Siemens Elf & Safety Advice: where there’s smoke, there isn’t always fire!

     False alarms cost the UK economy £1 billion a year
 Over 95% of automatically-generated fire alarms are false alarms
 Fire and Rescue Services distracted from genuine emergencies over the busy festive period

As the countdown to Christmas gets well and truly underway with offices and places of work getting into the festive spirit, Siemens Building Technologies is warning UK businesses about the potential consequences of false fire alarms during the busiest period of the year. False alarms from remotely-monitored fire detection and fire alarm systems cost the UK economy an estimated £1 billion in business disruption* with 95% of automatically-generated alarms being proved to be false** placing Fire and Rescue Services (F&RS) and the public at unnecessary risk.
“The vast majority of automatic fire alarm calls are proven to be false and are often caused by either false fire triggers or the inadequate maintenance of alarm systems,” commented Don Scott, fire engineering consultant Siemens Building Technologies. “Christmas is already a time of heightened risk of fire for many businesses with the F&RS stretched to capacity across the country. False alarms create further pressures when emergency services have to challenge whether alarms are genuine before attending incidents – the time lost could end up costing thousands of pounds in repairs or at worst, put lives at risk.”
Ionisation or single-sensor optical smoke detectors are a common cause of false alarm activations as they have difficulty in accurately distinguishing between airborne pollutants, such as steam, aerosols, dust, cooking fumes, insects, sparks, embers and a real fire. The incorrect siting of detectors can also be triggered if there is excessive air movement from mechanical heating or ventilation.
Multi-sensor detectors are responsive to more than one fire phenomena, i.e. smoke, heat and carbon-monoxide and are proven to be more immune to false alarm phenomena thereby giving fewer false activations. For more stringent applications; beam detectors, heat detectors and aspirating detectors are available.
A regular maintenance programme ensures the correct functioning of a fire alarm system – inadequate servicing and testing compromise safety. If an alarm system is aging or becoming unreliable replacement is advised when offset against the cost of disruption to a business. Generally, detectors should be replaced every 10-15 years, depending upon the environment in which they are installed and the manufacturers recommendations.
Dave Green, national officer, Fire Brigades Union added: “False alarms use up resources which could be better served elsewhere, and increase response times to actual emergencies. But it is better to be safe than sorry, and fire services should always be called when any alarm is raised.”
“Fire services are under more pressure than ever before, dealing with more incidents and more fires, with increasingly fewer firefighters. Since 2009, there has been a 23% decrease in the number of firefighters across the UK. This huge decrease in the number of firefighters has meant that preventative work, which would help to reduce the number of false alarms, has worryingly fallen by the wayside.”


World first – new eco “plant” glitter for education market


A UK firm has launched a revolutionary product designed to tackle the problem of plastic pollution caused by children’s craft glitter.
Glitter company Ronald Britton, has launched a new eco-friendly glitter which will degrade naturally in the environment and is based on plants rather than plastic.
The new product, Craft Bioglitter®, will be distributed in the UK by children’s art and craft manufacturer Brian Clegg Ltd. The company will be supplying Craft Bioglitter® to both the retail and education markets through approved retailers including The Consortium Education, YPO and TTS.
Bioglitter® has already received international renown, after they first launched a cosmetic version of the product in 2016, which has picked up several industry awards and through independent testing came out as the most eco friendly glitter on the market.
The new Craft Bioglitter® is based on the same eco-friendly technology used in the cosmetic product. The product replaces the use of plastics in the core of glitter with a plant based cellulose material. This special form of cellulose, unique to Bioglitter®, is stable and won’t degrade on the shelf, however once it enters the natural world such as soil or water environments where microorganisms are present the glitter will naturally decompose.
Testing by OWS, an independent testing organisation, has confirmed that Bioglitter® sets a new environmental standard for sparkles, with results showing Bioglitter® degrades in the natural environment, in only four weeks.
Stephen Cotton, commercial director at Ronald Britton Ltd, said: “We’re extremely excited to be working with Brian Clegg who will supply our ground breaking glitter into children’s art markets via retail and educational supply chains.”
“Traditional glitter used in single use applications is, although small in the grand scheme of plastic pollution, a contributor to microplastic pollution. Our new Bioglitter® product, with its fantastic biodegradability credentials, coupled with it already being 92% plastic free, represents a truly eco-friendly glitter.”
He added: “The Ronald Britton team are still determined to drive on with the Bioglitter® journey, not only so it biodegrades in the natural environment, but also to attain the ultimate 100% plastic free goal, so it’s no longer a microplastic.”
Lara Alcock, sales and marketing director, from Brian Clegg, added: “We are delighted to be the chosen partner working with Bioglitter® to supply their craft glitter into the children’s art markets.”
“The product is certainly here to make a difference and we have already been inundated with enquiries from schools and concerned parents wanting to do their bit by looking to opt for more environmentally friendly glitter and get involved in the journey to make a difference. The product also offers other advantages over traditional glitter including the fact that, by its nature, the same amount of glitter goes a lot further than normal plastic children’s glitter, as well as being more sparkly. So Craft Bioglitter® is not only a truly eco-friendly glitter, it has got more shine and less product will also go further.”
For more information on Craft Bioglitter® and the journey to create plastic free biodegradable glitter, visit To buy Craft Bioglitter® visit


