anzuk Education have partnered with Skodel, which is a fun and easy to use mental health and well-being platform to engage how your students are feeling and coping with every day life and education demands. anzuk prioritise the well-being of our students which is why we are so proud to be partnered with this initiative. We have seen huge success with the platform, particularly during the global pandemic, it has given every child a voice and an opportunity to speak up about their troubles.
The below blog is intended to answers your queries around the platform and how it can positively impact your school environment. Written by Huw Jones, anzuk’s Regional Director, and Julian and Ian Fagan, Skodels founders.
What is skodel?
Using skodel, schools are provided with a fast, fun, and simple way to see how their pupils are feeling. Each pupil is provided with a voice that is heard, to tell it how it is, revealing their state of wellbeing in real time. This information is delivered to schools via a web platform, providing quick, simple, yet valuable analysis of pupil positivity at or over any period of time.
It provides school staff with added opportunity to get to know their pupils a little better, and to have more meaningful conversations with them. This helps schools to build stronger relationships with their pupils and families and helps strengthen the school values and culture.
Skodel is also an outstanding ‘early warning system’, identifying pupils that need additional support by providing them with a safe space to voice their concerns and struggles. It encourages pupil self-expression, develops pupil understanding of their own wellbeing and emotional drivers, and therefore supports the school in helping their pupils develop their own emotional resilience. This is supported with evidence-informed resources created by leading psychologists and educators which are provided to students and teachers to help everyone take effective action toward better wellbeing.
What impact has skodel made to pupils?
Open and honest communication is hard for everyone, but for a pupil in a busy school enviornment it can be particularly intimidating. We fear that we will make a fool of ourselves, that others will judge us or that we will waste people’s time with our issues. It is not that young people do not want to, it is much more to do with finding the right time and outlet to do so, particularly for those who may want to share that they are struggling.
It’s hard to quantify the impact skodel has made to pupils globally, as Skodel is now utilised in schools in Australia, New Zealand, America, Europe, and here in the UK. What I can comment on is the feedback that we have received from schools and their students around the world.
For example, schools often comment on the ease of use of Skodel for both students and staff. All students are provided with a regular opportunity to reflect on how they are feeling and share this with their teachers. Because skodel presents this to teachers quickly and effectively, it promotes greater opportunity for more meaningful conversation between teacher and pupil. To some, if not all pupils, this feeling of being understood can obviously have a huge positive impact on their mental wellbeing, and by extension their attainment in school.
Pupils are feeding back how much they value the ability of skodel to easily provide them with an overview of their own personal wellbeing, their emotions and emotional drivers, and the ‘wellbeing wisdom’ provided – all of which helps the pupil take control of their own wellbeing and develop their own resilience.
We have had quite upsetting feedback, where particular safeguarding concerns have been identified as a direct result of skodel check-ins, that the schools were not at all aware of. Upsetting because the pupils have been dealing with some extremely challenging issues personally, but also positive because we facilitated the school and relevant bodies taking appropriate action.
How successful has skodel been to support pupils well-being throughout the pandemic?
The beauty of skodel is that it’s online, so can be accessed anytime, anywhere that there is an internet connection. This has enabled schools to check-in on all pupils regularly, whether they are on site, or currently off-site due to enforced school closures. Not only does the pupil have a voice at all times, it also enables the teachers to act accordingly on information they receive. The positive impact this has on pupils is significant, if only just for a pupil to know their teacher/school is looking out for them at all times, whether they’re able to be taught in person, or not.
We know that lack of social connection significantly heightens health risks (Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2015) and add to that the disparity in home lives for young people – for education, the pandemic became very much about how we will manage increasingly complex wellbeing needs to ensure the learning can continue.
