Texthelp Live at Bett 2022 | Part 1

In this special Texthelp Talks series, we took the podcast on the road to capture all things Bett 2022. In this episode we're joined by a host of different speakers and even some special VIPs (Very Important Pupils). Tune in if you missed Bett this year or if you want to check out what you might have missed while you were exploring the show.


Paddy McGrath (00:00:16):
Welcome to another of our guests, Texthelp Talks live at Bett 2022. And I'm joined by a fantastic friend of the show, friend of Texthelp, and fortunately, I hope, a friend of my own that is Mr. Al Kingsley. Al will be no stranger to many of you who are listening to this episode. CEO, of course, of NetSupport, Chair of Hampton Academies Trust, more of which we'll talk about in a second. So Al, welcome. How are you today?

Al Kingsley (00:00:45):
I'm very well, it's lovely to see you and a big tick against the friends on all three categories.

Paddy (00:00:49):
Good stuff. That's just made me smile. Nobody can see me smile on this podcast, thankfully, but thank you very much, Al. So Al, you know we all hate this bio bit at the start.

Al (00:01:01):
We do, yeah.

Paddy (00:01:02):
To be fair, your bio is a little bit on the impressive side, and you've added to that over the course of the last couple years as well which has been fabulous but Al is the CEO of a tech company, of course, NetSupport. We're going to talk about that in a second or two, with almost 30 years experience. And I have to add to this, he doesn't look like he's had 30 years experience. He's a lot younger looking than that in person. You'll see that. Google him, Google him.

Al (00:01:22):
Bless you.

Paddy (00:01:24):
In education technology, and digital safeguarding as well. And the big thing, of course, over the last year, Al, you have been elected as chair of the BESA EdTech Group as well.

Al (00:01:35):
I have, yes. Really good to-

Paddy (00:01:37):
Can you tell listeners... But people may not be familiar listening to this, what BESA actually is and how it helps.

Al (00:01:41):
Yeah. Yeah.

Paddy (00:01:41):
Companies in the industry.

Al (00:01:46):
Well, I think this week even amplifies it further. So BESA, British Education Suppliers Association, represents across the gamut of vendors who provide educational solutions, of which some are digital technology, the EdTech group. So BESA has different groups that represent different collections, clusters of vendors. So the EdTech group, not surprisingly, represents a good few hundred educational technology vendors providing a really broad mix of solutions. And the reason why it's important is because firstly, we often downplay the fact that we have got one of the strongest EdTech sectors in the world. We create fantastic products that export all over the place. And as a group, we all learn from each other. Anybody who claims to be experienced in the technology field is out of date the next morning anyway.

Al (00:02:33):
So first and foremost, it fosters collaboration. The second thing is, it helps represent the constructive and collective views of our group through the BESA team, so the department for education in the government when we're talking about future plans, strategy, how we can amplify and help foster the growth of our sector. And I think that united voice is absolutely key. So when you come to Bett, you can go check out the BESA stand, but all around the show, you're going to see members of BESA. And much like we are doing chatting here. We support each other. We share ideas. And actually we all learn from each other, which to me is huge.

Paddy (00:03:12):
I think, hearing acronyms like BESA if you're a classroom teacher maybe listeners thinking, I don't understand, how does this relate to me. But I suppose what teachers and educators don't know well, but something like BESA and companies like yourselves, NetSupport, Texthelp and many, many, many others belong to BESA. It's how we work together on everything from policy initiatives through to working on buying solutions together, seeing why we can talk to schools in a Better way about teaching and learning and. It's just everybody benefits.

Al (00:03:38):
It's all about making the sector more accessible. And if you've not heard of BESA, then there was a comic when I was a kid. That was a good read.

Paddy (00:03:47):
Yeah. I'm starting to feel we are actually feel we are actually the same age Al.

Al (00:03:50):
No comment, sir.

Paddy (00:03:55):
You have a Better beard than me, to be fair. So that's all right. Again, another thing you won't be able to see on this episode, and we're here at Bett, obviously, and you've spoke twice at Bett already and we're only on day two.

Al (00:04:03):
I have. Yeah.

Paddy (00:04:05):
What did you speak on? Was that the same talk, was that two different talks?

Al (00:04:09):
Two different talks. So yesterday morning, we had a panel discussion in the Bett leaders hall. And we were talking about lessons learned from digital strategy, schools across different experiences and environments, things that worked well, things that didn't, and how you actually take that digital vision forward. So really sharing best practice tips and advice. And it was a really good collaborative conversation. I had speakers, Jess from Children Academies, one of the EdTech demonstrator schools. Many of you know Georgina Dean who's at Felstead now, but Georgina has been all around the world and was sharing and chairing the panel, her educational experience. And then in the afternoon, I was asked to chair a panel myself, at Learn It, the leadership strand conference. And we had speakers from Estonia on the challenges and how they delivered their blended learning model.

Al (00:04:56):
Good examples about how their government started the discussion 10 years ago on digital and its role. Speakers from the US. We also had Matt Hood from Oak Academies sharing his view and how they're pivoting, and that has an impact in terms of how we see that joined up approach to the EdTech sector versus government funded initiatives. So a good dialogue that will continue on that front. And so that was one where it's nice to be the facilitator of the conversation just to provide some questions and challenge. And I feel that's what I enjoy doing, to be honest.

Paddy (00:05:30):
Absolutely. So no doubt you've got a busy Bett show on, but with Bett being back, and tend to reflect, and again we're only on day two at the minute of a three day gig this year. But what did you miss most about... and I know you're going to say the people, and I think we're all the same, but is that still the overriding thing? The networking, is it the fist bumps at dawn?

Al (00:05:51):
There's a few strands. I mean, of course we all miss the people, the relationships, the friendships, and actually those things are really important for our businesses and our community, because those that are successful vendors, it's not about sell and goodbye. It's all about relationships with our customers. So being able to reestablish those is really huge.

Al (00:06:08):
I have to say as well, I often refer to myself as an edu sponge Paddy, and from that point of view, as well as all the established vendors and the great solutions and new features that come out, I also like a good mooch around the small stands, futures on the side, because in many ways, that's the future of the EdTech sector, seeing what innovation and ideas are coming out. So I come to Bett as much as a learning journey as I do as a sharing journey. And you always discover something new, and you also always take away ideas and think, we could adapt that. We should reflect on how we do that within our own technology. And I think from that point of view, that's the key about Bett. It's the opportunity to develop on lots of different levels.

Paddy (00:06:49):
Can you let our listeners in on any of your top picks if you were around the innovation stations, I can't remember what the term is. They always have a different sort of term they apply to the startup village.

Al (00:07:01):
They call it Bett Futures. Yeah. I mean, there's quite a few good maths apps there. Learning Ladders, who won an award last night, they were there.

Paddy (00:07:08):
Sorry, did you say they won an award last night? Do you know anybody else who won an award last night, Al?

Al (00:07:13):
This recording may be breaking up for any listeners, but I will expand for the benefit of this conversation. I was very proud to see that both Texthelp and NetSupport were finalists in the secondary resources category. And very, very sadly, and really you can tell by my voice, I'm devastated, Texthelp won the award. Well done, Paddy team. And NetSupport didn't. And you know what? It's all good because there were some amazing solutions that won last night. And I have to say, I think your new solution's cracking, so good on you. Nice.

Paddy (00:07:43):
I think you do yourself almost a disservice sometimes. And I don't think everybody always appreciates just how much you champion the industry in general, how vital you are to the success of the industry. You have always championed others. And I know this year on the NetSupport stand, the company you of course founded and are CEO of, you've championed a lot of other companies on there. I've seen our friends in Pobble, for example, were on the stand-

Al (00:08:07):

Paddy (00:08:07):
You've got so many people. Why do you do that, Al?

Al (00:08:11):
I guess the simple answer is because I can, but the bigger answer is, this is about community, and there's people whose solutions that I like. And sometimes people just need an opportunity and a leg up. Pobble had made a change of plans. Weren't going to come to Bett. I really like what they do and their solution, so to give them the space, for me, was a no brainer. Tracy Goode is there with the IAvengers, online safety work. And again, I really like what she's doing. I think it's really good for empowering young kids to be those digital leaders, so I wanted to do that. There's a brand new solution that started up, was led by teachers who are still in school, Deliver Computing 360. It resonates with me. It's a great tool, saves time. I'm just helping give them a voice. They probably couldn't afford to be at Bett yet, they're too early in that journey. And we've got the ANME, the network managers, because I think when we think about school ecosystem, it's not just the teachers. We've got to make sure we get that.

Al (00:09:02):
And there is a little bit of payback the other way, which is all these different people you learn from. They bring their customers, their community along, and you listen and you recognise the pinch points and the challenges, and we learn. And Russell is in that central cog, which is this year, we are the official broadcasters of Bett. And Russell's a great chap anyways, as you know. Again, I wanted to just have something for those that can't come to Bett, or can't come every day to Bett, to have another opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights. Again, like you guys are doing. I think we all have the opportunity to give people a chance post Bett to reflect on some of the topics, the thoughts, the ideas. It's the best place to consume. I think digital now is where a lot of us consume our information.

Paddy (00:09:46):
And you're also doing... Are you doing live episodes on the Check It Out! show? Which many of our listeners will listen to.

Al (00:09:54):
Yeah, we are. I mean, the Check It Out! Show is something that Mark and I did at the beginning of lockdown with a view to doing an episode. And a year and a half, two years later, we're still going strong. And so we normally do it once a month, and we do our elevator pitches, but being at Bett, hey, why not? So myself and Mark, and to be fair, Mark's taking a bit more of the legwork than I am. We're meeting lots of vendors again, that five minutes. Tell us about what you're doing at Bett, what's new in your products, how people can connect with you. And again, that just aligns with my ethos, which is, we've got a great EdTech community. Let's not take it for granted. We've all got the power to support each other. It doesn't cost anything but time. And I'm more than happy to be one of many taking the lead and just trying to foster that.

Paddy (00:10:34):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's one thing this year, I really really missed Al the sense of community. I mean, we were all communicating quite feverishly on social media and back channels and WhatsApp, it was all there in the run up to the show. And I think we could all feel a certain energy about this year, just about us as a community coming together around what we could actually do for educators that are actually taking time right now to come and see us. And actually, because you look outside this podcast, when you see how many people are here. People have made the commitment as have we.

Al (00:11:04):
Absolutely. And I think to be fair, you balance it up as well. I think across the EdTech community, a lot of vendors are entitled to feel a sense of pride. Done a lot to support schools in different ways. Not always that transparent the last couple of years, during a tough period for vendors. And I think that is a really reflective of the strength, and I have no problem with celebrating and saying, you know what? We've got a great sector. Let's make sure we celebrate a bit more.

Paddy (00:11:27):
Yeah. So think about the last two years, there's obviously pretty clearly there's been an obvious emphasis on EdTech, EdTech has exploded. We've seen it through the traction that we have with those schools and colleges and teachers and educators. Do you think we now have a greater focus going forward on genuinely getting the right tools, the right management systems, the right piece in the learning environment to our pupils than we ever have before? Are we at that pivotal point?

