Heron Way Primary School replaced radios with teamSOS
The Derby High School
A secondary school in Bury has unlocked new ways to coach staff development and empower them to de-escalate situations, improving behaviour and standards across the school by changing their on-call and incident response processes to teamSOS
Dermot White is the Deputy Headteacher, responsible for Inclusion and Learning and believes that young peoples’ conduct are a form of communication. Staff are encouraged to figure out what lies beneath behaviour and encourage students to communicate in better ways, avoiding confrontational situations whilst understanding individual backgrounds.
Pre-Covid, working on behaviour in the school, staff were always encouraged to use the skills of de-escalation. To help, the school created and introduced a collaborative toolkit with staff. This contained guidelines toolkits and stages for behavioural scenarios empowering staff to de-escalate support and set reasonable sanctions for students to make up for lost learning time in class. At the point when all the guidelines have been exhausted, an alert to the on-call team is raised.
Pre Covid where an on-call member of staff was required, a student runner took a note the nearest office. Administrators then used radios to alert the on-call team. There were concerns around this; not only putting pressure on the student runner, particularly with potential of them feeling comprised but also privacy, disruption, noise and signal issues that are common with radios.
Working within Covid bubbles, the previous on-call system was no longer suitable because students were remaning in their bubbles and movement was restricted in the building. The school then moved to the help button in SIMS, to allow for prioritisation of responses the teacher also needed to send an email with context to a monitoring administrator eg: first aid needed. “This had a negative impact,” says Dermot, “as it increased the radio traffic to a point where it would be difficult to hear full messages, or the audio was unclear.”
We needed a tool that staff could easily use in lessons without interrupting flow or sending a student out of class. “When we saw teamSOS we thought this is the kind of thing that is school friendly.”
“Originally my concern was it may be complicated for staff with differing technical skill levels, but everyone has found it very easy to use.” Dermot said.
Some of the teamSOS features that resonated with the school’s needs are:
- Automated triaging with customisable incident types and response teams
- Real-time incident response including optional audio recording and media
- Incident timeline exports and reporting
- On-call rota support
- Integral speech-to-text conversion ensures discrete communications
- Integrated with CPOMS and MyConcern
- School-wide announcements feature and GDPR compliant group messaging
- Support for mobile, Windows and web
“Before using teamSOS staff would use the help button in SIMS but it was never good enough for us and didn’t allow us to prioritise our responses. We knew there must be a better solution. Our previous systems didn’t have the features teamSOS has. We work hard to understand our behavioural climate and teamSOS has played a part in helping us return to the same patterns of behaviour pre-Covid.”
MAXIMISING TEACHING AND LEARNING
The Derby High School is using teamSOS to support teachers in the classroom more effectively, with real-time messaging empowering responders and teachers to work together in applying behaviour toolkit steps before additional staff need to enter a classroom.
“Before teamSOS our response time was dependent on any calls that had already come in. We have been aware for a while that sometimes a member of staff might benefit from advice on dealing with an issue rather than on-call attending to deal with the situation for them which potentially could disempower a teacher. Now on-call can reply in a few seconds and offer a solution to a problem or coach them through. We didn’t have that before.”
Dermot also has plans to use teamSOS messaging to coach newly qualified staff. Leveraging teamSOS as an informal way to learn, share and refine skills across the organisation creating an internal support network.
IDENTIFYING COMMON THEMES
“We didn’t keep a record of response times previously but now we have them we want to learn from them,” says Dermot. “We can also have a better understanding of who is requesting help, the frequency and what incident type is being selected. This helps us to address issues with specific students at SLT level as well as using teamSOS reports for training and CPD Purposes.”
“Previously we had to use multiple radio channels. We couldn’t prioritise; you might get there 10 minutes later because it was 5th on the list, only to find it was the most important incident and should have been first or that it was something that could have been dealt with quickly by simply responding with advice.”
With teamSOS the school now has a system whereby the incident is immediately triaged, networking the right teams into the incident with clear precise messaging to help prioritise the events.
“The best thing for us about teamSOS is that it’s helping to provide context to a situation. The more we know, the better placed we are to identify somebody who may be nearer who can help sooner or is better suited to the student.”
Dermot shared, “from a safeguarding point of view, teamSOS is a very important part of our toolkit. Anything that gets information out quickly and alerts the right people is important in a school.”
COST EFFECTIVE PRIORITISATION
“All staff have a cost, and if you have senior staff on-call who aren’t able to prioritise their workload then you are using that resource ineffectively” Dermot shared, “the way we’re using teamSOS helps prioritise quickly what’s coming in. Staff are thinking differently about sending on-call requests and can check themselves if there is something else they can do before requesting help.”
The school’s advice for other schools considering teamSOS
On deploying teamSOS, Dermot shared “The starting point is evaluating your current system and considering how you will use teamSOS. I would recommend using it across the whole school.” He continued, “we started with just selected people, but we needed to see the bigger picture. We then deployed teamSOS across the school using existing devices so no investment was needed. We had buy-in immediately and as teamSOS is easy to use and available on any device staff felt the system was straightforward and uncomplicated. Just give it a go, that’s what convinced us!”
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