion built in maybe that that inclusive nature and that approach that they need isn't necessarily recognised, because their challenges or their individual needs aren't necessarily visible within an organisation whether it's a school or workplace, of course. And one of the things, and I know you know this Jason, but whenever I started Texthelp, what feels like an eternity ago, but was really only a few years ago.

Patrick:
One of the things that struck me was on the very first day I was told, literally told as a speaker and a presenter for Texthelp, that I needed to use this line. And the line was, we aim to help everyone understand and be understood. And for me, that's been the most powerful line that has stuck with me through it when people are looking for an insight in to Texthelp, I really feel I can sum it up in those two areas, because the ability to express yourself and understand the world around you and things that are in front to you is so important. And if somebody wants to switch off from the podcast from here please do take that away, because the ability to understand and be understood is the critical reason why I certainly get up in the morning. Why many of us do. And that is the overall mission and approach that Texthelp certainly takes. What does that mean to you, Jason, that term, to understand and to be understood?

Jason:
Yeah. I think the real sort of heart of that concept is this idea of dialogue that for me to understand you, you have to talk and I have to listen. For me to be understood I have to talk and you have to listen to me. It's a two way thing. And it's all about communication. And at the heart of communication is language. And whether that's body language, whether that's reading, writing, whether that's physical language, that's what we use to communicate. That's what we use to have that dialogue. And quite often I think for all of us, we take language for granted. We use it day in day out. We lift our phones in the morning and we read. We put the TV on and we're reading stuff in the background.

Jason:
We're sitting with screens around us. And we're using language and communication all day long. And for most of us I would say it's not until we go on holiday to somewhere a bit more remote than the Costa del Sol that we find out actually nobody here speaks my language, how am I going to communicate? For me, it was the first time in the Philippines, and I was trying to communicate with people where there is not a word of English. And you're trying to use hand signals and gestures. And that feeling of nobody understands me and I don't understand anyone else, that's a real hurdle and a real barrier for someone. And within the classroom and within the workplace those language and communication barriers exist for so many people. And that concept of making sure that everyone can understand and everyone can be understood it's about making sure that everyone can communicate, that everyone has the opportunity to speak and everyone has the opportunity to be heard.

Jason:
And that dialogue takes place. And in essence that's what we're trying to do through our solutions from a technological and digital perspective is to help people in getting themselves heard, getting themselves understood. Easily understand others. And like you said it's such a powerful concept. It's something that like I said I've been with the company many years and it's something that's always stuck with me is how powerful our solutions can be and how huge differences they make in people's lives day in day out, not just in the big one off occasions, but in the simple everyday communications that they have within their workplace and their classrooms.

Patrick:
From my perspective, you think about what motivates me, but nobody would be able to see this because thankfully we're not on camera today Jason, but I have a tattoo on my right forearm and it simply says make change. And for me every day I want to get up and make some change in the world. And Texthelp is one of those rare situations of a company for me where I feel that I can do that. And yes, some days are mundane, and some days are administration, and some days are paperwork and management meetings. But so many times when you hear those stories of just one pupil in one school having that change met, because they've been able to access whether it's technology, or paper, but it's been more inclusive in their approach. And the amount of times I have had people at say events come up to me, I remember the very first time. And I literally remember the moment that it happened. It was a show in Cardiff.

Patrick:
And it was one of my very first events for Texthelp. And there was a young guy I'd say he’s in his mid 20s. And he came up to me and he said, "I just want to thank you." And I'm kind of looking around going, "I'm not quite sure what you're thanking me for, but okay." And he said, "No, I really want to thank you." And he said, "I am standing here in front of you with a PhD." And I'm going, "Okay. I still don't know where..." I was so naive about the impact that the tools made at that stage. So I didn't know where the conversation was going. And he said, "It's because I had Read&Write Gold." As it was called then. "I was able to complete my master's and my PhD. I would not have achieved any of that without that software." And that literally blew me away. At that point I kind of wanted to tell the word. I think I ran home and told the wife on the phone she's just like, "And what?" I'm like, "Well, you don't understand how powerful a moment that is."