Al (00:12:00):
I think we're at the pivotal point, but we've got a long way to go. I think for many schools, many MATs, we're at a point of that tipping point of do we take what we've learned, identify the impact, and that's often the tough one, what's the impact, and embed those moving forward? Or do we pivot back to where we were pre-pandemic and go back to that comfort zone. And I think the real thing that is typical, because you can't show it here at Bett in quite the same way is, we need to be looking not just at what's here and what's in our EdTech space, but look at the workplace. Because the workplace reflects the digital skills that we need to give our learners over their journey through secondary particularly. And so we can't hide from the fact that our schools can't reflect back and say, digital's no longer a priority, EdTech no longer fits, because the skills element is fundamental.

Al (00:12:47):
And so what I hope is, and what I see, which is what's really fantastic at Bett, is lots of educators are working with EdTech vendors in this co-production and this ongoing, not how do I get your product, but actually, how do I get the most out of your product? How do I measure its impact? How do I work with you guys over a period of time to evolve it? And so I think there's more of a narrative at the moment about digital vision, but that digital vision for many hasn't yet been turned into a strategy. And I get it, because actually when you want to move from vision to strategy, you need time. And although we think of ourselves as moving out of the pandemic, any school around the country right now will say the same thing: we've still shortened staff. We've still got challenges. Our priorities are still about delivering the order of the day, keeping our children, our staff safe.

Al (00:13:36):
And although we want to talk about our digital vision, it's all about capacity. So we need to keep the message rolling forward over the next 12 months to make sure we either embed, and probably the other one, which is an easier term, is we don't lose that muscle memory of how to use those core tools we have been using.

Paddy (00:13:53):
I could sit and talk to you all day, Al but just in terms of that overarching theme this year, let's create the future, if you were to sum up what does that mean to you, Al, the legend that is Al? What does that mean to you?

Al (00:14:07):
So for me, when I think future and I think education, the key one for me is a shift to skills. It's recognising the skills, the digital competencies, and the tools that we need to weave into our education platforms to equip young people for the next stage of their learning journey and for life. And I think the most important litmus test, the measure of that, is the point where EdTech, isn't a conversation. It's just a natural part of the fabric of school, school life. I think we've still got to be mindful that with all the shiny technology, it's got to be evidence informed. It isn't a case of, EdTech is the panacea for everything. Sometimes the best lessons don't involve any technology at all. Tech's not going to replace that human interaction, teacher and learner, but it sure as hell can facilitate and support and develop around that.

Al (00:14:52):
So what I really want, and I hope the future for education for us, really the next five years, is finding these tools that empower learners, but also empower teachers so that they have more time to do what they're best at, those relationships and that support. And that's why I think when we start looking around Bett, whether it's that inclusivity and accessibility, making sure our technology embraces all learners with all accessibility, whether we're thinking about social, emotional, mental health, whether we're thinking about flexible and blended learning for different learning styles, whether we're thinking about how AI and other technology can support personalised learning journeys in parallel to and alongside regular teaching and learning, whether we're looking at different tools that build our digital citizenship skills and the ability to challenge and think for ourselves, they all interweave into what I think is the building blocks of education for the future.

Paddy (00:15:44):
Brilliant. And what a way to finish. I just want to pick up on one word that's in there that has actually been a really, I've been excited that it's been a recurrent theme this year with all our guests and people saying, and that's that word. Skills. That's a very small word, but I think a very, very important word and that's going to be essential going forward, the skills of our pupils.

Al (00:16:02):
Yeah, absolutely.

Paddy (00:16:04):
So Al, with that, I'm going to round up this episode of Texthelp podcast. I'm going to thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart for joining this episode at Bett. I know you're an incredibly busy man, but in fact, what you don't know, people, is Al, I think, basically gets a list at the start of the day. He's got that many people to see, and I'm so pleased that he took the time to see us. Al, I know who you are an absolute champion of the industry and a champion of others, and that speaks volumes about who you are and what you do. And I hope the relationship between NetSupport and Texthelp continues. And I obviously hope the relationship between you and I continues. So enjoy the rest of Bett, and thanks for stopping by.

Al (00:16:43):
My pleasure. And keep doing what you're doing at Texthelp. Great solutions, and it is about EdTech for everyone, technology for everyone. So well done.

Paddy (00:16:52):
Thanks, Al.


Paddy (00:16:57):
And welcome to our next, very exciting guest. On another episode of Texthelp Talks podcast, coming to you live from Bett 2022 and our guest now is Julia Clouter. Julia, how are you today?

Julia Clouter (00:17:11):
Awesome. Thank you. And all the Better for being here with you in this very pink, very square space to record this rather wonderful podcast. Thank you for inviting me.

Paddy (00:17:21):
You know, I was going to actually explain what our podcast booth looked like, but I think you've just nailed it there. Julia. It's absolutely nailed. And Julia, you're of course Global Head of Education at our wonderful friends, Scanning Pens.

Julia (00:17:33):
You've got that right.

Paddy (00:17:33):
Still have kept you there, have they?

Julia (00:17:35):
They've kept me there. Haven't lost me yet.

Paddy (00:17:38):
That's good. And for those of you who don't know Julia, Julia's a very experienced SENCo, writer and training provider. Julia is all about teaching learning, wellbeing, EdTech, and inclusion, and she describes herself as being hot on dyslexia and literacy. So I just wanted to finish off that sentence there for you, Julia.

Julia (00:17:56):
I like that.

Paddy (00:17:57):
I think you put the punctuation in wrong when you wrote that bio or maybe right.

Julia (00:18:01):
I'm certainly going pink with reflected pinkness in the podcast room.

Paddy (00:18:05):
So Julia, Bett is back, thankfully, for all of us. What have you missed most about the show, and what have been your highlights so far? We're in day two of the show today. What have you seen that's excited you? Who have you seen? Who have you met? What have you missed?

Julia (00:18:20):
Well, today I've been going around with my mobile phone, taking a few little videos, popping them out onto Facebook, because I've thought... when I first came to Bett, which was two years ago, so that was my first one, I'd never been to Bett. I'd been at SENCo for 25 years and never been to Bett. How crazy is that? It's a show where you should really have an opportunity as a teacher to come and meet people and have professional conversations, go to the brilliant auditoriums, listen to the speakers. So yesterday I saw a great speaker talking about fixed mindset. So this was something that we were talking about maybe six, seven years ago in education, and how to shift fixed mindset. And then it went out of vogue. Now it's coming back again, and it's a really important, useful topic for people to discuss again and think about, and look at Carol Dweck again, who brought out a brilliant book a few years back just called Fixed Mindset.

Julia (00:19:14):
So it's just things like that. Are there good ideas that we ought to be reminding ourselves of? And then can we share that with our colleagues, our teachers, our friends, and if they can't get to Bett, well, yeah. I want to put that on my phone and share it out there so that guys will come next year. And I think, yeah, actually that's a super buddy exciting place to go where I'm going to pick up and refresh all the ideas that perhaps maybe I'd forgotten were good, and get a whole bunch of new ideas about, I don't know, how to improve the whole school performance, how to support a wider range of learners in school. Because let's face it, that's huge. And it's got everything. If you came here and you were looking for something, I don't know, to support students who perhaps had physical disabilities to get involved in more fun and active ways of learning, there's a drum fit just as you come through the door.

Julia (00:20:14):
When I came in today, there's a whole bunch of kids and there's these sort of round balls like the pilates-type balls that you roll round on and fall off, you know the ones I mean. But they got them set up with drumming, yellow or bright orange sticks. And the kids are watching the instructions and they're drumming like crazy and everybody's alive and happy and enjoying that moment. And the teachers can see just exactly how much the young people are getting out of that experience. Immediate feedback.

Paddy (00:20:42):
It's mad on that, Julia, how much is learned. I mean, I bumped into a teacher just actually when I was nipping out for a bit of lunch there. And he said to me that he had never been to Bett before, 15 years a teacher, and his words to me were, he had never learned so much in one day. And that's a teacher of 15 years of a specialist subject who has really been blown away by just how much there is to learn. I think you hit it really well on the head there, because I think a lot of people, the community educators, perhaps think that Bett is only about people like Scanning Pens or Texthelp. And we're going to show you our products. And of course we are, we're going to show you new products. I'm sure you have new stuff. We have our new OrbitNote, lots of stuff happening, but actually it's about sharing ideas. And we get to give good ideas out as Scanning Pens and Texthelp, and teachers get to network.

Paddy (00:21:26):
They get to have that cup of coffee. They get to meet people they never would've met before, like-minded people, and really share. And I think that's a really important part of the industry going forward. I mean, at Scanning Pens, you're always involved in a lot of shows around the country and that's really a theme, I guess, that runs through a lot of what you do as well.

Julia (00:21:42):
I'm lucky because I get to go out and I get to go to seminars and talk at seminars and engage with people. So I'm always involved in this dialogue with teachers and SENCos and folk about how to support and improve learning opportunities and AT, all that good and important stuff. But when you think about Bett and you realise it's the Excel, I think perhaps you get this misconception that it's an industry trade show.

Paddy (00:22:07):

Julia (00:22:07):
Right? So why would I want to go to an industry trade show where people are just going to try and sell me stuff? It's just not that at all. The energy of everybody in this space is that they want to share, they want to enhance your knowledge. They just want to give you a vision of what's possible with amazing technologies like Texthelp. And again, you said about new things, new elements that are tacked onto products that perhaps you might already be using in school. So you can really upskill very quickly. You're right. You can accelerate your knowledge very, very quickly, and no, don't think of it as a trade show. Think of it as a carnival of wonders, that it is just great to engage with and connect with people. You come away with so much more than you realise.

Paddy (00:22:51):
Absolutely. And you and I have been very fortunate, I think, Julia, to keep in touch and do some webinars together and keep conversations going and meet up over the last couple of years, what's been a very tough experience for so many educators, parents, pupils. And for me, and I don't know how... I'm really interested in your viewpoint and I don't know how you feel about it, the rise and rise of inclusion and accessibility. Obviously Scanning Pens, dyslexia is very core to a lot of what you do. And very much the same for us. Have you noticed that that's come to the fore? It's started to rise, and people are talking to you more about accessibility and what it means to include pupils?

Julia (00:23:30):
You hit the nail on the head. And we started to talk about this a wee while ago, Paddy, when we were talking about this sort of iceberg approach to what you're seeing in a classroom. And also we were having a conversation about, is this not accessibility just for everybody? Do we have to have a conversation about accessibility for students with specific learning differences or special needs? No, we don't. We are in the world of accessibility. Everything is... The minute I take out my mobile phone, I'm getting support. I got support to get on the bus. I dialed up my app. I knew where I had to get off. That was just simple. This is just how.

Julia (00:24:03):
I at, I knew where I had to get off. That was just simple. This is just how we live and mean we've just got to park this idea that it's something special. It's not, it's the world that young people are growing into and they need to be able to understand how to use and work with these tools because that's their world and it doesn't matter what your level of need is. We've all got a level of need and things that we find tricky. So it's just right. You just put your hand on the right tool to help and support you to do that job well. It just makes sense to me.

