A Senior Pupil’s Moving Account of the Battlefields of Belgium

As a member of the English Department’s Talented Writers’ Group, senior pupil, Sofia in Year 9 at Manor House, candidly shares some of her thoughts about the Year 9 Battlefields Trip. This is a moving account of one girl’s experience.
Belgium. A small, scenic country with enchanted woods, peaceful green fields, and delicious chocolate. Those fields weren’t always peaceful – in fact, they used to be battlefields. It’s just so hard to believe that such a dear little land to the north of France could have seen the unprecedented bloodshed that was the First World War. You certainly can’t imagine it looking around today. The woods have dents from artillery fire and chillingly real trench replicas running through them. One particularly beautiful piece of architecture is the Menin Gate, dedicated to the missing soldiers, where a remembrance ceremony is held to the famous Last Post (at which I personally laid a poppy wreath from Manor House).
I was awoken at six o’clock, moved from car to coach to train to France to Belgium, and found myself standing before some gravestones – row upon row, acres filled with the white headstones. This was also because this was a Commonwealth cemetery, owned by all the Allied forces: Britain, France, Canada, Australia, India. There were also Chinese names from the Chinese Labour Corps though and even a couple rows of German names.
What hit me hardest was how many of them said nothing but ‘A soldier of the Great War. Known unto God’. This was a real live human being with thoughts, emotions, hopes, and dreams just as complex and valid as my own, and all we can say about them is how they died.
We visited several of these Commonwealth cemeteries.
We also went to a German graveyard which was very different. Instead of neat headstones there were simple black crosses or stone tablets for Jews adorned not with engravings, but moss and cobwebs. Instead of honouring individuals there were as many as four to a cross. Our guide, Andy, explained this as a drastically different mindset. The mild disrepair was a return to nature and the mass burials kept loyal comrades close together in death. Apart from a few red and white roses there wasn’t much to show that anyone really cared for these people and how brave they were.
While Britain took a punch to the gut from a level of grief they’d never felt before, Germany had a more stoic approach. They were a military country. They were used to fighting and losing many lives. They’d been involved a relatively short time ago, in the Thirty Year War. Thirty years of death, fear, poverty, and horrendous conditions will desensitize anyone. I thought of this little graveyard as proof they really did care and that made it seem a little less cold.
But what about the battles that left us with so many dead young men to bury? What about the devastation itself?
We saw two massive mine craters, both in France. First came the Hawthorn Ridge mine sitting like a wound within what was once a copse of trees on a hill where you could’ve sat, watched the view, had a picnic on a summer’s day. This one was set by us to kill the Germans.
Certainly those poor men up there were completely vaporized by such an explosion. The soldiers far below would’ve felt the blast; the Earth shuddering in horror.
Then there was the Lochnagar Crater. It was much more decorated with a cross and a platform for poppy wreaths. A pilot named Cecil Lewis was flying above the area when it was detonated and was thrown off course so badly he was lucky he lived to tell the tale.
What can I say about the Battle of the Somme? The soldiers there walked exactly like lambs to the slaughter. Yes, walked. They were told to walk rather than run into the raging German fire. Why? Because the British army didn’t have a clue that day. And good Lord, were we forced to learn. The Somme was a massacre – the pre-atomic bomb massacre. No description I can give you will allow you to comprehend it. I don’t even fully comprehend it myself. A horrendous proportion of gravestones (60,000 dead on the first day) bear its date.
Another equally distressing place in Somme is the Thiepval Memorial. The Thiepval Memorial is bigger inside than it looked. This contains a mere fraction of names of the missing or unsuitable for burial; you could feel the atmosphere plunge. Faced with names crammed into every possible square inch of stone, my thoughts echoed those of the soldiers they belonged to approaching enemy lines: there are too many of them. There are way too many of them. But while their bodies were blasted to ribbons, only my heart received that fate now. Actually, my heart was still in the metaphorical trenches. It went out to be pulverized when I saw the cemetery behind the memorial. The graves took me by surprise. You couldn’t see them from the whole area in front. I, much like the floundering British army, was not prepared. I had been a little misty-eyed at past stops (such as the Caribou memorial) but this really got the tears flowing. It could be the bottom of the ocean for weight and scale.
So, those are some of my thoughts about the Year Nine battlefields trip.
I hope I made you think.
Sofia, Year 9.
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Primary schools invited to create an extraordinary school play with National Theatre’s Let’s Play programme

