Wiltshire College

At the beginning on the year Wiltshire College was kindly trialled a ReaderPen and an ExamReader pen at each campus. We trialled using them by identifying students who accessed our Learning Skills and Development Service (LSDS) whom we thought may benefit from their use. We decided to trial them with a few students we knew who struggled with their reading, but who did not necessarily qualify for a reader in their exams, or for those who disliked using a human reader. They were trialled on a variety of ages and abilities across many different courses and across our four main campuses.

Largely the feedback was positive and students who had used them previously commented on how improved they were from the pens of old.

The main positives were; the ease of their use, how they looked fairly inconspicuous i.e. they did not stand out like a human reader would, and that the student felt so much more confident in being able to work independently rather than relying on another human to read for them (which, at times, made students feel self-conscious).

One of the major successes came from our Trowbridge campus whereby three mature students studying hairdressing used them for revision and exams. Having been out of education for some time, Students A, B and C had returned to study a Level 3 Qualification. All three students had struggled previously at school and, although all three were technically and practically very able, they struggled to access the carrier language of the technical exams. They approached LSDS to discuss their needs and the LSDS Assessor advised that the exam reader pen may be a suitable option for them. The students took it in turns to trial both the ReaderPen and the ExamReader pen for accessing class content, revision notes, reading through text books and for practice exams. As the pen became their normal way of working throughout the months leading up to the exam, it was agreed that the students could use the ExamReader in their next exam.

As a result, all students then passed the exam which they had previously failed. Students A, B and C were elated, and their confidence improved tenfold as they were able to demonstrate their true knowledge and subsequently they grew in confidence.

Student A reported –

“The ReaderPen is amazing. I have difficulty keeping information in my brain when I read books and reading with answering questions. This amazing pen helped me free my mind, so I could find the answer that I learned through the year to write the answer down. I would love to invest in this pen to help me read books at home coz I can read a few pages but then my mind stops remembering what was on the previous page. This is a great invention. How would I go about buying or investing in this pen for myself at home to help me for the rest of my future? I am happy anytime to give feedback and reviews of this pen. It is a great product to help dyslexic people. I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to use the pen and use it in my hairdressing theory exam coz when I was at school I didn't not do very well with exams and this pen helped me open my mind and pass my exam. I know this reader pen with help other people in colleges and schools and great if it becomes a product to buy for home life too. Thank you very much for letting me test this wonderful product out. It has made me feel I can learn anything when I was using this pen coz I know it would free my mind to pass exams and make information stay in my brain. Thank you again for letting me try this product.”

To summarise, in my opinion, championing assistive technology such as the ReaderPen has to be the way forward if we want to remove barriers and promote confident, independent students who are equipped with the necessary strategies and tools to ultimately be happy and successful adults within our community.

- Alex Tuong, Specialist Co-ordinator for Exam Access Arrangements, Wiltshire College

Taverham High School

Your name

Pauline Phillipson

Your role

Assistant SENCO

Your school name

Taverham High School

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc)

High School, Age 11-19. Norwich

Did you trial the Exam Reader / Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?
We gave the ExamReader to several students and asked them to do past Exam papers. We compared their results with and without use of the pen, and we asked them for their opinion on, ease of use, effectiveness and did they feel that the pen gave them more confidence in the exam. We decided that having the pens would be very useful to our school.

What do you most like about the ExamReader?

Having the pens gives the students the confidence to be in control of their exams. They use them in lessons too which enables them to be far more independent. They cut the cost of invigilators/amanuensis in external exams.

Please describe how you are using the ExamReader?

In internal and external exams, in lessons with students that have EAA e.g. English, History, Classics lessons

Please describe how the use of the ExamReader has affected your students (performance, confidence, independence etc)?
Confidence and independence improved, work productivity increased

Please describe any other areas in school you feel the ExamReader has helped (staff time savings, school results, cost savings etc)
In the class room where several students need assistance with reading and the Teacher and LSA would struggle to get to them all, also a reduced cost of amanuensis for GCSE exams

How likely are you to recommend the ExamReader to others?

Highly likely

Frances Hutchinson, Head of Special Needs Department, Mount Temple Comprehensive School

I tried the ExamReader with several of our dyslexic students and the feedback was very positive.