Paddy (00:24:31):
Do you think Julia, in the conversations with teachers, is that conversation changing then? Are they asking more questions about accessibility and how to help protect our students? Are they thinking about inclusion in the way that you and I have talked about at that iceberg of, everybody's different and we need to support everybody? You're like, well, what's-

Julia (00:24:47):
I think there's still a barrier going on because it's to do with responsibility. Whose responsibility is it to find the right things, to purchase the right things, to make sure the implementation happens, is this the job of the SENCo? Are we going to create a job for a specialist IT ambassador to scope out and provide the right supports for a very specific need for a particular group of students in school? Or do we change our whole philosophy of how we approach teaching and learning in schools? And so the questions really are, what do you want to do? Do you want to come here and find solutions that have specific support focus, or are you changing your entire approach to inclusion, inclusivity for everybody and giving everybody the skills that they're going to need to be successful in this sort of bizarre new world that we are in that's full of amazing stuff?

Paddy (00:25:43):
Yeah, it's funny saying that, I was talking online week or two ago and one of the things that resonated with me and it's really started to play on my mind, is that diversity. So, everybody being different in a classroom is just a fact that we all live with, but actually inclusion is a choice. And as an educator and as people who help educators in that inclusion journey, we've got to encourage people to actually make the choice, recognise the fact everybody's different, but then make the choice that I want to include everybody in that. And I think so many educators would be horrified if we said you're not particularly inclusive in terms of what you do. And we don't mean that as a slight or a slur or a negative on what they do. We just want people to be more cognizant of the differences that there are in the pupil's around and how they can help them. Because you and I have talked a lot about invisible barriers and I think there's a lot of that happening. Do you see that specifically around dyslexia?

Julia (00:26:39):
Gosh, yes. Yesterday, I was actually, a reading of a prison report around reading that's just come out. So there was a big report in 2016, Dame Sally Coates identified that it was dyslexia and low levels of literacy that was a real problem with the prison population and that when they came out, they'd not necessarily made any improvement to their reading progress. Now, reading, this is an invisible barrier. When you become an adult, it's quite easy to obfuscate from other people that perhaps you can't read, you find strategies, you find ways around that. But the whole journey and the reason I'm mentioning this, is because there's been no progress since 2016, we've still got massive problems with supporting prison population and so many dyslexic learners in that population. So many people who are vulnerable because they cannot do the basics of reading.

Julia (00:27:35):
Now, I believe that's because we get things wrong right back at school when we didn't do the support that was required for reading, at that point of time, when that young person was available for learning. When you get to your teenage years, this whole diffusion things happen and you don't align with teachers or parents or people who tell you that it's a good idea if you develop these skills anymore, because you're busy, engaging your friends who perhaps haven't got such high aspirations for you as someone learning in the world, perhaps you're thinking about doing something else. So this is really important window we've got at school, particularly for young people with reading difficulties, where we've got to do the assessments and we've got to find ways to wide support and do it so that you're not shining a light, not creating stigma, not creating anxiety.

Julia (00:28:27):
And if everybody is learning the same methodologies, if everybody's got access to Texthelp toolbar on their computer as they're working, if everybody was able to pick up a reader pen, if they needed to, you're just starting to make this part of this tool box approach and it would have a huge impact for society, not just the individual at that point in time, but for society as a whole, because literacy is, obviously something I'm passionately concerned about and interested in. And it's made me realise that as far as invisible barriers go, the not being able to read barrier, I think creates some of the biggest inequalities in society. Because it prevents you from getting promotions. It prevents you from being confident about going for jobs. You can't even get a job doing a real basic skill without being able to fill out an application form or reading information or signing things off now. The norm is that you have to have a level of reading in order to do those things. So

Paddy (00:29:27):
So Julia, what do you think then, what's the right mix needed to help pupils. You talked about at that stage in school, to preempt the issues that they might have or challenges or the things they might have to live with in later life. So is it a mix of get more ed tech? Is it teacher training, is it change in policy or is it actually down to something more fundamental, which is just, we need to give pupils choice and voice and what they use and how they use. Maybe they need a pen one day. Maybe they need software one day. Maybe they need something physical and the next day or is there a balance just throughout those? What's your thoughts on that? Just as we get ready to summarise.

Julia (00:30:05):
I'm the revolutionary. I am.

Julia (00:30:09):
There's lots of things that I would strip back and start again with and teacher training, dare I say it, is one of the areas where we've got to pay far more attention to how we support our educators. They need to understand what's available and how to implement it. It's the implementation bit. This is what I do all the time for Scanning Pens. It's about implementation. I can hand out thousands of pens, but without the implementation, the student is never going to get the benefit from that tool as well as they could. I could be helping them to have the tool set up for a slow speed of processing or just to help them so that they had time before there was playback when they were using the pen, so that they can process and think and look and read along, find the place on the page. It's that implementation stuff. And you've got to prioritise that for teachers and let them know that the tech is not the solution. The way that you intervene with students, you encourage, you personalise, you empower and enable them to realise that actually with a little bit of investigation on their own behalf, they can find out as much as they need to through playing and enjoying and using a toolbox of strategy.

Julia (00:31:28):
It's not one or two, but just, like a sweet shop. School should be like a sweet shop. You go in and you think, right, I need to do this task, but Hey, there's all these amazing things and from very early phases, you should be able to dip into that sweetie box, and it be okay, so that, but at later years when you really need something, it's just, yeah, well this is just the thing I use in order to support me to do that job. Not, oh, no, now I'm going to look different to all of my peers because I've got an overlay or whatever it might be to support me to do this basic thing that I can do providing I have got this support.

Paddy (00:32:05):
Yeah. It comes back to all the fundamentals we always talk about. The choice, the voice, remove the stigma, it's all of those things. So as we start to wrap up Julia, and we think about sort of Bett's, overarching theme, this year it's create the future, I'm sure you've seen that everywhere throughout the show. What does create the future mean to you? Just, if you could just sum that up in a short paragraph for me, we're all good.

Julia (00:32:28):
This was the difficult question I was really worried about you asking, Paddy.

Paddy (00:32:33):
That's why I said that's your paragraph because I know Julia. If I go create the future, I'll be like, I might be here for the farthest future.

Julia (00:32:42):
Well, you know I was an art student back in the day. That's what I did. I did sculpture. So, I've got some definitions around what I think creativity is. And it's about being able to ferment an idea, a concept or something new to you and then turn it into a personal response to that. Okay. So, that's my art background training. So when I think about that kind of creativity, it's about taking a starting point and turning it into something new with your vision around it.

Julia (00:33:17):
So, when I think about what happens here at Bett. You are given amazing opportunities to engage with different things. Like, I don't know, let's take VR, for example, when I used to make sculpture, I used to think today's sculpture is tomorrow storage problem, all right. Because inevitably you are making the most, enormous, messy, huge things that take resources and what have you. But through VR you could be using amazing paint brushes. You could be using incredible tools to create exactly those same sculptures in a virtual space using no resources other than your time, your energy, and as many tools in a palette that you don't have to go out and buy.

Paddy (00:33:55):

Julia (00:33:55):
Because they're just built into the program. So create the future, well, if that's my little encapsulation of what's possible, that's what's possible in a virtual space, but can we take that kind of imagination into the real space? Where's that connecting point from inside a machine, inside a program, to people being able to take that creativity and apply it to how they approach life, how they talk, what they read, what they enjoy, what they want to engage with, what they want to see in the real world.

Julia (00:34:29):
Because it's really important, we do engage in culture rather than just disappearing to screens. And I think you could come away with this impression from Bett, because there's a lot of screen based resources around, that that's what it's about. But I think it's so much more than that. It's about awakening an energy within you where you can take your ideas and share them in the real world, share them with friends via screens or however you want to do it or in virtual environments, but let's do it through a connectivity. So there you go. What a very long paragraph and what do I get to, it's about connecting with each other in a whole variety of ways.

Paddy (00:35:05):
Sorry. Could you repeat that just one more time?

Julia (00:35:06):

Paddy (00:35:10):
Julia, that was very insightful and a really well thought through answer in terms of how we may create the future together with the tools that we have and the knowledge that we have and the skills that we have and the skills and knowledge we've got, we've all got to learn together and share. So Julia, all that remains is for me to say thank you so much for being on our podcast today. I do hope you enjoy the rest of today, Thursday and obviously Friday as well at the show. And I have no doubt that our listeners will be asking for you to come on and maybe a bit of a longer episode, although I do think when I talk to our marketing team, they'll realise, no, I think Paddy's met his match there with Julia in terms of talkability, I think that. So maybe we'll slot in a couple hours for that one, Julia. That'll be another job to do on that. But listen, Julia, thank you so much for joining us and I wish you all the very best for the show ahead.

Julia (00:35:57):
Absolute pleasure. And Hey, if you haven't ever been to Bett, you need to come to Bett.

Paddy (00:36:02):
Absolutely. And of course swing by the Texthelp stand and the Scanning Pens stand be fair.

Julia (00:36:06):
Oh perfect. Paddy.

Paddy (00:36:06):
Say hello to both of us. Why not do both?

Julia (00:36:08):
Perfect. Thank you so much.

Paddy (00:36:09):

Julia (00:36:09):
Do that, okay.

Paddy (00:36:10):
Okay. Over and out for this guest on Texthelp Talks live from Bett 2022


Paddy (00:36:20):
And welcome to our next guest for this very special episode of the Texthelp Talks podcast live and direct from Bett 2022. And I have huge excitement for our next guest because this came a very long way to join us today. I am convinced he's just come to take part in this podcast. He does tell me he actually came for Bett, but we're going to meet in just a little second or two Kevin Sherman. A great friend of Texthelp's and thankfully of my own personally and Kevin is of course, Director of Professional Development for CloudEDU. Kevin is a Google certified innovator, an authorised education trainer and director of professional development and co- owner of Cloud Education Solutions, CloudEDU. Kevin, welcome to the show.

Kevin Sherman (00:37:06):
Thank you Paddy. I think we're going to confuse everyone with my accent right off the bat , because they're going to think I came from America and actually I just flew in from Cape Town and boy are my arms tired.

Paddy (00:37:19):
So how long's the flight from Cape Town? How long does it take you a total journey end to end to get to Bett this year?

Kevin (00:37:24):
It depends on your route. You can get here in 11 hours if you've got a lot of money, otherwise you fly Turkish or Emirates, but we flew via Istanbul, had a lovely time in the brand new airport there and got to Bett a couple of days ago, like to come early and have lots of time to rest and then the energy to get through the show because it's big.

Paddy (00:37:48):
It is big and it's the buzz around the show this year, Kevin is quite remarkable. I think a lot of us were nervous, you're obviously committing a lot of time to travel to the show. We're committing a lot of money as well to be here at the show as Texthelp and we were all wondering who was going to show, but if you can maybe, because I've been talking to people all day long telling people how busy it is, but from your perspective as a visitor coming into the show, you think this is a busy show?