The National Theatre is inviting primary schools looking for inspiration for their end of term play to take part in its Let’s Play programme. Let’s Play provides everything that teachers need to create an outstanding piece of theatre and inspire creative learning across the curriculum.
Schools signed up to the programme can send up to four teachers on a theatre making course led by professional theatre artists and get access to specially commissioned scripts, musical scores and backing tracks for original songs as well as curriculum-linked teaching resources for Key Stage 1 and 2. Schools can choose from a selection of plays including some that are perfect for the celebrating end of the autumn term, including The Snow Queen and Operation Christmas.
Children taking part will be able to get involved with all aspects of planning and creating a theatre production – from performing to designing costumes to operating sound. Let’s Play offers the whole school community the chance to celebrate the creation of a school play and the achievements of all involved. The National Theatre is aiming to recruit hundreds of schools across the UK to take part in Let’s Play over the next three years.
Danae Gardner, a teacher at Harris Academy East Dulwich, who took part in Let’s Play last year said, “Taking part in Let’s Play has really brought the school community together and opened everyone’s eyes to why taking part in high quality drama projects like this is important, and really worthwhile. Our teacher’s confidence in their ability to stage big professional performances has gone through the roof, the children have realised their potential and are more excited than ever about drama”.

Lisa Burger, Executive Director at the National Theatre said, “The school play is a very special moment in every child’s school experience and Let’s Play has been developed to support teachers across the UK with the resources, skills and confidence to create an outstanding piece of theatre with their pupils. We believe that the arts play an integral part of school life and that all children, wherever they are in the UK, should have the opportunity to see, create and explore theatre as part of their core education”.
Schools are encouraged to visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/letsplay to find out more about the programme and to register to apply. Recruitment for this year’s Lets Play programme is ongoing however school teachers signed up by the 1st October can take part in the CPD in mid-October and produce a play at the end of the autumn term.
Let’s Play is based on an original idea by Katie Mitchell.
Let’s Play is supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Charlotte and Simon Warshaw and Mave Turner and David Dutton.
The Mohn Westlake Foundation supports nationwide Learning programmes for young people.
The National Theatre’s partner for learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

New online platform set to revolutionise EdTech solutions for schools

A new online platform is launching to help primary and secondary teachers discover, evaluate and choose the right type of EdTech solutions for their schools.
Available for free from October, Edtech Impact has been created by Innovate My School and YPO, with the mission to enable teachers to measure the effectiveness of technology for themselves. With the multitude of education technology products currently on the market, the platform guides teachers and school leaders through a rapid evaluation process that measures the impact of EdTech products in their specific school context, before they commit to buying the product.
The unique evaluation framework has also been built with the team behind UCL’s EDUCATE programme, which supports EdTech providers in measuring the efficacy of their product.
In August, the Department for Education challenged the tech industry to launch an education revolution for schools, colleges and universities. Only a minority of schools are currently optimising opportunities to utilise state-of-the-art technology to bring education to life and also reduce the time teachers spend on administrative tasks. Edtech Impact has been developed in direct response to this, in a bid to transform the world of education technology and how impact is measured.
Dominic Norrish, Director of Technology, United Learning Trust said:
“With so many products on the market, schools are spoilt for choice in EdTech, but don’t have access to reliable information about what would most likely work in their classroom context. Edtech Impact is a tool which aggregates robust evidence from schools across the country, which could ultimately save the sector money and deliver replicable impact.”
Michael Forshaw, Founder and CEO of Edtech Impact and Innovate My School said:
“We believe Edtech Impact will revolutionise how schools purchase and use education technology. Through the platform’s unique evaluation tool, Edtech Impact will save teachers time and, importantly, money spent on products without any evidence of whether they would benefit their classroom and improve outcomes.
“We know that traditional routes to market for selling EdTech software are becoming increasingly saturated and schools need a transparent view of the EdTech marketplace before committing to

purchasing. Edtech Impact provides a solution by evidencing how tech works in different classroom contexts so that teachers make the right choices about EdTech invesments for their schools.”
Through Edtech Impact, teachers can discover new EdTech products, evaluate their impact, then analyse the results using the ‘business case’ report. Once teachers are satisfied with the results, they can then go on to purchase the product at a discounted rate through the site.
Register at www.edtechimpact.com for early access to the platform and evaluate EdTech products to help make informed decisions for your school.

