Can technology tackle the global literacy problem?

London, November 13, 2017 – 13 companies around the world are selected by UK based global education publisher Pearson and the US-based venture capitalist The Unreasonable Group to combat the worldwide problem of low literacy. Among this select group of companies is Wizenoze, an Artificial Intelligence company specializing in readability. Wizenoze’s scalable machine learning technology has the potential to help tackle this worldwide problem.

Project Literacy Lab
Project Literacy Lab, supported by Pearson and The Unreasonable Group, is the world’s first accelerator for entrepreneurs focused on closing the global literacy gap. Pearson selected a group of 13 groundbreaking ventures from around the world to solve the problem of low literacy. The Project Literacy Lab is part of the broader Project Literacy campaign, which aims to build a grassroots movement and drive targeted action towards achieving universal literacy by 2030. Illiteracy is a global problem. It affects more than 750 million human lives – one in ten people living today. It costs the world $1.19 trillion a year.
Wizenoze
Wizenoze, an AI company based in Amsterdam and London, helps to close the global literacy gap by improving the readability of published material and by improving discoverability of content matched to reading ability. At Wizenoze everyone is committed to making the lives of millions of people better, by giving them access to information they can read and understand.
10-day program
An extensive selection was made to participate in the program, with a focus on the scalability of the technology and the current success of the company. Participating companies must all be able to become a global player in the short term. The 10-day accelerator will take place in Connecticut, USA in November and will bring together the 13 for-profit ventures and over 50 mentors who will help these talented entrepreneurs solve their business challenges by exposing them to new approaches and insights. The companies will be presented to customers and investors.
Daniel Epstein, founder and CEO of Unreasonable Group about Project Literacy Lab: “Many of these entrepreneurs are already measurably closing the global literacy gap with technologies we didn’t know existed – profitably. Unlike most accelerator programs, we are choosing to align with solutions that have already proven to be effective in market. Now, we’re helping these entrepreneurs scale their ventures across countries and continents to impact hundreds of millions of lives.”
Significant opportunity for accelerated international success
Founder Diane Janknegt is incredibly grateful for this exclusive invitation. “It is Wizenoze’s ambition to use our technology to solve the worldwide problem of low literacy. We look forward to a day when more publishers worldwide create multiple versions of their content by reading level and more authors and teachers check whether their writing and resources are matched to the reading level of the students they are working with. Our selection for this exclusive program is a wonderful springboard to bring this to a global audience. Since the spring of 2017 Wizenoze has been active in the English market. This will now be extended to the American and international market.”
 

Students must be prepared to deal with uncertain times, says dean of new King’s Business School

Graduates need to be better equipped to deal with a volatile and rapidly-changing world, says the dean of London’s newest business school.

At the official launch of the King’s Business School, Executive Dean Professor Stephen Bach said the new school aims to meet employers’ demand for younger, more agile and innovative graduates in such unpredictable times.

The School aims to become the premier undergraduate business school and has said it will focus upon UG and specialist Masters courses including marketing, entrepreneurship, finance and talent management, addressing the changing needs of the economy and a demand for lifelong learning.

Professor Bach said: ‘We have listened hard to our School Advisory Board- comprised of top industry minds as well as students and alumni- and what we are hearing is a desire for developing talent in more flexible, creative, digitally savvy graduates who are both very entrepreneurial and strategic in their thinking.

‘Societal expectations of business have altered dramatically in recent years.  Leadership, innovation and the need to deliver both economic and social impact are the major challenges now facing us. But I believe King’s inter-disciplinary strengths and our strong focus on quality education, research and external engagement will create graduates able to apply new thinking to the issues facing business and society today.’

Officially launching the new School with a talk on sustainable and ethical business, the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said: ‘”King’s College London’s Business School, with its deep-rooted sense of social justice and a recognition of the value in diversity will develop the responsible leaders of tomorrow who can help shape an inclusive and sustainable future.”

King’s Business School has emerged out of King’s College London’s renowned School of Management & Business, and comprises a growing body of nearly 100 academic staff, over 40 professional services staff, and close to 2,000 students from more than 80 countries. It is housed in bespoke facilities at the newly refurbished Bush House, Aldwych, the former headquarters of the BBC World Service.

