WriteOnline App Success Story

Rossett School

Elaine Fazakerley – Literacy Coordinator

I am the Literacy Coordinator at Rossett School, an ‘outstanding’ academy in Harrogate. During my time working with the EMS for SpLD part of the school, I came across the WriteOnline App and thought it would be a really great tool for supporting our struggling writers.

As a trained specialist teacher, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to help children with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. For example, one of my Year 7s is very bright but because of his dyspraxia his handwriting is really poor, which makes writing a miserable experience for him. However, what he can write now he’s using WriteOnline is phenomenal; it takes the stress of handwriting and spelling away and enables him to focus on what he wants to write. I work with another Year 7 who is severely dyslexic; his handwriting is OK but his struggle with it still gets in the way of the actual writing – with WriteOnline, he’s able to work independently for the first time.

We have around 15 students across the year groups using WriteOnline at the moment, including four of our Year 11s, who will be using the app in some of their GCSE examinations.

We have around 15 students across the year groups using WriteOnline at the moment, including four of our Year 11s, who will be using the app in some of their GCSE examinations. This came about when we had some online training with JCQ and learned that students could make use of electronic scribes if they are slow writers and have a substandard spelling score. In fact, it seemed that an electronic scribe was much preferred by the exam board over a human scribe, as it enables students to take the exam more independently and avoids altogether the issues that can inevitably arise when another person becomes involved in the examination process.

We felt that the WriteOnline App met the scribe criteria, and a call to JCQ confirmed this - it was very straightforward to get it all approved. We now have a bank of iPads with the app on that are exclusively used for exams. The students are mainly using it for their English exams, although we are experimenting with other subjects such as Product Design. Their recent mock exams were a real success; one particular student got a ‘C’ in his English Language mock, which we’re really pleased with as it would simply not have been possible without the help of WriteOnline. If he had handwritten it, the examiner would have struggled to recognise anything, and he certainly wouldn’t have done as well with a human scribe – he’s really good at typing and likes to work independently so the app really plays to his strengths.

In addition, teenagers find it quite difficult to tell another person exactly what they want to write – in fact, it’s a very hard skill for anyone to master!

I feel that this is going to be the case more and more as the next generations of learners comes through. They are so tech savvy and used to working with touch screen devices on a daily basis, so an electronic scribe is a much more comfortable and intuitive way of working for them. In addition, teenagers find it quite difficult to tell another person exactly what they want to write – in fact, it’s a very hard skill for anyone to master!

WriteOnline is also a very inclusive option in terms of supporting the students on a day-to-day basis in the classroom. Without it, a lot of these students would need a teacher or TA to help them write, and this can make them feel singled out from their peers. The support the iPad offers is more subtle, and in general the other students are very accepting of it.

The students also seem to enjoy it a lot more; most are actually excited to write with WriteOnline. In many ways it’s more of a challenge for them, as without a human scribe they have to think about punctuation, what sounds right, and actively edit their work once they’ve listened back to it. However, they seem to relish this ability to be more in control of their own writing.

Moving forward, when each new cohort of Year 6s comes in and completes the writing assessment we set them, I will be providing WriteOnline whenever I find a student who needs that extra writing support. As Crick Software’s other writing apps for primary pupils (the Clicker Apps) are used so widely, the children may already be used to writing with them, which is a great help.

WriteOnline is our access method of choice for struggling writers, without a doubt.