Econocom Re-appointed approved digital services provider for Schools Leasing Framework

Richmond-upon-Thames, 24 September 2018: Econocom UK, a leading provider of digital transformation solutions, has been awarded the contract as the approved provider of compliant lease finance for the “Schools Leasing Framework” for the second time. Underpinned by Link Asset Services and in conjunction with Durham County Council, this framework facilitates the financing of all forms of digital projects for all schools in the United Kingdom.
The Schools Leasing Framework is designed to address compliance issues around leasing in schools; facilitating the financing of digital projects for all schools in the United Kingdom. The Framework followed a formal OJEU* tender process and will run for the next four years. All leases are fully compliant operating leases and schools can be secure in the knowledge that they are entering into a regulated agreement which complies with the Department for Education (DfE) guidance.
The Framework is open to all UK schools and allows them to choose the technology, supplier, payment terms and a subscription model to suit their needs. The many benefits for schools in using the leasing framework include;
• improving the teaching and learning environment by giving schools access to the latest technology
• regulatory compliance
• ease of forecasting cashflow
• no upfront fees or charges
• the opportunity to update and upscale the technology as needed
Steve Dickman, Finance Director at The Kemnal Academies Trust, has used Econocom to supply a mixture of computers, laptops, printers, whiteboards, photocopiers and networks to a number of primary and secondary schools. He says: “I used Link Asset Services for leasing advice while working for a local authority. I became the Finance Director of the Kemnal Academies Trust in 2016. One of the first decisions I made was to engage them to provide the same services for the 40+ academies within the Trust. The OJEU* tendered Schools Leasing Framework agreement ensures compliance with procurement rules and financial regulations.
“The support from Link Asset Services and Econocom in managing the finance and delivering the technology is a credit to both. The service provides excellent value for money in a time when our budgets are being squeezed. I can also be secure in the knowledge that none of our academies will sleep walk into non-compliant finance leases.”
Chris Labrey, Managing Director UK & IRL at Econocom, says: “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded the schools leasing framework for the second term running. We are committed to providing teachers and students with the latest technology, while protecting the school from unexpected costs and termination agreements. We understand how digital technology can improve the learning experiences which happen in the classroom and we are committed to helping schools achieve this.”
More detail can be found about the framework at www.econocom.co.uk/schoolsframework. To read what schools are saying about the Framework, click here.
*OJEU framework award notice reference no. 2018/S 076-169980

MCCAIN FOODSERVICE OFFERS SCHOOL FARMING PRIZE TO KICK-OFF ‘ROOTED IN BRITAIN’ CAMPAIGN

To kick-off its ‘Rooted in Britain’ campaign, which celebrates British farming heritage, McCain Foodservice has launched a prize draw to give primary school caterers, across the UK, the chance to win their pupils an educational day on the farm, in association with Countryside Learning.
Launched this September, the ‘Rooted in Britain’ campaign aims to promote the importance of British farming, whilst recognising McCain Foodservice’s British produce credentials; its Chef Solutions Simply range, which is a popular choice for schools, is made from 100% British, Red Tractor certified potatoes and counts towards the Food for Life Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.


According to recent research*, one in four children aged 6-11 haven’t ever been to a farm, whilst a quarter of city-dwelling children have never seen a cow. McCain Foodservice is offering pupils, aged 4-11, the chance to win an educational experience at their local farm to ensure young people continue to learn about British agriculture. The prize draw is open to all primary school catering staff, until 31st January 2019, at: www.mccainfoodservice.co.uk/winafarmtrip
Jo Holborn, Marketing and Category Controller, McCain Foodservice commented: “With recent research revealing the sheer extent of how little children know about farming, we believe it’s extremely important to put our credentials to good use and encourage them to learn about British agriculture.
“Our ‘Rooted in Britain’ campaign, which celebrates British farming heritage, offers us a great opportunity to teach children first-hand about the work that goes into UK produce from ‘field to fork’ as well as giving them a great day out. We can’t wait to see all of the entries.”
To support the campaign launch, McCain Foodservice has also created a selection of British recipes, including Scottish Salmon Fishcakes and Shredded Beef Yorkshire Pudding Burrito, for school caterers to serve to their pupils. To view and download these recipes, please visit: www.mccainfoodservice.co.uk.

