St Anthony’s Primary School in Renfrewshire, Scotland has just over 200 pupils, 30 staff and a unit for children with communication disorders. Jacqui McBurnie, Head Teacher, bought a Ketso kit for use in her school in 2013 after having been impressed by it during a workshop run by the Local Council. In the years since, she has used it with thousands of people, working to engage staff, parents and pupils. Ketso has now become a key collaboration method in the school: developing and evaluating their school improvement plan, running pupil council meetings, and it is even used in classroom teaching. Ketso has enabled staff, parents and pupils at St Anthony’s to work together on a wide range of projects and tasks.
As a school, St. Anthony’s was keen to find effective ways to involve staff, parents and pupils in decision-making and development. Jacqui McBurnie, the Head Teacher, was looking for creative tools and approaches to help with this. To work in a collegiate and inclusive manner, they needed approaches that were accessible and immediate, to keep people engaged and avoid dreary endless cycles of collating written feedback from questionnaires.
Of particular importance, was the need to hear the pupils’ voices and really engage with the perspectives of children and young people. The Scottish curriculum aims to develop four key capacities, for each student to become a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor. Any process that helps develop these capacities is especially beneficial.
Meetings and consultations are an essential part of the engagement process, but it was challenging to achieve continuity of thinking and maintain focus from one meeting to the next with different groups of people. What was needed was a way to create a ‘living’ picture of the conversation and issues, visible to all, which could be updated and shared easily and flexibly.
The Ketso 24 kit provides the school with an adaptable and convenient method for wide-ranging and effective collaboration. When talking to staff, parents or teachers, Ketso is used to make the issues under discussion clear and visible to everybody present. The process is inclusive and non-threatening, making it easy for everyone to share their ideas, and see how they fit with everyone else’s ideas. The plans developed are updated over time, so instead of fragmented, disconnected meetings, progress can be tracked simply, allowing for shifting focus and attention as things unfold. The different parts of the kit allow for creative ‘blue sky’ thinking to be integrated with a more structured plan (with timescales, people responsible and budgets, for example) simply by moving and organising ideas as they arise.
Actively involving children and young people in the school improvement planning builds their confidence, as they see their ideas being included and acted upon. Teachers have also explored different ways Ketso can be used to support learning in the classroom. With its turn-taking and tactile approach, Ketso enables all pupils to contribute, even those who don’t normally speak up in a classroom. For instance, if the pupils are exploring a topic such as World War II, they start by using the kit to capture all the things they know. Then they ask: What would they like to find out? They will then record their findings on the Ketso in a different colour so it is clear and visible to everyone. After they have completed some work on the topic, they go back and re-visit the Ketso to ask: What do we now know? Thus the ‘tree’ grows with their learning.
During the pandemic, the school has been using specially adapted Ketso Connects for use in the classroom, and are finding that it’s “proving very useful. As the kit can be washed we do not have to wait 72 hours to use it again”.
“You can use Ketso in so, so many ways. You can have dialogue based on what everybody thinks.
The more you use it the more ideas you come up with. A big advantage is the quickness; you can gather information right away. Ketso is a working document. The whole time you’re discussing, the kit is moving and people are involved in it. Because it’s so visual, you can see ideas take shape instantly. You’re not going through screeds and screeds of paper trying to collate all the information that people have given you. On top of that, it packs up in a bag, so it is easy to use and store. It is even eco-friendly, because after any meetings, all you take is a photograph and there’s your evidence – the kit is cleaned for next time and you don’t waste all that paper.”
– Jacqui McBurnie, Head Teacher, St. Anthony’s Primary School