 

Changing lives with Special iApps

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Child using Special Words Pro.

 

STANDFIRST: Tablets and smartphones are a way of life for children in the second decade of the 21st Century – but how much screen time is healthy? As the debate continues about giving young people unfettered access to connected gadgets, it seems that for one cohort the benefits are inarguably positive…

 

CONNECTED devices like smartphones and tablets are part and parcel of modern life.  The number of smartphones, in particular, has reached saturation point. Four out of five adults in the UK has a smartphone – the equivalent of 37 million people – with many having two or more such devices.

According to a survey from Deloitte conducted last year some heavy users exhibit the characteristics of addiction, fretting when they are parted from their devices and waking in the night to check their screens for messages.

So what about children?  Are adults wrong to use tablets as pacifiers or should we encourage children to learn the basics as soon as they are able? Maybe the debate has already been lost. Walk down any high street and you’ll see scores of teenagers, smartphone in hand, tapping out messages with their thumbs oblivious to the real world going on around them.

Children have embraced new technology, leaving adults – juggling jobs and parental responsibilities with their leisure time – scrambling to keep up.

Despite the naysayers, research has shown that when they are used correctly, tablets and smartphones can have a beneficial effect. Educational apps can be useful in teaching young children to read and improve their vocabulary. Touch apps help hand-eye co-ordination and creativity. Mobile learning apps are free from space constraints – a child can learn during five minutes of downtime or during long train journeys or flights.

Educational apps can be particularly beneficial for youngsters with special needs. Children with motor skills challenges find the intuitive touch screen interface much easier to use. Steve Jobs – the genius behind the iPhone and iPad – once famously scorned the notion of using a stylus on a touch screen. “Who wants a stylus?” Jobs asked. “You have to get them and put them away and you lose them. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus.” Instead, the iPhone and the iPad would use “the best pointing device in the world”, said Jobs. The human finger. As far as children with motor skills challenges are concerned, Jobs’ was absolutely right. Picking up a stylus – or a pen – is a chore. Pointing at something with a finger feels natural.

There are more than 60,000 educational apps in the Apple App store – but how many are fit for purpose, especially if you have a child with a disability?

Colin and Beverley Dean launched Special iApps as a non-profit social enterprise from their home in Durham City six years ago. The couple, who both have a background in computer programming, decided to make their own apps after a frustrating quest to find suitable software for their youngest son, William, who has Down syndrome and physical problems, including duodenal atresia, Hirschsprung’s disease, hearing impairment and thyroid deficiency, which affect his speech and learning abilities.

Beverley explains: “A friend urged us to buy an iPad for William. We were in the Apple Store in Newcastle just looking at the phones and a mum who was with her disabled son said: “Oh you must get one of these for William”.  She took her iPhone out of her pocket and gave it to her son. He flicked through lots of different apps and her son was transformed. He went from being totally bored and fed-up to engaging with her and trying to vocalise because she kept switching the apps and he wanted something else.”

The couple were sold on the technology and bought an iPhone immediately but their excitement was short lived. “I got it home and downloaded some apps,” continues Beverley. “But after a while I realised that William wouldn’t be able to use them. They were too fast or you had to go through a learning journey and, for him, that was an exercise in frustration. He didn’t want to do the bit at the beginning, or the middle, he just wanted to do the bit at the end. But those activities wouldn’t be unlocked unless he’d done the others first – or there would be a distracting character on the screen that would attract his attention.  There were loads of distractions.

“Or if I could find a simple one I’d answer a question and the screen would go blank as it moved on to the next activity. I couldn’t sit down with William and say: ‘Look that’s what you’ve done”. William’s memory needed longer to process the outcome.”

Colin explains: “A lot of apps include distracting sounds and animations. This is a bit like TV news bulletins, where there is a person talking, people walking around in the studio behind, a graphic in a rectangular window at the top right with some video playing and a ticker-tape scrolling across the screen at the bottom. There’s all this stuff going on at once and it’s far too much for someone with a learning disability. If you have autism or Down syndrome these apps give you sensory overload.