Healthier, more sustainable food menus hit UK primary schools

Around three million meals going meat-free

Thousands of children have returned to school for the new academic year to new-look menus. A range of healthier, more sustainable meat-free menu options have been introduced as part of the new School Plates programme launched by food awareness organisation ProVeg UK earlier this summer.
A total of 110 primary schools across two local authorities in England have been working on new menus in collaboration with ProVeg UK ahead of their launch this term. Changes include the adoption of Meat-Free Mondays, new daily meat-free meals, and new descriptions for the meat-free and plant-based dishes to make them even more appealing to the students.
“We all want children to thrive and these new-look, healthier menus are a big step in the right direction. Eating more plant-based foods is such a great way to improve children’s health in the short term – particularly by helping to reduce childhood obesity – and also in the long term by helping to reduce the risk of all kinds of chronic health conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” said Jimmy Pierson, Director of ProVeg UK.
“It’s so important that children establish healthy eating patterns at an early age – and schools play a key role in this. The fact that plant-based foods are better for the environment and are also cheaper, meaning they can ease the burden on the school budget, makes them a win-win in our minds – and those of a growing number of local authorities!” Pierson added.
Over the next 12-month period, around 3.1 million meat-based meals will now become meat-free – based on commitments from the schools and local authorities currently engaging with School Plates. This is despite ProVeg UK’s programme having only been running for a few months.
One school taking part in the programme is Washingborough Academy in Lincolnshire. On School Plates, Headteacher Jason O’Rourke said: “I think School Plates is fantastic, really commendable. It is superb that we are highlighting the benefit of vegetables and giving children greater exposure to that. I would implore all schools, if the can, to get engaged with ProVeg UK and School Plates.”
Many more local authorities and primary schools are set to follow suit next term with new enquiries coming in on a weekly basis. As each new local authority takes up the School Plates programme, millions more meals are changed giving more children access to a healthier, more balanced diet.
“We are thrilled with the level of interest and engagement so far, and it just goes to show that there is real appetite for improving the meal provision within schools. When it comes to improving children’s health, helping the planet and saving money all at the same time, there is no better time than now,” said Amy Odene, School Plates Manager for ProVeg UK.
ProVeg UK is currently accepting more local authorities and catering companies interested in taking part in the School Plates programme. Please contact schools@proveg.com for more information and to get involved.

The National Young Mathematicians’ Awards are BACK – BIGGER than ever!

• Inspiring the next generation of mathematicians
• Maths competition for primary AND secondary school children
• Closing date to enter 19th October. Finalists compete in Grand Final at University of Cambridge in January

Explore Learning’s National Young Mathematicians’ Awards are back! The competition – aimed at school children across the UK is returning with a new format – where both primary schools and secondary school children can compete against other teams across the country to be crowned the National Young Mathematicians of the Year!
Now in its ninth year, the free competition was the UK’s first team maths contest for schools and is organised by tuition provider, Explore Learning (www.explorelearning.co.uk) and NRICH at the University of Cambridge.


Schools are invited to enter a team of four pupils who will have the unique opportunity to tackle a never-before-seen mathematical problem. By popular demand, this year’s competition will be split into two levels. The Primary Competition is for pupils in Year 6 (England) and P7 in Wales and Scotland and below while the Secondary Competition is for pupils in Year 8 (England) and 2nd Year in Wales in Scotland and younger.
The contest is be made up of three rounds. The first rounds which takes place on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th November at 12pm – 2pm, sees teams compete against other local schools at an Explore Learning centre near them. The semi-finals which happen on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th December at 12pm – 2pm, take the highest scoring schools in their region who battle it out to become the top five teams in the UK. Here the highest scoring primary and secondary schools from the across the UK will venture to Cambridge to take part in the grand final in January!
Schools can enter via www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngmathematicians.
Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at organisers of the competition, Explore Learning says: “We are very excited to be launching the eighth National Young Mathematicians’ Awards. After the positive feedback from teachers, parents and children alike we have decided to grow the competition to encompass secondary school children as well – giving those from years seven and eight the opportunity to show off their maths skills and compete in a fun, challenging environment.
“The children absolutely love taking part in the competition and making it to the grand final at the University of Cambridge is one of their proudest moments that stays with them for life! We can’t wait to see the impressive problem solving skills and fantastic teamwork that will be on display.”
Not only will this year’s winners be crowed the best young mathematicians in the country, the two winning teams and eight runners up will receive prizes from Meccano, Letts Revision, i-Top and Sum Fun.
The full list of prizes include:
For runners up:
– Model Meccano Sets
– An i-Top each – the next generation of electronic spinning game
– Sum Fun games
– Book bundle from Letts Revision
For the winners:
– Meccano Boxers – your real robot pal worth £79.99!
– An i-Top each – the next generation of electronic spinning game
– Sum Fun games
– Book bundle from Letts Revision worth £60
The winning team last year was Ladbrooke Junior Mixed and Infant School in Barnet who triumphed over 700 teams from all over the UK and were presented with their prize by author of The Murderous Maths series of books, Kjartan Poskitt.
Last year’s winning Deputy Head, Helen Romain said: “I would definitely recommend the National Young Mathematicians’ Awards to other schools. It has been great to challenge my higher achievers who have completed all of the year six objectives already! It’s been excellent for developing teamwork skills and perseverance and felt amazing to win! The children did so well to get to the final and we are all so very proud.”
To help schools prepare for the National Young Mathematicians’ Awards, Explore Learning and NRICH have put together a number of teacher resources, downloadable from the Explore Learning website – www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngmathematicians. They are also offering FREE problem-solving workshops.
Explore Learning is an award-winning provider of extra tuition for children aged four to 14, taking a unique and personalised approach to maths and English tuition. Since 2001 over 200,000 children have excelled academically, reached their potential and achieved the best possible results with Explore Learning. They are unwavering in their mission to develop a generation of fearless learners; children who will excel in the classroom, be confident in exams and fearless in school and beyond.
For more information on the awards and to register a team please visit www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngmathematicians or speak to a member of the team on 01483 447410.

