An interview with Unifrog Area Manager and Gatsby Champion, Charley Fowler
What is the Unifrog interactions tool?
The Unifrog Interactions tool is a tool for both students and teachers. For teachers, it’s a great way to track evidence of all careers guidance interactions - one-to-one careers meetings, employer encounters and visits to universities and FE institutions, etc. - for each of the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks. The student side is a live feed of all these interactions, where they can see at-a-glance which interactions they’ve had and what’s coming up.
What are the key benefits of using the Unifrog Interactions tool?
First of all, it provides and tracks evidence for Gatsby Benchmarks. Everyone’s worried about showing they’re meeting these so it’s great that the tool shows you how much evidence you’ve gathered. You can then break this down. You can see which students have evidence for each benchmark and which don’t and filter by groups of students. For example, if you wanted to compare pupil premium against all students, it’s very easy to do that.
Secondly, the tool is a fantastic opportunity for gathering feedback from different people. When logging interactions, you can prompt students to comment and provide feedback on whether they thought the interaction was meaningful. You can also produce personalised reports for each student, so it’s easy to share information with other teachers and get their feedback.
Thirdly, and I think most importantly, students can see all their interactions. The statutory guidance explains that in order to meet Benchmark 3, students should have access to the information that’s logged about them and the Unifrog Interactions tool is really quite unique in that it does exactly that. This allows them to make better applications, whatever their next step. For example, if I’m in making an application for Sixth Form in year 11, I can quickly and easily refer back to an employer encounter in year 9 or a trip to a college in year 10 and add it to my application.
What’s your favourite thing you can do with the Interactions tool?
One piece of feedback that I hear all the time is how much the Interactions tool benefits one-to-one guidance interviews. Sometimes careers advisers feel like interviews are really meaningful at the time but once the meetings over, no further action is taken. The Interactions tool is really powerful at making sure all this valuable information and next steps are recorded and easy to track to help students and staff make the most of these meetings.
What always surprises people about the Interactions tool?
Teachers are always surprised by how easy it is to get started using the tool effectively. As all teachers can add interactions for every student, it’s easy to roll out across the school and you can start logging interactions instantly - there doesn't need to be any special permissions granted or anything. Another thing that makes it easy is the ability to upload in bulk. Say I take 50 students on a trip, I can just upload the register onto Unifrog and it logs the interaction for all those students.
Teachers who don’t have direct responsibility for careers guidance are also surprised by how easy it is to log interactions as the tool suggests which Gatsby Benchmark it aligns to. For example, if you log a trip to a workplace, the tool will suggest you link this to Benchmarks 5 and 6.
What’s changed for schools that are using the Interactions tool well?
I’d say they’re definitely saving time and working more efficiently. They’re saving time as the tool reduces extra paperwork, there’s no emails flying around about who did what and when. And they’re working more efficiently as being able to crunch the data makes spotting gaps in provision really easy so they’re able to constantly improve. For example, at the end of the academic year, you can go through the interactions you’ve logged and filter by those ranked as meaningful or not so you can improve what you offer to students next year.
What are some examples of best practice that you’ve seen?
Two really simple but effective things. The first one is that, as part of an effective careers strategy, schools should be gathering feedback from everyone involved - staff, students, parents, employers. The tool’s function to download a personalised report for each child is key here as you can send it home to parents alongside reports or hand it out at parents evening.
Additionally, as you can log future events, students get reminders - for example that they have a trip to a workplace coming up so they’ve got time to prepare to make it as meaningful as possible.
What are your 3 top tips for getting the most from the Interactions tool?
1. Make sure there’s clear roles and responsibilities. The careers strategy is all about embedding careers across the whole school so it needs to be clear who’s logging what. This will make sure no interactions are missed and spreads the workload making everybody's lives easier.
2. Take advantage of being able to log interactions against multiple benchmarks. For example, you can log a student’s university visit against Gatsby Benchmarks 3 and 7. This saves you finding additional evidence - you’re already doing great stuff, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!
3. Link interactions to other tools on Unifrog. For example, if you've logged a trip to an FE college, link it to the College & Sixth Form search tool so that students are prompted to go and explore further. This helps students understand the purpose of each interaction and how it contributes to their careers journey.