Whizz Education announced as winner of the ‘Collaboration with a School’ Award at the BETT Awards 2019

 
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Last month, at the Troxy in London, Whizz Education were announced as winners of the ‘Collaboration with a School’ award at the BETT Awards 2019, beating nine other prestigious finalists in their category. This marks Whizz Education’s third BETT Award in recent years, and comes at a time of unprecedented interest in the organisation’s approach to delivering measurable learning gains.

Whizz Education provide Maths Whizz, a curriculum-aligned interactive and animated online maths lessons matched to each student’s unique strengths and areas for improvement for students in the iMlango programme. The Maths-Whizz Tutor acts like a human tutor by initially assessing each child’s unique strengths and areas for improvement and subsequently targeting weaker topics by adapting in real-time in order to address knowledge gaps in mathematics.

This award is in recognition of the contribution Whizz Education, and their partners, are making in working with schools to achieve transformational educational impact and the entry included a case study of Whizz’s work with Bahati Primary, an iMlango school in Kenya.

Richard Marett, CEO of Whizz Education, who collected the award alongside Svetlana Tarassova, the firm’s Director of Global Strategic Partnerships, and Eddie Ralston, Project Manager International Development, said, “We are delighted to be recognised by the judging panel at BETT for the contribution Whizz Education and its international partners have made in working with schools to achieve transformational education impact in some of the most challenging learning environments around the world.

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“Our work in Kenya, and specifically our partnership with Bahati Primary School, who were the focus of this award entry, is immensely rewarding for all involved. The headteacher and ICT lead at Bahati are wholly supportive and the students should be deservedly proud of their progress in maths since using Maths-Whizz. Bahati is an exemplar case of how an engaged school, iterative program design, evidence and insight coupled with on the ground support can achieve optimum learning gains”

A big congratulations to Whizz Education!

Until next time,

The iMlango Team

Bahati Primary School: Achieving Excellence in Maths

Bahati Primary is situated on a dusty country road two hours’ drive from Kilifi Town in one of the most rural regions of Kenya. The school has made a name for itself recently as one of the most successful schools within iMlango. Despite its remote location and limited resources, the school has successfully achieved learning gains in mathematics through its collaboration with Whizz Education, delivering individualised maths tuition for students in marginalised communities through the iMlango learning platform.

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iMlango has implemented a range of strategies to combat the challenges that schools in Kenya experience: large class sizes, limited teacher capacity, frequent power outages and limited resources. Bahati Primary’s progress leveraging Whizz Education resources exemplifies the impact of innovative EdTech in raising standards in teaching and learning in the most remote and challenging of circumstances.

A student’s progress within the Maths-Whizz Tutor is measured in usage and progressions: higher usage (more time spent on the Maths-Whizz Tutor) leads to more progressions. A progression is achieved when a student completes a new learning objective within the Tutor. Per week, 3 progressions broadly indicates that a student is learning at an accelerated rate.

Towards the start of Term 1 2018, Bahati had an average of only 2 mins usage/week across the entire school. By Term 2 they were achieving an average of 158 mins/week in the month of July. That’s 79 times more usage than at the start of the year (see below). In June and July, students at Bahati were achieving on average 9.74 learning progressions a week each!

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Image 1: Progressions in 2018

Image 1: Progressions in 2018

 

When compared to other schools within iMlango, Bahati has clearly excelled, achieving on average 736% more progressions than schools operating in similar circumstances in Kenya. Bahati excels not only by Kenyan standards. Whizz Education operates in 8 territories including the UK, US, UAE, Mexico and New Zealand. Out of more than 800 schools using Maths-Whizz globally, Bahati shines as the school with the highest usage and progressions

 
Image 2: Bahati usage within iMlango

Image 2: Bahati usage within iMlango

 

Mr. Nyiro, Headteacher at Bahati Primary says: ''The difference is that we are more involved, the teachers have started embracing the project and understand its importance in reducing our workload. What motivates us most are the pupils. Through individualized learning they are able to learn at their pace."

A key challenge in Kenyan schools has been overcoming teacher attitudes towards ICT integration in education. Many teachers had “ICT phobia” and felt that adopting new teaching practices was too challenging. ICT integration and innovation in education are an integral part of the new Kenyan competency-based curriculum. Bahati’s headteacher can therefore be seen as a visionary, anticipating changes to the education landscape by encouraging his teachers and the wider local community to engage, support and drive the project forward.