From technology that turns urine into electricity to care robots for the elderly, the MadeAtUni campaign celebrates the transformational impact of UK universities

Futuristic headsets to help paralysed people to communicate, smart baby buggies for the blind, a toilet that flushes without water and the development of a new scrum technique to make rugby safer – all have been identified today as among the 100 most significant breakthroughs to come from UK universities.

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs List has been launched to celebrate the inventions, discoveries and social initiatives from UK universities which have had a transformational impact on people’s everyday lives, including the development of penicillin, the invention of the portable defibrillator, work tackling plastic pollution, ultrasound scans, MRIs and the establishment of the Living Wage.

The list also highlights the less celebrated but vital breakthroughs that change lives, including a specially-designed bra to improve the treatment of women having radiotherapy, a sports initiative that uses football to resolve conflict in divided communities, research into the causes of gaming and mobile phone addiction, and new technology that turns urine into electricity which has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people in the developing world.

The list was compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, as part of the #MadeAtUni campaign to show that universities do much more than just teach students and to bring to life the difference they make to everyone’s lives.

Universities across the country were invited to nominate the one innovation, discovery or social initiative from their institution which they believe has had a significant impact on society. Over 100 universities submitted a nomination. The entries cover health, technology, environment, family, community, and culture & sport.

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs List: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life can be seen in full here and the A-Z of nominations here.

The campaign follows independent research undertaken by Britain Thinks on behalf of Universities UK, which found that the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring beyond undergraduate teaching. The findings showed that whilst a significant proportion of the population were interested in hearing about how UK universities lead the world in research, most did not realise UK academics were behind some of the world’s most important discoveries such as MRIs and ultrasound scans.

The campaign is being supported by James Nesbitt, the award-winning actor; and Rebecca Adlington, the two-times Olympic swimming champion.
Adlington, who did not go to university but trained in the pool at Nottingham University, said: “Even though I didn’t go to university myself, my life wouldn’t have been the same without the amazing things that happen at UK universities. It’s the reason we have ultrasounds, which told me my baby daughter was healthy; full-body MRI scans like the ones that helped diagnose my sister’s encephalitis, helping to save her life. I’ve also been lucky enough to train in some of our fantastic university pools.
“For many people, universities are just places where people study, but I want to shine a light on the transformational impact they have on people’s lives.”

Nesbitt, who studied French at Ulster University, where he is now Chancellor, before transferring to the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, said: “Do you ever think about where things come from? Things that you rely on and use every day like computers and smart phones? UK universities have been at the forefront of some of the most exciting developments and initiatives of the last century, but not many people know that these innovations come from UK universities and the work of academics up and down the country.

“That’s why, as Chancellor of Ulster University, I’m pleased to be supporting this campaign and helping to champion the many ways that UK universities are making a difference. They transform people’s lives and build a better future for everyone, and that’s something to be proud of.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “Universities really do transform lives. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities and the important work being done by academics up and down the country.
“The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people’s lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do.”

You can find out more about the UK’s Best Breakthroughs and the MadeAtUni campaign here You can also follow the campaign on Twitter @MadeAtUni and Facebook @madeatuni.

