MORE than 100 delegates from Glasgow to Cornwall crammed into Bolton’s Holiday Inn for two days as part of assistive solutions provider, Barry Bennett’s first ever Spring Workshop.

The event was an opportunity for assessors from universities, local authorities and workplaces to try out new software whilst receiving basic training and certificates from a variety of companies, including Claro Software.

Claro Software at Barry Bennett

Claro Software Managing Director Dr Alasdair King, said: “We are here partly because we are supporting Barry Bennett. But it is also a great opportunity for us; it is very difficult to get all the assessors in one place. It is really good to have them all here to show them ClaroRead Pro.

“The difference between this and other events is that this is free for assessors – and all the assessors receive a certificate. It gives them the opportunity to follow up what they have learnt and do other accredited courses.

“And it gives us the opportunity to make contacts – it’s always good to reaffirm relationships and get feedback.”

The Claro Software Training Zone, an online learning facility for assessors, now offers training certificates in ClaroRead; but if assessors prefer face-to-face training, the newly refurbished Preston-based Claro Software offices also facilitate sessions.

“We are always here for assessors to come and meet us,” Dr King adds. “We can offer more in-depth training sessions or webinars; there’s plenty for them to learn.”

One of those keen to learn more was delegate Irene Scott, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in the Continuous Professional Development course at University of Chester.

Scott is currently teaching a module to enable teachers to ensure learners with special needs, or literacy difficulties, have equal access to learning.

She said the day had shown her that technology enables anyone to learn from a ‘level playing field.’

“I am really grateful for this opportunity; I have already invited two people to come and give demonstrations at the university. My staff will be delighted to know that they can make a difference.”

As well as broadening technological opportunities, the event also focussed on more topical issues, and gave in-depth tutorials and demonstrations.

Michelle Wickenden, of Student Finance England, took questions from the floor in the most keenly attended event of the day, held in the Holiday Inn’s beautiful cloisters annexe.

Antony Bennett, Managing Director of the company founded by his father Barry, said the day aimed to broaden the normal exhibition experience.

“We wanted to deliver something for the assessors so they would really get something out of the day. They really have to maximise their time when they are out of the office.

“We would have every intention of doing it again, if demand is there. The first one has been a bit of a learning curve, but the feedback has been great so far.”

Gary Quigley, of Nuance, the creators of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, agreed events like this were essential to keep assessors in the loop of the latest developments.

“Because we deal with the technology every day, we assume people know about it. But often, even though it is their job, assessors may not have heard of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. So it’s always important for us to get the word out there that we can support anyone with speech recognition.”

Having recently become Nuance Premier Partners, Claro Software are now Nuance’s sole distributor of the Government-based Assess to Work range of products, designed to help give all abilities a level playing field in both business and the workplace.

“We came up with a product range that was particularly suited to this market,” Quigley explained. “And Claro Software werewas chosen to take on the range.”

Late in the afternoon, Dr King – a former UMIST researcher – limbered up for the final go to the ClaroRead Pro Web Page demonstration of the day.

Although energies were flagging after a long day, attention spans were still keen, and the room was packed.

Assessors often face a difficult task finding the right product for their students; but the hands-on, interactive approach of the day’s workshop seemed the perfect way to engage their interest and understanding.