“It might keep kids occupied and entertained but it doesn’t actually teach them anything and, for some, it’s totally overwhelming and they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing.”

So Beverley asked Colin, who was working in the IT department at Durham University, if he could create an app specifically aimed at children with special educational needs and disabilities with her guidance. “I said to Colin “look this doesn’t work – I’m sure we could do something better than this”. We’re both programmers and we code together. Colin asked what I wanted and I started pulling out all the resources I had in the cupboard.”

For his part, Colin went out and bought himself a book: Teach Yourself iPhone Programming in 24 Hours. In the event it took more like 24 days but it wasn’t long before he had something running as a simulator for William to play around with. Colin explains: “My background is in programming so it wasn’t as if I was starting from scratch. However, it was very different for me because I tended to work at lower levels, systems – IT services – I hadn’t really got much experience in user interface and design. I approached it from the point of view of the resources Beverley had on paper that I knew she wanted to use electronically.”

They started with an iPod touch, a £3,000 grant from UnLtd, a social enterprise charity, and an interest-free credit card which enabled them to buy a Mac and join the Apple Developers Programme. Between them they came up with Special Words, an app which encourages children to match colourful pictures to words.

Although Special Words looks elementary, the visual simplicity masks a complex application which has been designed from scratch to encourage hand-eye co-ordination, increase a child’s vocabulary and improve their vocalisation.

Beverley says: “The key was to make it simple to look at – even when there’s loads going on under the hood. You can send data to another device, print it out and Bluetooth it from Android devices to Apple, because we have customers who might have an iPad and an Android phone, but to a child it’s just a fun activity.”

The first app was a real family affair. Beverley provided the ideas and the resources needed, Colin coded the software, Joseph, the couple’s eldest son, added his voice to the app and, of course, William and his friends acted as beta testers.

Colin says the children’s input was crucial: “We could observe them using the apps. If you have poor hand-eye co-ordination and I give you some physical cards to pick up it is quite difficult. The cards are thin, you can’t get your fingers underneath easily etc. On the other hand, if you put something in front of them to touch and move around it’s much easier than in the real world.

“That helped us realised that there were things William was doing that didn’t work. For instance, he was dragging one of the cards off the screen or he would let go while moving something. That’s where we found the existing apps were unusable because there would be an invisible elastic band dragging the card back or you’d have to place things very precisely.

“If you ask an adult to place a card on a square they place the card within 2mm before letting go. Children with special educational needs don’t conform to that. Therefore, our apps have no negative reward if you don’t conform to the normal expectation.”

Beverley’s circle of mums and dads also helped: “We received great feedback from parents. We had a friend whose husband was American and their little girl was playing with Special Words on our iPod touch. She lay on the floor and played with it while we talked for about half an hour. Afterwards, her mum said: “I can’t believe that because when the speech therapist asks her to do something she has a temper tantrum.”  Yet here she was using something very small like an iPod touch because the app engaged her.”

When it went on sale in 2011, Special Words was an instant hit.  William’s app was a boon to other children just like him all over the world.

And it wasn’t just parents but also teachers who were encouraging children to use Special Words to enhance their skills.

The first customer was Hilary Stock, a computer specialist from the Champion Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, a centre for children with mixed disabilities. She still uses it every day.

Hilary, who specialises in the development and delivery of computer and iPad programmes for children with special needs, says: “I like the overall, simplicity of the app. It is engaging and reinforcing without having a whole lot of ‘cute’ animations which could act as distractions.”

Six years later, the company has a family of Special iApps including Special Stories, which helps children create a narrative on a tablet device, Special Numbers, which teaches basic numeracy, Match & Find, My First Signs and Touch Apps for early years.

Along the way they have been joined by another mum, designer and photographer Barbara Lowe, whose daughter Maya also has Down syndrome, and finance specialist Sian Thomas.

“We have put a huge amount of work and research into the design of the images,” said Barbara. “For example, we found that children who have autism find aligned images appealing and those who have Down syndrome find it difficult to see pastel colours. So our images are bright, cheerful and free from unnecessary clutter.”

