Heron Way Primary School replaced radios with teamSOS
Greenwood Academy revolutionises it’s on-call response, improves support for staff and enhances behaviour management by replacing the emergency alert button in their MIS with teamSOS.
Greenwood Academy is a secondary school with sixth form, and around 180 pupils per year group. It serves a diverse local community in the Castle Vale area of Birmingham.
Richard Johnson is Greenwood’s experienced Deputy Principal, transferring from another AET academy two years ago. The Academy is rated as Good, having recently moved from Requiring Improvement and is on a journey to excellence.
“There was no way to get confirmation with the MIS button. You’re in a situation where you feel you need to call for help, but then have no idea if anybody has picked it up or not.”
The school used the “emergency alert” button in their MIS system as an alert system. A change in MIS system prompted a search for a replacement and Richard found teamSOS. He liked the fact that the company was UK based and had innovative ways of dealing with on-call incidents.
Richard is passionate about driving school improvement and introducing the right systems to support staff, making teaching easier, and ensuring staff, students and parents know exactly what they need to do and why they are doing it so his students have the best future chances.
When staff called for help via the alert button in the MIS:
• Staff had no way of knowing whether calls had been picked up or if help was coming.
• They felt isolated and sometimes let down. It was impossible for responders to judge the urgency, triage the call, or ensure the right responder was summoned.
• On-call responders were still summoned using radios. There were issues around privacy and GDPR compliance as details of incidents could be heard, not just by the responder, but any student in the vicinity.
• It could be a struggle to hear the radio in busy environments and there were further privacy issues when responding and giving advice on what to do.
Richard introduced teamSOS to the Academy. Initially, he kept it simple, starting with incidents for on-call and medical. Using teamSOS for on-call brought a number of benefits:
- Staff could call for help, easily see responses and know that help is on its way.
- On-call teams could respond confidentially using text rather than radios ensuring confidentially is maintained.
- teamSOS enabled 2-way discussion between teachers and on-call responders, giving advice and guidance as appropriate and supporting the class teacher throughout the incident and afterwards.
- Responders had enough detail to triage incident urgency and respond appropriately.
- Department heads and leaders could see incidents and the responses, giving them greater insight into what happens in school.
- It was easy to train supply teachers and they felt much more supported in the classroom.
- teamSOS provided a real time record of each incident, useful for evidence and review.
SUPPORT FOR STAFF
Teachers know there is support on hand if a behaviour issue arises. It’s been particularly useful for supply teachers, younger staff and those new to the school to have that 2-way communication channel for getting guidance and help.
Staff found the chat function very useful, allowing them to communicate effectively during an incident, knowing who was responding and how the incident was being dealt with.
MORE TIME FOR LEARNING
Using teamSOS has enabled more students to remain in learning, for example, teachers can ask the on-call to log a detention remotely where appropriate, rather than an SLT member arriving in person and removing the student.
Putting a message out via teamSOS to ask for advice and having an answer instantly builds teacher confidence and improves class management.
BETTER USE OF SLT TIME
Using teamSOS has better enabled the deployment of the on-call team resource, as those closest can pick up the call and attend.
Richard has expanded the use of teamSOS, adding first aid incidents to the system. Again, teamSOS wins over the old emergency alert button in the MIS as it allows for different types of emergency to be identified and the right team to be alerted.
Richard has also just added in “SLT emergency” as new incident type, enabling staff to call for help in urgent, non behaviour related incidents and to identify those quickly for escalation.
Richard uses the dashboard to review incidents and capture any learning required. For example, he was able to view the 16 calls made on a given day and see the responses.
He can also see who is logging incidents giving him insight into which staff may need more support or which particular groups of students may be driving behavioural issues.
The key thing for us is that teamSOS takes away the isolation that you can feel in a classroom.
REDUCED STAFF ISOLATION
Of all the methods of managing incidents out there – email, MIS emergency alert button, Google or Teams chat, all of them have the same issue – that staff can call for help but the ability to respond and triage was not nearly as good as putting a message out via teamSOS.
PARENTS EVENING AND DRILLS
The school has used teamSOS during online parents evenings so that staff conducting the meetings remotely can discreetly ask for guidance or get the information they need from other colleagues.
And it’s been used for practice emergency drills, where the ability to instantly see who is or is not OK has been really useful.
THE NEXT STEPS
Next steps for Greenwood are to explore the use of teamSOS to safeguard staff who visit students in their homes offering them reassurance that help is available at the touch of a button, and also it’s use with examination invigilation and school cleaning staff.
The school’s advice for other schools considering teamSOS
Richard shared “We started with just two simple categories of incident, on call and medical. This meant that the whole school staff was up and running within a week and, once they were familiar with it, adding new categories and staff found it easy to adopt.”
“We use the chat feature for supporting the authority of colleagues from outside the classroom, cutting down on SLT having to enter classes. Chat also helped responders to help each other, perhaps because they were nearer to the incident, or telling the staff member to send the student along to them as they were close by.”
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