EXPERT COMMENT: Pre-school Learning Alliance underfunded nursery places

Iain McMath, CEO of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, a leading provider of childcare vouchers in the UK, comments on the Pre-school Learning Alliance report in to underfunded nursery places:

“The nursery sector is currently under intense pressure, with 49% of nurseries fearing they will be forced to close as a result of the government’s most recent plans to improve childcare provision. The government’s intention to increase free childcare for 3-4 years olds from 15 hours to 30 hours per week is an unrealistic target, with 58% of nurseries saying this would have a negative financial impact on their business. This is a very real problem, with many respondents already stating that they are planning their close. Nurseries have admitted that the only way to plug the shortfall in funding for each free childcare place is to increase the expense on paid childcare.

 

Childcare is currently funded by many working parents through employer-supported Childcare Vouchers, however this system is due to be replaced by Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) which will begin its roll out in early 2017. Claims that TFC will save parents up to £2,000 per year are misleading, with 66% of households estimated to be worse off under this new scheme, according to a recent study by Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services. Furthermore, along with increased nursery costs, it is likely that this could make childcare – outside of free government subsidies – very hard to afford.

 

For parents that need help right now, the existing Childcare Voucher scheme can currently save each parent up to £933 per year, contributing £1,866 to a family when both parents are working – this can equate to a possible joint saving of more than £25,000 over the 15 year duration of the scheme. As such, parents who are looking for help with their staggering childcare costs would be best served to sign up for Childcare Vouchers now, before they are closed to new entrants in April 2018.”

 

OUTSTANDING’ INVESTMENT FOR EPSL EDUCATIONAL PRINTING

Leading educational resources and learning solutions provider EPSL Educational Printing has revitalised its branding and communications to provide greater support to schools and colleges.

The company has invested in a new e-commerce website, www.eprint.co.uk, with a range of features to help customers quickly and easily access its products and services.

An enhanced user-experience for placing orders and revisiting historic purchases has been introduced alongside practical and specialist advice for managing deliveries.

EPSL Educational Printing manufactures and supplies a range of standard and bespoke materials, including Exercise Books, Homework Diaries and Record Books, to schools and colleges throughout the UK and internationally.

The website also includes products from the company’s EPSL EPrint Publishing range of books, which are written by leading educational authors.

They include subject specific and cross curriculum titles that have been developed with KS1 and KS2 in mind.

Selected titles follow guidelines from the Dyslexic Association and are specifically written to appeal to Reluctant Readers.  

EPSL Educational Printing’s second generation Managing Director, David Pickering, whose father Fred, a former teacher, set up the business more than forty years ago, explained:

“Our new branding and communications strategy is the result of more than 12 months’ work and offers greater support to customers.

“Our products and services are now far easier to navigate and access, clearly demonstrating more than 40 years’ expertise in the educational printing industry.

“The new branding brings clarity to our range of quality products and services which benefit millions of pupils across the UK every day.”

Naace announces new chair to drive education technology standards

Dave Smith

The national education technology association, Naace, today announced the appointment of Dave Smith, computing and online safety adviser at Havering’s Education Services as its new Chair.

 

His appointment comes at a time when Naace is increasingly being recognised as the organisation from which schools and colleges can gain advice on the effective use of education technology.  For four decades, Naace has worked with successive UK governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) to keep UK PLC at the forefront of the use of education technology to improve outcomes for learners.  Naace continues to be the umbrella professional association, representing the voice of the UK education technology community at a national and international level.

 

With 15 years of experience in education technology, including the last 10 in the London Borough of Havering, Dave Smith is set to support CEO Mark Chambers in driving forward a number of exciting new opportunities. These will include a Procurement Advisory Service, innovative accreditations through The Naace Open Badge Academy, and providing essential guidance to those schools who recognise that collaborating with an independent body is fundamental to improving their effective use of education technology. The fact that schools engaging with the Naace Self Review Framework (SRF) have performed significantly better when measured by Ofsted, compared with other schools, puts Naace in a strong position to influence the UK government to ensure that education technology is at the heart of the nation’s education system and enables Naace to reach out internationally to build partnerships with likeminded organisations who share Naace’s principles.