Kevin (00:38:12):
So what I like about it is, and I could be misremembering, is it's been a couple years in a pandemic, but that there are now two spaces for the exhibits. And what that's allowed Bett to do is sort of expand the physical space. It still feels like there's a nice buzz and a hive of activity, but you can actually walk around without bumping into people and you can see the displays and you have a sense of like, oh, that thing is over there and I can see what's here and I can see what's there and I can talk to people and it isn't feeling as, it doesn't feel as crowded, although there are a lot of people here. So I kind of like that it's a little more spread out and comfortable, but I think everyone's excited to be back. I'm sure everyone's saying that. To see people in three dimensions and actually have conversations around meaty topics. It's different than when you're on a screen.

Paddy (00:39:06):
I think one of the, from the guests that we've had over the last couple of days, there's kind of a recurring theme that yes, it's a show and yes, there's energy about it. But the excitement this year is exactly what you've just said, which is people sharing good practice, people exchanging ideas. It's not just about what we all thought. Maybe it was going to be about, about a hug and a handshake. And it's good to see people. It absolutely is good to see people, but I think we're having really productive discussions this year. It's like, it's all been saved up for a while and all of a sudden it's coming bouncing out.

Kevin (00:39:36):
Well, and I think people have more to share, not just because they haven't seen each other, but because they learn so much. So, people didn't get a chance to talk about their experiences. And I think there's something psychological happening where people are feeling like I get a chance to talk to people who understand what I've been through from an ed tech perspective over the last couple of years. And it's getting some empathy, but it's also sharing those experiences and learning from others who've been through the meat grinder, so to speak and we've come out the other side and we're all a bit more knowledgeable and stronger, but we have different stories.

Paddy (00:40:10):
And I think the, I don't know about you, but for me walking around this year, the type of ed tech that's here has changed even in the last two years. I mean, is there anything that you have seen excites you this year? Anything new, any new ideas, any new concepts or are we just building what we all learned over these last two year?

Kevin (00:40:29):
Well, I'll give you one example. We're a Google for education partner and Google decided not to have a stand at the show. And we were wondering what that would look like. And I actually think that was a good move for Google. So they do have a space upstairs for meetings and they're doing some demos up there, but what they've done is distributed people around Bett, who can talk about Google for education and within specific contexts. So there's a Google for education person talking about how Chromebooks work with a Wacom tablet at the Wacom stand. And that for me is really relevant because it's much more pedagogically grounded, and it's much more, it speaks to where schools are at now. They're beyond the, oh, do we go with Microsoft or do we go with Google? They made that choice. And now it's how do we take this platform to the next level and how do we see that integrated with other systems at schools? And so I think it was actually a clever move for Google to do that.

Paddy (00:41:27):
I think so too. And they have had some fabulous sessions on upstairs in the Google suite being very good and very well attended and lots of good feedback. And actually just picking up on something that you said there, the Google move, if we want to call it that, of having educators on partner stands, I know you're a partner in CloudEDU, as we're a partner on the software side, but what I've noticed this year, lots and lots of people talking about how many ed tech companies are actually properly engaging and hiring teachers. I almost said former teachers there, and anytime you talk to a teacher and say, former teachers they're like, oh no, always a teacher.

Kevin (00:42:02):
Always a teacher.

Paddy (00:42:02):
So teachers there, I think there's a real sort of dawn of reality on the industry that we need to focus on professional development on teaching and learning and not on the technology bit, that total under pinning the pedagogy. And I think that's a big seat change for us as an industry I think.

Kevin (00:42:19):
I think the industry has woken up to that, but I also think educators have woken up to that. I was on LinkedIn a couple weeks ago and I saw an American educator saying very tentatively, well, I'm thinking of leaving the classroom, but I don't know. And a lot of people jumped into that chat who are in positions like I am now. And were like, I taught for 15 years and now I do something else. And they said, don't worry. You will find something because people recognise, and I think particularly because of the pandemic, people recognise that teachers have an enormous skill set. So whether it's outside in industry, but particularly in ed tech, there's now, a people value teachers and their experience and customers want to hear authentic stories. Customers want to hear from other educators. They don't want an IT person telling them how things should be. They want to talk to an educator, who's done it in the classroom with students and can speak from experience.

Paddy (00:43:15):
Do you think, Kevin those educators that are now perhaps coming out and working for ed tech companies and companies such as yourself, have they actually gained far more experience and exposure to ed tech over the last couple of years? Do you think they're ready for it? Clearly the entire teaching community has. But, I think it's become more relative the day to day practice for a lot of those educators. I think that's important.

Kevin (00:43:36):
I think that day to day practice has created a confidence that a lot of teachers didn't have. I think that teachers as a profession often see themselves, they go with that old adage, those who do, do those who can't, teach. And so there's always, I think teachers undervalue themselves and they undervalue their professionalism. And I think that changed in the last couple of years. So there's a confidence in their professionalism and a confidence in their skillset, that they're able to now take back out into the world or into the ed tech industry. And that makes a difference.

Paddy (00:44:07):
Do you think on that though, are there challenges, so that confidence has been built, that experience has been built. It's one of the challenges for all of us in the areas we work to keep that momentum up. Is that perhaps the biggest challenge we face or our regular educators face that are in the classroom?

Kevin (00:44:24):
So I'm in a different market as you know. I'm in South Africa. And I think that challenge, we have a bifurcated market. We've got independent schools and what we call former model C schools, but what were formally white schools under apartheid that are government schools, they charge fees and they're comparable to independent schools. For that sector, we need to figure out what's the next thing. They're far along in their adoption. They've got adoption rates of various ed tech platforms and systems similar to the industrialised world.

Kevin (00:45:00):
And for them that's a challenge on me. What do I help them move towards next? And then we have our lower fee, independent schools and government schools. And they're still pretty much where they were two years ago. And a lot of them are going back to their original practices because their students are coming back. So the default is, let's return to what we know. So for us, that challenge is, again, as you said, how do we keep them moving forward? But in some cases they never adopted a platform. They never got into ed tech. And so we're still moving a lot of those schools onto whether it's Google or Microsoft, but getting them into an ed tech space that they can find success with. So it's a challenging environment for us because we do have that weird-

Paddy (00:45:47):
It's almost, that's quite an interesting leap program because, if I take the UK market that I'd be very familiar with. That as a market, that's kind of slowly grown and developed for years and years. And people like me have been talking about ed tech for, we feel like all of our lives, even though it hasn't been that long, but that has been organic, but very slow organic. And South Africa then, and you say that there's almost leap frog. So it's going from almost a zero to potentially a zero-

Kevin (00:46:12):
It went from zero to, what's your speed limit here? 120 K, are you in miles?

Paddy (00:46:17):
Miles per hour.

Kevin (00:46:18):
That's so strange, how did you-

Paddy (00:46:19):
Miles per house, don't make that mistake, 70 miles an hour. We'll go with 70 on the highway.

Kevin (00:46:25):
In South Africa's 120 K. So we saw a lot of schools take that leap to 120 K. And now those schools are sitting with a staff that want, some want to go backwards because they're traditional and they're comfortable and a lot, maybe they tend to be younger, but not always who want to keep things moving forward. And situation we look at the leadership, it comes down to the principle and can that principle move them into the future? Other cases we'll see a principle that wants to say, oh, but our staff are comfortable, we want to keep them happy and they're more comfortable with this traditional role. And we have a relatively conservative society. So South Africa, as a culture are unlike the US by comparison. Americans will jump at anything. What's the latest thing we want the latest thing. They'll run after that.

Kevin (00:47:17):
South Africans are more traditional and they're more conservative. And when they see change, the parents will say, oh, but that's not how we did it when we were in school. So there's a piece there that I think is often missing around leadership, around how do I explain this journey to parents? One of the answers to that question that we started working with schools a few years ago is to have an ed tech vision and strategy workshop that we do with schools to help them develop that vision and be able to articulate that to their schools.

Paddy (00:47:45):
Absolutely. I think, and again, that's another thing that's come up, both on a couple of podcasts that we did before Bett and during Bett, was that need to have as many stakeholders involved. And I always kind of, I don't know about you, I always bolt at that word stakeholders. It always felt far too formal, but when you look at an ed tech-

Paddy (00:48:03):
strategy, you're looking at the leadership, you've talked about, but you're looking at engaging with the parents, you're looking at the pupil's voice within that, you're taking in the staff consideration, their payday. I think leadership is so critical in there, absolutely. And I have never seen a successful ed tech strategy in a school that has a weak leadership. I think that's one thing we could all testify to, this just doesn't happen, so we need that strength, but building in the stakeholders is absolutely critical. It's fascinating to see that's there in the market that you work in, in South Africa. And the landscape in general in South Africa, things like one-to-one devices, is that a reality in some schools or just dependent on sectorised education system

Kevin (00:48:44):
So let's take that higher end sector. What we see is a movement away from computer labs, but before they go one-to-one, we see a bank of devices. So we've been very successful.

Paddy (00:48:54):
Cart type approach?

Kevin (00:48:56):

Paddy (00:48:56):
Okay, yeah.

Kevin (00:48:56):
So Cart approach and the Chromebook obviously is a wonderful device for that because the students can log in, and log out, and move it between classes, and the battery's running all day long. So we've had great success with Chromebooks, schools moving from the lab with a bank of Chromebooks. Now, we can start to see technology come into the classroom. That's where the transformation occurs. And we've got some schools where they went from one bank of Chromebooks, the same year they decided let's get another bank, because that one's checked out all the time, third bank, and within a year they're going one-to-one because they see the demand. When there's demand, when the teachers are checking those devices out, that's when the school says to parents, "Okay, we need devices." And in our context, it's the parents that buy the devices. The schools generally don't purchase the devices, but there's been huge growth. I think part of that is we've created a fertile landscape for that, as you know, because you're going to be coming to South Africa, we run a conference.

Paddy (00:49:52):
Apparently so.

Kevin (00:49:53):
And that conference is InnovateEDU. For those of you who are interested, www.innovateedu.co.za. And that's going to be in Cape Town on May 6th and 7th. But we've been running those conferences for a number of years under the EdTech team banner and what we saw was people needed to see what's possible. You don't know what you don't know. And we see that these conferences help people get excited about what's possible, they see what's happening internationally, and they're given enough support in those conference sessions to be able to take something back to the classroom and try to implement. And that's really created a space for people to begin to implement and demand the devices. You need to give people a pedagogical reason. Why do I need a device? What is it I'm going to do with this thing? And those conferences have really helped to create that landscape that we see now. So I want to thank you for offering to come all the way to South Africa. I think that's going to make a huge difference. We're excited about the Eqautio award that you received.

Paddy (00:50:57):
Yeah, absolutely. Because at InnovateEDU, we have two maths workshops. I know I've recorded a very long introduction we did talk about that earlier.

Kevin (00:51:07):
That's Maths to the Power of 10.

Paddy (00:51:09):
Maths to the Power of 10 and Visual Maths, we'll be looking at manipulatives in one. One will be pitched to primary, one will be pitched to secondary, but Equatio is such a fabulous tool. I'm so excited to share it with the schools that are coming. And that looks set to be a very big event. People flying in all over the world to speak at that event. That is proper Avengers Assemble type stuff you've done there at this conference.

