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About Barking Abbey School

Located in East London, Barking Abbey School is a place where everyone gives and expects the best and where everyone can say, “I belong”. It’s a mixed school of approximately 2,000 pupils and operates across two sites. 

Quick fire questions

What’s the best thing in your opinion about Read&Write? 
It allows students to be independent and get instant access to help. I’d 100% recommend it to other schools. It will make a huge difference to staff workload, but more importantly to student progress.
How has Read&Write changed how you teach? 
It allows students to keep up with the rest of their peers and with the speed of the lesson. It also means that they are not worried about completing research tasks because they have the tools at their disposal which means they achieve. We’ve also noticed that our students are more engaged with the lesson because they can access the content.
How do your students react to Read&Write when they first use it? 
It’s computer based so they really take to it. When they are first told about it verbally, I don’t think they are convinced. But in their first training session, they are hooked pretty quickly.
What do they use Read&Write for? 

Barking Abbey School is a place where everyone gives and expects the best

Barking Abbey School is a place where everyone can say "I belong"

The staff at Barking Abbey were finding that more and more students in Year 7 were leaving primary school still getting to grips with, and using phonics programmes, which is unsustainable in a large secondary school environment. This made it hard to progress the skills if they weren’t being practised. Lauren Casey, Assistant SENCo says, “We have got a literacy Co-Ordinator in school now who works on introducing initiatives to bridge the gap so this will help. With the government changes, there is no scope for secondary schools to aid the continuity of phonics as students have to be prepared to sit GCSE exams.”
When Lauren visited BETT and spotted Read&Write, the school weren’t offering any other interventions for pupils who were struggling and it struck her immediately that Read&Write was something that should be purchased in the best interests of every student at Barking Abbey. The major selling point was that it could be used in school and at home, meaning pupils could get the help they needed with homework and research as well as help during class time. 
All members of staff at the school know about Read&Write.The school has offered training to all staff and hosts sessions for different departments on different nights of the week. They’ve found this really useful as it allows for any issues to be ironed out as well as getting the staff to be comfortable with using the software. These sessions double up as meetings so teachers can share knowledge and best practice as well.
Every student at Barking Abbey has access to Read&Write in the classroom and at home. “We encourage class teachers to highlight students who they think would really benefit from using Read&Write and we train them so they can become independent with the software. The students pick this up very quickly and are happy to use it – I think they find it cool picking a voice and this often leads to a lot of discussion over which voice is best,” says Lauren on how students are introduced to Read&Write.
Lauren is the school’s Assistant SENCo and also teaches hospitality so can see first hand the difference that Read&Write makes in the school. “Due to the range of abilities in my class, the relationship between myself and the support assistant has to be outstanding in order for everyone to progress and learn. I have lots of students who use Read&Write and this really benefits them, especially with reading and writing tasks. It also means that they don’t fall behind in tasks so the software aids progress too.

What the students think

Student A: “I really like using Read&Write because it means that I don’t have to wait for the teacher to get to me and help me, I can use this to carry on with my work and keep up with the lesson”
Student B: “When I was told about using Read&Write I thought it sounded really boring, but when I was shown what it does, I changed my mind. I love using it at school because it is so useful and it helps that I can look words up that I don’t understand and it tells me what they mean straight away. I also like choosing what voice I want to read to me – that’s the fun part!”