 

Commenting on his appointment, Dave Smith said: “I am honoured to represent Naace as its new Chair.   I came into education to improve life chances for children and young people and I saw education technology as a way to help this further. I’m certain that Naace is an organisation that has a pivotal role to play here and collectively, I hope that we can continue to work to put the children and young people first, through the work that we do here at Naace.”

 

DAY OF DISCOVERY: SCHOOLS GATHER IN BIRMINGHAM TO EXPLORE DIGITAL CLASSROOMS OF THE FUTURE

Digital learning event was hosted at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum yesterday

Teachers from some of the UK’s leading digital schools gathered at Birmingham’s Thinktank Science Museum yesterday, to explore the very latest ideas for using education technology in the classroom.

Hosted by Discovery Education, ‘Day of Discovery’ saw teachers gather at the award-winning museum, as part of a tour across the UK, US and Canada, which will visit more than 20 cities this year.

A number of innovative technologies were featured at the one-day event, which enabled schools to share their own experiences of using digital resources to transform learning.

Teachers from Scotch Orchard Primary School in Staffordshire led a fascinating session on augmented reality, which creates a magical, interactive reading experience for pupils. Headteacher Wendy Horden and Deputy Headteacher Jo Bishop showed how the innovative technology adds a new dimension to literacy lessons, bringing books to life and engaging reluctant readers.

Maintaining creativity against a background of curricular change was a key focus of the day, with teachers exploring how digital technology can encourage pupil innovation, while meeting new curriculum goals and standards. Schools also took part in an interactive maths session, which underlined the important role ed-tech can play in boosting STEM attainment.

One of the schools taking part was Coventry based Grangehurst Primary School. Assistant Headteacher Gemma Clarke said:

“There was an amazing atmosphere at the conference, and we really enjoyed connecting with other teachers who are inspired to use technology in inventive ways. Discovery Education Community events always provide fantastic new ideas and a positive energy that we take straight back into the classroom. I know that we will see the impact upon our pupils immediately.”

The teachers attending ‘Day of Discovery’ were from Discovery Education’s partner schools across the Midlands, London, and the South East, all of whom use pioneering digital technologies and content in their classrooms.

Helen Miller, Head of Community at Discovery Education said:

“We were delighted to bring our flagship community-led conference to Birmingham for the first time. There was a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm at the event today, and it was great to see so many teachers connecting with each other. Day of Discovery is a fantastic opportunity for schools who are enthused about using digital resources to connect with one another, and share ideas and best practice.”

The Discovery Education Community, which reaches over 2 million teachers worldwide, is one of the fastest growing networks for teachers in the UK. The Community connects members in their own school, across the country and around the world through in-person and online events, networking, idea sharing and inspiration.

Academy Trusts risk falling foul of new company ownership rules warns RSM

RSM is warning Academy Trusts they run the risk of penalties if they fail to comply with new rules on company ownership disclosure which came into force in April.

The new regulations require most UK companies and charitable companies, including Academy Trusts, to keep a register of those people who own or have significant control over them. All Academy Trusts and wholly owned subsidiaries which are subject to the new rules will also have to file details with Companies House from 30 June 2016.

The Register of People with Significant Control (PSC) Regulations set out five conditions by which a person may have significant control over a company. The most relevant of these conditions catches those who control more than 25 per cent of a company or who control more than 25 per cent of the voting rights. For Academy Trusts this means looking at the members. Academy Trusts with four members would not necessarily be caught by the new rules, but those with three or fewer could be.

The legislation was introduced to increase transparency in UK companies in order to foster greater trust among businesses, investors, employees and consumers.

Hannah Catchpool, an audit partner at RSM who specialises in Academy Trusts said: ‘In the wake of the Panama Papers affair, we’ve heard a lot about the action taken by the Government to increase transparency but the fact that these rules also apply to Academy Trusts may come as something of a surprise.

‘These new regulations have their origin in a G8 initiative to increase transparency around company ownership, notably for the benefit of the investment community. Arguably, the extension of this requirement to Academy Trusts is an unintended consequence, but this doesn’t absolve Academy Trusts from having to comply. Trustees need to ensure that action is taken now, otherwise they could face penalties.’

To summarise, there are four things which need to be done:

  1. IDENTIFY persons with significant control, obtain and confirm their information, if applicable;
  2. RECORD the information in your PSC register;
  3. DISCLOSE the information  in your annual confirmation statement (formerly the annual return) to Companies House from 30 June 2016; and
  1. UPDATE the information in its PSC register when it changes and notify the changes to Companies House on the next confirmation statement.