The students were given an unseen text and asked to read independently and then at the end they had to give a review of the text and a run-down of the main points. The students found the pen easy to use after initial instructions and were fully able to engage in the task assigned without needing support.

The feedback from the students was as follows:

‘I found it easy to use’

‘It helped me read words I couldn’t figure out on my own’

‘I didn’t have to concentrate so hard on understanding the text because I wasn’t worrying about reading the difficult words’

‘I felt that I understood the text better because I wasn’t stressing about not being able to read sections’

‘I would definitely use this pen for class and homework’

As the teacher observing this work it was interesting to see how engaged the students were with the reading task and how informed they were at the end. The pen appeared to help them focus on the task and also helped with their comprehension as they were able to relay the information, they read to me.

One of the students had ASD and ADHD and there was a marked difference in his behaviour around reading. Usually this student is very distracted, finds it difficult to apply himself to a quiet task and begins to distract others before he completes a task. However, when he used the pen his behaviour was markedly different. He sat quietly and read a newspaper article without lifting his head once.

His feedback was very positive. He said that it helped him concentrate and to focus on the reading task. He was very clear that he found the pen very helpful and it worked well for him.

This was a very interesting outcome for us as it is often very difficult for this student to apply himself to a quiet, reading task.

Overall, I would say that the pen is definitely something that our students would benefit from. I feel it would be most helpful for students whose reading is at a halfway point between needing a paired reading program and those who just need assisted reading practice. In my view, the pen would be most beneficial to the students who just need an assisted reading practice as it allows them to read independently without having to ask for assistance with difficult multi-syllable words.

Oakwood School

Your name: Amanda Cradock

Your role:

Senior Administrator

Your school name:

Oakwood School

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc):

Mainstream secondary. 11-16 age range on the Surrey/Sussex border. Mixed wealth area well served by transport links to the coast and London and then further afield by the local airport, Gatwick.

Did you trial the Exam Reader / Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?
Yes, I found it more effective than a previous model trialled and with the variations of append/replace, being able to scan different languages, the English voice and its read delay along with the clear readable window, and lastly but by no means least the functionality to use headphones which the previous model did not have. I was impressed with the reader pen’s ability and it was on my review, backed up with a sample of children testing it and giving their verbal ‘thumbs up’, the class pack was purchased. I have found that in order to really engage a student’s attention with the pen at first use, it is the ability of the pen to scan backwards but read the line in the usual left to right format.

What do you most like about the ExamReader?

The ease of handling. It is a comfortable unit and the delay feature to allow students with slower processing ability to use the pen. At exam times it frees up staff from reading to students.

Please describe how you are using the ExamReader?

Students’ needs are assessed by our Specialist Assessor and only students identified as requiring this support are provided with a pen. Any student given a pen is able to come to the Access to Learning Faculty and practice using it or to seek help with it, during break times in the first instance and then during lessons if there is an issue. Once students are trialled with a pen and agree to use it, they have a note taken of their preferences recorded (updated as required), to ensure that each student is provided with a pen that has their user preferences and is ready to go.

Please describe how the use of the ExamReader has affected your students (performance, confidence, independence etc)?
Students who have used the pen are usually really pleased to receive the help. It has reduced the stress on them for their tests and exams, and for some, enhanced their learning in class. Year 10/11 students have found a particular benefit to their English papers, as they are able to use the pen to read text that a human reader would not be permitted to read. It is almost impossible to say whether a student’s performance has been improved with the use of the pen, but for students who also use a laptop to type their answers the pen gives them complete independence.

Please describe any other areas in school you feel the ExamReader has helped (staff time savings, school results, cost savings etc)
Without a doubt the pen has relieved staff from reading to an identified student during tests/exams.

How likely are you to recommend the ExamReader to others?

I believe staff who have dealings with the pen would recommend their use to others.

Queen Elizabeth's School

Your name

Deborah Lynch

Your role

Advisory Teacher for Devon County SpLD (dyslexia) Service

Your school name

QE School

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc)

We cover Primary, Secondary, Private/Indep, Special

What do you most like about the ExamReader?

It actually reads words off the page now.

