Schools “concerned” about Relationships, Sex and Health Education changes

New research by Headway Education, a social enterprise established to help provide children, and those who teach them, with the most up-to-date, sophisticated, high quality and engaging materials possible, has revealed that schools are growing increasingly concerned that they are not equipped to deliver the requirements of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum from 2020.

In September next year, Relationships Education will become compulsory for all pupils in primary schools, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) mandatory within secondary schools, and Health Education compulsory in all schools. However, in a survey of 168 headteachers, other senior leaders and class teachers undertaken in January and February 2019, 66% of respondents said they were “concerned or very concerned” about funding to support the new curriculum. A further 60% reported being concerned or very concerned about the need for high-quality resources, finding time to teach these subjects (54%), teacher training (52%) and parental support (39%).

Although the majority of respondents knew about the new curriculum, 36% were “vaguely aware or had little or no awareness” about the expectations around Health Education and even less about Relationships Education and RSE (34% each). There was an appetite for training, with 59% saying they would be “likely or very likely” to undertake an online programme to support their understanding of each subject. Around 35% of schools said they would have to invest in additional resources.

Schools were asked how well PSHE (as currently the most commonly used term for these subjects) was embedded in their educational setting. Whilst 91% “agree or strongly agree” that their pupils generally enjoy participating in PSHE, that PSHE is at the heart of our curriculum (82%) and that PSHE is a timetabled lesson every week or at least every other week (81%), other responses were less positive. Around 57% of respondents “disagree or strongly disagree” that their school follows a locally agreed syllabus or has invested in a nationally recognised programme (56%).

Ken Pritchard, Managing Director of Headway Education, said: “There are clearly high levels of concern regarding preparation for the new subjects. In particular, teacher training, the issue of funding and the need for high-quality resources are the main reasons behind this concern. Results show that over a third of schools are already certain they will need new resources to ensure they meet the new requirements. Whilst the majority of respondents know about upcoming change, there is still work to be done.”

LAST CHANCE FOR SCHOOLS TO FLAG ASBESTOS AS CASES OF RELATED DEATHS SOAR

Bureau Veritas is urging the education sector to heed the government’s impending 15th February deadline to submit outstanding asbestos management surveys, as the legacy of asbestos exposure in UK schools is leading to increasing deaths.

It comes after MP’s issued a stark warning that they were ‘seriously concerned’ that almost a quarter of schools have not responded to repeated requests for information on the amount of asbestos in school buildings and how risk is being managed .

It is estimated that around 86% of UK schools contain asbestos and according to the
National Union of Teachers, asbestos related deaths have increased significantly from an average of three per year during the period 1980-85 to an average of 17 per year. This equates to at least 319 teachers dying from mesothelioma – the most serious and incurable form of asbestos cancer – since 2013, with a further 200-300 former pupils estimated to succumb to diseases linked to asbestos exposure at school later in life.

The Department for Education’s Asbestos Management Assurance Process (AMAP) was introduced in March last year, with the aim of collecting data on asbestos management in schools to ensure compliance with legal obligations to protect staff and pupils under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. To-date the submission deadline has been extended three times, with the upcoming February date being the final chance for the remaining 23% of schools to respond.

Matthew Potter, Service Line Manager – Asbestos at Bureau Veritas, comments: “All schools, colleges and universities have an obligation to ensure that premises are safe for staff, pupils and visitors, which includes the effective management and reporting of any asbestos on site. Despite the huge progress that has been made over the last two decades in asbestos management, the reality is that there is still a massive job to do in eradicating asbestos from our older building stock, particularly in schools. Staff and pupils at schools across the UK are particularly at risk due to the high proportion of school buildings built in the post-war era, when asbestos was a common component of many popular building products.

“Schools therefore need to take decisive action to provide assurances that asbestos is being properly managed to negate the serious risk asbestos exposure poses. Especially concerning the increased risk of early exposure to asbestos, with reports suggesting that a child exposed at age five is five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than someone exposed at age 30 .”

In addition to mesothelioma and lung cancer, other serious diseases including asbestosis, pleural thickening and other forms of cancer can be caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. During the period 2006-2016, more than £10million in compensation was awarded to former pupils and members of staff exposed to asbestos in schools in England and Wales .