Active Schools Challenge gets kids moving for National Fitness Day

To coincide with this year’s National Fitness Day, the curriculum based active lessons provider, imoves, has launched the ‘Active Schools Challenge’ free to all UK schools, as part of its mission to get every classroom active every day by 2022.

Wednesday 26 September marks National Fitness Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the role physical activity plays in helping everyone to lead healthier, more active lifestyles.

Across the globe, 50% of children are insufficiently active, and from the age of 7 the amount of time children are physically active declines year on year by 4%*. National Fitness Day is an opportunity to teach children about the importance of activity in their everyday lives, and help to tackle the growing obesity crisis and increasingly sedentary lives of children.

In order to support schools for National Fitness Day, imoves’ Active Schools Challenge is a free 30-day cross-curricular challenge designed to show schools how easy it really is to get children moving, boost academic performance and improve behaviour and wellbeing. It’s not about simply providing lesson plans for PE; it’s about getting kids learning across the curriculum using movement and active learning.

Imogen Buxton-Pickles, co-founder of imoves, comments: “It’s never been more critical that we get children more active. Daily physical activity is a proven formula for whole school improvement. Just 30 minutes activity everyday can increase attainment by up to 12% and improve behaviour by up to 67% – while helping to shape happier, healthier children overall. Yet for many schools, the idea of actually making the time to fit in activity is too much, with everything else they have to fit in in a school day.”

Throughout the 30 day challenge, imoves provides engaging guides to help introduce daily movement into the classroom and get children moving. Schools can make use of imoves’ extensive videos, lesson plans and resources to help them complete each challenge; there’s even a free calendar poster to get everyone excited to join in and ‘Active Pioneer’ certificates up for grabs for those who collect enough challenge points!

Imogen continues: “The Active Schools Challenge is about getting kids active every single day and National Fitness Day provides the perfect backdrop. We want all schools to get all kids active every day. Over the course of the challenge, they’ll be able to see the impact it has on class behaviour, attainment and wellbeing- but crucially they’ll be able to see how easy it is to make the change, with activity fitting in seamlessly into their school day.”

“National Fitness Day helps to shine a spotlight on the importance of activity for all, especially children. It kick starts the process to embeds activity into children’s everyday lives in an organic and sustainable way.”

Find out more about imoves and the Active Schools Challenge at https://imoves.com/pages/activeschoolschallenge

*Bryn Llewellyn & Andy Daly-Smith, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tARSCzHLF5g

Hallfield children are on top of the world after raising over £3,200 in a bid to end world hunger

Two pupils from Hallfield School conquered Mount Snowdon and raised a whopping £3,236 to feed less fortunate children hundreds of miles away.
Siblings, Sian Doal in Year 6 and Mohini Doal in Year 5 at the Edgbaston school, were the youngest of the 100 people participating in the charity walk on Saturday 14 July.
It took the generous duo between three and four hours to complete the trek – and partake in some ‘flossing’ action – but they said it was all worth it:
“We did it all for the kids in Malawi. It was hard, but we got through it.” They said: “We made Hallfield proud.”
The charity they worked with, Zero Hunger with Langar, has used the funds to serve children in Malawi, Africa.
Mr Jag Singh, Founder of Zero Hunger with Langar, said: “’Langar’ is the concept of FREE compassionate food for all people, regardless of faith, gender, age or social status and we believe in a world where food and freedom exists everywhere – serving is what we’re all about.
“It’s a win-win situation for the children in Malawi – we have helped them to become happier and have given them the drive to want to learn at school once they have had langar. The food we have supplied has helped many children back into schooling and reduced the number of children in villages looking for work to survive.
“Sian and Mohini are extremely inspiring children – especially to their peers. We were delighted to have them on board with us.”
Keith Morrow, Head Master at Hallfield School, said: “Everyone at Hallfield is extremely proud of Sian and Mohini.
“Their incredible efforts have made a huge difference to a number of lives in Africa. They are a huge asset to the school.
You can watch a short video about their experience here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y7_pZkQ9ZQ