Patrick:
For somebody to tell you the things that you do that are just your job actually make an impact. I think that a lot of that for me stems from the foundation of the company and where it started. And I don't think too many people actually know a lot about the original start of the company because they're used to people like you and me Jason to get up, and we're very proud of Texthelp, but let's not beat around the bush, we are absolutely proud. So we'll get up and we'll talk about 40 million users impacted. And we'll talk about 25,000 new students a day and nearly 400 employees. And we'll talk about all those stats. Those are great. That shows that our software is being used, but actually what is missing a lot of times is that, just over 25 years ago from a tiny crumb from the princess trust, our now CEO started a company, but Jason maybe you can give the short version as to the background to that. Look I think that would be really interesting for people to hear the why of Texthelp.

Jason:
Yeah. There's 25 years of history there, this year 25 years of history. And obviously, couldn't distill it down into a half of our podcast, but I think that's sort of the defining story with Martin. Whenever his father experienced a stroke, and all of a sudden there was a barrier and a hurdle to communication that he found it difficult to express himself. That he had difficulty understanding. And when it came to speaking, and reading, and writing, all of a sudden there was a barrier in place. And that's what sort of spurred Martin on to think well how can we use technology? Because like, say this is in the 80s. Say, Paddy you would remember the 80s, for me, that's a very vague, very distant memory now.

Patrick:
I wasn’t around to 1995, I don’t know what you're talking about. As old as the company.

Jason:
I remember the sort of schools or like there was an old BBC or something was one of the computers we used in primary school life. And there wasn't much you could do with it. So technology was in its infancy, but what Martin was looking to see is how can we use technology to support people who have these communication barriers and these communication challenges. And right at this sort of foundation there was this concept of how to help people understand and be understood. And from that challenge, from that hurdle that's what we have now 25 years later. And the sort of the suite of software solutions that we have that started with just that one challenge has been an immense growth and an immense success as a company.

Patrick:
Yeah. And I think, as part of that Jason, I think as a company to pick on your word from earlier, it's going to be my favorite word in this podcast, to be advocates for others. But we have a responsibility as a company to promote inclusion where possible. And of course, that's why just one of the things we're doing this year is the Festival of Inclusive Education. And we want to touch upon some of the things that you have mentioned that I've mentioned previously on that and the lineup of speakers there. We're doing things like what is neurodiversity? We want to highlight that. We're talking about the learning iceberg, which we'll maybe cover in a little bit more depth then later.

Patrick:
There's a pun in there somewhere that learning iceberg and depth. I'm sure there is. Let's not go there. My sense of humor is not the Jimmy Carr level. And we're also trying to take practical steps. What you've just talked through there with our commitment to the readability, to workplace compliance, all those things. We've got to be in a position in Texthelp to be able to help others identify what good practice looks like? How do you make your website compatible? How do you make it more readable? What does accessibility look like? One of the most well attended webinars I've done over the past number of months was simply this, how do you make your resources more accessible?

Patrick:
And that shows that people want to be more inclusive. They want to improve what they're doing for their pupils in a way possible, but they do need practical help in being able to do that. Simple things like changing to a header style on a document or change into lexend font which is more dyslexic friendly. So I hope that at the Festival of Inclusive Education on the 20th of October there'll be a lot of practical takeaways. There's a lot of really informative sessions across the curriculum. And we'll put up some links later on in the chat on that. And I know you've probably already packed up your highlights of the day, Jason? And I'm just going make a note, your highlight of the day cannot be me, because I know you would always default, yeah. No. I'll go to Paddy’s session, that's not allowed. You need to pick somebody else for a change.

Jason:
I wouldn't miss that there, definitely not. The other thing is it is sort of interesting sessions across the day. And I think the thing I like about it there is a real flow to the event, because obviously, that focuses on inclusion. But that's sort of like you've touched on the session on neurodiversity. And that's a concept I remember starting to talk about that concept around five years ago. And it was a very, very new concept within the UK. You spoke to some Americans that were in the HR team they maybe would have heard of it before, but it was a very fresh concept in the UK. But we're now seeing it across the workplace and across schools and universities that concept is now widely used. And it's widely embraced.

