From education to employment

Increasing student independence with #EdTech

A case study with Cardiff and Vale College

Cardiff and Vale College (Coleg Caerdydd a’r Fro) (CAVC) is one of the largest FE colleges in the UK, serving over 30,000 learners each year across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales.

The college offers an inspiring range of academic and vocational courses including A‑Levels, vocational qualifications, Higher Education courses and apprenticeships.

Encouraging young people to develop skills for further study and successful entry into the world of work is a central focus at the college. Inclusivity is another core value, reflected in CAVC’s recognition in the National Centre for Diversity’s Top 100 Leaders in Diversity Index.

Underlining this commitment, students with disabilities or additional learning needs are actively offered support to maximise participation in their chosen course and help them achieve their learning goals.

Reaching every learner

“We’ve always been keen to promote technology that fosters independence for all our students” says James Donaldson, Head of Additional Learning Needs. As part of this strategy, CAVC has introduced Read&Write to help students with a range of literacy tasks – from reading web pages and documents to producing written work and private study.

“It’s a really friendly tool that we’ve deployed right across the college” confirms James. “Students can log onto their laptop, or tablet and access Read&Write’s toolbar to help them engage with their learning.”

While it’s available to everyone in college, Read&Write is particularly welcomed by students with additional learning needs like dyslexia as well as English Language Learners. It’s valuable in examinations too. Students who would normally depend on a human reader can listen in privacy on headphones, using Read&Write to hear exam questions read aloud.

“It’s great because we no longer need to have additional resources in place, like separate rooms and additional readers for the students” says Simon Pritchard, Curriculum Data & Exams Manager. “And from the students’ experience it’s great because they’re treated exactly the same way, regardless of their access arrangements.”

Practical support

Read&Write also helps CAVC students proofread their work more effectively. Highlighting spelling mistakes and other errors, it boosts students’ confidence – allowing them to produce polished essays and assignments faster and with more confidence.

“Read&Write blends in with our other digital resources, enabling students to access the information they need”, confirms Ben Edwards, ILS Tutor. “It puts the tools at their fingertips so they can choose how they would like to access text. For me, Read&Write is all about giving students the choice over how they want to overcome their own barriers – and prompting them to do that on their own.”

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