The couple say they came to a crossroads – they could have given up and just concentrated on looking after William or pressed ahead with their ideas in a bid to make Special iApps an international success story.

“To date we’ve got by keeping our costs very, very low and having some savings and shares from a previous existence,” admits Colin. “We asked ourselves: Have we got a viable business? Or do we keep this as a hobby, retire and look after William, but there are so many more kids we could help.”

So now the couple are preparing to launch a major revision of their first app and gearing up for a major marketing blitz.

Beverley said: “We have developed a new version of the app, Special Words Pro, which can print out your stuff, produces blank reports and has a huge number of curriculum-related resources which can be downloaded.

“We have created resources covering the school curriculum from early years upwards with subjects ranging from the weather, Egyptians, lifecycles and the four seasons.  These add-ons are available to download from our website.”

To go along with that the couple have engaged the services of a marketing agency – Darlington-based Real Results Marketing – and are looking to the launch of the new pro version of Special Words later this month as a relaunch of the entire company.

“We firmly believe there is a market for Special iApps and we don’t want to stop,” adds Beverley. “There’s so much more we could do, especially when we look at how many apps we sell due largely to word of mouth.”

And then there is the company’s chief tester, William, who has just transitioned to secondary school this Autumn.

“We see Special iApps as William’s legacy to the millions of other children all over the world with special needs,” said Colin.

“Without him we wouldn’t have done it and thousands of children around the world wouldn’t be using it.”

ENDS

PUBLIC URGED TO GET INSPIRED BY POLLINATOR HEROES AT BEES’ NEEDS CHAMPIONS AWARDS

A ‘Bee City’ and a successful reintroduction scheme for the short-haired bumblebee are among the innovative projects highlighted today by Defra Minister Lord Gardiner as inspirational examples of action to protect our pollinators.

The annual Bees’ Needs Champions awards, hosted at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, celebrated 17 bee boosting projects from volunteers, schools, charities and councils across the country which are helping pollinators thrive both in the countryside and in our towns and cities.

From buzzing bumble bees to beautiful butterflies, the UK’s 1,500 species of pollinators play a crucial role, helping our flowers, fruit trees and crops to grow and contributing £400-680million per year due to improved productivity.

Speaking at the Bees’ Needs Champions Awards, Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity Lord Gardiner said:

“We must all be thankful for our essential pollinators who do such vital work on our behalf, flying from crop to crop, tree to tree, helping us to grow our food. The champions I had the pleasure to meet today are doing exceptional things to return the favour and look after our pollinators.  We must not leave them to it. We can all play a part.

“Whether it is leaving grass uncut to give bees a home over winter, or inspiring young people to be the pollinator protectors of the future, our combined efforts make a real difference.”

Among the champion projects creating a buzz were the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s short-haired bumblebee re-introduction scheme and the Secret Garden project in Salisbury with their ‘Bee City’ and ‘Bee Trail’.

 

Goldthorpe Primary School in Barnsley and St Albans Primary School in Havant also featured for their pollinator-encouraging enterprises, including building bee hotels, creating wildlife meadows and campaigning in the local community. St Albans school has set up a ‘pollinator promise’ to get the local community involved, too.

 

Outdoor education teacher at St Albans Primary School, Julie Newman, said:

“By working together as a community, Pollinator Promise is about inspiring others to give hungry and homeless bees food and shelter. Each small individual change adds up to make a big difference to pollinators and people.”

 

Friends of the Earth Bee Cause campaigner, Paul de Zylva, said:

“This year’s Bees’ Needs Champions show how anyone anywhere can help our bees and other vital pollinators not just to survive but to thrive.

“The ten year National Pollinator Strategy is now in its fourth year and relies on action by businesses, community groups, farmers, land owners and local councils to improve conditions for pollinators. Doing so is essential to restore nature across the nation.”

 

With winter fast approaching, bees need our help more than ever to provide them with the food and shelter they need to survive the cold.