Jason:
And it's understood by people. So being able to take the session that we have on neurodiversity in education. And there's Professor Amanda Kirby is taking that one there. That's something that I'll definitely be listening in on the day and attend that there to see what that concept is exactly within an educational environment, and how that applies to the different stages of learning. And how you can use things like Universal Design for Learning within that. Now, I know there is a session on UDL, so it'll be interesting to see the sort of this synergy between those sessions. And over the course of the day there'll be a lot of content for people to pick up on which like you say, they can take away, and they can pick a part, and they can apply within their own contexts.

Patrick:
Yeah. I suppose Jason as we’ve been designing that and sort of together as a large group we've been looking at right who are the right speakers, and what's the right topics to go through? And we're focused on inclusion and don't forget for our listeners, we are absolutely focused on inclusion there, but with a recognition throughout the day that we've got to redesign learning to support inclusion. So it's not just about defining what inclusion is or how we can make it better. It's about what do we do to get there, but you must have noticed from your team and yourself, and in the education work that you've done sort of some changes. Look, nobody needs to talk about the last 18 months and how horrendous it ‘s been, but one of the positives, sometimes you hate talking about positive things coming out of the last 18 months, but there are upsides to a degree. Things like the rise of EdTech, the more prevalence of inclusion and recognition of that. What kind of what have you noticed from your team? Things have moved more online, what's kind of happened in the word of inclusion there?

Jason:
Yeah. I think it’s as you say we're sitting on here. We are online. Now I’m in one town about 25 minutes away from you. Whereas had this been 18 months ago we would have been sat together in an office in Antrim. So it's not just education, it's everywhere and everyone has sort of made their shift to online. And I think at the start of all of this here, there was this digital conversion where everything that we're doing in a classroom let's try and do it online, or let's try and get our learning online. Let's just convert it, get it out there, get it up there. And we're not here to judge. Some places did it brilliantly, some places maybe struggled a bit at the start there were schools who went fully synchronous. And everything was online. You had to sign in to Zoom and sign a register for each class. Other schools were completely asynchronous where just like my kids everything was put onto Google Classroom.

Jason:
They just completed it and submitted their assignments and stuff like that there. So there was this sort of scramble to convert everything. And I think as time went on what we saw was not just digital conversion, but what we saw was proper digital transformation where the teachers and the educational staff had the opportunity to upskill themselves on these new tools. Because let's face it a lot of them have never used these tools 18 months ago. So they've had the opportunity to upskill themselves in what they can do, what they can achieve with these, how to use them better and get more bang for their buck of the solutions that they've maybe scrambled to purchase. So what we're seeing now is real digital transformation where we now have blended learning where the concept of the virtual classroom isn't something that is foreign to your primary school or to your secondary school, but they all understand the virtual classroom. And they understand the tools that are at their disposal, and how they use it wiser.

Jason:
So we know going forward that blended solution where we're going to have the blended learning where we will have online and we will have physical classroom, we will have synchronous. And we will have asynchronous. We're going to have this plan going forward, but I think that from my perspective that the schools are a lot more digitally mature than where they were 12 months, 18 months ago. And this isn't something that they've learned that they're going to park and think, "Right. We'll leave that there. If there's ever another pandemic in the future we'll pick that back up again." I think they realise the benefits and the value that this online and blended world has for them. And they will continue to use that going forward. And that's not just for a summer school, or revision camp, or something like that. This is something that they can use all year round, even some doing homework via Google Classroom.

Jason:
It seems it's probably better for the environment. So the amount of paper my kids bring home in their school bags, if they just bring one device home that would be so much better for the environment. But like I say, I think that the digital transformation has been that journey. And with that there has been the inclusion aspect which I think has been really central because you know yourself. That it used to be that if someone had a laptop to use assistive technology there was a bit of a stigma that was attached to that. And they stood out in the classroom that they were using a laptop, which had a bit of software to help them where the other students were using that. Now, everybody's using the device. Everyone's using a tablet, or everyone's using a laptop, or a Chromebook, or whatever their school has provided.

