Skip main navigation

Portfolios in SEND

This video explores how pupil portfolios might be used to present pupils' learning in an Special Educational Needs and Disabilities school.
There are a lot of learners in our school who have profound and multiple learning difficulties and a lot of their needs are met through using technology, whether that be through augmented communication devices or through the use of apps on the iPad. We found that the challenge was always about being able to track the true progress of learners and often we find that in a setting like ours that it’s often a rollercoaster journey and we found that paper-based systems just didn’t show that progress and we weren’t able to share it with parents and others.
We felt that online portfolios and tracking was the best approach for us because we wanted a new system that reduced workload for teachers we want it to be instant we wanted a way of sharing parents and we wanted to be able to take photos and videos. So we use an app called evidence for learning which is on all of the iPads, which all of the class leads have across the school. Basically it’s a tool for capturing evidence during learning so you can take pictures and videos as your children are learning during your lessons and then you can then use them to assess against frameworks later.
So you can capture the evidence as you’re learning and then come back to it later to assess and evidence and annotate it. So we introduced it, we did follow-up training sessions using set time to follow up, we really promoted it being used naturally in the classrooms. In the last few years the use of the iPads has been phenomenal support for the teachers and for the engagement of the learners. It’s just so readily available and easy to use. The learners are super efficient at using it because it’s just so natural for them and it’s just so immediate to be able to use it to capture information, evidence, share data for the learners and for the teachers and the support staff.
Whenever a class lead uploads some evidence that can be shared straightaway with parents. Parents can then comment back on the evidence that you’re sharing and they can also upload their own achievements from home so that we can see what’s going on at home which really makes that link between between home and school really good and it makes the parents central to our learning as well. When we have multi-agency meetings as well we can use the app and share it with with all different professionals so our learning can be evidenced for all agencies.
With the app, you can get a video and it shows you exactly what she’s done with the water and you understand why she’s come home with paint all down her trousers because it shows pictures of her painting and so it’s nice to see completely what she’s doing. Otherwise you just get a book that comes home that’s just written in and it’s not very personalised. It just says ‘Mia played with water today.’ When they first started loading pictures on, I can look back now and see a difference in the pictures from even just how she’s growing or communicating. It really has helped us in our planning as well.
It’s very very quick to show the evidence that you have for a child and any gaps in learning that there might be and then that then allows you to focus your planning and prioritise your planning to meet the needs of that child. It’s meant that we’re able to have a picture in our hands of what’s going on in every classroom because in a school like ours a lot of the classrooms if you go in a traditional observation it looks different every day and sometimes it might not be going to plan and before, you could have worried and been a bit like, ‘if this is all the time…’
but actually you can have just in an iPad what’s actually happened in the classroom over the last weeks or months and you have the confidence that actually what is going on in the classroom is good practice and the progress is being seen. It has really helped us to be able to easily access individual learners, cohorts and for us to be able to measure progress and act on things as they happen.
I mean the whole focus in school is differentiation for every learner every learner being engaged and to us trying to help them achieve their potential so the addition of this app means that we can really focus on having an understanding of what they’re trying to achieve every day not just remembering at the end of the term. This is what is supposed to happen.

In this video, a range of staff from Greenside School (SEND), share how they have begun to present and capture pupils’ learning with the use of an online portfolio tool.

Staff share the limitations of a paper-based system that was workload heavy, could not be easily collaborated on with colleagues and wasn’t easily shared with parents and other stakeholders. An online portfolio tool enables staff at this school to capture pupils’ progress as it takes place with photos and videos, which better represent the nature of the pupils’ learning

The tool used by Greenside staff is:

Whilst Greenside make use of iPads, consider what might enable you to achieve similar in your own context if you don’t have access to iPads.

If you choose to focus on this case study as part of this week’s learning, you can share any initial reflections and questions with the course community in the comments space below.
  • How might these approaches be applied in your own context to solve a challenge you’ve identified?
When you are ready click the ‘Mark as complete’ button below and then select ‘Writing in the primary classroom’ to see the next case study. Just keep clicking until you arrive at a case study you’ve chosen to focus on this week.
This article is from the free online

Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now