Bureau Veritas offers a comprehensive range of services to help businesses and organisations, including schools, in achieving and maintaining asbestos control compliance. This includes building surveys, annual re-inspections, project management of asbestos remediation, site risk assessments, air monitoring, four stage clearance air testing, laboratory sample analysis, management plans and training – all of which can be undertaken within school holidays.

For further information, call 0345 600 1828 or visit www.bureauveritas.co.uk

Cisco partners with University of Edinburgh to accelerate innovation

Cisco today announced a partnership with the University of Edinburgh to collaborate on opportunities in AI and data-driven innovation, a key pillar of the recently announced Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

As the first initiative in the partnership, Cisco has committed to support 20 start-ups through the University and Wayra UK’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain Accelerator. Over a three-year period, Cisco will provide business development and technical support, mentoring and access to tools for resident start-ups.

Based at the University’s Bayes Centre and designed to accelerate the best AI and blockchain start-ups in Europe to scale globally, the programme is already home to the first cohort of 10 start-ups.

Tony Gribben, Country Manager, Cisco Scotland, said: “The insight that we can gain from data opens up amazing opportunity for all industries – not least with its application in the field of AI. We’re delighted to be working with the University of Edinburgh to bring this to life in Scotland. The ambition to drive economic and inclusive growth for the region is something that we very much support, and we look forward to continuing to partner with industry, government and academia on initiatives towards that goal.”

Jim Ashe, Director of Commercialisation and Industry Engagement, University of Edinburgh, said: “Cisco is a valued partner within the Bayes Innovation Programme. As well as becoming a key supporter of our flagship AI and Blockchain Accelerator programme, the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding underscores our intention to work together more collaboratively across all areas of Data-Driven Innovation. We look forward to collaborating with Cisco’s Networking Academy, Research Centre and wider Innovation and Investment teams on projects that will support innovative research, accelerate data adoption and fuel entrepreneurship across a wide range of initiatives.”

Launched in August 2018 as a £1.3 billion investment, the City Region Deal aims to help Edinburgh and South East Scotland accelerate growth and create economic opportunities and new jobs to drive inclusive growth. The City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation component has five focus areas: talent, research, adoption, data and entrepreneurship, and will be led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Heriot-Watt University.

Today’s announcement is the latest example of Cisco’s commitment to driving innovation and digital deployments across Scotland, the UK and in the field of AI through its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme. In July this year, Cisco and University College London announced the opening of an AI Centre in the heart of London. In Scotland, Cisco is leading the 5G RuralFirst project which will enable some of the UK’s most remote and rural communities to be the first to benefit from 5G technology. The project includes a network of 32 organisations, with testbeds and trials primarily to be based on the Orkney Islands.

FXP Festival launches for 2019 with new creative category

FXP Festival, an East Anglian education initiative which aims to drive social mobility in the region, has announced the launch of its 2019 competition (6-8th July) with the introduction of an exciting new category.

Originally formed as a STEM initiative based on a computer game design and development competition, FXP Festival 2019 is expanding to include a ‘Storytelling’ category, which will encourage students to develop both their creative writing and illustration skills. Publishing and education company, The Curved House will be supporting FXP’s Storytelling category with the provision of creative writing workshop materials and one-to-one mentor sessions, with established authors and writers, to help teams to develop their work.

Hosted annually by Cambridge Regional College, FXP Festival is linked to the computer science curriculum and, for three years, has successfully been using computer games to increase interest and uptake of STEM subjects, build young people’s digital skills and provide an insight into what careers in the technology, creative digital and related industries might offer.

In previous years, there have been two competition categories – ‘Game Concept’ where teams design and map out the creative concept of an original computer game, and ‘Game Development’ where teams programme and build an original game concept. New for 2019, the third category – ‘Storytelling’ – will challenge students to work in teams of up to five, to write and illustrate an original story for publication.

The initiative was developed by Cambridge Regional College, Jagex, North Cambridge Academy, and Conscious Communications, and, thanks to its sponsors and supporters, the FXP weekend is completely free for participating teams.

Alison Taylor Co-founder of the Festival and Managing Director of Conscious Communications, comments: “FXP Festival is all about providing exciting progression opportunities for the young people in our region. By incorporating elements of the national curriculum, as well as sourcing valuable learning materials from our industry supporters, we aim to provide students with an important connection between what they learn in the classroom, their further and higher education options, and the exciting career opportunities right on their doorstep.