Are children key to a healthier London? TfL’s STARS programme suggests so

• Participating schools have achieved an average eight per cent reduction in car use on the journey to school
• Almost half of London schools are accredited to TfL’s STARS programme to encourage active and safer travel
• Research shows that a quarter of weekday morning peak car trips are for school drop-offs

Twenty eight schools from across London have been celebrated by Transport for London (TfL) for their work championing active and safe travel on the journey to school.
As part of TfL’s STARS (Sustainable Travel: Active, Responsible, Safe) schools programme, the winners received awards for being the highest performing of around 1500 participating London primary and secondary schools in reducing car use, increasing walking and cycling and using public transport. All STARS schools ran initiatives that have led to an average of eight per cent reduction in car use on school journeys.
STARS is now in its twelfth year, and accreditation to STARS has grown from 180 schools in 2007 to 1,465 in 2018. Schools are judged on their success in changing travel behaviour with each school awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold accreditation. This year 686 schools were awarded a Gold accreditation – more than ever before.
Certificates from the Mayor of London were presented to the top performing schools at the annual event at City Hall.
Dr Will Norman, London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, COMMA said: “We all want to build a healthier and safer future for our children so to have them involved in encouraging us all to be more active and safe is fantastic. The Mayor and I are particularly proud of the STARS programme. Every participating school deserves an award and should be proud of their achievements. These top 28 schools have shown particular innovation in their projects.
“Being physically active sets children up for success: active kids are healthier, happier and do better at school. Sadly, far too many children in London aren’t as active as they should be. Walking, cycling and scooting to school are fun and easy ways to build more activity into the day.”
Gareth Powell, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “TfL’s STARS accreditation scheme inspires young Londoners to think differently about travel and its impact on their health, wellbeing and the environment. This year, we have awarded gold status to 686 schools, more than ever before. We are delighted that so many schools across London are part of the programme and we’re determined to double that number, enabling more London children to enjoy the benefits of leading active lives.”
The overall best regional primary and secondary schools include:
• Lordship Lane Primary – for work to discourage parents from parking near the school including creating a five minute walking zone and holding two play street events outside school to show parents how it could be without cars (Haringey, north London)
• Oakleigh School and Acorn Assessment Centre – during Road Safety Week every class had a 20 minute presentation using travel related music, sensory objects and lights (Barnet, north London)
• Gilbert Colvin Primary – have worked incredibly hard this year with their ‘Stripey Strider’ campaign to get a zebra crossing outside their school (Redbridge, east London)
• The Campion School – have delivered a year-long three part campaign aiming to increase the numbers of those cycling to school (Havering, east London)
• Herne Hill Primary – for devising ‘numerous fun and interactive travel initiatives’ to promote local safe travel initiatives including a Clean Air Day and inviting external speakers to speak to pupils (Southwark, south London)
• St Mary Magdalene School – for their innovative three-part Spokestars initiative that develops cycling skills from the bottom up. Level one focuses on balance bike training, level two – transitioning to pedal bike and level three – basic bike maintenance (Greenwich, south London)
• St Mary’s Bryanston Square CE Primary – the school has undertaken an intensive programme of activity this year including a clean air project that including air quality lessons, removing car parking spaces, installing scooter parking and raising money to fund an eco-garden in a former school car park (Westminster, west London)
• Guru Nanak Sikh Academy – the Academy has undertaken an intensive campaign to improve road safety in Hayes which included creating ‘More Than You’, a powerful film highlighting the consequences of a road traffic incident. The film was premiered at a Road Safety Fair which included a road safety obstacle course, a smoothie bike as well as travel inspired games & activities. 750 students attended the event. (Hillingdon, west London)
Prior to this event, other STARS accredited schools received Bronze, Silver and Gold grading for their initiatives at seven regional events held across London. They also shared best practice and pledged to increase their activities.
As well as TfL’s work to encourage walking, cycling and scooting to school, councils like Camden and Hackney are also piloting schemes where streets around primary schools are closed at set times in the morning and afternoon, allowing people to walk and cycle safely in a pleasant environment. Waltham Forest is also discouraging motorists from idling their engines at drop off and pick up times.
The first Walking Action Plan was launched earlier this year. As part of this, TfL, the Mayor and others are delivering a number of projects that promote healthy, walkable school journeys and make it easier and more appealing for parents and children to walk or cycle to school. The Walking Action Plan includes the target to double the number of schools reaching the Gold standard under the STARS scheme, from 686 currently to 1,000 by 2024.
Research from TfL’s Walking Action Plan, which aims to make London the world’s most walkable city, shows that a quarter of weekday morning peak car trips are for school drop-offs, a total of 254,000 trips a day. Those cars would form a traffic jam more than 1,000km long if they were queuing in single file. This increased traffic has an impact on congestion, air quality, safety and the efficiency of London’s roads.
The STARS scheme and the Walking Action Plan are part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which aims for 80 per cent of journeys to be made by walking, cycling or public transport.
For further details on the STARS accreditation scheme and the full range of programmes TfL offers to schools and young people, visit or


