Our BT and Microsoft SEND Festivals were a roaring success!

It’s vital that you have the right tech in place to support your students with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND)

At BT, we’re passionate about helping to remove barriers to learning for students and ensuring that every student gets the same opportunities for learning. Modern technology has provided us with the means to do this, even enabling students to take part in lessons and activities which previously would have been impossible for them.  From the conversations we’ve been having with our education customers, we’ve found that they appear to be fully clued up on assistive technology which helps students work around their disabilities and assists them in everyday life, such as hearing devices. However, we’ve also found that they’re less aware of technology which helps students with learning difficulties, or attention and behaviour disorders, to improve their learning and increase engagement. So, we decided to do something about it and set about raising awareness within schools about how technology can help.


The SEND Festivals

As you’ve probably heard, over the months of June-July, alongside our friends at Tablet Academy, we delivered 10 Accessible Learning Festivals across the country. The aim of these festivals was to showcase to teachers how they can engage, support, and enhance learning outcomes for students with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). We delivered each Festival at a different ‘host’ school, at which we had both a morning and an afternoon session. For each session, we invited 4 different schools with 1 teacher and 4 students from each.

The focus of these events was on the Learning Tools available from Microsoft, and the features within Windows 10 devices that can help to enhance learning outcomes for students with SEND. The students were given multiple tasks to do throughout the day involving the Windows 10 devices from HP, Dell, Asus, Microsoft Surface, Toshiba and Acer:

Station 1 – Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft: Education Edition task Minecraft: Education Edition task

In this task, students had to work together in pairs and complete 2 tasks within the Minecraft game. One of the students had to follow the instructions and navigate their way through the game, whilst the other students had to write down a set of instructions on how they progressed through the game. This task got the students really engaged in their learning in a gamified environment which they already know and love. It also supported them with their instructional writing and helped them in following a sequenced set of instructions.

‘Minecraft was extremely popular for the students with ADHD and emotional disabilities. One teacher even said it’s the first time they’ve seen a specific student sit still and focus on one activity consistently for 30 minutes, as they normally lose focus quite quickly.’ – David Fuller, Tablet Academy Lead at SEND Festival

Want to learn more about how to use Minecraft in the classroom? – https://www.businessdirect.bt.com/mini-sites/microsoft-in-education/#minecraft


Station 2 – Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote solve a crime task

This task was by far the favourite of the 4 tasks amongst the students. They were asked to solve a crime by analysing a set of clues that were found within OneNote Learning Tools and around the room, including the crime scene that was set up in the corner. The task had them working in groups and collaborating with each other, encouraging social interactions and building their confidence when speaking in front of others. The unique and imaginative nature of the task really got the students engaged and excited about their learning. They also got to practice using their critical thinking skills when analysing the diverse set of clues and coming to their own conclusions.

Want to learn more about how OneNote can help to improve learning outcomes? – https://www.businessdirect.bt.com/mini-sites/education-assistive-technology/microsoft#onenote 


Station 3 – 3D Paint



In this task, the students were given a set of instructions on how to create a 3D image of a Clown fish using 3D Paint. First, they had to draw a 2D image of their fish using a digital pen or their fingers on the touchscreen display, before then converting them into 3D objects. This task really brought out the students creative sides and helped engage those students who find reading and writing more difficult. The fact that the instructions included images, as well as text, helped the students to better comprehend what was being asked of them. This task was also great for students with sensory or physical disabilities, as it enabled tactile interaction for those who had difficulties with holding pen and paper or using a keyboard and mouse.

Want to learn more about how the Creators Update brought more accessibility features to Windows? – https://www.businessdirect.bt.com/mini-sites/education-assistive-technology/microsoft/#creators-update


Station 4 – BBC Micro Bits

BBC Micro:Bits teaching coding

This station involved students learning how to code by using their BBC Micro:Bit plugged into a device. They were asked to follow a set of instructions in which they programmed the BBC Micro:Bit using JavaScript in a drag and drop coding environment, in order to make their name appear on their device. This task engaged the students by showing them that coding doesn’t have to be boring and that the possibilities of what they can create with code are endless. It also helped showcase to teachers how they can teach code in an easy, simplified way, using drag and drop coding for students who find looking at strings of code intimidating or hard to comprehend.

If you’re interested in purchasing Micro:bit, you can buy them from the Tablet Academy Online Shop.

Or, if you want to find out more about different ways of incorporating coding into your classroom – https://www.businessdirect.bt.com/mini-sites/future-proof/coding 

What equipment did we use?

HP x2 210 10.1” 2-in-1 Laptop – We used this 2-in-1 laptop on the 3D paint station, as it’s extremely flexible and can be detached to use as a tablet. Its amazing touchscreen and digital inking capabilities made it ideal for this drawing task.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 12.3” Tablet – The Surface Pro 4 was used for the OneNote Crime Scene task. The 10-point multi-touch screen and digital inking made it easy for the students to collaborate on using both fingers or the Surface Pen. The multi-positional kickstand also meant that they could find their most comfortable way of working.

Toshiba Satellite Pro R50-C-179 15.6” Laptop – We used this device on the Minecraft station as its solid, robust design lent itself to a task which involved spending a significant amount of time on the device. The 6th Generation Intel® Core™ processor was also more than capable of running the Minecraft programme with ease.

ASUS T100HA 10.1” 2-in-1 Transformer Book – This 2-in-1 Asus device was used on the Micro:Bit station and according to the event lead it was the favourite out of all the devices at the Festivals. Its extremely lightweight design and detachable keyboard made it easy for all the students to carry, and the compact keyboard was the perfect size for little hands.

Acer Switch One 10 10.1” Laptop – This Acer device was also used in the Minecraft section. The magnetic hinge made it more accessible for students with learning needs that required them to use the device in different modes. And with up to 10 hours battery life, it meant it could power through the full day.

Dell Latitude 3189 Education 11.6” 2-in-1 Laptop – This Dell device was also used on the Crime Scene task. Its versatility to switch between modes made it easy for the students to collaborate and share ideas on. And the ruggedised features and sealed, spill resistant keyboard ensured there were no accidents. Ring us for information on customising this product – 0870 429 3020



We’ve had some fantastic feedback from all of the events, and both the teachers and students seemed really engaged and pleased with how the day progressed. Here are some of the positive things the teachers had to say on the day –

  • The touchscreen tablets ensured all our pupils could access the technology.
  • Pupils worked together and helped each other. Good collaboration and communication opportunities.
  • Supportive environment, the event leaders were present and circulating the room, ensuring everyone was on track and knew what they were doing. Very helpful.
  • The STEM Festival was very enjoyable and the students seemed to engage really positively with it. The Murder Mystery activity, in particular, was a favourite as it evoked their curiosity and got them out of their seats exploring clues with a UV light – they loved this! Our students also seemed to enjoy the Minecraft activity as it was something they were all familiar with.


If you’re interested in attending any of our events in the future, please fill out our interest form and let us know which kinds of events you’d like to attend. We’ll then contact you when we have one in your area – http://marketing.businessdirect.bt.com/events-sign-up

Get the conversation started, call us for free, no obligation advice. Contact our Education IT Specialists:
0870 429 3020

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