 

Everyone can follow our three top tips on how we can all help pollinators this winter. You do not have to be an expert gardener to make a difference: from installing urban window boxes to planting the right bulbs, everyone can play their part to ensure bees have food and a home. 

  • Plant flowers, shrubs and trees that thrive in winter. The evergreen mahonia is excellent winter food for bees, while the pendant bells of winter flowering clematis can give pollinators a sugary energy boost. Ivy plants are also an ideal source of food for bees in late autumn – avoid cutting them down.
  • Leave suitable places for hibernation undisturbed. Letting areas of a lawn grow long until the spring can provide a hibernation home while cool, north-facing banks are ideal places for bees to burrow. The hollow tubes of dead stems of plants in borders can also serve as a great nesting spot.
  • Planting early flowering bulbs like crocus, primrose, snowdrop or coltsfoot that flower in February and March to help support bees and pollinators looking for an early feed. Winter is also the perfect time to plant bee-friendly trees, such as acacia, blackthorn and hazel.

Birmingham teachers tackle child anxiety

Teachers at Hallfield School in Edgbaston were, last week, educated on how to spot signs of anxiety and depression in their pupils.

The school invited parent and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist Raj Bassi to run a workshop on Mental Health to give staff an understanding of what mental health disorders are how they can work with children to develop a healthy mental health well-being.

This comes after a recent study by teachers union NASUWT (National Association Of Schoolmasters Union Of Women Teachers) highlighted that children as young as four are suffering from mental health problems such as panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

The survey found that 98% of teachers said they had come into contact with pupils who were experiencing mental health issues. They were most likely to be teenagers, but nearly a fifth (18%) of those surveyed by the union said they had been in contact with four to seven-year-olds showing mental health issues while more than a third (35%) had seen problems in youngsters aged seven to 11.

Raj pointed out: “A child’s mental health could be negatively impacted by a number of things. It could be down to pressure of exams or tests, family problems or even difficulty in making friends at school.

“Many young people don’t know how to deal with negative feelings so it tends to present itself through anger or crying.

“Some of the less obvious signs to look out for are children finding it hard to concentrate, not sleeping or eating, or having regular tummy aches or toilet problems.

“My aim with this workshop was to give the teachers at Hallfield an understanding of mental health disorders and how to support those children that do have mental health difficulties at the school, because unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon.”

The workshop was followed by a special assembly on ‘mindfulness’ the next morning for children in the Upper School where they learnt how to work on handling their emotions and remaining calm.

The Headmaster of Hallfield School, Richard Batchelor, said: “Our teachers and staff take duty of care to our children very seriously so we wanted to get Mrs Bassi in as soon as possible to give us training, in a sense, about the topic of mental health.

“We want our children to know that they’re not alone and it is OK to talk about whatever may be on their minds. The reality is we are on the front line with children everyday so we need to be able to spot the signs when they are feeling troubled. We have good relationships with them and want them to continue feeling comfortable approaching us.”

Secondary schools offered an insight into marketing with one of the world’s biggest chocolate brands

Cadbury World is offering Key Stage 4 and 5 pupils the unique opportunity to bring the topic of marketing to life with an insight into the world-famous Cadbury brand and its award-winning marketing campaigns.

 

Designed to meet KS4 and KS5 Business Studies Marketing learning objectives, this interactive curriculum-linked topic talk offers a detailed look at the marketing mix with a real-life insight into how Cadbury uses the 4P’s; product, place, price and promotion.

 

The talk takes a closer look at a variety of Cadbury products, the brand’s competitors, its advertising campaigns, and the increasing importance of social media as a marketing tool.

 

Students will gain an understanding of how Cadbury utilises marketing frameworks to inform its diverse marketing strategy over many different communication channels to different demographics. There is also the opportunity to discuss historical Cadbury products that have moved through the product life cycle and the different extension strategies used.

 

Students are also offered the opportunity to gain an understanding of why marketing planning tools such as the Boston and Ansoff Matrices, and SWOT, PESTLE analysis models, are utilised.

Exclusive video footage provides an insight into the chocolate making process whilst discussing the reasons why different bars are made and how market research is conducted to find this out. Plus there’s the opportunity to get hands-on with Cadbury chocolate moulds.

