HEATHER MINTON, HEAD OF LEARNING SUPPORT FROM BEAU SOLEIL, SWITZERLAND

Beau Soleil is an International boarding school situated in the Swiss Alps. The school has a French section and the students are working towards the French Baccalaureate (lessons taught in French) and an International Section in which the students are working towards IGCSE and International Baccalaureate exams (lessons taught in English). The age range is from 12 to 18 years old and there are 240 students in the school, the majority of whom are boarders. The school attracts mainly attracts students whose mother tongue is not English.

I first saw Reader Pens at the ECIS conference in Nice where I was given a demonstration of the pen. My initial reaction was how the students would be able to use it discretely in class and also its use in exam situations.

We ordered a number of pens over the year after trialling a couple. Students were very positive about the pens and found them very easy to use. Initially I found them a bit fiddly, trying to move my way around the different options, but the students soon showed me what to do! One student was so delighted with the pen that he purchased his own.

One feature I found very useful was that I was able to go back and look at which words the students had ‘read’ using the pen. I was then able to use these words to practise their reading at another time.

We used one of the reader pens for an IGCSE maths exam in place of a human reader. It saved us time and money in that we did not have to use a member of staff to sit with the student to read the occasional word that came up. We are planning to use the pens more frequently in exam situations this year and are hoping that the IB board will recognise them so we can use them for the IB exams [The C-Pen Exam Reader is now approved for use in IB exams, please contact us for more information if required]. This would have a big impact on our staffing. As the exam pens are orange they are easily recognised in exam situations.

Students were allocated a pen and asked to sign a paper to say what condition it was in and that they would pay to replace it if they broke it. In fact, the pens were returned at the end of the year in excellent condition.

Staff have found the pens to be useful and do not disrupt the class. Students like to use them when doing independent study when there is no one around to help them.

An improvement for me would be to do similar pens in French and Spanish [The C-Pen Exam Reader now (Sept 2016) supports English, French, Italian, Spanish & German, The C-Pen Reader currently (Sept 2016) supports English & Spanish.].

I would definitely recommend reader pens to other colleagues.