Jason:
And with that there everyone is embracing all the tools because, it's like you give a kid a device and they'll figure it out. They'll tinker in and they'll play with it. They'll figure out what software is on it. What's available to them, what they can use. And instead of, the likes of Read&Write software being a niche bit of software that certain students may use on exam day. All of a sudden they're getting to use this in the comfort of their own home. They're getting to understand it. They're getting to play with it a bit more, a bit more time to explore it. They're understanding what features work for them. And that's not just the same kids. It's all kids are using it because all kids have access to it. So it's now become, a wider embrace is digital software, or software that supports special educational needs that have just been used by everyone. It's no longer a niche. And it's great to see that.

Patrick:
One of the things that happened in March 2020 for us, and I know we've mentioned this before on our podcast, but we saw so tools like Read&Write, traditionally tools that will support a dyslexic student, or a student with ADHD, or specific needs. The usage from March 2020 in lockdown one, it kind of fell through the floor. It really went down considerably for probably the first month or so. And of course, we all sat back and watch that, worried about those pupils that were traditionally getting supported. But the reality was back then that what teachers were doing was exactly what you'd said, which was there was a clamor to get things online and to figure things out. And to set homework, and the day to day stuff that needed to get done. Inclusion almost went to the side because frankly, there were just so many things to do that it didn't receive the focus it needed.

Patrick:
But what was interesting and over the last year and a half after that was that we saw an even greater rise than we've ever seen before in history of use of inclusive technology and assistive technology. Because there was a wider recognition that, oh, I can get help from this. I've never used this before, but I'm struggling on my own. Now, you can help. And for me that's the very definition of inclusion. And that's inclusion by the end user. They're including themselves almost, because we're giving them the tools. And we've saw that reflected which is really good. And so you've seen that with pupils. I've seen that as and I've been fortunate enough to work with people like LEO Academy Trust. And LEO Academy Trust are one to one small multi academy trust at primary years, but they have used technology so well that it is now fully ingrained. So things like, and I don't want to always talk about say Read&Write or EquatIO, but those tools are simply there in the classroom now.

Patrick:
They're just there, right? They're not there for specific students as you've talked about before, but they're there on the part of everyday practice. The big change for me in that is that they're there to be used when the pupils feel they need to be used or when the teachers need to use them. So nobody questions anymore. "Why have you got your laptop open? Why have you got your iPad open?" Because they might just need help from our software or any other software at that stage. I think that's a big change. And we've saw that also. For example, Highlands in Scotland, local authority in Scotland, one to one Chromebooks. So every single student has that and also has connectivity, but they're looking at it differently.

Patrick:
They're going, "Well, how do I look beyond just the device?" It's not enough to have a device. That's not inclusion. It's equity. Yes. It's equitable access. It's not inclusion. How do we look beyond that? Making sure they've got internet connectivity. Again, equity of access. Good. And we should be promoting that, but how do we give them the tools that make sure that when that device is used that pupils are genuinely included and most important of all supported? So there's some really good examples. So once again, the Festival of Inclusive Education on the 20th of October, we will go through lots of those. Lots of good case studies from those I know Jason, but you've probably seen things around exams and maths like, have you seen some changes there as well?

Jason:
Yeah. I think you mentioned there exams. Traditionally, in the past if a student needed additional support in an exam, it would have been a case of they would have a human scribe or a human reader would have joined them in the exam to give them that support. And we know from speaking to students and speaking to teachers, there's a lot of stigma attached with that. And there was a reluctance and almost an embarrassment on behalf of the students to not only ask for that additional support, but to take the support when it was offered. Whereas with the software being available now that they can have a digital scribe, or they can have a digital reader. And they can use that within an exam environment, all of a sudden that stigma that's removed, because they don't have to have someone sitting beside them through the exam. They can just use the software. And the thing is they have access to that software all year round. It's just their normal way of working.

