Is Your School Website Missing Vital Info?

Published: July 27, 2016

We bet you love your new multi-function school website, with it’s attractive theme to match your branding and its ability to act as a VLE. (PS. If it’s not multi-function, it’s not School Jotter.) All the content has been installed and you’ve uploaded the data to comply with  statutory requirements. Have you forgotten something? Apart from the more obvious information to have on your site such as the school’s contact details and a link to your most recent OFSTED report, there are a few more obscure items that you shouldn’t forget.
Bats and Balls
If your school receives the PE and Sport Premium Funding, you must show how you have or intend to use the money, as well as stating how this has affected your pupils’ involvement and attainment. Providing a larger and more varied range of equipment can help inspire children to become more active, which is a plus point for your school.

Governors Laid Bare
Not literally of course but it’s important to include details of governors’ financial and business interests on the school website. If they get a kick out of being part of a governing body and are on multiple boards, this must also be declared.
Attention or Detention?
Whatever strategies you’ve implemented to deal with challenging and unruly behaviour, these need to be outlined in detail. Parents will want to know how the school approaches bullying and any form of bigotry, which is in the news on a daily basis. This of course should be in keeping with your school ethos.
Levelling the Playing Field
Pupil Premium Funding may seem inadequate but at least it goes some way to helping schools provide extra support for disadvantaged pupils, in the hope they can reach similar attainment to their peers. Details of how and why this is spent, together with evidence of how it has helped disadvantaged pupils’ attainment must be on your school

Touchy Feely
While you might think it’s obvious to prospective parents what your school is all about, it may not be. In any case, it’s imperative that you spell it out on your website. What values do you promote? Do you place most emphasis on academic attainment or pastoral care? As parents and carers browse school sites, most seek out a school’s ethos and values first, rather than the latest SATs results. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear; make it personal and relevant to your school, and your way of doing things.
Regardless of whether you think anyone will ever read the statutory requirements, they’re not an option. To see exactly what should be included, visit the Government website.

Homework Month: Our collection of really useful blogs on how to take the hard work out of homework

Published: October 30, 2015

Over on we’ve been taking a look at homework workloads and how to make it all just that bit more managable. We’ve examined three different areas that people can struggle with in homework: managing stress, getting it done and marking it. We even have a podcast all about it!

Handling Homework Workload

The first blog of the month took a look at managing stress. With a focus on how teachers can help students, the rule of time-management is ultimately what came out as the most important factor, with things such as eating properly and staying positive also making the list. You can find the full blog here:
How teachers can help to handle homework stress

How to get Students to do their Homework

The second in our series of blogs examined how to get students to complete their homework. While it’s all very well to blame the student for their missed deadlines, it’s sometimes worth remembering that being set up to fail can be in the hands of the teacher. Planned workloads with fair expectations can help motivate a learner into engaging, rather than shutting down when feeling overwhelmed. Combine this with varied and interesting assignments that reinforce the learning done in lessons and you can help students get their work done. The full blog is here:
Getting Homework Done

How to Mark Homework

Finally, the third blog took a look at the research of Dr Rod Ellis and his various models for marking work. The theories he examines explain how you can turn the feedback process into one that also engages with a student’s learning process, and rather than just outlining the correct answers, actually engage them into learning afresh once marking has been handed back. The blog, along with a link to the full lecture, can be found here:
How to Mark Homework


Of course if you’d rather not spend time reading these blogs and would like to have them read to you, the inaugural episode of the Webanywhere Podcast is now live, where I go through each of the blogs and discuss what they mean and how you can implement some of the better ideas. Podcast link is below:

That just about wraps it up for Homework month, next month we’ll be examining anti-bullying, and tackling issues around cyber bullying in schools. Until then, thanks for checking out homework month!

Discipline in the Classroom – How to keep order without being the bad guy

Published: September 17, 2015

Sometimes being a teacher is far too stressful. Mounting workloads, lack of resources and even staff shortages cause all manner of issues within a school, but the biggest disruption is one that has always existed – keeping control of the classroom. The best laid plans can go awry when one student decides that today is the day they’re going to impress everyone by refusing to behave. Well, don’t lose your head – here’s a few tips for keeping control of the classroom.