Primary pupils create thousands of apps to take computing prize

Pupils at St Swithun Wells’ Catholic Primary School in Hillingdon are celebrating after receiving a national computing award.
The West London school has been recognised as a UK Coding Champion by Discovery Education, which provides digital and coding resources to primary schools.
Pupils at St Swithun Wells’ designed and shared over 2900 apps last year, placing them in the top three schools for Discovery Education Coding across the UK. The school’s talented young learners used their ICT skills to create a whole range of imaginative computer games, using different programming languages, and featuring characters including dinosaurs, princesses and even HM The Queen!

The school was given a gold award in recognition of their achievement and a Makey Makey coding kit –an electronic invention tool which connects everyday objects to the internet.

Computing Coordinator Tiffany Bolton said:

“Coding is an important skill for the future and we’re delighted that our pupils enjoy computer programming so much. We’re proud to be placed in the top 3 coding schools nationally.”

Hazel Carter, UK Marketing Director at Discovery Education said:
“Coding powers our digital world. It’s a skill that will always be relevant, and one that children can easily master and enjoy. We were very impressed with the games and apps created by pupils at St Swithun Wells’, and they should be very proud of their achievement as a top coding school.”
To learn more about Discovery Education’s coding service visit
Primary schools can request a free trial of Discovery Education Coding at:

Can earlier intervention help children deal with anger? – Words by Hayley Sherwood of 1 Decision

As we approach the season of goodwill, National Anger Awareness Week (1st-7th December) is well placed in the calendar to shine a light on anger as a social issue which needs to be brought out into the open and addressed effectively.

Last year the British Association of Anger Management created an innovative ‘Keep Your Cool Over Yule Kit’ for use by individuals, organisations, families, schools and other groups. It consisted of anger management activities, as well as tips on handling anger appropriately and calming strategies for diffusing difficult situations.

Whether it is in the Christmas period or at any other time of the year, we are often hijacked by our feelings and emotions. This can potentially cause a tremendous amount of damage, not least in schools and for children in the classroom or on the playground, so the purpose of Anger Awareness Week is to help people to deal effectively with this powerful emotion.

In my experience, anger awareness and anger management is all about early intervention and changing learned behaviour with regard to certain feelings and emotions. Many children do not recognise anger; they see it as a natural impulse.

Our 1decision videos on anger management equip primary school children with the knowledge and skills to manage this emotion. We look at how children feel in their body when they are angry and challenge them to respond appropriately rather than being aggressive or violent. It is also about saying that being angry is sometimes OK, but it is how we react that is key.

Through our feelings and emotions module we do lot of work on anger management techniques, including looking at mindfulness techniques. One practical exercise is breathing through the diaphragm and being in a relaxed and calm mind. If we can do all of this at an earlier stage of their development, children are less likely to be violent in secondary schools.

There is no doubt that children go through a lot of emotional stuff in the real and increasingly online worlds. We need to help them manage this so it does not become a greater mental health issue, which can lead to more drastic scenarios such as self-harming and worse if they do not manage their anger appropriately.

Hayley Sherwood is creator of 1decision, part of Headway learning resources

HART Prize for Human Rights: Inspiring young people to engage with human rights

Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) have announced the 2019 deadline for the HART Prize for Human Rights. The Prize includes two competitions, an essay and a creative competition, which encourage young people (aged 11 – 25) to examine and engage critically with human rights, focusing on the areas in which HART works.
It is a fantastic opportunity to inspire young people to learn about current global affairs, encourage them to undertake their own research and creative work and help raise awareness of overlooked human rights issues amongst their peers.
Students can enter one or both of the competitions, in one of the following age categories:
• Junior: Year 7 – 11
• Intermediate: Sixth Form
• Advanced: Aged 19 – 25
Top prizes include £250 cash (advanced), £50 vouchers (intermediate/junior), Tea in the House of Lords with Baroness Cox and work experience at the HART office. All entrants will be awarded a certificate to acknowledge their participation and achievement.
“We are always inspired by the commitment to Human Rights which the candidates demonstrate, coupled with compassion and outstanding talent. We are deeply encouraged to know that such inspirational young people will be available to promote justice and human rights our world in the years to come.” Baroness Cox, HART Founder and CEO
Students need to submit their work before 11:59pm on Monday 4th March via the HART Website. Prizes will be awarded at a prize-giving and exhibition evening in London on March 25th in London.
Teachers should visit or get in touch with Hannah Tice at for more information, lesson or homework ideas, posters and flyers.