Jason:
And it's just what they use day in day out whether they're doing their homework, or whether they're doing their GCSE at the end of the year. So you're removing the sort of stigma, and you're creating this familiarity with software which encourages the learner to sit in the exam with confidence knowing that, okay. This is the tool that I use and this works. And this will help me get through this. And so I think in exams we saw that change as well. If there is a more embrace of the digital solutions that we know anecdotally as well. A lot of the readers maybe weren't confident going into schools during COVID and stuff like that there. And you maybe didn't want to be there. Pre-vaccine and things like that there. So having that digital support was a massive help for students.

Patrick:
I think just on that, Jason, just on exams, one of the things that maybe bring them back to the earlier point is that what has been reinforced through digital learning is that kind of the concept that was always just a JCQ statement which is your ordinary way of working. And now actually, rather than a pupil just getting say a computer reader or a scribe, digital scribe at exam time. And not having enough of a run up time, they're now using digital tools all the time. So that ordinary way of working has genuinely become their normal way of working throughout the year. And I think that's a big plus, because they're included at all times. And not kind of shoehorned in just exam time. I think that's really important.

Jason:
Yeah. There's no on ramp, but there's no additional stress. Because exams are stressful enough regardless of whether you need additional support. So if we can remove those barriers it's a big win for students.

Patrick:
And then talking about barriers. We've seen sort of a rise in maths use. We've seen a rise in whole school uses we've talked about earlier, but for me, I think one of the things that's coming out there is the, when we talk about inclusion and we keep in mind the Festival of Inclusive Education. We're also thinking about, "Well, how do we redesign the learning to fit?" And lots of things have come out there. So for example, Universal Design for Learning and you'll see at the conference for those of you that, I hope will attend the conference and the festival. That you'll see that many of the pieces of good practice that you're already doing from an inclusive standpoint are already part and partial of Universal Design. And by that I mean many of the things that have changed over the last 18 months in regards to EdTech and the rise of EdTech means that we're giving pupils more flexibility with the approaches that they take to learning.

Patrick:
With the tools that they use to either deepen learning or to enable them to articulate their learning a little bit better. So we're being a lot more flexible. And also, I think we're being a lot more goal based in what we do. When I talk about goal based I always put a picture up on screen, Jason, of ski map up. And I always say, "Look, the bottom line is everybody wants to get to the top and then everybody has to get to the bottom." So the goal is ultimately to get from the top to the bottom, but we all know, for any of us that have been fortunate to be skiing or have seen a ski map, there's multiple ways to get there, to the bottom. There's the easy route. There's the supported route. There's a really difficult route, if you're an expert. I was going to say like me, but that's the complete opposite.

Patrick:
Probably like the easiest you know what I'm saying? But the point is if you set up a goal at the end there are multiple paths to that. And then we can do that through technology I believe when we can give pupils multiple paths. And I know that's what will ultimately be promoting at the Festival of Inclusive Education. How do we deliver that learning that actually provides an inclusive environment? So as we start to wrap up, Jason, what one piece of advice would you give to ensure all students are supported? Now, you're not allowed to say, "Buy Read&Write, and EquatIO, and WriQ, and OrbitNote" No. We're not getting into products here. So take your salesman's hat off and I know you're an advocate. So think about what one piece of advice would you give to ensure all students are supported going forward?

Jason:
I think the whole sort of focus of our festival is on inclusion. And inclusion I think it's one of those things is very, very difficult to define. You can look up the dictionary and you get the dictionary definition. And you think that probably the most famous definition would be from Burnham about how diversity is being welcomed to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance. And I think inclusion is one of those things that it's hard to describe, but it's very easy to feel. It's very easy to, we all know what it feels like to be excluded. We all know what it feels like to be included. How to describe it? It's a bit harder to do that there. I use the example of and you're from Ireland, Paddy so you'll know this. We've all been invited to those family weddings where we're making up the numbers. We're just there because the cousins on that side were invited. So the cousins on that side need to be invited. There's 140 people going and there has to be 70 from their side and 70 for that side. And you're just there. You're a box tick. And that's it. And you know you're there. You're put in a table full of misfits and as soon as the first dance is over you make your excuse. And you get out the door as soon as you can. That's sort of the equality.