It is important to remember that the PSC register should not be blank and therefore where an Academy Trust has no PSC it will need to confirm that, having taken reasonable steps, there is no registerable person or registrable relevant legal entity.

SHAKESPEARE 400: IAN McKELLEN JOINS DISCOVERY EDUCATION DIGITAL BROADCAST TO SCHOOLS

Ian McKellen Press Pic

Virtual field trip will mark 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and be broadcast to schools worldwide on 22 April

Schools around the world are being invited to tune in to a unique digital broadcast next week, as part of global celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

Discovery Education, one of the UK’s leading providers of digital content to schools, will host a virtual field trip from Stratford-upon-Avon on 22 April,  giving students worldwide the chance to explore the Bard’s birthplace, school, and other historic locations without leaving their classrooms. Presented by Diane Louise Jordan, ‘Shakespeare 400’ will provide a compelling insight into the life and legacy of the greatest writer in the English language.

The programme includes an interview with the actor Ian McKellen, one of the world’s leading performers of Shakespeare. He talks enthusiastically about his passion for pupils experiencing the power of Shakespeare through seeing his plays performed on stage as they were intended to be.

In the interview Ian McKellen said: “When Shakespeare was writing his plays – 37 of them – 400 years ago, he didn’t publish the scripts, they were for the actors.  He wanted you to come to hear the words spoken and see the play. Although the plays are 400 years old, they go on being more than relevant, they go on being entertaining, illuminating – and for me that’s what makes Shakespeare the best writer of them all.”

Aimed at pupils in Key Stages 2 and 3 and anchored from Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall at King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon, the programme will offer an exclusive glimpse of the classroom where the young Shakespeare spent his formative years, shaping his future as the world’s greatest English language playwright. Pupils watching will witness a re-enacted Tudor lesson, and be among the first to ‘step inside’ the newly renovated 600 year old building, described by historian Michael Wood as ‘one of the most atmospheric, magical and important in the whole of Britain.’

Moving to London, the virtual field trip will also explore Shakespeare’s life in the Tudor capital, with a tour of some of the city’s hidden Shakespeare locations, ending at the famous Globe Theatre. Meanwhile, pupils will see Macbeth brought to life in a fun and accessible way, through a pioneering project that immerses a whole school in a Shakespeare play for a term, and they’ll hear how the themes of Shakespeare’s work are still relevant today.

Scheduled for broadcast on the eve of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this free programme will be watched simultaneously by thousands of children around the world in a unique commemoration of his life and works.

Lewis Bronze MBE, Founder and Director of Content at Discovery Education said:

“The Shakespeare 400 broadcast gives pupils everywhere the opportunity to be involved in the global anniversary celebrations. The programme will shine a light on Shakespeare’s relevance in the 21st century, helping teachers to bring his writing and historical context to life in a way which will engage today’s learners.”

The Shakespeare 400 virtual field trip is freely available to all schools, and teachers are encouraged to register online here to access the 25 minute broadcast on 22 April: www.shakespeare-400.eventbrite.co.uk. An on-demand version will be available on the Discovery Education website after the event. The site will also offer free, engaging teaching resources including lesson plans and cross-curricular digital content.

OUTSTANDING’ INVESTMENT FOR EPSL EDUCATIONAL PRINTING

Leading educational resources and learning solutions provider EPSL Educational Printing has revitalised its branding and communications to provide greater support to schools and colleges.

The company has invested in a new e-commerce website with a range of features to help customers quickly and easily access its products and services.

An enhanced user-experience for placing orders and revisiting historic purchases has been introduced alongside practical and specialist advice for managing deliveries.

EPSL Educational Printing manufactures and supplies a range of standard and bespoke materials, including Exercise Books, Homework Diaries and Record Books, to schools and colleges throughout the UK and internationally.

The website also includes products from the company’s EPSL EPrint Publishing range of books, which are written by leading educational authors.

They include subject specific and cross curriculum titles that have been developed with KS1 and KS2 in mind.

Selected titles follow guidelines from the Dyslexic Association and are specifically written to appeal to Reluctant Readers.  

EPSL Educational Printing’s second generation Managing Director, David Pickering, whose father Fred, a former teacher, set up the business more than forty years ago, explained:

“Our new branding and communications strategy is the result of more than 12 months’ work and offers greater support to customers.

