The Bridgwater and Taunton College Trust

AV1 supports inclusion and tackles absence challenges for the Multi-Academy Trust

Bridgwater and Taunton College Trust, based in Somerset, comprises 7 academies across all ages, from 4 to post-16.

After starting with 10 AV1s back in January 2020, they now have 15 AV1s which they use to support students with a variety of different educational circumstances.

Lead SENCO, Eleanor Webber manages the use of AV1 at the Trust. She explains how it helps a range of pupils.

"We have some using it just 1 day a week and some 5. This varies from children in post operation or requiring medical treatment, to anxiety or school refusal, where a graduated, step-by step return has helped pupils back into school. One student has a condition where coming to school every day can be tiring, so they access learning every day, but part-time remotely with AV1.

We even use AV1 on site, for those who struggle with large, busy, sensory overload environments. A pupil can be in a safe space or room within school, and access an AV1 in their regular classroom.

For some it is not the right solution, but for others it’s absolutely been their saving grace, and has allowed them to have that access to learning, access to peers, whilst they are going through a very tricky time in life."
An AV1 robot being carried between lessons in a secondary school

If we didn’t have AV1 for him, I really don’t know what we could do, or what we could offer. Thank goodness for AV1.

– Eleanor Webber, Lead SENCO

Eleanor says they may struggle to support some of their pupils otherwise.

“We are not in a position to be able to send tutors or teachers to homes. We sometimes seek support from the Local Authority who offer some tutoring and medical tuition, but this isn’t always available, can take some time to put in place, and we would often have to pay for the services.”

Eleanor says the Trust is happy to invest in their inclusion initiatives and are forward-thinking in their approach.

"We have a broad offer, including Educational Psychologists and Speech and Language therapists, and AV1 forms an integral part of that. We are able to demonstrate we want the best for all our young people. The families that use AV1 are very grateful to have the option available, and speak positively about the school. I feel it is known out there that our Trust has a reputation for offering a range of opportunities for our students, even if their educational situation is not straightforward."

Like with most introductions of new technology, there are sometimes some reservations or initial barriers to overcome, but Eleanor says these were simple and short-lived.

"We had some teachers who had some initial wariness, but I was able to reassure them that the AV1 is secure and it’s no different from a child being there; they are just sitting in front of the screen, rather than sitting in the classroom.

The Trust sees their use of AV1 as a way to combat attendance issues and a long-term solution to support many children, Eleanor adds.

"Attendance is always an issue for some students, and always will be. AV1 provides another route for those individuals to access learning. It is not just one AV1 for one child, it keeps rolling on, supporting many students as a long-term investment."

Using AV1s means we are not limiting a child’s progress and their lives moving forward. We can allow children to learn and socialise, no matter their experience or educational journey.

– Eleanor Webber, Lead SENCO

Looking for more information?