Patrick:
I heard Jason you go straight to the bar. And that's what I heard. I didn't hear about you finishing weddings early now. Anyway, sorry.

Jason:
That's the diversity approach. That's the equality approach, I think. I think for me, inclusion is that in other words, where it's the end of the night and you've been at the bar far too much. You've got a tie wrapped around your head. Your head banging to AC/DC with weird uncle Bill on one side and some complete stranger that you've never met on the other side. And you're having the time of your life. And you're all in that moment together. You know what it feels like to be included if you've been at a good wedding, and you're actually wanted there. And I think for teachers is thinking that inclusion just isn't a box ticking exercise. It isn't just making up the numbers. It isn't just looking and analysing facts and figures. Inclusion is very much creating a culture. And that is something that teachers have the ability to do. To create a culture within their classroom that everyone is included, that everyone is considered, that everyone's needs are taken into consideration.

Jason:
So whenever they're designing the lesson plans, when they're designing homework. Like you say, when they've got that goal in mind that everyone is considered. Having that inclusion in your mind when you start and having a thought of going, "Are the tools there for them to do that?" Because at the end of the day the teacher cannot be sat beside a student when they're sitting at the kitchen table at 10 o'clock at night about to start that 3000 word essay that's due in at 8o'clock the next morning which we've all done it their past, but the software can be there. EdTech can be there to help them. So ensure that inclusion in their minds and the right solutions are there to support that student to reach their goals and maximise their potential. As a small ask I understand that, but I think having that culture of inclusion within your classroom that is one way to make sure that all students will be supported because you'll be thinking about all of them you'll not just be ticking a box.

Patrick:
I think that culture Jason is very, very, very important and I am really glad you picked that up. Not sure whether anybody outside Northern Ireland will get the reference to put a tie on their head at a wedding. Maybe we can put some pictures on the show notes on this one. We'll explain that in person at the Festival of Inclusive Education. I'm going to take a lazy route to do my one piece of advice and that of course is attend the Festival of Inclusive Education in October, but in all sincerity on that it is going to be a really, really good lineup. But if I were to give one piece of advice that I always give it's really this. It is to ensure there's opportunity and promote flexibility in the classroom. And that's the big thing. We can talk about the tools, the education technology, the platforms, the approaches to learn them, but ultimately if we give our students that little bit of extra flexibility and the tools to pick on the opportunity, to include themselves or their peers more I think that's the big thing that we really, really need to be focused on.

Patrick:
And that's what we're all about here in Texthelp providing those tools, providing those opportunities, and promoting inclusion where possible. And helping people redesign learning. Because redesign learning is a big ask. For any teacher that's been teaching many of you will know my wife is a teacher, has been teaching for a number of years. If I were to say to her over dinner tonight, "What you need to do is redesign your learning tomorrow." I would definitely not get dinner. We know this is a big ask as Jason you've said, but it's important that we start to take the small steps. And don't forget many EdTech companies talk about transformation. And it's true, we can transform things. But we can only do one small step at a time. One small step at a time. And one small change can make a big difference to so many students. I don't know Jason, how many of our sales people sometimes when they sell a license, you'll step back.

Patrick:
And I put it in an email actually the other day, you step back and you go, "Even if all that hard work only results in that one pupil, in that one school has got an extra bit of potential, or a more positive outcome, or an impact in their day. All that hard work was absolutely worth it." The same is true of learning. So as we wrap up thinking about the event Jason 20th of October it's an all day event. I should mention of course, it is entirely free for everybody that is going to attend. It will be available live and online on the day, on the 20th of October. It will also be available if you sign up, you'll also get all the recordings. Honestly, it is an absolutely fabulous lineup except for yours truly there's some great speakers there. Jason, what's the three you're going to hit on the day that our listeners might be interested in?