1. Make the rules clear

The rules in your classroom will define the way it runs. The advice often given is to have 5 very clear, very firm rules. You need to make them short and easy to remember, and you need to teach them in a positive light. Remind students that behaving isn’t just going to avoid reprimanding, but can also lead to rewards. It’s also a good idea to get students to agree to the rules, through show of hands or even a written agreement. But don’t forget that you too will have to obey them. It has to be a fair system, one rule for them is just as much a rule for you.

2. Innocent before proven guilty

Sometimes misbehaviour is simply a misunderstanding of the boundaries. If someone is acting up, let them know why it’s not acceptable and explain what the rules are. Don’t let the student feel like a victim of ignorance – first offenses can slip, but repeat behaviour requires a firmer hand. Lay down the law and you’ll find that most, if not all students will be more than happy to obey. The point is to not assume malice – when you have someone actually causing active disruption you need to have no ambiguity that that’s what’s going on.

3. Be fair, but be authoritative

Is it better to be loved, or feared? Machiavelli is said to have fallen on the side of feared, but in truth he agreed the ideal was both. When disciplining students it’s always best to deal with the student in a way that they will be able to understand and accept, but if you need to put your foot down make sure not to hold back on the agreed consequences of breaking the rules. Authority is derived from respect, and to earn respect you must be consistent, both in mercy and in justice.

4. Don’t Argue

Arguing is a guaranteed root to misery, it inflames a pupil’s need to “win” and will lead to further disruption. Instead make sure you discipline students separately, as this gets them in an environment where they don’t have to defend their ego. Tell them they’ve broken the rules and then instigate punishment, don’t instigate a shouting match. Do hear your students out, let them make their case, but only once. Think of it as a 3 stage conversation.

Stage 1

Explain what rule they have broken.

Stage 2

Allow them to respond

Stage 3

If their input doesn’t change your mind enforce the punishment.
Don’t mistake not arguing for not listening – often the scuffles in the playground are rarely one student acting up, so make sure that all those involved are dealt with appropriately, and don’t punish the innocent, as nothing will erode your authority faster than being unfair.

5. Make sure cover teachers know the rules

As we’ve established, consistency is everything, so even when you aren’t in you’ve got to keep your classroom in order. Create a printed pack for substitute teachers explaining what the rules are and the expectation of the pupils. It might even be a good idea to have the substitute teacher explain to pupils that they’re aware of the rules and that they too agree with them. If you’ve done your job well, kids will respect the authority you laid down for the rules, even when you aren’t there.

6. Every day is a fresh start

Don’t hold grudges – there’s no such thing as a “troublemaker”. Once a student has served the consequence of their misbehaviour they should be treated like all the others regardless of past behaviour. If you help cultivate the reputation of a troublemaker it’ll become a self fulfilling prophecy, so try to encourage pupils to refresh their attitudes.
Keeping control of the classroom is tricky, but create a proper culture of discipline and you’ll soon see the need to monitor behaviour fade into the background of everyday teaching. It’s worth bearing in mind that although discipline is worth maintaining, rewards are what backup good behaviour.
Webanywhere offers online services for VLEs, School Websites and Learning Apps for both the education and workplace sector. Our range of products include a Merits App for our School Jotter suite, and a behaviour and rewards tracker via MIS integration.

What Does the Tech Savvy Teacher Really Look Like?

Published: August 1, 2014

We have all heard someone talk about or be referred to as a ‘tech savvy teacher’, but what does that mean? They use their interactive whiteboard everyday and can programme a floor robot without looking at the instructions? Webanywhere believes that all teachers are tech savvy, but to different levels. If you look on Twitter you will see teachers sharing their planning and add links to fabulous websites to use in the classroom. The other end of the spectrum is a teacher that comfortably uses software and a some well chosen websites in their lessons. Using ICT and technology has to enhance your lesson, if it makes it more difficult and you lose the flow of learning then it is not worth it.
You will find many articles describing and celebrating the ‘tech savvy teacher’ and they are good. Often there are lists of attributes that identify the ‘tech savvy teacher’ and you feel inadequate and bored before item 5. We do not want you to do that to you. At Webanywhere we want to celebrate all teacher’s use of ICT and technology and to give you the confidence to possibly move out of your comfort zone and try something new. We have read the above mentioned articles and would like to offer our interpretation.