 

Before or after the talk, school groups can enjoy all that Cadbury World has to offer, with even more history and insight into the famous brand to discover through the attraction’s chocolatey zones. Bring the magic of Cadbury to life and discover a recreation of John Cadbury’s first shop in the Bull Street zone. There’s also the chance to travel back 1,000 years to the Aztec Jungle to uncover the origins of the cocoa bean and take a trip down Advertising Avenue to relive some of Cadbury’s most iconic advertising campaigns; including everyone’s favourite drumming gorilla!

 

Head to the Chocolate Making zone to watch the talented Cadbury World chocolatiers demonstrate traditional chocolate making skills, whilst enjoying a delicious pot of melted Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate with your choice of toppings.

 

And don’t miss out on the interactive 4D Chocolate Adventure zone, where visitors can experience how it feels to dive into a pot of melted Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, ride the Crunchie Rollercoaster and soar through the skies in a Cadbury Creme Egg airship – all from the comfort of your motion seat.

 

School visits begin at just £8.25 per pupil. To book your educational visit and for more information about resources and facilities, or to arrange a preview visit to carry out your risk assessment, please call 0844 880 7667* or email cwe@mdlz.com to speak to Cadbury World’s dedicated education team.

 

Free resources are also available to download ahead of a school visit at cadburyworld.co.uk/schools-and-groups.

SIXTH FORM OPEN EVENINGS ANNOUNCED FOR 2018 AT RYE ST ANTONY

Oxford’s Rye St Antony has announced two sixth form open evenings for 2018 on both Thursday 18 January and Thursday 8 November from 7pm – 8.30pm.

 

Prospective students are invited to take a tour around the Sixth Form facilities based on the school’s beautiful 12-acre site in central Oxford, offering the chance to get a feel for the unique environment the school offers.

 

There will also be the chance to speak with teachers and current students on a one-to-one basis about subject offerings and choices as well as day-to-day life at Rye St Antony.

 

Subject leads will be on hand to talk through specific areas of study and offer an insight into their specialist subject.

 

Prospective students and their families are asked to arrive on the evening with no need of advance booking.

 

Fiona Mullaney, Head of Sixth Form said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for those moving on to Sixth Form education to join us here at Rye St Antony and find out more about the unique facilities and learning environment we offer. The evening also provides the ideal way of finding out more about our Sixth Form from those who know it best, our current staff and students. We look forward to welcoming prospective students and their families on these two dates in 2018”

 

For more information visit www.ryestantony.co.uk or call 01865 762802.

 

EDUCATER LAUNCH ONLINE SEF TO GET SCHOOLS READY FOR OFSTED

Educater is very excited to announce the launch of its new module SEFonline – an online self-evaluation tool that supports senior school leaders in preparing for Ofsted inspection visits and shaping their school improvement plans.

The purpose of the new module is to take school leaders through a primary school self-evaluation process based around key performance indicators, designed to interpret the Ofsted grade descriptors for good and outstanding in order to provide an indicative grade.

SEFonline has been created in partnership with a combination of school leaders and Ofsted inspectors to ensure that the system is an efficient Ofsted evaluation tool. SEFonline provides an accurate indication of where a school is, as well as identifying the area where the school can make future improvement.

Educater director Gareth Heggie says, “SEFonline is the perfect addition to Educater’s current portfolio of school management tools. We have designed the software to make the lives of school leaders that little bit easier, with the software freeing up valuable hours for school leaders’.

“Schools are given little notice before an Ofsted inspection visit, so the completion of self-evaluation forms shouldn’t be laborious, it needs to be quick, easy and accurate. SEFonline drives school improvement meaning that school leaders can use their SEF to advance learning, leadership and inclusion throughout their school.”

SEFonline’s primary school self-evaluation form has been trialled successfully in a number of recent inspections and Ofsted inspectors have agreed with the grades generated by the system.

Previous versions of the SEF are archived for future reference. School data is presented clearly and accurately against national averages to illustrate the school’s performance.