Jason:
Yeah. Three for me, which I'm looking forward to. First one is that UDL in practice, Universal Design for Learning in Practice, and how teachers can take those principles and apply them within the classroom. The second set for me is neurodiversity and education, and taking that concept and having that understanding. So whenever you're faced with a classroom and a wide spectrum of learners you know how best you can support them. And the final one for me I think is Accessible Maths and its benefits to students. And you mentioned our EquatIO solution there and how do I get nine people using this in the classroom. So there's a real need clearly for new stats for that digital math solution. So I want to sit in on that session there basically because I stopped maths at GCSE level. And a lot of stuff I hear other guys talking about in the company. Once they start talking about quadratic equations I go very quiet. So I'm going to jump on to that session there and see how best our solutions can help support those.

Patrick:
I think we can help with Maths anxiety there. And actually that session is delivered by Lillian Soon. She is a wonderful practitioner. She’s been a previous guest in the podcast from University of York. And I know she's got some brilliant things lined up. She's talking about the four different personas and how we would support individual students, because sometimes we don't just step back and go, "Well, what specifically are we needing to support here or are we just giving them general support?" So ,that's brilliant. I'm going to say I'm definitely going to the learning iceberg one at the start the day, but that's only because I'm presenting that. That's the only one in there. We're going to be looking at all of those pupils that are under the waterline. Those pupils that maybe are starting to feel like they need some additional support or have never been included. We just haven't recognised that they haven't been included.

Patrick:
And I do think that's important, but look, there's some great panel lineups. If anybody saw our SEN panel lineup about a year or so ago, we're going to reassemble the Avengers on that panel lineup. We're going to get them together. And we're going to revisit it 18 months on and have a look at what the future of SEN might actually look like. Dr. Helen Ross is there. I can't wait to see her. And she's talking about plugging pupils in. Now fascinating title, but I know what she means by that they're given a piece of technology and how do they end up being supported. And I would say Jason, just in final the Festival of Inclusive Education is genuinely about that. We're not there to sell you anything on that day. We're not there to push any of our services or products at you one iota. We've tried our absolute best to get the most impartial independent lineup that we can.

Patrick:
We have thousands and thousands of people registered for this event which we're ecstatic about because the more we can talk about inclusion and promote it, Jason the better. Absolutely. So I would encourage you to join us. You can access a link there. We'll put this in the show notes of this podcast, but for those of you listening now it's text.help/redefining-inclusion. There are so many didn't think about a URL on a podcast. Sorry marketing team, but text.help/redefining-inclusion. If you just Google Festival of Inclusive Education you'll get there also. If you follow us on Twitter, @texthelp, you'll be able to get information on that. It's quick and easy to sign up. It's free. There all day. We'll be there. And we hope you will be too. And we'll make sure you have a wonderful day and get access to all the great resources, and sessions there after. So Jason and that really just leaves me to thank you. You've been a wonderful guest today.

Jason:
Thank you, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Patrick:
A little bit of a different spin on Texthelp Podcast. We obviously always look outside the company and sometimes I think we forget to look at all the wonderfulness we have inside. And talk about what it is we do beyond the products and why we do what we do. So thank you for your insight. Thank you for the fact that the word advocate is going to be in my head probably. It's going to be overused. If you're on my webinars for the next week or two that's going to be an overused word.

Jason:
Everyone's job titles getting changed tomorrow.

Patrick:
We all love it. So Jason, thank you. Thanks for listening today to this episode of the Texthelp Talks Podcast. Do remember to subscribe on your favorite streaming platform or podcast app, or device. We'd love to have you as a visitor and as a listener, but even more sure we'd love to have you participate. So do check in to the #TexthelpTalks on Twitter and join in the conversation. We'd love to hear your feedback and your thoughts. And hopefully we'll see you again at the next episode. And if we don't, I will want to know why, Jason will be there with a tie around his head of that I have no doubt, but at the very least do come join us text.help/redefining-inclusion at the Festival of Inclusive Education on October 20th. Good Night and good luck is all I'm going to say at this point, Jason.

Jason:
Yes. Good night. Thank you everyone. That was a pleasure to join you today. So I look forward to seeing you all soon.