About HART
HART works with persecuted communities who are deeply affected by conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. We focus on groups and issues which are under-represented in the international media and neglected by the international community. They are groups who are at the sharp end of global inequality and injustice, who are often denied access to power, opportunities and control over the issues affecting their lives.
Find out more:

University of Exeter team pioneers virtual field trips in 3D

Oliver Bartlett conducting PhD research in Greenland capturing data used in the InVEnTA project. Picture (c) Dr Steven Palmer

3D gaming technology is being used by a team from the University of Exeter to take students and researchers on virtual field trips to the Arctic Circle.
The Interactive Virtual Environments for Teaching and Assessment – InVEnTA – uses the latest advances in 3D imaging to take students and researchers to environments from the sunny climes of East Devon to the Arctic Circle and beyond.
So promising is the project that it has been nominated for an international award at the Reimagine Education Conference in San Francisco at the end of November.
The team behind InVEnTA is Dr Steven Palmer, Dr Damien Mansell and Dr Anne Le Brocq, who are all senior lecturers in physical geography in the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences. They are being supported by the University of Exeter Education Incubator.
Dr Palmer said: “Over the past year we’ve been looking into the practicality of using the latest 3D visualisation techniques, which will be very familiar to many computer gamers, to take students on virtual field trips almost anywhere in the world.
“Damien, Anne and I are all particularly interested in studying ice sheets and glaciers, so one of the first case studies we have been working on has been the Russell Glacier on the west of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
“We’ve used data collected by a fixed-wing drone during a 2017 research field trip to create an immersive environment to show how, from a computer anywhere in the world, lecturers can take students on a virtual field trip to the glacier.
“Instead of controlling weapons in a shoot-em-up game, students can control where they go in the virtual environment.
“It helps people visualise what is happening and understand the processes under way. This is also useful for scientific research as well as teaching.
“In one scenario, lecturers create a virtual environment which students then visit. In a second scenario, which provides a much more active learning experience, the tool is given to the student so they create the virtual environment themselves.
“This knowledge construction approach helps students develop new skills and allows them to demonstrate, through the environment they have created, what they have learnt.”
Data from a wide range of sources can be used to feed in to the software, including drones, kite-based photography and handheld cameras, as well as existing datasets familiar to geographers.
A more local case study has focused on the geography of a Devon beach and cliffs.
Dr Palmer added: “At the moment we are focusing on understanding the value of the tool in a university undergraduate teaching environment.
“The support from the Education Incubator has been invaluable. It provided initial funding for the first year which helped us get to this stage, and now its continuing support means we hope to be able to make further progress towards taking the tool into the classroom.
“We’re honoured to have been shortlisted in the ICT Tool for Learning and Teaching category at the Reimagine Education Conference – overall there were more than 1,150 projects submitted from around the world. The awards are supported by some of the biggest names in tech so it should provide a great opportunity to network and spread the word about the cutting-edge work being done here in Exeter.”
The University of Exeter Education Incubator seeks to nurture innovation and collaboration in teaching and learning. It supports academics from across the University by creating spaces in which they can explore and develop pedagogic innovations and ideas. It enables any University of Exeter academic to participate in networks of interested peers, providing access to expertise and examples of inspirational education practice.
To read more about the incubator please see

Ten-week literacy intervention in West Yorkshire boys’ school improves reading age by more than a year in 80% of Year 8 pupils