VODAFONE UK LAUNCHES INITIATIVES TO EXPAND DIGITAL SKILLS

To help build the UK’s digital future, Vodafone has today announced new education and mentoring programmes developed for university students, digital entrepreneurs and Vodafone employees interested in a digital career.

These programmes form part of a package of measures to drive innovation and growth across the UK. With its track-record as a British communications and technology pioneer, Vodafone is uniquely positioned to help the UK expand its pipeline of digital talent and advance as a digital leader.

Adam Parsons, HR Director at Vodafone UK, said: “Digital sectors like artificial intelligence, cloud services and the Internet of Things represent exciting opportunities for the UK economy.

“The education and mentoring programmes we have created will help us to make the most of these opportunities. University students, digital entrepreneurs and Vodafone employees working in our retail stores and contact centres will be able to develop new skills and prepare for a digital future.”

Equipping university students with digital skills: Vodafone Digital Degree

The Vodafone Digital Degree was created to develop digital talent at university level. A partnership between Vodafone and the University of Birmingham,[i] the programme combines a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a technology apprenticeship at Vodafone.

16 Digital Degree Apprentices have been accepted into the programme and will attend the University of Birmingham full-time. During their four-year study period, Digital Degree Apprentices will receive a salary. There is a 10-week summer placement in their first year and a 12-month industrial placement in their third year, with a guaranteed role in one of Vodafone’s digital teams once they graduate in 2022.

Professor Andy Schofield, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “We believe that in order to prepare our students for a 21st century workplace, it is essential to build their digital skills and give them the best possible opportunities in which to use them.

The four-year programme we are launching with Vodafone will provide our students with both the digital education and critical hands-on training they will need to succeed in a digital future. As a world leader for research and innovation, we are delighted to be partnering with Vodafone to address the UK’s technology skills gap and educate the digital talent of the future.”

Mentoring digital entrepreneurs: Bright Sparks

To support digital entrepreneurs and foster a culture of innovation, Vodafone is launching Bright Sparks. A mentoring programme for digital start-ups, Bright Sparks was developed in collaboration with Oxford University Innovation, an organisation set up to help University staff and students apply their expertise and research for wider social and economic benefit.

Oxford University Innovation selected 10 digital start-ups[ii] to participate in Bright Sparks based on their areas of expertise, stage of development and enthusiasm for the project. The 10 start-ups will each have a Vodafone mentor who will work with them to support early stage digital innovations, providing specialist skills and commercial guidance.

Brendan Ludden, Head of Licensing and Ventures, Physical Sciences at Oxford University Innovation, said: “Our 10 digital start-ups who are taking part in the Bright Sparks mentorship programme are developing some of the most innovative solutions to societal issues from transport to healthcare.

We chose to partner with Vodafone because of their world-leading position in mobile technology and markets. With Vodafone mentors providing guidance in areas like digital, strategy and marketing, our ten start-ups will have access to vital skills they need to thrive.”

Helping Vodafone frontline employees re-train as coders: Code Ready
Frontline employees in Vodafone retail stores and contact centres who would like to make the transition to a digital career can learn to code with Code Ready, a new digital skills programme. Vodafone is partnering with Makers, London’s leading software development programme, to deliver the programme and help employees reskill.

Code Ready is fully funded, which means Vodafone employees won’t have to pay a penny to retrain for a digital career. They will learn all the skills they need to become a developer and secure a new job with Vodafone at the end of the course.

Code Ready will start with a pilot in September, with a planned intake of 20-30 people in Manchester in 2019.

Spencer Ayres, MD Makers Apprenticeships at Makers, said: “At Makers, we believe that developing tech talent ready for today’s fast moving world of work takes an agile, accelerated and inclusive approach. Vodafone’s Code Ready programme is a great example of an approach that’s truly responsive to a rapidly changing tech industry.

By re-training Vodafone’s retail and contact centre staff interested in becoming developers, we hope to inspire even more people to consider a digital career.”