“Our products and services are now far easier to navigate and access, clearly demonstrating more than 40 years’ expertise in the educational printing industry.

“The new branding brings clarity to our range of quality products and services which benefit millions of pupils across the UK every day.”

RUSHED GOVERNMENT REFORMS PLACE DISABLED STUDENTS AT RISK, WARNS RANDSTAD

Rushed reforms to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) have the potential to place disadvantaged students at significant risk if implemented, Randstad Student Support has warned.

New minimum requirements introduced through the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF), could leave vulnerable students without the necessary support as many support workers will be unable to register to work with new students after the 18th April 2016 deadline.

 

In some cases, two professional qualifications will be expected of workers – as opposed to one – which the majority of workers hold under the pre-existing requirements, in effect up until February 2016. This will leave 80% of current Specialist One-to-One Study Skills Support tutors outside of the new criteria, according to a recent survey conducted by the Association of Non-Medical Help Providers.

 

This will have a significant impact for vulnerable students due to a shortfall in workers which may result in students being unsupported. Existing support workers may find themselves pushed out of their current positions and without enough time to gain the additional required professional qualifications. The QAF completely disregards a worker’s past experience of supporting students. Instead some workers, that may have been supporting students in excess of 10 years, will now be required to obtain membership to a professional body – to enable them to support any new students. Obtaining professional body membership can be extremely difficult as they require professional qualifications which can take more than 2 years to complete.  According to the Association of Non-Medical Help Providers survey, 93% of Specialist Mentors assisting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder fail to meet the professional criteria, as well as 55% of specialist mentors who work alongside students with mental health conditions.

 

Randstad is calling upon The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) to consider three courses of action. Firstly, to delay the introduction of the reforms, allowing workers sufficient time to adjust in order to ensure new students are not limited by staff and skill shortages. In addition, asking for more relevant minimum professional requirements for workers, which are tailored to support students’ needs. And finally, for new measures which recognise the valuable contribution of long-term sector specialist workers, ensuring their professional competencies are measured against support expectations.

These steps will help produce reasonable and measured reforms which can be adopted throughout the sector and collectively benefit both students and support providers.

 

Victoria Short, Managing Director of Randstad Student Support, comments: “Providing high quality support for disabled students should be the priority – and having the necessary staff numbers to do this is vital. Support workers are a valuable lifeline for many vulnerable students trying to achieve their academic potential – but students are being let down by a fundamental lack of understanding.

 

“Existing workers have amassed crucial experience and skills through their time within the sector – but the value of this has been completely overlooked. Prioritising additional professional qualifications prevents new students from working alongside some of the most talented and adept employees in the sector. For employees who have spent years dedicating their careers to helping young people achieve their goals, it will feel like a kick in the teeth. It’s a shake-up which the sector isn’t ready for – and the government need to realise that.

 

“Rushing through changes amounts to a reckless approach threatening the support system which students depend upon. These new requirements need to be postponed until the government can guarantee that students’ learning will not be adversely affected and that current support providers are given the professional respect their experience demands.”

 

Randstad Student Support – the UK’s leading provider of support to students with disabilities – operates across more than 160 universities and colleges, last year helping 28,000 students with disabilities and additional learning needs to achieve their academic aims.

70th Annual Co-operative Charity Festival comes to The Civic

The Civic hosts a special evening session on Wednesday 20 April to celebrate 70 years of the Co-operative Barnsley Youth Music & Drama Festival.

 

Taking place at Emmanuel Church from Monday 18 April to Friday 22 April, the week-long annual festival showcases the talents of hundreds of young drama and music enthusiasts from Barnsley and across Yorkshire, in an array of classes for individuals, duos, quartets and ensembles to larger groups of instrumentalists and choirs. The 70th Co-operative Youth Music & Drama Festival will conclude with ‘A Grand Finale Concert’ featuring all the Class Winners on the Friday evening at The Church, and a special evening session will be held The Civic on Wednesday 20 April.

