South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) looks after a large area, with a mix of urban and rural schools. This includes 124 primary schools, 17 secondary schools and 8 Additional Support Needs schools.
The council works to improve the quality of life of everyone in South Lanarkshire. For their schools, this means raising achievement, inspiring pupils and transforming learning. All while making sure that inclusion and equity are at the heart of everything they do.
SLC is committed to responding to needs and adapting within education. This is what led to their roll out of Chromebooks in 2015.
“Our investment in technology has improved accessibility for all, including those learners with additional needs and English as an Additional Language learners. Increased use of such tools have also spilled beyond the classroom, helping students with their homework and facilitating independent study.”
Karen MacLeod, Education Support Officer (Digital)
The council has also chosen Read&Write to support and meet the needs of their pupils. After a trial, the council were able to show their Executive team the positive impact of Read&Write. As Karen explains,
“At the start, Read&Write grew organically because staff and learners found it quite an intuitive tool to use. After lots of positive feedback from early adopters, we started to look at it a bit more seriously.”
It was important for the council that learners and staff could access Read&Write on all school devices. They worked with their managed service provider, RM Education, to make Read&Write available on both Chromebook and Windows devices. This has provided users with flexibility of use across their estate of almost 30,000 devices.
Read&Write has made learning more accessible for all students across SLC and has led to an increase in achievement. Reluctant writers have shown improvement when using Read&Write. Gemma Dunsmuir, Digital Development Officer for the council has seen this impact first hand,
“I found pupils wasting a lot of time during lessons as they didn’t want to start writing. When I introduced them to Read&Write, it was interesting to see the difference. Straight away I could see a big improvement in their engagement. The children that had previously not produced anything had created pieces of writing with quite a lot of detail.”
Beyond improving achievement in school, the council has noticed that Read&Write is helping to support student independence as well. Flora Neville who is a Parent Council Chair explains why this is important,
“Being able to do things independently is really important to young people and their well-being. It's not just about being able to access tools, it's the whole picture and the whole experience of that.”
The council has plans to continue to promote the benefits that Read&Write can have for students. They see the value in all learners having access, not just pupils who need support with their learning.
By giving all students the opportunity to access learning, everyone has the chance to understand and be understood. And that's what equity is, isn't it? It's about giving the right tools at the right time, so everybody can achieve on an even playing field.
Parent Council Chair, Flora also shared how Read&Write has helped her own child, who is severely dyslexic. He was writing a story that was taking him more than 40 minutes to write three to four lines. She admits this “wasn’t a nice experience” for either of them. Her son has the creativity and ideas in his head, but getting that down on paper is what’s challenging.
Her son then used speech-to-text in Read&Write and was able to produce one and a half pages in 25 minutes.
“I don’t need to explain to any parent or teacher the impact that has on a child. Of not only being able to finish their homework but the well-being and the happiness that comes with that.”