For more information on SEFonline or any of Educater’s modules can be found by visiting www.educater.co.uk. To contact Educater and book a free demonstration on SEFonline, please email info@educater.co.uk or, alternatively, call 0300 012 0001.

 

Birmingham conference to explore strategies to tackle school bullying

Academics, researchers and teachers are to gather at Birmingham City University this month to explore new tactics and share evidence of what works to tackle bullying in schools.

 

The day-long ‘Contemporary Research and Practice in Anti-bullying event takes place during Anti-Bullying Week on Wednesday 15 November and features a series of high-profile speakers, including world-leading expert on school bullying Professor Peter Smith and Baroness Sal Brinton, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bullying and Liberal Democrat Party President.

 

Debates and workshops will focus on different types of anti-bullying interventions, sexting, pupil-led anti-bullying strategies, bullying cultures in schools and the impact that bullying can have on young people, as well as ways of ensuring that schools are inclusive of LGBT communities.

 

“The day will provide a great opportunity to share good practice and ensure practitioners feel confident and equipped with effective strategies to deal successfully with bullying,” said researcher Dr Elizabeth Nassem, from Birmingham City University’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education.

 

Former England rugby player Ben Cohen MBE and founder of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation has shown his support for the University event.

 

“The anti-bullying conference at Birmingham City University brings communities of researchers and practitioners together to learn about the most effective ways to help eradicate bullying and homophobia” said Ben, who campaigns against bullying and homophobia through the work of his StandUp Foundation.

 

“Through standing up to bullying together we can make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

 

Other speakers at the event include PC Simon Bolwell from West Midlands Police, Anna Gregory from Birmingham-based charity Peacemakers and Andrew Moffat MBE.

 

Andrew has worked on challenging homophobia in primary schools and was recently named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to equality and diversity in education.

 

The event takes place during Anti-Bullying Week which runs from 13 – 17 November, with the theme of ‘All Different, All Equal’.  The conference is in partnership with the Bullying Reduction Action Group and is supported by Birmingham City Council.

 

Colin Diamond, Corporate Director of Children and Young People at Birmingham City Council, said: “I am delighted that Birmingham City University is hosting this important conference in Anti-Bullying Week. We are proud of the excellent work that goes on in the city to help to prevent bullying in all its forms.”

 

 

Find out more information and book tickets.

 

 

National Theatre’s MACBETH to tour to secondary schools and colleges in Doncaster, London, Sunderland and Wakefield

Following a successful tour to schools and performances in the Dorfman theatre earlier this year, in which nearly 5000 students saw Macbeth, the production now begins a tour this week to a further 31 schools and colleges across Doncaster, London, Sunderland and Wakefield.

Macbeth is adapted and directed for teenage audiences by Justin Audibert and the production is a bold contemporary retelling of one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays. Amid bloody rebellion and the deafening drums of war, Macbeth and his wife will stop at nothing to fulfil their ambition. Witchcraft, murder, treason and treachery are all at play in this murky world. The cast includes Nana Amoo-Gottfried, Shazia Nicholls, Gabby Wong, Stephanie Levi John, Adrian Richards, Tamara Camacho, Johndeep More and Kenton Thomas.

Speaking about the production director, Justin Audibert said ‘Macbeth is a tale of ambition, dark magic, violence and love; the perfect combination for an audience of young adults. We have made our version as exciting and visceral as possible, a truly sensory experience.’

The tour will begin by visiting 15 schools in London, followed by a further 16 schools across Doncaster, Sunderland and Wakefield, as part of the NT’s strategic touring programme.

Speaking about the schools tours the National Theatre’s Director of Learning, Alice King-Farlow said ‘At the NT we believe that all young people should have the opportunity to take part in theatre and drama while at school and so I am delighted that we’re touring Justin’s contemporary 90 minute adaptation of Macbeth to schools across London and in the North of England this year as part of our new national partnership programme.’

The Mohn Westlake Foundation supports nationwide Learning programmes for young people. Shakespeare for younger audiences is supported by The Ingram Trust, Archie Sherman Charitable Trust, Behrens Foundation, and Jill and David Leuw. The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.