 

Angela Dawson, Secretary from the Co-operative Barnsley Youth Music & Drama Festival said:

“We appreciate how difficult it is to bring the arts into schools, and the difficulties Music Services have in encouraging schools to be a part of this exciting and essential part of youth learning and discovery in the Arts. As part of our growing relationship with Barnsley Hub and Barnsley Music Services we have agreed to bring part of our festival into The Civic; with the goodwill of Alex Francis (Service Development Officer from Barnsley Music Service) and The Civic. We are really looking forward to an excellent evening of performances all adjudicated by a professional adjudicator who will give constructive feedback to support both performers and teachers alike.”

 

The Co-operative Barnsley Youth Music & Drama Festival at The Civic will include a performance by Barnsley Junior Band as part of the BBC Ten Piece Project. Angela explains “This year we have introduced special classes to incorporate the BBC Ten Pieces Project, as well as reviewing many of our individual and group classes to make Drama and Music accessible for all.” The BBC Ten Piece Project aims to open up the world of classical music to children and inspire them to develop their own creative responses to ten pieces of music through composition, dance or digital art.

 

Since its inception the Barnsley Youth Music and Drama Festival has been supported by the Co-operative movement and gained Charitable Status in 2006. The Festival has been independently organised by a voluntary Festival Committee since 2005 and is part of the Barnsley Music Education Hub.

 

Angela Dawson concludes:

“Our long-term expectations is to continue our relationship with the Barnsley Hub and encourage more young talent in the Barnsley schools to enter our festival.  This year we have an exceptionally high number of entries throughout the week, giving the people of Barnsley an excellent week of drama and music competitions from youngsters 3 – 20 years of age.”

 

Daily spectator tickets are available on the door from £2.50 – £5 each and children under 14 go free (if accompanied by an adult). For more information visit www.barnsleycymdfestival.co.uk or contact Festival chairman, Mrs Margaret Venables on 01126 752576 / info@barnsleycymdfestival.co.uk

 

Northern Ballet Challenges Barnsley Schools

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Internationally renowned company Northern Ballet delivered free creative workshops at four Primary Schools in the Barnsley area, ahead of their new ballet for children at The Civic in April.

 

Earlier this year, The Civic contacted schools throughout Barnsley to offer a free half-day creative workshop based on Northern Ballet’s new production, Tortoise & The Hare. The response was overwhleming and four primary schools were selected by The Civic on a first-come-first-served basis. These were Hope House and Joseph Locke Primary School, and special education schools Greenacre and North Ridge Community.

 

The workshops aim to give pupils the chance to work with a professional ballet company and learn steps from the production. The sessions included a fun warm up, and explored the story and characters from the show, giving students the chance to try out some of the moves for themselves.

 

Mrs Denner Y3-6 teacher, from Hope House School said:

“Keisha from Northern Ballet visited our school to conduct a workshop about their production the Tortoise and the Hare which children will attend in April. The children saw pictures from the production and discussed the plot and themes and enjoyed dancing to music in partners, learning routines and expressing their own creativity. The children really enjoyed working with her”.

 

Debbie Lunn Personalised Communication Lead from Greenacre School said:

“The Greenacre pupils really enjoyed taking part in the Northern ballet workshop. The session was pitched well for our pupils, and the activities were adapted appropriately so that the needs of all our pupils were met. All pupils were fully engaged and on task from beginning to end, which is often quite a challenge for some of our learners!”

 

The workshops took place at the schools and were are delivered as part of Northern Ballet’s ‘Short Ballets for Small People’ initiative; to introduce children and their families to ballet and the theatre for the first time. The Civic is delighted to once again programme Northern Ballet’s latest production in the Company’s award-winning series of Short Ballets for Small People, following on from the successes of Ugly Duckling, Three Little Pigs and Elves & the Shoemaker.

 

Helen Ball Chief Executive at The Civic, Barnsley said:

“We’re always pleased to work with and progamme works by Northern Ballet at The Civic. Their free workshops allow us the invaluable opportunity to inspire children in our community with dance and theatre, directly in their school. And, their shows enable children and their families to enjoy wonderful live performances designed especially for them, in their local theatre.”

 

Tortoise & the Hare is a re-imagining of Aesop’s much-loved fable of a Tortoise who, tired of being teased for his slowness, challenges a speedy Hare to a race. Lasting approximately 40 minutes, Tortoise & The Hare is at The Civic on Tuesday 5 April at 12pm, 2pm & 4pm. Tickets are £6 full price and £5 concessions.

 

For more information and to book visit www.barnsleycivic.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01226 327000.