We created Speakr Technologies to develop Speakr (the web application) to help children to articulate how they feel at school and to make it easy for teachers to see which children might need a bit of help.
We developed a prototype in 2012 and tested it with 109 children in six schools. We had amazing feedback, and a great time - we learned a lot going back to school.
In 2013 we've been building on the potential of the prototype to create a secure, scalable tool that can help to make our children happier. We ran an early pilot of our beta version of Speakr with three schools across the UK involving 904 children in June and July 2013.
We ran a bigger pilot from September to December 2013 with ten schools to make sure that Speakr works in the way that pupils and teachers expect. Speakr is now available as a fully-fledged product, and is free to trial for a month with no obligation.
How does Speakr work?
From the child’s perspective:
1. As a Pupil, you log onto the system whenever you’re in front of a computer or iPad, as often as you want to (there is no set time or frequency),
2. Select a ‘Speakr face’ that reflects most closely how you feel, and enter some words describing why you feel that way,
3. That’s it!
Pupils can also send and receive messages with staff members – this is a closed messaging system with no access unless granted by the school.
From the teacher’s perspective:
1. You log onto the system, see how your class is feeling at a glance, and whether you might need to follow up with a child with a conversation,
2. Review messages that Pupils have sent you, and follow up where appropriate.
If you’re a Head, Deputy Head, SENCO, or perform a similar role, you can review all Speakr activity across the school.
What are the benefits of using Speakr?
The problem is that traditional research methods involved in measuring how wellbeing happiness and behaviour changes over time are difficult, time consuming, and expensive.
‘Assessing Wellbeing is a challenge for all schools and Speakr will be a boost to all the schools that use it.’
Delyth Williams, Head Teacher, Bryn Teg Ysgol, Llanelli
Through small frequent interactions, using technology that primary school children are profoundly comfortable with, Speakr enables a school to build up an accurate picture of wellbeing over time, across the school, enabling staff to focus on the children who need help and support.
Speakr enables schools to answer questions like:
- Is the happiness of our children improving?
- How effective are our intervention measures?
- What effect do issues in the local environment have on the wellbeing of our children?
- How do changes in wellbeing affect learning?
We’re working hard on ways to help schools measure important trends and indicators, while never losing sight of the core purpose of Speak: to amplify the voices of our children.
How does a School get set up?
Speakr is web-based, so no software installation or special equipment is required – it works in any modern web browser (such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 8+), and perfectly on iPads.
Any school in the world can sign up for Speakr here: The sign-up process is as simple as possible, though we’re improving it all the time.
How much does it cost?
The price a school pays for Speakr depends on the number pupils registered on Speakr, rather than the total number of children at the school. Registered pupil numbers are split into the following price bands:
Registered Pupils: 1 – 100
This number of Speakr-registered pupil numbers cost £249 per year for a state-funded school, and £999 for an independent school.
Registered Pupils: 101 – 500
This number of pupils costs £749 per year for a state-funded school – an average of £3 per child per year for the UK’s typical Primary school (243 pupils).
For an independent school of this size, Speakr will cost £1,999 per year.
Registered Pupils: 501 – 1000
This number of pupils will cost £1,499 per year for a state-funded school, and £2,999 per year for an independent school of this size.
How secure is Speakr?
Each school has a unique Speakr site. The website traffic between the school’s computers and the web servers on which Speakr is hosted is encrypted (meaning that it cannot be read in transit).
Access to a school’s Speakr site is controlled by a combination of user name and passwords for both teachers and pupils – the Speakr team (all of whom have passed disclosure checks) never sees passwords for either staff or pupils.
There is no sharing of information between pupils on Speakr – just between pupils and staff. At least two members of staff can see each interaction, and as a minimum the Head Teacher, Deputy Head, and SENCO can see every interaction in the system.
When we were designing the system, we consulted a computer security expert from Netcraft (a specialist Internet security firm) to ensure that our system design was as secure as possible. We have also had Speakr thoroughly security tested by Security Alliance.
What happens to the data that staff and pupils enter in Speakr?
Usage of Speakr within each school is be subject to the school’s own ICT and safeguarding policies. The data entered by staff and pupils is owned by the school.
Schools are welcome to request a download of the data entered by their own staff and pupils during the pilot period, or at any time.
The Speakr team will use only anonymous data in our reporting, for example to show how children across a certain year group in a school felt on a certain day.
We promise never to reveal the names or entries of pupils, or the messages written between pupils and teachers (these are however, visible to the Head Teacher, Deputy Head and SENCO at a minimum as a safeguarding measure).
All members of the Speakr Technologies team with systems access have passed a Basic Disclosure check by Disclosure Scotland.
Speakr is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK as a Data Controller. This carries a legal responsibility to comply with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 in the United Kingdom under the pan-European Data Protection Initiative 1995 (Directive 95/46/EC).
Could you tell me about the Speakr organisation?
Speakr is operated by Speakr Technologies, a private limited company based in Bath, UK.
Do we have to be a school to use Speakr?
No, but if you are proposing to register children on your Speakr site, you must be part of an organisation that we can independently verify (such as a charitable organisation or Social Enterprise), and we may ask for evidence of safeguarding and data protection policies for example.
Where did the name come from?
When we were doing our initial research, we found a lot of systems that gathered data about children, on behalf of children, but none that seemed to be built from the child’s perspective.
The idea for the name came from our wish to amplify the voices of children, as a speaker does.