Kevin (00:51:29):
We are up to 45 schools have bought tickets and that's the nice thing, we've lowered the price of this event from past years because we really wanted to do that, but we know in our market, if you don't charge something, people don't always show up. But we've got, at this point, almost 200 tickets sold, we've got 45 schools represented. That should go over 50. We've still got a few weeks to go. And I'm really excited about that because when you get those kinds of numbers, you're going to see transformation, you're going to see a lot of schools impacted by that.

Paddy (00:52:01):

Kevin (00:52:02):
And we broaden the theme. The theme isn't ed tech anymore, the theme is STEAM subjects, and that's really the approach we've taken is to try to broaden it. We've got some coding and robotics this time around, we've got computational thinking, we've got maths experts like yourself coming in, we also have our more traditional folks. Holly Clark, author of The Microsoft Infused Classroom, and The Chromebook Infused Classroom, and The Google Infused Classroom is going to be there. We've got some topics around, I'm trying to think of the word because I can't picture the topic, but culturally responsive teaching. And how do we address the needs, and meet the needs of all learners, and make sure that there's access. And we've got Monica Martinez and Ken Shelton doing sessions on that topic. And that, in our context, and well in every context, but particularly in the very diverse South African context, that's a really important topic to be offering. So we've really broadened this from just ed tech to something that all schools will find value in different ways.

Paddy (00:53:04):
And just want to pick up on something there that you said, it's an incredible lineup. In that lineup, you actually didn't mention inclusion in the way that we talk about it in Texthelp, but in that individual needs. And I'm wondering is that from the perspective, as an example, one of the workshops that I'll be are doing when I'm at the conference is on our OrbitNote, so that's turbocharge your PDFs, worksheets, completion, workflows with Google classroom, lots of exciting stuff. Inbuilt in that, of course, is accessibility. Things like text-to-speech, and dictionaries, picture dictionaries to help reading and writing. Do you think that assistive technology, as I would used to have called what we do and I try not to do that anymore, is that more embedded? Is that part of the general view in ed tech now, do you think? And is that why we don't necessarily need to break it out? We should assume that on events like this, that it is inclusive and that what we're showing is inclusive. So when I show maths, I should be inclusive about showing maths. Or math. Is it maths or math in South Africa?

Kevin (00:54:04):
It's maths.

Paddy (00:54:05):
That's okay. We've got the S in there, just making sure that's the case.

Kevin (00:54:07):
Yeah. So I think that teachers still need to get that language. I mean you heard me stumble a minute ago around what is culturally responsive, and I think that we're not all okay with that terminology, and I think that making the implicit explicit is still important. So I don't think we should just take for granted that everybody is doing inclusive education now because we know the buzzword or everybody is meeting the needs of all learners because we know that expression, I think it's still valuable for teachers to be sensitised to when they're doing it and how they should do it. And I think it's one of those lifelong lessons. I'll use a stereotype, I'm a male, I need to be a Better listener.

Paddy (00:54:52):

Kevin (00:54:53):
I need to demonstrate empathy in my relationships. And that is something that I need to attend to and I'll probably need to attend to for the rest of my life. I think educators as professionals need to be doing those things all the time and it's a good thing to make that explicit.

Paddy (00:55:10):
It's interesting you say that, one of the points I've been making this week on the podcast is for me, diversity, and what I mean by diversity is just that every pupil in our classrooms is different in so many unique ways, whether it's learning, or ethnicity, or any of the culture background, but that is a fact in every single classroom around the world. Inclusion and to be inclusive is a choice that we all have to make, and a very conscious choice we all have to make. So I totally concur with what you've said there, we've got to make that choice and actually be proactive about it. We can't just hope that by the nature of what we do, we're going to be inclusive. And I think that's the changed mindset.

Paddy (00:55:46):
So look, I'm personally really, really looking forward to coming out. I think it's going to be a fabulous few days. And I know that reflects your change of focus on PD and exactly how you want to work the schools you work with. So I'm going to move on and just really wrap up at this point, Kevin. Unfortunately run out of time and I could really talk for a long, long time to come, but we're asking, for those of you who can't see Kevin, which is all of you, he is now nodding his head and going yeah, I know Paddy very well. He would actually talk for another hour. So I'm not going to let him away with that one, but there's one thing we've been asking all of our guests on this week, that's Bett's overarching theme is create the future. In a few words, what does that mean to you, create the future?

Kevin (00:56:33):
I think the future always has to start with a vision. When I talk to principals in South Africa, I pick a relatively medium size city in the middle of the country and I say if I'm planning a trip to Bloemfontein, I have to know what Bloemfontein looks like. If I don't know what Bloemfontein looks like and I pack a beach towel, and a beach umbrella, and toys for the sand, I'm packing the wrong gear. So I need to know what my destination looks like. I may not know every detail about that destination, but I've got to have a vision, I have to have an understanding of what it could look like so I can plan appropriately. And I think that's, for me, what the future should look like.

Kevin (00:57:13):
And that may reflect a little a bit on the fact that I'm a systematic person. When we talk to schools around how should you do professional development, we always use that term that it should be systematic, that it shouldn't be ad hoc. That you want to have a plan because you want to take people from A to B to C, and make sure that a rising tide raises all boats and doesn't leave some of those people stranded. So that vision is key and that, to me, is about what the future should look like. Everybody wants to say, "Oh, the future is going to be AI, or the future is going to be meta, or the future is going to be virtual reality." And you and I have been around long enough, we know that changes every few years. So what's important is that a school, a team have a clear vision, they know where that destination is. It can change in five years, that's fine, but we want to be working towards something and we want to all row in the same direction.

Paddy (00:58:10):
I think that's brilliant words to leave this interview on, Kevin. It's been fabulous talking to you. I am a huge fan of vision, and everything for me, and every school I've ever worked with has always started with that point, and I think it's so important. You're the first person to mention it on our podcast this week and I'm so glad that you did because it's such an important thing. We can all get wowed by the technology around here, as you say. We've got to keep our eyes on the prize, which is setting that vision, and creating a plan and strategy to get there. You're right, we can be adaptable in that, we can be flexible in that, things will change as they do. It's been fabulous to talk to you, Kevin, as it always is. Thanks for stopping by and spending the last 15 or 20 minutes with us, really, really enjoyed it. And just remind people if they want to visit and they want to attend InnovateEDU, where can they find out some more information?

Kevin (00:58:59):
www.innovateedu.co.za, Cape Town May 6th and 7th, and we'll be in Joburg in 2023. We'd love to see schools from throughout Southern Africa as well as South Africa. We're looking to expand, and we do have some schools coming from Botswana and Namibia, so I'd love to see a school from Nigeria or Kenya come down to Cape Town.

Paddy (00:59:28):
I'm just checking, you've done that so well in promoting that event. You don't have a book or anything you need to get out there or anything, Kevin, at this point.

Kevin (00:59:34):
I've written nothing. No, Paddy, I want everyone-

Paddy (00:59:37):
It's not your first rodeo, is it? No.

Kevin (00:59:38):
No, it's not my first rodeo, but I want everyone to come see you guys. You guys are the stars.

Paddy (00:59:43):
Well, I think we're all looking forward to it. So Kevin Sherman, Director of Professional Development at CloudEDU, it's been an absolute pleasure and all the best for the rest of the week. Enjoy everything that lies in front of you for what is only another one day of the show. Time has really, really flown.

Kevin (00:59:57):
It is another day, and I'll be back at my desk on Monday in Cape Town.

Paddy (01:00:01):
No problem. I'll await that email just to make sure I have indeed booked my flights and you'll be looking for flight times for me. And I shall see you at the event in early May. So Kevin, over and out, and thank you.

Kevin (01:00:11):
Thank you, Paddy. I really appreciate it.


Paddy (01:00:17):
Our next guest today is Andrew Caffrey, or Andy, as we're going to refer to him as, CEO of Canopy. Andy is a Google certified innovator and trainer, and the CEO at Canopy Education. And when I read this bio, I thought it's very, very understated because if you're involved in Google in any way across the United Kingdom and in fact most of Europe, you will know that Mr. Andy Caffrey brings far more than just that to the industry, so we're very, very fortunate to have him here. Canopy, of course, have recently launched the Canopy Education Magazine, a magazine that helps teachers using Google Workspace for Education. So I'm really excited, Andy, to welcome you to this very special episode of the Texthelp Talks podcast live from Bett 2022. How are you today?

Andrew Caffrey (01:01:02):
I'm good, thanks. And it's great to be here on the Texthelp stand in your very fancy recording studio.

Paddy (01:01:07):
I'm really proud of this. I just had a dream, Andy, that was the thing. And I said make me a booth and look what happened.

Andrew (01:01:14):
Look, it's a full on studio. It's very impressive.

Paddy (01:01:16):
Honestly, I wish I could take some credit for it, but I can't. My credit was two microphones and a computer, and that'll do. So listen, it's great to see. We've obviously kept closely in touch over the last couple years when we haven't been able to be in the same room together, as there's been many ways to do that. I mentioned as part of the intro piece, the Canopy magazine. Tell us a little more about that. What motivated you to put that together and what content can people read in that?

Andrew Caffrey (01:01:42):
Yes. I mean at Canopy, we're all about trying to improve the digital skills of teachers and students, and we were trying to work on different ways of reaching them, and we came with the idea that actually magazines are still a very valid tool when it comes to professional development, alongside training, alongside interactive tutorials. It was just a different way to reach a new, broader range of people. Although lots of us probably listen to this are on Twitter and use hashtags, there's a massive group of teachers who aren't in that space yet. And it was about reaching further, and our articles and our content reached further. And it's been received really well. We did our first edition in spring 2022, so we've had one edition out so far. Yeah, huge numbers of downloads from the website and we've got the physical copy on stand with us at Bett as well, so great coverage.

Paddy (01:02:30):
It's funny that you and I both working in the ed tech sector for so long and everybody thinks we're technology centric, and obviously you have a few very special authors in there, I think. Anybody you want to mention that's contributed?

Andrew (01:02:41):
Yeah, I mean obviously Paddy, we know you contributed to the magazine.

Paddy (01:02:44):
No, what I contributed is a very good looking picture of myself. It's the sideways profile. It's worth the magazine just for that.

Andrew (01:02:51):
Just for that piece.

Paddy (01:02:52):
In all seriousness, there's some fabulous contributors to that.

Andrew (01:02:54):
Yeah, we worked across the team of people that we work with, but really just keep it focused on teaching and learning. And that's the thing, the magazine focuses on how do we use, in particular, Google Workspace technology, but how do we use technology in the classroom to support students? And so keeping that teaching focus was important to us, and keeping the content so that teachers could dip in and out of different articles. That was the idea behind it and it's come together really well. We're really pleased with the range of people that contributed. And we have open calls out there, so if people listening want to contribute, you've got an idea for an article, if it fits that broad reach then feel free to reach out to us.

Paddy (01:03:28):
So this is turning into a regular publication, Andy?

Andrew (01:03:31):
We're going to do three a year, so one for each school term. So obviously, we're doing the spring term, got a summer term this year, and then an autumn term. So three editions per year.