Your students read your blog
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will have a professional blog where they share their experiences as a teacher, more aimed at colleagues in the teaching profession but their students like to check it out and comment. Or more realistically you have a class blog where you share class information, homework and resources that you use in class. It will also record what is going to happen in your classroom by your pupils and yourself. To take it one step further it may appear on your school website and parents also comment on the blog, after all it is a fabulous way to keep parents informed and actively engage with them.
You instigate your own CPD online
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ attends in-house training and staff meetings but that may not be where they learn about ICT and technology in a creative and innovative way. So they look to their Twitter feed and Facebook friends. They also read educators’ blogs and learn how to use a variety of new digital learning resources. Then they attend online courses and meetings and contribute to wikis. At a more realistic level you may look at a website that a colleague has told you about with lots of ideas for your lessons, it may or may not include ICT and technology.
You have made an online PLN
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ has a professional, or personal, learning network with whom they engage on a regular basis, possibly work together to maintain a wiki or website and regularly give and receive support regarding teaching and non-teaching information. At the other end of the spectrum you are already in a PLN but did not realise it. You collaborate with colleagues in your school and maybe further a field with your school cluster or colleagues that have moved on. You email each other with help and new ideas and resources that you find.
You share your life with virtual colleagues you have never met
This might sound horrific and contravene all the e-safety messages you know and pass on to your students. But there are those out there that do this. The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ PLN is so tight and such a regular part of their life that they think nothing of sharing family events and personal achievements with them just like you would your family and friends. They follow people on Twitter that they have never met and congratulated them when announcing the safe arrival of a new bundle of joy! At a more basic level you may share your professional life with others by sharing activities and resources that you have created and used in your class. Learnanywhere and Jotter Learn customers do this on a regular basis and are part of those learning network.
Your weekly schedule involves Twitter chats
Where have you been? These are very popular and a great place to interact with like minded people. The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will most definitely partake in such events. #UKEdChat is a very popular meeting on Twitter for the education community. They vote on the topic and all meetup on Twitter at a preset time and search tweets with #ukeduchat and join in. The conversation is recorded and can be viewed later on their dedicated website. These people will be in the The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ PLN and they will share their life with them. When you break this down you will most likely find that you do talk with your virtual colleagues, who are now your newly discovered PLN, about many topics that directly relate to your teaching practices. Whether it is asking for advice or sharing experiences. It is all valuable.
Summer break means ISTE and other conferences
No teacher has six weeks off, lets get that out there. You all do research and plan lessons and create resources for September during the summer holidays. SMT members are more likely to attend conferences during the summer break but the ‘tech savvy teacher’ will know what is going on and join in. But will it be totally relevant and useful to the new school year for them? Then there are the local conferences and meetings that you may arrange for your colleagues. You meet up and discuss topics for the new school year or go and visit places that you would like to visit with your students later on.
You know the vocabulary
Well more like acronyms and abbreviations, VLE, LMS and even LOL! The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will speak using these and even create their own. But you know what some of them mean and you don’t mind saying learning platform instead of LP. With the knowing comes the understanding of it. As long as you understand it in your context then all is good.
You turn to colleagues in other countries in times of need
Thinking back to the The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ online PLN and how they interact with them all of the time, like 24/7. They can do this because their PLN is global. So someone is always online and available to offer advice. It’s great! Just as great, but may take more time to react, is the newly discovered PLN made up of colleagues in your school, your area and maybe just a little further a field.
You are a digital citizen
One hundred percent accurate. The ‘tech savvy teacher’ has the technology, the online presence on all the popular social networking and media sites. They are a good citizen, respectful to others and will not tolerate cyberbullying in any form. They don’t even like pictures of friends on Facebook that are anything less than flattering. They also instill this into their students and e-safety is a familiar phrase in the classroom. Looking at this from a different angle you do not need to have a comprehensive online presence at all. But the rest fits exactly. K. Mossberger, et al, define digital citizens as “those who use the Internet regularly and effectively”* You already do that, well most of the time!.
* Mossberger, Karen. “Digital Citizenship. the Internet.society and Participation By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal.” Scribd. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. (
You are always hungry to learn, try and tinker with new tech
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will have RSS feeds setup to notify them of new releases of gadgets, apps and software. They will most likely have an iPhone, an iPad and an iMac all with the same apps loaded on them. They are always contactable, online and their cloud space is permanently 95% full. But can they then learn to use one thing really well and use it successfully in their classroom? You, on the other hand, might  investigate new technologies and apps that take your interest and you think could be of use to you in the classroom or in your personal life. You take an interest in what technology, websites and gadgets that your students use and sometimes pick up a gem for yourself.
We hope that you recognise yourself throughout this article and can smile as you know you are doing a fabulous job. If you are still not convinced just watch your students next time you are using technology or digital learning content with them, you will see them buzzing with excitement and totally engaged.