Mr. Nyiro adds: “The exposure of learners to Maths-Whizz has greatly improved their individual problem- solving skills. This is reflected in their improved performance in maths. The availability of a variety of materials that teachers can use motivates learners and arouses their interest in learning. The Bahati teacher has become the 21st century teacher who is supposed to embrace technology.”

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By providing regular support in the field through a local team, Bahati teachers are encouraged to share student data on a weekly basis to monitor progress, strictly follow the timetable so that all students have their allocated time on the Tutor and, where students are not making the prescribed progressions, provide individual support. This is done through regular school visits and capacity building sessions. One student says: “I love going to the lab to use Maths-Whizz because it has helped me to improve my maths knowledge. I like the way the formulas are explained. It’s easy for me to remember during exams. The Tutor also helps me when I get wrong answers, showing me how it’s supposed to be done.”

Bahati has taken on a leadership role in the area, sharing strategies to increase usage and progressions with other iMlango schools via a teacher WhatsApp group, encouraging a culture of peer support and community learning.

"Our school vision is to be an institution of excellence. The extensive use of Maths-Whizz provides an avenue for achieving excellence in maths performance, providing the learner with an opportunity to learn at their own pace, hence closing the learning gaps,” says Mr. Nyiro.

Through iMlango, Bahati has not only advanced the confidence and ability of its students in mathematics, it has also been transformational for the wider teaching community through championing the value of ICT-integration.




Reading Interventions for High Schoolers: Challenges and Recommendations

Most reading problems can be prevented by providing effective instruction and intervention in preschool and primary school. Basically, reading experts agree that for pupils to learn to read well, effective reading classroom instruction should address the domains of phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

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Effective educators teach reading skills, strategies and concepts to improve students’ reading capabilities. Skills are things students learn to do, strategies are routines or plans of action that can be used to accomplish a goal, and concepts are ideas that learners and teachers must have at the back of their minds as they push a reading agenda. They comprise of background knowledge related to reading and the topics they are reading about.

Even with an effective early grade reading intervention, reading difficulties will continue to linger in the upper grades and even in high school. This means that in higher grades, there will continue to be students in the later grades who will require intervention to support their reading development. For schools, this therefore calls for a system of screening to identify struggling readers to continue beyond the early grades through high school. Historically and in general practice, once students move into the higher grades, they graduate from learning to read to reading to learn.

School stakeholder round table on literacy intervention in Kilifi county. High school literacy interventions require a whole school approach involving all stakeholders including school committees, parents, the government and private sector players.

School stakeholder round table on literacy intervention in Kilifi county. High school literacy interventions require a whole school approach involving all stakeholders including school committees, parents, the government and private sector players.

One of the challenges facing English reading instruction in Kenya is the multilingual characteristics of the learners. This means as pupils learn to read, they are also learning to speak the language. Therefore, meeting the needs of diverse readers at different levels of language competence is a huge task. Further, there is no homogenous reading competence class. Learners are mostly at different reading competence levels all of the time. Teachers I have interacted with confess, that in a single classroom, you may find fluent readers whom they share classroom model reading with; emerging readers who are typically developing readers; and virtually non-readers who struggle to read material at their level, or even at lower grades. Teachers will solve this problem by providing differentiated instruction. This means that teachers will carry out diagnostic assessments to identify students’ strengths and needs and therefore providing instruction to target those needs. This means teachers must implement reading instruction in small groups and whole class formats.

Teachers sharing good practice information on literacy interventions. Systems with proper inter and intra school peer learning opportunities record better results in lifting non-readers to emergent and reader categories faster than isolationist tendencies.

Teachers sharing good practice information on literacy interventions. Systems with proper inter and intra school peer learning opportunities record better results in lifting non-readers to emergent and reader categories faster than isolationist tendencies.

For an effective reading intervention strategy, teachers must provide explicit and systematic instruction with lots of practice. Students with learning difficulties benefit from explicit instruction in decoding skills and strategies, fluency through model reading by the teacher of peer student, learning new vocabulary and coaching in comprehension strategies.

Teaching reading involves lots of demonstrations in terms of modelling, giving students opportunities to practice the skills with teacher’s feedback and support, then providing the students with opportunities for independent practice for perfection. These provide systematic instruction, that is clearly sequenced, leaving no gaps in the students’ learning.


By: Rabasa Onyango, iMlango Literacy Advisor and Stephen Kiprono, iMlango Regional Coordinator for Uasin Gishu