The below insights have been gleaned using aggregated data from 150,000 check-ins in 2020 as well as teacher surveys:
- Over 50% completion rate
- Over 17,000 self check-ins, that is students checking in on their own accord to let teachers know how they are doing
- 43 unknown at risk students identified
- Worry and fatigue were the most commonly stated negative moods
- Whilst workload remained the most significant driver of negativity, disconnection from friends and home life spiked during lockdown periods
- Over 450 students were connected to 24/7 support lines through Skodel
The top level insights helped school communities identify key themes during lockdown and adjust their practices accordingly. Perhaps most beneficial was the ease at which Skodel enabled school communities to quickly identify students that were facing greater challenges with home lives, whether that be related to family problems or limited access to the internet. These factors contributed to students’ ability to learn and by gaining visibility on this, schools were able to provide additional support to those who needed it.
What impact will skodel make as a long term fixture within my school?
Learning is an emotional business, especially for children and adolescents. To schools using skodel, it has quickly become an integral part of their wellbeing programme and whole-school culture. All schools understand the benefits and requirements of having an effective wellbeing programme. The very real issue is – how do schools know if their wellbeing programme is, indeed, effective? How do they measure it? And how do they tailor that measurement to the domains relevant to that particular school, values, and ethos?
Skodel facilitates that, quickly, and easily. It gives the teachers and wider school staff the time, and the information to do what they do best – educate and support each and every one of their pupils. It fills the very big gap between regular teacher observation, and large whole-school surveys. And it can provide real-time and long-term analysis of student positivity, and the effectiveness of their wellbeing programmes across each and every domain important to the school. Quite simply, it helps the school remain aware and agile to granular or large-scale issues affecting pupil positivity within their school.
Do you have visible evidence as to how skodel has improved mental health?
19% of students (aged 13-17) live with a diagnosable mental illness. Research out of the Black Dog Institute indicates positive outcomes for many that receive treatment, yet 75% do not access this treatment. There is a broken link between those living with a mental illness and those receiving treatment and there are a multitude of reasons for this, perhaps most significant is the fact that only 50% are identified.
Despite many efforts, there remains a stigma associated with mental health and as a result, many young people do not seek help. Skodel is making it easier for young people to seek help by providing them with an outlet they feel comfortable enough to share their experiences. Through our teacher surveys, we have found that schools using Skodel have identified at least 43 unknown at risk students. Students that had been suffering in silence previously were given a voice through Skodel and this helped connect them to the support they needed.
What if we have pupils refusing to update the platform? How are they encouraged to see this as a positive initiative?
Initially, pupil engagement often starts slowly. And of course, there will be some pupils that simply will not engage (which is sign enough for a teacher to follow up with them!). Over time, and with the right communication from their teachers, this engagement normally builds quickly. Most wellbeing ‘surveys’ do well to receive around 30% engagement. The norm for skodel sits at 60%+. This is fundamentally because it is so quick, and so simple for the pupil to complete – under 30 seconds.
The communication they receive from their school is obviously vital. We help with introducing skodel to the school community initially (https://help.skodel.com/article/informing-my-school-community), and then provide wellbeing wisdom and support solutions to help teachers follow up effectively. As pupils start seeing, and sharing with their friends, that their teachers are listening and responding, more and more pupils will naturally engage. Follow up is everything, in having a short conversation about the smallest detail, or acting on major concerns. Skodel makes this easy for teachers, which is why it’s so successful.
Are we able to share the information sourced with pupils parents?
That is really a decision for the individual school or teacher to make, based on the content of the check-in data and information received. It can certainly be a very useful tool to communicate with parents more effectively, for example commenting on a pupil’s general feelings of positivity, particular positivity about specific school domains or events, such as exams. It can also instigate conversations to address particular concerns raised by the pupil, depending on sensitivity of course. Most importantly for the ongoing success of skodel though, the student needs to always feel that it’s a ‘safe place’. That what they say there is private, unless they agree that it can be shared with their parents, or of course if the school has a duty to act upon what they find out.
For more enquiries regarding Skodel, please contact Huw Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org