Paddy (01:03:41):
When it first came out, I think at first you either emailed it to me or you sent me a link on Twitter, I just can't quite remember which, to be fair, but I did send you a message about it and you literally sent me a reply, something along the lines of, "Do you know, we're printing it as well." And that really, really surprised me at the time because we're ed techy. Some people might call us nerds, I don't use that term whatsoever, but actually the importance of that. And the magazine, it's a superb magazine. For anybody who hasn't picked up a copy, they can get it at Bett, I assume at the Canopy stand, if you've any copies left at this stage.

Andrew (01:04:10):
Yeah, we've still got some left at NA14 but they will probably go by the end of tomorrow.

Paddy (01:04:14):
I'm just going to look over my shoulder here and just check, I'm sure we can find some on NF60 as well.

Andrew (01:04:19):
Yeah, I think we have got some on the stand, but the idea of print was to physically touch something and see it. There's still an important role for that. And realistically, as I said, this was about trying to broaden the reach of what we do. And we could have done a blog, we could have done that, but actually there's something about a magazine format that really works.

Paddy (01:04:39):

Andrew (01:04:39):
It enables us to keep things up to date by regularly reproducing, but that physical touch piece was important. So it's gone really well, really well received, but what I really hope is that people share it. So people who've got copies take it, put it in the staff room, share it with other teachers, and really reach wider than just the people at Bett and wider still.

Paddy (01:04:57):
So we've referred to Bett quite a lot, and obviously we're both sitting here on what is a very busy show floor. We've got a long night ahead of us, eight o'clock, I think, is finishing time tonight, and we're recording this just after teatime tonight, so there's a few hours left to go, but with Bett being back, what have you missed most about the show? We obviously haven't had it for the last two years, as we all know and all our guests know, and what have you missed and what's good to be back?

Andrew (01:05:21):
I think for us, it's the connections with the people that we are closely connected with. And for me, working in the Google space, our trainer, innovator, and coach communities. So we've really probably missed seeing them face to face. We've connected with loads of new people online through COVID. A lot of them we've never seen, so it's been interesting to see how tall they really are or how small they are, but to meet them all face to face. I think the people is the key thing for us. So to interact with them and meet new people has been probably the thing that we've missed most over the last two years.

Paddy (01:05:50):
And have you had a chance to get out on the show floor or anything? Anything exciting out there right now? Anything that you go oh, let me think more about this?

Andrew (01:05:58):
I'm liking the fact that we're more focused than ever on teaching and learning. Instead of seeing sometimes bizarre ideas of strange use of expensive technology, I'm liking the fact that this show is more focused now on what's the impact on the classroom, what's the impact on students, and how does this make learning Better for students? I'm seeing more and more teachers on the stands and that's really good. Rather than in product, it's been about the education experience, and that's great.

Paddy (01:06:24):
That's fascinating actually, because just before you today, we had Kevin Sherman on from CloudEDU, and that was one thing that he picked up as well was the amount of tech companies that are taking this really seriously now, and realising that teaching and learning has to come first. And how do they achieve that? They achieve that through employing teachers. And I always keep avoiding the ex teacher term because I never mean to refer to anybody as the ex teacher, and I've said that too many times today, but I think that's really, really important. So in terms of Canopy, because this ties into what you do at Canopy, I think whenever we first started talking a number of years ago, Google certification was starting to come, you were running the innovator program and the trainer programs. There's lots of stuff going on in Canopy. Not saying you've moved away from that, but you certainly have had a really renewed focus on skills and workspace skills. Tell me a bit more about that for people that haven't heard about the programs that Canopy do there.

Andrew (01:07:20):
Yeah, so when COVID hit, you can imagine, as a technology training company, we could not meet the demand of people asking us to come and support them. And we started to think about there's got to be other ways of doing this, there's got to be Better ways maybe of reaching people. And so we developed workspace skills, which is a series of interactive tutorials that teaches people to use Google Workspace for Education. So it allows us to train at scale.

Andrew (01:07:43):
Suddenly we can deploy, via Google Classroom, the tutorials, we can train thousands of people and, in our case, hundreds of thousands of people to use Google Workspace. So it really adds to what we're doing. Hasn't taken away from the other work we do, still doing level one and level two certified educator, still looking after the certified innovation program, but it's just a new string to the bow and it helps teachers and students improve their digital skills. Because there's no point having all the platform if you have no clue what it does. The Google Workspace platform is really smart, but if you don't know how to make it smart and how to use it, it doesn't have the impact, so that piece.

Paddy (01:08:19):
Has that been a danger throughout the expedited remote learning digital, and I don't even know how we're referring to it now, I know we talk about hybrid learning, but basically the increase of ed tech use, has that been a challenge? It's been quite vertical for a lot of schools and maybe the skills, would it be fair to say they're lacking or they just haven't been developed yet? And that's, I guess, what Workspace Skills seeks to do.

Andrew (01:08:42):
Yeah, it seeks to really make sure that you understand the benefits of the platform and how the platform works so you can embed it more deeply in teaching and learning. So for teachers, you're right, it's about understanding it's perhaps more than just an assignment in Google Classroom, and so one of the things we focus on at Canopy is that teaching and learning piece, and how do we make the experience for students Better? And technology has the ability to do that, but if you just put some Chromebooks in a classroom, it's not going to make that teacher any Better, it's not going to make that learning experience any Better if that teacher doesn't understand how do I then alter my practice and how do I change what I'm going to do? How do I open up new possibilities and different things for students?

Andrew (01:09:20):
And so that's the focus for us and that's where the drive came. And we noticed that people were training teachers and not students. And were going, "Oh, we need to train all our teachers to be level one certified educators," and that's great. But then if your students don't know how to hand the work in on Google Classroom, or don't know how the benefits of something like the explore tool work in Google Docs, it doesn't really move them on. So we realised that there needs to be a way of training students as well, but we have to do that in an automated way because that means if the teacher wasn't confident, the student could still be upskilled to a reasonable level. And that's what Workspace Skills does.

Paddy (01:09:54):
I think for us at Texthelp, that's one thing that we certainly learned a lot clearer over the last couple years was that traditionally we would be exactly, as you just said, we'd say right, we have certification for teachers, we have certification for educators. We've got our level ones and our level twos, and we've got all the certificates of the day, and you can set up through as many webinars as possible. But actually when you come down to usage, who's actually using the tools? Say, for example, Read&Write for us or OrbitNote, it's the pupils, it's the students, depending on the age bracket they're in. So we need to be doing more for that and it's wonderful to see programs such as yours starting to develop those core skills out, because that helps companies like us, because students are embracing those platforms even more, and that's really exciting. Beyond the Workspace Skills piece, have you any general advice to educators, teachers out there, in terms of getting pupils to actively use tech more? Is it about just giving them more opportunity? Is it about more development of skills? Is it about awareness? What's your advice here?

Andrew (01:10:53):
I think it comes down to giving choice. There's such a range of tools out there now that we see across the space, not just within the Google Suite, Google Workspace, but moving across to the add-ons, and the Wakelets and the Flipgrids, and the Nearpods, and the Motes, and all of those others there.

Paddy (01:11:11):
The list goes on, yeah.

Andrew (01:11:12):
And it's really about saying what works well for one student doesn't work well for another. So we're in a position now where we can say to a student here's the learning and the thing I want you to evidence to show, but actually how you do that could be so varied. You might want to be using Canva and making something really graphical, you might want to be using audio or Flipgrid. So that choice is huge and I think it's the power now to give students that choice to say well, hand me something on Google Classroom that shows with me that, but actually maybe that format is down to you. And I think we've got real potential at the moment to do that and I just hope that teachers, now we've gone through the difficult part, the kit is there now, COVID has really forced us through that piece, the platforms are there in terms of Google Workspace, it's really that change of your teaching practice now. Are you're brave enough to step up and change your practice?

Andrew (01:12:03):
So that your lessons take advantage of that?

Paddy (01:12:06):
Yeah, that's really interesting, Andy. Because I think, for me, particularly over the last probably year, one of the words that keeps coming up in a lot of the webinars, and sessions, and panels I've been doing is the word flexibility.

Paddy (01:12:18):
And actually I've been putting a more formal skin on that over the last five, 10 years. Universal Design for Learning, and what is that at its heart? Well, it's really just providing flexibility and how pupil's express learning or how they get their resources. And that's one thing we have always been very, very strong on Universal Design for Learning.

Paddy (01:12:34):
But actually I think you're entirely right, it comes down flexibility. We're now giving out devices, devices are more prolific than they ever were. The Google ecosystem in terms of extensions and deployment of that, fabulous right now, easy to get things out there. But actually we just need to give our pupils and students the flexibility to use it. But you're right, it's a mindset change.

Andrew (01:12:55):
Yeah. And it is, it's about fundamentally changing the way you teach. And that's difficult, don't get me wrong. As a teacher in the classroom.

Paddy (01:13:00):
Yeah. Change it all tomorrow, Monday morning.

Andrew (01:13:03):
It's not easy. But it's having the confidence to do that. And the confidence both in your own ability and also in the school management structure, that that level of flexibility is allowed.

Paddy (01:13:14):
Yeah. And thinking about going forward, there's been a lot of talk about the momentum, and we've referred to it. But if you think about what's now... I was going to use the word embedded, but that's the wrong word. What's now in our schools and colleges, so more technology, more awareness, more pupil activities, maybe more flexibility.

Paddy (01:13:34):
What do you think is the biggest opportunity that our pupils and students can gain from that going forward? Is it life skills, soft skills? The seven Cs? What is it?

Andrew (01:13:44):
I think ultimately the world of work that exists after school is inherently going to be a digital world for them. I don't think any of us would doubt,

Paddy (01:13:52):
Please don't go there with digital natives, not at this stage.

Andrew (01:13:56):
Because I don't necessarily agree with some of the ideas that the students are naturally digitally skilled, I don't think they are. But I think what I do know for certain is they're going to go into that workspace that's going to challenge them.

Andrew (01:14:08):
And then all the new tools coming along that we haven't seen yet, it's their ability to adapt and cope with that environment that's important. And I think that's the thing, you want to create students that can go out and do that. And I think it's exciting to see the potential, but we need to foster that now.

Paddy (01:14:25):
So is it fair to say you think there's a huge amount of opportunity lies ahead that we need to kind of harness of that from the last couple of years?

Andrew (01:14:32):
I think the world has changed, we all know that. When we go out in our daily lives we interact with technology in so many ways. And I can't think of many job roles now that aren't impacted by the use of technology.

Paddy (01:14:43):
Yeah. Do you think in that increased use of technology, assistive technology or technology that supports individual needs, has that become a bit more prevalent in maybe what you do or what you've seen in schools? Has it been less about being assistive and students are just like...

Paddy (01:14:58):
For example, obviously we talk a lot about text to speech. Do you think students are starting to migrate to that? Whether it's inbuilt into their Chromebook, or whether it's from Read&Write, or whether it's in their immersive reader, or whatever it happens to be, are they starting to use those things more naturally, do you think?

Andrew (01:15:11):
Yeah, I think we are seeing a growth in that space. And there's awareness from teachers as well of the need to support individual student needs. And it seems to be greater.