The 5 Principles that Drive an LMS

Category: Open Source,VLEs

Published: November 8, 2010

Webanywhere customers that are LMS users may be interested to read that the core functionality of the world’s most popular open source LMS is built around five principles that have guided development since the earliest days.  These beliefs can be clearly seen in the design (the forums, glossary, wiki, etc) which all provide ample opportunities for students to create materials in a safe/secure online environment which can instantly be seen and reviewed by peers.

The five principles are:

  1. Students can be teachers and teachers can be students.  Everyone can be a learner.
  2. We learn well by creating and expressing for others.
  3. We learn a lot by watching others.
  4. Understanding others transforms us.
  5. We learn well when the learning environment is flexible and adaptable to suit our needs.

Interesting thinking, I’m sure you’d agree!

Helping Schools to Meet the ICT Funding Challenge

Published: October 25, 2010

Following the spending review Webanywhere has released new pricing packages to help schools beat the cuts and improve their efficiency.
Our pricing options have been created to ensure that the provision of learning technologies to students need not be compromised to meet recalibrated budgets. By choosing one of the bundled suites, schools can make considerable cost savings compared with purchasing individual products.

Additionally, schools can look to make productivity gains by using individual Webanywhere products to change the way that existing services are provided. One example is Payschool, which enables schools to collect electronic payments from parents for school trips, meals and donations – providing longer term cost saving solutions compared with traditional payment methods such as cash and cheques.
Schools are facing tougher decisions than ever before to close funding gaps while maintaining quality of service.
WebAnywhere is 100% committed to developing new web-based technology solutions that allow schools to maximise their ICT investment while improving efficiency.

5 Tips to Achieve Virtual Classroom Distance Learning

Published: October 21, 2010

A virtual classroom environment – available to anyone with a PC and an Internet connection – makes learning more interesting and accessible, yet still familiar to students, especially when the teacher uses recognisable classroom elements.
What You’ll Need:
  • Jotter or notepad
  • Lesson plan
  • PC
  • Webcam
  • Printer
  • Scanner

  1. Design your virtual classroom interface
  2. Create the website learning environment, equipped to enable students to log in and interact in real time using multimedia e.g. webcams, blogs and messaging. You can, of course, use a ready-made VLE or our own Primary Learning Platform – Learnanywhere!
  3. Provide a lesson plan to guide the home learning over the Internet. The plan should include the reading resources required to undertake the lesson or hyperlinks to online resources. Include to do lists and milestones to structure the classroom projects and homework assignments. If teaching is delivered online, provide the necessary links.
  4. Allocate projects to students and use multimedia to provide the teaching, discuss assignments and communicate with lessons. Projects can be completed individually or in teams, just like a physical classroom environment.
  5. Invest in a learning platform or application that enables quizzes and tests to be provided (unless your VLE provides this already). Many VLEs provide self-marking multiple choice quizzes that save time and money. Alternatively, contact Webanywhere, and let us explain the solutions we can provide!