Please describe how you are using the ExamReader?

Three pupils are using the pens intermittently, demonstrating to Primary, Secondary etc schools (see above) across Devon. Showing SENCOs at our termly meetings.

Please describe how the use of the ExamReader has affected your students (performance, confidence, independence etc)?
My student has borderline score for reading - 86ss - wanted to encourage his independence and the pen has done this.

How likely are you to recommend the ExamReader to others?

We always recommend it, all the time across Devon - above all other exam pens, which really don't ever get a look in.

Additional Comments

The Devon SpLD (Dyslexia) Service currently has three C-PENS and we find them invaluable. A part of our role is to train SENDCos, Teachers and Teaching Assistants in all Educational settings across Devon. One of our pens is regularly demonstrated during training sessions on Assistive Technology, Reading

Interventions and ’Dyslexia friendly Classrooms' courses. The course attendees are often both surprised and impressed by the pen's accuracy and user-friendliness.

The other two pens are currently being used by two students within the Support Centre. One is now in Year 12. He used the pen, with great efficacy, to support him during his GCSE examinations last July. His Standardised Score in Year 10 Reading Tests was just above the cut-off for a reader, but with the pen, he was able to tackle his exams confidently, knowing that if he could not read specific words in the questions or other printed materials, he did not need to worry as his pen would read for him. He has continued to use his pen, very successfully, during classwork and homework, for his A Level courses. The other pen is being used by a Year 11 student whose reading is a little stronger, but who can become very anxious when confronted by text containing technical vocabulary. The pen offers him reassurance that he will be able to manage the reading independently, without having to ask for help.

Trent College

Your name

Carole Slater

Your role

Exams Officer

Your school name

Trent College

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc)

11-18 Independent

Did you trial the Exam Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?


Yes, we had one on trial in which we gave to a few students to use. Feedback was very positive.

What do you most like about the Exam Reader?

Students can be in the main exam room with other students cutting down the need for invigilators in satellite rooms reading to students.

Please describe how you are using the Exam Reader?

After assessment by the SENCo students are given the pen to trial in lessons. After that the pens are given out for class tests and end of year exams.

Please describe how the use of the Exam Reader has affected your students (performance, confidence, independence etc)?


Students are more independent now and can sit with all the students in the main exam rather than being the odd one out in another room.

Please describe any other areas in school you feel the Exam Reader has helped (staff time savings, school results, cost savings etc)


Reduction in invigilation costs, reduction in the number of rooms needed for exams

How likely are you to recommend the Exam Reader to others?

Very likely to recommend to others.

 

St Martin's School, Brentwood

Your name

Maggie Howell

Your role

Send Exams Assistant

Your school name

St Martins School Brentwood

Describe your school (type, age, location, demographic etc)

Large secondary comprehensive school in Brentwood Essex.

Did you trial the Exam Reader / Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?

No, we did not trial before purchasing

What do you most like about the Exam Reader?

The ease of use and the access it gives to the students who need a reader

Please describe how you are using the Exam Reader?

We are using the reading pens for class assessments and in actual examinations – both PPE and External across all year groups.

Please describe how the use of the Exam Reader has affected your students (performance, confidence, independence etc)?

Some of the students like the reading pens.

How likely are you to recommend the Exam Reader to others?

Very likely

Thomas Knyvett College

Your name

Lee Frost

Your role

Inclusion

Your school name

Thomas Knyvett College

Describe your school

Secondary school (11-16)

Did you trial the Exam Reader / Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?


Yes, initially tried one pen, with several students, then purchased more, in place of computer reader

What do you most like about the Exam Reader?

Independence that it can offer students

Please describe how you are using the Exam Reader?

For assessments, and exams, as normal way of working for students with concessions

Please describe how the use of the Exam Reader has affected your students’?

It has allowed more independence, as students not having to raise hands for a reader

Please describe any other areas in school you feel the Exam Reader has helped

Has helped with staffing, as students using the Exam Reader are now facilitated in the main exam hall, as opposed to separate room with a ratio of staff to students

How likely are you to recommend the Exam Reader to others?

Would recommend

Any other comments you would like to add?

I feel that the pens are a good aid to students.