Andrew (01:15:19):
And I think it fits in with what we talked about earlier, isn't it, it isn't one size fits all, it is about finding the appropriate route for different students. So I think that fits that need. But teachers are becoming more aware of some of those tools and that's good.

Andrew (01:15:30):
And obviously Texthelp, I would say, are at the forefront of driving that message to teachers, because you've got the suite that you've got, so.

Paddy (01:15:37):
Do I need to give you that fiver now? Where are we at with that? That was not prepped whatsoever, so I do appreciate that, Andy. Well, listen, time has really flown for us in this short segment that we've got.

Paddy (01:15:49):
So just thinking about Bett this year, the overarching theme this year from Bett is to create the future. What does that mean to you? What do we need to do to create the future in line with that theme of Bett?

Andrew (01:16:03):
I think we've moved such a long way in the last two years in the digital space, in education technology. And I think it's about we need to keep going. We can't just say, "Okay, we did that, it worked. Now, let's just go back to normal." Or, "We used Google Classroom. It was a response to that piece."

Andrew (01:16:22):
I think it's about continuing to develop. Continuing to develop your teachers and your students to move forward. And I think most good teachers do keep moving forward, and changing, and interacting. But it's about having that confidence to carry on and recognise that. And I think that's what, for me, create the future means.

Paddy (01:16:39):
Yeah. That confidence is going to be key. It's been built, we just can't afford to lose it over time. And you talked about awareness earlier as well, I think that's been really, really crucial.

Paddy (01:16:48):
Well, that actually brings us very neatly to the end of this particular guest. Andy, it's been a pleasure, as it always is to be fair with you. We get to see a lot of each other quite regularly, we're good friends at Texthelp, and of course with myself, I'm lucky to call you friend. At least I hope I can call you friend, or the other way around. I'm not sure how that is. Don't answer that live on air just in case it's the wrong answer.

Paddy (01:17:13):
But listen, thank you so much for taking out your time. I know if anybody wants to read about the workspace skills or get a copy of the magazine, they can go to canopy.education.

Andrew (01:17:21):
Yeah, on our website, canopy.education.

Paddy (01:17:24):
Brilliant. And, of course, if they're here at the show, they can see you.

Andrew (01:17:26):
Come and see us on NA14.

Paddy (01:17:27):
But before you go to NA14, you've got to come to NF60 and see this very impressive podcasting booth. Would that not be fair?

Andrew (01:17:33):
You do.

Paddy (01:17:35):
Whatever order you want to go in, it's fine.

Andrew (01:17:36):
But also, you guys have coffee on the stand, and that's impressive.

Paddy (01:17:37):
That's true. And I keep forgetting that, so listeners coffee is on NF60. So grab your coffee here, first, have a look at what we've got and then go down and see Canopy.

Andrew (01:17:47):
And come down with a coffee.

Paddy (01:17:49):
Either way, you'll get your copy of the magazine. Andy, it's been an absolute privilege and pleasure, as it always is. And I'm probably going to see you around the show later on this evening, is open until eight o'clock, or tomorrow, Friday, the last day of the show. So I look forward to it, whenever that happens to be. Andy, thank you.

Andrew (01:18:03):
Wonderful. Thanks very much.


Paddy (01:18:08):
So we're now joined by Matt Jessop, Headteacher at Crosthwaite Church of England Primary School. Matt is Headteacher and National Leader of Education at Google Reference School.
Paddy (01:18:17):
So Matt, Bett is back. What have you missed most about the show? You've obviously been here before.

Matt Jessop (01:18:24):
Been a few times before. Catching up with people, I think for me personally. There's always a few things you want to stop and see, but as you get more and more in the EdTech world, as it were, you get to know more and more people. I find the vast majority of people are very friendly, very helpful. But yeah, Zooms and emails, it's not the same is it, somehow?

Paddy (01:18:45):
True, I suppose. Everybody says, "Oh, what have you been doing for two years?" But of course you've been teaching in your schools, being very much active.

Matt (01:18:50):
I'm not quite sure what we've been doing, it's been a bit of a blur for two years. But yeah, a nice chance to get the year six out as well. Looking at me like I'm a monkey in a cage as they sit there.

Paddy (01:19:01):
Well, yeah. And for anybody listening to this podcast, of course we are in the Texthelp Talks podcast booth on stand NF60. And right outside, of course, we are literally in a goldfish bowl, Matt, so there is glass all around us. And how many of your kids have you brought with us today?

Matt (01:19:16):
As we're a small school, we've brought all of our year sixes.

Paddy (01:19:18):
Okay. And currently they all-

Matt (01:19:20):

Paddy (01:19:21):
... look like they're very, very well entertained with some waffles and some good snacks.

Matt (01:19:24):
Yeah, they look quite satisfied at the moment, don't they?

Paddy (01:19:26):
And they're going to join us in a few minutes from now.

Matt (01:19:28):
They've done very well. They've sat on a minibus for six hours to get here, because the train, it adds up quite quickly. And you think with the cost of living and everything at the moment, we've funded this for them.

Matt (01:19:37):
But as kids they've been with us on the Google Reference journey, so since we got it five years ago. And they're so good at Google and workspace and things now, and they teach ITT students every year, they run sessions for teachers, training students. So thought we'd bring them down. And then got a couple opportunities to actually do some presentation.

Paddy (01:19:56):
Can I go back to the Google thing there for a minute? You're a Google Reference School, what's been the importance of that to the children in the school? Why has that been important? Or what's that enabled you to do that maybe you always wouldn't have done?

Matt (01:20:08):
We're a small rural school, the middle of Cumbria, so the middle of nowhere. And it's not the most forward-looking authority. It's a good authority, local authority. But actually the amount of stuff that goes on in the wider world and the links we've been able to make through EdTech and things. So they have links in Jakarta, Norway, schools in Spain. And especially the Norway project, something we do every year, they work in a school in Norway for a week.

Matt (01:20:33):
Just increases their awareness, but it builds their confidence hugely. Because literally this lot drive it, because we can't do one-to-one with 30 kids from four different schools at a time. But they all come.

Matt (01:20:44):
But then, of course, lockdown, having their own devices in lockdown. Because we're in the rural area, especially the first lockdown, if you're an only child, you've not seen a friend for a long time, it's difficult.

Paddy (01:20:56):
So your school is fully one-to-one then with Chromebooks, or...?

Matt (01:20:59):
Oh yeah, more than one-to-one. Because we went to Wales years ago, because obviously Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland are way ahead of England in terms of using education technology, and then went with Google. But the Digital Competence Framework in Wales and the kids being digitally competent was our big thing.

Matt (01:21:15):
So we do have iPads, we do have other tablets, we have laptops and desktops. But the kids all have a Chromebook and the vast majority of the time, because they use it so much, given the choice they will use the Chromebook and workspace, or Canva, or something like that. And it's changed a lot from five years ago and it was Word, and Word Art, and PowerPoint. And it's now automatically things that they're more comfortable with, or that they think are Better for whatever the task at hand is. And yeah, they're very good.

Paddy (01:21:44):
So they're speaking then, you say, on Thursday or on Friday? So what are they taking part in at the show?

Matt (01:21:52):
Friday, there's 50 kids from a few schools doing Kids Judge Bett, and they judge the new entries for the Bett show. And six of ours are doing that, which is half of our year sixes.

Matt (01:22:03):
And the other half are presenting their thoughts, and what they learned from lockdown and using education technology to learn, and keep sane and things, with John Keith Sibbald. I think it's in the arena, but I could be wrong.

Matt (01:22:16):
Because basically there's three or four professors on presenting research, and the kids that come on talk common sense before the professors come on with the data and things like that. So in the words of them, they'll explain it in simple terms.

Paddy (01:22:30):
That's going to be super. And do you know what time that's at on Friday?

Matt (01:22:33):
12 o'clock on Friday.

Paddy (01:22:35):
So 12 o'clock on Friday. Absolutely get there for Croswaite Church of England Primary School. Six pupils talking about their experiences and what's come out of it.

Paddy (01:22:42):
And, say, for you, what do you think... So the last two years, and I know obviously you were and have been a Google Reference School, one-to-one. If you were to sum up what has changed for your pupils in terms of their learning or their approaches, what has it done for them?

Matt (01:23:01):
Confidence, I think, is the biggest thing. And I think that's the biggest thing we'll take from using all these education technology, whether it's in lockdown or before, is that they are so confident using it.

Matt (01:23:12):
We know full well they're going to go on to secondary school and it's going to drastically drop, because secondary schools can't provide one-to-one devices, and there's different progress in England, all that sort of malarkey.

Matt (01:23:22):
But yeah, they're getting life skills. And the confidence alongside those life skills, because the stuff they have to teach in the national curriculum in England... The grammar, they're about to go through the grammar test, and what the hell's a subordinating conjunction? It's useless, utterly useless.

Matt (01:23:36):
So to actually give them these useful life skills in terms of using technology, and a wide range of hardware and software, and the confidence to actually explain it to adults as well as other children, it's fantastic. We're quite proud of it.

Matt (01:23:49):
And they're so good. They're so much Better than the staff, including especially me. Because they pick it up so much quicker. They've all got their own phones, look at them, all sat there on their phones now, but...

Paddy (01:23:59):
I think they're all out there recording TikToks of their time on the Texthelp stand. Would this be about right at this point, Matt?.

Matt (01:24:02):
I've got no clue what they're doing. But no, it's good to see. And it's it is the future, isn't it?

Paddy (01:24:08):
Yeah, yeah. And look, so exciting. When you approached me about recording this little segment, really appreciate it. Because the value of having your pupils and your children here at Bett, it's a wonderful experience for them. But you know what, it's really important for people like us to listen to their thoughts, and listen to their experiences, and understand what they need actually out of EdTech tools as well.

Matt (01:24:27):
The best way to trial something at school, whether it's software or hardware, is to give it to the kids.

Paddy (01:24:31):
Yep. They'll break it, I've got to be honest.

Matt (01:24:33):
They'll break it or they'll say, "It's brilliant." And if they pull a face after half an hour, you know straightaway, don't want to buy it. So they've been looking at TV screens and things like that, and they're already asking the staff on the various stands, "well, we can cast. Why do we need this interactive stuff?"

Paddy (01:24:47):
Yeah, exactly.

Matt (01:24:48):
So they're not daft. And I think one was asked, "What's the budget for your school?" And they said, "Well, what's the price you can do for us?"

Paddy (01:24:54):

Matt (01:24:55):
Kids nowadays.

Paddy (01:24:56):
Proper 21st century skills.

Matt (01:24:58):
Far too savvy.

Paddy (01:24:59):
Yeah, I love it.

Matt (01:25:00):

Paddy (01:25:01):
Well, here, we're going to get them in a minute. But before we do, as a wrap up, the overarching theme from Bett this year is create the future. What does that mean to you? How do you create the future? And I know as a teacher and a headteacher you're building the pupils of tomorrow. Or you're building the citizens of tomorrow, I should say.

Matt (01:25:20):
Well, I think that's exactly it, isn't it? I mean, I look at McDonald's as a good analogy. That 10 years ago you go McDonald's you speak to somebody, they would speak to somebody, they would speak somebody in the kitchen who would pack the food. Now it's you go to a touch screen and then that feeds it somewhere else, and it's all technology.