Head teacher at Upper Batley High School Samantha Vickers explains how Supply Desk’s reading intervention programme ‘Love to Read’ improved pupils’ reading age across the school, which has a high proportion of English as an additional language (EAL) and special educational needs (SEN) students.
About the school
Upper Batley High School (UBHS) in Batley, West Yorkshire is a secondary school catering for boys aged between 11 and 16. Of 674 pupils on the roll, 90% come from ethnic minority groups (the national average is 28%) and for 61%, English is an additional language. 33% of pupils receive free school meals – 5% higher than the national average. UBHS also has a high intake of lower ability learners (based on reading, writing and mathematical ability) at 30% – the national average is 10-16%. The school has a low proportion of high ability learners at approximately 20%, which is half the national average of 40%. The proportion of SEND pupils is 34%, against the national average of 28%.
In 2014, UBHS was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted but has improved rapidly over the past three years, achieving a ‘Good’ rating in its 2016 Ofsted inspection. Attendance has improved considerably, and is now in line with the national average; persistent absence and exclusion have decreased and GCSE and literacy outcomes have improved. Additionally, enrolment of high achieving pupils has increased over the last three years, from 481 to 676.
The challenge
Despite significant improvements in literacy outcomes throughout the school since 2014, increasing reading comprehension continues to be a key focus for UBHS, with particular attention on our large ethnic minority and EAL population.
For many of these pupils, English is not the spoken language at home and their access to English reading material outside of school is limited. Typically, a child’s reading age improves through parents reading bedtime stories but in our community this is less common.
For pupils to access and comprehend their GCSE papers in Year 11, a reading age of 15 years and six months is required – currently the majority of our pupils are well below this level. It is imperative that we support UBHS pupils, especially those in the years preceding GCSEs, in increasing their literacy skills. With improved confidence in accessing and understanding exam papers, they are better placed for success across all subject areas.
The solution
Supply Desk, one of the UK’s leading education recruitment specialists, contacted us about ‘Love to Read’ – a reading intervention pilot running in schools across West Yorkshire – and we agreed to participate. The intervention is driven by the shocking statistic that approximately 1 in 5 (20%) of school-aged children are unable to read and is designed to boost pupil reading ages by up to two years in 10 weeks.
The 10-week intervention ran at UBHS from January 2018 to June 2018 and consisted of pupils undertaking two 20-minute, or one 50-minute, one-to-one reading sessions per week with a teaching assistant trained in Love to Read, provided by Supply Desk. The programme was a book-based approach which supported our pupils with their literacy, enabling them to activate both dimensions of reading – word recognition processes (including phonics) and language comprehension processes. Students were also encouraged to read at home between sessions and an after school reading club was opened and supported by the Love to Read teaching assistant.
28 pupils, from Years 7 to 10, participated in the reading intervention.

• 8 pupils were mainstream
• 5 had an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
• 4 pupils were EAL
• 4 had Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
• 3 had MLD and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH)
• 2 had SEMH
• 1 had dyslexia
• 1 had an attention deficit disorder/autism spectrum disorder (ADHD/ASD)

Key results
The results were incredible – the impact of the reading intervention was widespread across the participant group with some of the boys increasing their reading age by two years in the space of a term. 80% of our Year 8 pupils improved their reading age by more than a year, with one pupil progressing by over three years in the 10 weeks.

Year 7 results:
• 69% made an average increase of 7.6 months over the 10 weeks
• The most significant rise was 18 months – the pupil progressed from a reading age of 14.01 to 15.07
• The second greatest improvement overall was a Year 7 pupil with MLD who improved by 14 months – from a reading age of 7.04 to 8.06
Year 8 results:
• 80% made an average increase of 14 months
• The highest improvement was 3.5 years – with the pupil moving from a reading age of 6.09 to 10.03

Year 9 results:
• For 50% of the Year 9 participants, the average increase was four months.
One of the most important outcomes of the programme was the high level of engagement and intrinsic motivation shown by our pupils – they really enjoyed working with the Love to Read teaching assistant. He was great at improving their comprehension and vocabulary by ensuring new words were practised in sentences throughout the week. Parents were also engaged in their children’s literacy journey and the triangulation between school, the pupils and their parents ensured encouragement, support and praise from all sides.

All of the pupils who took part in the Love to Read programme substantially increased their reading age – the project was a great success both quantitatively and qualitatively. The intervention boosted our pupils’ confidence and self-esteem. They enjoyed the consistent support and loved seeing the progress they were making on a daily basis. The headline results of the programme were astounding and the pupils who participated in the intervention have kept reading. We now have a school-wide reading culture, evidenced by pupils increasingly reading in their own time as well as in lessons.
Perhaps the greatest benefit was observed among our EAL pupils – the programme increased their access to English reading material and the one-to-one support they received, particularly around new vocabulary, greatly improved their confidence and empowered them to read in English.
We aim to continue the intervention and encourage our pupils to keep engaging in reading – it is reading little and often that makes the biggest difference for our pupils. We are expanding the project this year to include more parental involvement as this ensures the development is sustainable. We would definitely recommend the Love to Read intervention to other schools.