“In previous years it has been wonderful to see student teams come to FXP to try their hands at games development and, as a result, engage more with their computer science education. This year, we wanted to expand our reach to students that won’t necessarily have an interest in coding or games design, but might have a hidden flair for other important skills, such as creative writing and art. The ‘Storytelling’ category will give these students the opportunity to develop their abilities with the support of industry experts, while building other important soft skills such as team work, ingenuity and communication.”

FXP Festival is supported by major companies in the technology, creative digital, and publishing sectors, which provide expertise, mentoring and coaching to students and their teachers. 2019 supporters include: Anglia Ruskin University, Arm, Rizing Games, Jagex, Table Flip Games and The Curved House.

Kristen Harrison, Founder, The Curved House, comments: “The Curved House – alongside our flagship publication, Visual Verse – aims to inspire and celebrate creative writers, both published and unpublished, and we are so excited to use our expertise to develop the next generation of writers at FXP Festival! Ahead of the weekend, we will share valuable creative writing teaching resources with the teams to help them hone their skills in preparation for the competition. We will also run an additional writing competition over the course of the weekend for all participating students, and will publish the winners in our August edition of Visual Verse. The Curved House is excited to bring a range of writing challenges and expertise from the book industry to FXP – to inspire the writers, illustrators and publishers of the future.”

FXP 2019 will take place from 6th – 8th July, at the Rizing Games studios at Cambridge Regional College and is open to schools, colleges, home school groups and out-of-school clubs across East Anglia. Teams can register their interest by emailing joanna.colley@consciouscomms.com.

If your business would be interested in getting involved with FXP Festival through mentoring, funding or other support please contact Joanna Colley joanna.colley@consciouscomms.com.

RM Education announces partnership with the largest Multi-Academy Trust in the country – Academies Enterprise Trust

Education technology experts RM Education are delighted to announce a comprehensive partnership with Academies Enterprise Trust (AET). This strategic contract places RM Education as the provider of Managed Services for the entire estate for AET – the largest Multi-Academy Trust in the country.

The contract, which runs until July 2022, encompasses 62 schools plus their head office – a total of 35,000 pupils and over 6,000 teaching and support staff. The contract also includes integration of RM Unify (RM’s identity and access management software solution) with one of Google’s largest educational customers in Europe.

Ensuring there is a consistent and reliable infrastructure across all of AET’s academies plays a key role in AET’s work to ensure that every academy offers a high-quality education that will help every pupil go on to lead a remarkable life.

As such, they sought a partner who could help them design and deliver a highly effective, value for money programme to leverage their ‘cloud-first’ approach to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) within teaching and learning. AET’s goal is to improve staff and students’ experience of using technology when accessing IT securely, anytime and anywhere.

To deliver this vision, AET has selected RM Education as its partner to design, deliver and implement this innovative cloud-based managed service across the 62 schools in their Trust. This transformational approach means that staff and pupils will be able to securely link their devices to Microsoft and Google platforms, as well as other key third party software. This will be delivered through the ‘RM Cloud’ platform allowing AET to extend the effective lifecycle of devices and provide ‘anytime anywhere’ access to teaching and learning.

The approach will be fully integrated with AET’s finance and HR systems via the RM Unify platform to improve information sharing, data insight, regulatory compliance and provide significant time savings for the schools.

Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of RM Education comments: “Our trusted partnership with AET continues to go from strength to strength, and we are very proud to be working together in helping deliver this strategic initiative that is at the forefront of the UK Education Sector. We have collaborated to define, create and deliver innovative solutions for the Trust, their staff and students in order to provide technology and IT support that ‘just works’.”

James Nicholson, Chief Finance Officer of AET added: “We are delighted to be working with RM to support our vision for teaching and learning. This next phase of our partnership will mean that we are able to implement a fully cloud-based learning environment across AET.”

James added: “Everything we do is focused on ensuring that our schools are able to deliver an education that helps young people go on to lead remarkable lives. This new phase of delivering our ICT strategy will transform how our students, staff and colleagues access resources both at school and at home and we look forward to working with RM to transform that vision into reality.

RM Education help schools save time, save money and improve teaching and learning via the effective use of technology. They are a market-leading supplier of technology-based software and services working in partnership with thousands of schools to improve outcomes for all learners.

The RM team will be at BETT Show this week (23 – 26 January at ExCeL London) in Meeting Room 12. Come and meet the RM team, discuss any questions you might have about products and services, and find out how services such as those delivered to AET, might benefit you and your institution.

For more information on ICT support options, visit www.rm.com