Matt (01:25:35):
And the skills these kids are getting, not just in terms of coding, but the digital competency, another did a presentation, communication. That's my takeout. And that's what we're trying to provide these kids with.

Paddy (01:25:48):
That actually, the DCF has been really important in that.

Matt (01:25:51):
Brilliant. Yeah, brilliant. And it's just England. I mean, Northern Ireland's very good, Scotland's Better, Wales is fantastic. England is, as a government education led technology, it's poor.

Paddy (01:26:03):
It's got a way to go?

Paddy (01:26:09):
Okay. And this is the party political broadcast on behalf of year. So we'll stop right there, Matt.

Matt (01:26:13):
You'd Better, you'd Better. Yeah.

Paddy (01:26:13):
I think what we should do now is we'll bring in the kids. So Matt Jessop, Headteacher at Crosthwaite Church of England Primary School, thank you so much for your input today.

Matt (01:26:21):
Thank you very much.

Paddy (01:26:23):
We'll get the kids in, and we'll see what they have been up to over the duration of the show today.

Matt Jessop (01:26:28):

Paddy (01:26:29):
So today we're joined by the kids of...

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:26:33):
Crosthwaite C of E Primary School.

Paddy (01:26:36):
Now, for anybody that's listening to this podcast, that's probably the worst introduction that you've heard all day. So we're going to try it one more time. Okay, so here we go. So I want it to be really loud, guys. Can you do it?

Paddy (01:26:44):
This is like assembly level stuff, you know when you have that guest speaker in and they really ask you to scream? So I want the whole show to hear this, okay? So here we go. Are we ready to go? We're ready to go. So today I'm joined by the kids of...

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:26:56):
Crosthwaite C of E Primary School.

Paddy (01:27:00):
Well done. I think that was a championship introduction. The entirety of Bett turned around. Now, nobody can see us at the minute, but what we're looking at is we've got glass around us, haven't we guys? So everybody can see in and we can see out. So everybody has looked into us.

Paddy (01:27:14):
So what I want you first of all to do is give yourself a huge round of applause for being here in our podcast today. Got it, got it. Now, we are recording this and we're going to let lots and lots of people listen to it. And lots and lots of people will want to know what you're doing here.

Paddy (01:27:28):
So who wants to go first and tell me why all the kids from Crosthwaite C of E Primary School are here? And you're going to talk. So what's your first name? Just your first name?

Alex (01:27:39):

Paddy (01:27:40):
And what age are you, Alex? What age are you? How old are you?

Alex (01:27:43):

Paddy (01:27:44):
10. So Alex, you're 10. Alex, you come up to the microphone a bit closer for me, so everybody can hear you. So we need to go into the microphone. We're going to go, "One two, one two." Go one two, one two into the microphone.

Alex (01:27:52):
One two, one two.

Paddy (01:27:53):
I think everybody can hear you now. So why are you here at the Bett show in London?

Alex (01:28:00):
Because we're coming to judge the robotics.

Paddy (01:28:03):
Hold on, hold on. There's a competition being judged by kids? Really? What are you judging, Alex?

Alex (01:28:11):
The computers and robotics.

Paddy (01:28:14):
And what have you got to decide? What's the best thing?

Alex (01:28:17):

Paddy (01:28:18):
What's the best thing you'll see.

Alex (01:28:19):

Paddy (01:28:19):
And what is that? Is that, and anybody else chip in, is that the thing you're most excited about? Or the thing that's more fun? Or the thing that helps you learn more? Who else can say, just at the back. Speak up. You come across to the microphone for me. Brilliant.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:28:34):
We've been trying to find a flat screen TV for our classroom, a touchscreen one.

Paddy (01:28:41):
Wow. And have you found one?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:28:43):
We've seen lots.

Paddy (01:28:46):
Now, I don't understand, why would need a flat screen TV for your classroom? Why is that important?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:28:52):
All of our school has... So all of the years has their own flat screen TV touch screen.

Paddy (01:28:59):
No way.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:28:59):
But year five and six don't. They have a whiteboard and the projector, which it goes off every five minutes. So we have been set with the task of looking for a touchscreen.

Paddy (01:29:12):
Here, has Mr. Jessop given you lots of money to spend on this flat screen, then?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:17):
We don't know how much. It's a couple of thousand.

Paddy (01:29:21):
No way. You guys have come to Bett with a couple of thousand pounds to spend on a flat screen TV?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:27):

Paddy (01:29:28):
Why don't you just take the flat screen TV and take it home instead of in the classroom? Is that not a Better idea? No? Or do you really need it for the classroom?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:35):
We need it for the classroom.

Paddy (01:29:36):
You really need it, really badly. But does every other classroom have one?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:38):

Paddy (01:29:39):
Okay. I like it. Now, technology in your schools, Mr. Jessop was telling me that you are a Google Reference School.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:46):
Yeah. Yes.

Paddy (01:29:48):
So do you all work for Google then?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:49):
No. No.

Paddy (01:29:50):
Oh, of course, you're still at school, you don't work for Google. Would anybody like to work for Google?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:56):
Kind of.

Paddy (01:29:56):
Kind of. Why? Because they've got big slides in the Google building.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:29:59):
Just because it's technology.

Paddy (01:30:01):
So you want to work in technology? So do you all use Chromebooks?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:05):
Yeah. Yes, we use them every day.

Paddy (01:30:08):
So anybody tell me, what's your favorite thing to do on Chromebooks?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:12):
Play games on it.

Paddy (01:30:14):
Yeah, play games.

Paddy (01:30:15):
Play games on it? What games? Can you come across to the microphone? Tell me about the games. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. And nobody can see us, because they're only listening to us. So this is a really small room and we're all having to cram around the microphone. So tell me, what games would you play on the Chromebooks?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:27):
Well, normally like there's this thing where we click on, and there's loads of just games to play.
Paddy (01:30:33):

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:33):
Rafferty set it up for us.

Paddy (01:30:34):
Okay. Brilliant.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:36):
And I really like one where you do different elements, like water and stuff.

Paddy (01:30:42):

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:43):
And you mix it with things.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:44):
We've got Minecraft: Education as well.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:45):
Oh yeah, and Minecraft: Education.

Paddy (01:30:47):
Oh, Minecraft: Education. You can do that on a Chromebook?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:49):

Paddy (01:30:50):
I didn't know that.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:52):
It was recently, it's-

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:54):
But it doesn't work for most of us anymore.

Paddy (01:30:54):
Does it not?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:30:54):
Yeah, because our Chromebooks are too full.

Paddy (01:30:58):
Well, here, we'll have to bring Mr. Jessop in and box his ears now to tell him to fix that one, won't we?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:02):

Paddy (01:31:02):
Yeah, absolutely. So anybody else get any other ideas? What else do you do on Chromebooks? At the back?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:08):
We also have my maths games and stuff. So you learn maths, but at the same time you can play really fun games and spelling-

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:18):
Yeah, and spelling.

Paddy (01:31:19):
So who here, so I'm going to ask you to shout, yes. Okay? And if you love learning with your Chromebooks, I want you to shout out yes. Three, two, one...

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:32):

Paddy (01:31:34):
Who would prefer that they never had a Chromebook ever again in their classroom? Shout out, yes. One, two, three. Really? Everybody wants to stick with the Chromebooks and digital learning?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:45):
We use them quite a bit. And we do most of our writing on them. I would like it if we did some writing on the paper a bit.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:53):

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:55):
It hurts your hands.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:31:57):
Yeah, but a mix of both, maybe.

Paddy (01:32:00):
A mix of both, isn't that the perfect thing to do? Yeah, mix them both.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:03):
We do a lot on the Chromebook. So it gets a bit boring sometimes.

Paddy (01:32:07):
So you just want a bit of a change sometimes?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:09):

Paddy (01:32:09):
So tell me then guys, before we finish up today, has anybody saw anything really cool at Bett '22? The show you've been to today, 2022?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:20):
Just lots of robots and...

Paddy (01:32:21):
Is there robots? What are the robots? Can you remember any of the names of the robots?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:22):
They were Dash, Sphero-

Paddy (01:32:22):
Oh, Sphero's still be wee round ones?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:33):

Paddy (01:32:33):
Yeah. Really good. Anybody else see anything really cool.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:37):
There were lots of boards around and you could do drawing on them and stuff.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:43):
Oh yeah, there was a ,

Paddy (01:32:44):
Kind of like an iPad, but not really an iPad kind of thing?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:46):
Yeah. And you could draw them, like a touchscreen.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:49):
There were these robots which you put a pen in and then they drew a unicorn-

Paddy (01:32:55):
No way.

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:32:55):
... and a rainbow. Or something else.

Paddy (01:33:00):
Now, you do remember the coolest thing you saw today, don't you? Was on the Texthelp stand, wasn't that right? Was on the Texthelp stand, that was the coolest thing?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:33:11):
Yeah, definitely.

Paddy (01:33:14):
Everybody's very confused. But I know one of the members in our team, was it Jason you saw today? So Jason showed you some Read&Write stuff, and some other stuff on the Chromebooks out there.

Paddy (01:33:23):
So I'm really glad you came today and you saw that. And I'm going to wish you all the very best judging, because that's going to be pretty cool. And I also hear some of you are speaking on a stage. Did I hear that right?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:33:36):
Yes, you did.

Paddy (01:33:36):
Are some of you doing a presentation? What's the presentation on?

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:33:42):
How technology helped us doing lockdown.

Paddy (01:33:46):
Well, hear, I would love to get a copy of that. I really, really would, because I know it's going to be good. Mr. Jessop is so proud of you lot, he just thinks you are all brilliant, and what goes on in your school is brilliant. So it's lovely to meet you here today.

Paddy (01:34:00):
And I need some help. We're going to... Everybody knows what a hashtag is, don't they? So everybody knows what a hashtag is. So our podcast is called Texthelp Talks. So at the end of every podcast I say, "Don't forget to post your questions using the hashtag Texthelp Talks." So instead of me saying that, I'm going to ask you just to say Texthelp Talks, but say it really loud for me after I say hashtag. Okay?

Paddy (01:34:23):
So we'll try it once to see if we can do it. So, okay everybody, that was an absolute pleasure to be joined by the children here from Crosthwaite Church of England Primary School. And don't forget, you can follow all of the chat on our podcast by using the hashtag...

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:34:36):
Texthelp Talks.

Paddy (01:34:36):
Oh well, we'll do that one more time. By following the hashtag...

Crosthwaite Pupils (01:34:42):
Texthelp Talks.

Paddy (01:34:49):
Thank you so much for joining us for day two of our Bett podcast series. Our special live episodes of the Texthelp Talks podcast coming to you from the floor of Bett 2022 in our very own podcast booth on the Texthelp stand, NF60.

Paddy (01:35:04):
Make sure you join us again tomorrow when we'll be joined by even more exciting guests. And do make sure to let us know your thoughts on what we chatted about today using the hashtag Better together on your favorite social platform. We hope you enjoyed this episode and do join in for day three, the last and final day of Bett 2022, coming to you from Texthelp, stand NF60.