Screening, suicide and support while on waiting lists: the questions children and young people want answered about their mental health

The McPin Foundation, the mental health research charity, today reveals the Top 10 most important, unanswered questions about children and young people’s mental health at a launch event in Parliament.
The Right People, Right Questions project set out to identify gaps in research on children and young people’s mental health, as identified by children and young people, parents, teachers, mental health and social work professionals, and researchers. The output is a list of the Top 10 most important questions not conclusively answered by research.
The hope is that this list will be used by researchers, funders and policymakers to shape research on young people’s mental health over the next three years. This will ensure that resources are used to address topics that matter most to those most readily affected by lack of treatment solutions and poor service delivery.
Childhood and adolescence are crucial times when it comes to people’s mental health. We know that most adults supported by mental health services had problems that emerged in childhood1. This is commonly reported as half of all mental health difficulties manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 242. Last week, it was revealed that 1 in 8 people aged between five and 19 had a diagnosable mental health difficulty in England in 2017. For young women aged 17 to 19 the rate was 1 in 4, with over 50% who identified as having a mental health problem also reporting to have self-harmed or made a suicide attempt.
Despite this situation, young people’s mental health is under-researched. There is a lot that we simply don’t know. The Top 10 are a to-do list for researchers, compiled by people who would not only be impacted by research on this topic but who would also be the participants of any research. Involving them right at the beginning, when the priorities for future research are decided, increases the chance the findings will have real world relevance and can lead to meaningful positive change. We believe it is the first time such a list has been compiled on this topic in this way, following a standard process developed by the James Lind Alliance.
The starting point of the list was a public survey that attracted over 5500 responses from over 2500 people, including many young people, parents and teachers. These questions were categorised into themes, with the largest being questions about mental health interventions and services. Focusing on this theme, the team grouped similar questions together under a single overarching question. Working with independent information specialists, the team checked to see whether these questions had been adequately answered by existing research.
This left 91 unanswered questions. A second public survey, taken by 753 people, was used to prioritise these questions. The 25 questions that were rated the most important were taken to a workshop. Attendees discussed and prioritised the questions, coming up with the Top 10 questions, within the theme of interventions and services, for children and young people’s mental health.
As well as generating the most important priorities for research, the project revealed just how poor we are at getting good information about mental health into the hands of the people who need it. Of the questions submitted by the public, over half of the ones we looked into had already been adequately answered by research. People just didn’t know about it. We think this needs to change as well.
The next step is to get answers to the questions and use them to shape policy and practice. The McPin Foundation calls on research funders to fund research that addresses these priorities, and researchers to develop studies that answer the questions and include young people in the design and delivery of their research. Policymakers need to use the answers to formulate policy that leads to meaningful change.
“The starting point of the Top 10 was a public survey that attracted responses from a diverse range of people. This means the priorities can be seen as an insight into the nation’s psyche when it comes to the state of our children’s mental health. In other words, the list captures a snapshot of what we are anxious about. It is no surprise to see questions about suicide, the role of schools and the impact of parenting as all have a significant impact on children, families, communities and our society”. Vanessa Pinfold, Co-founder and Research Director at McPin
“Checking the existing science, it was interesting to see where the evidence holes were and how this matches up with public policy. For example, there is a lot of talk about screening and ‘wellbeing assessments’ in schools right now, with plenty of it assuming that it is a good thing. As question 1 shows, whether screening should be done in the first place and what the best way would be to do it, is still very much an open question. There is potential for harm if it is not done well. Another interesting area was the desire for support while people are on waiting lists (question 5). We discovered that although there is evidence on the size of the waiting lists and research on what can be done to minimise them, there is very little on how to support people while they are waiting. It is almost like a taboo to acknowledge that waiting lists exist, which results in no funding to find out what could help people while they wait for an assessment or treatment to start”. Thomas Kabir, Project Lead for Right People, Right Questions at McPin
“One of the messages to take away from Right People, Right Questions is the importance of involving young people in research. We can’t possibly make discoveries that have real impact without listening to, and collaborating with, the people who will be affected by the research. Throughout Right People, Right Questions, young people have been involved at every stage, from choosing the name to developing the surveys, to analysis and dissemination. Their input has made a real difference, which is what meaningful involvement is all about.” Rachel Temple, Young People’s Coordinator at McPin

“We were pleased to be a funding partner in this work, supporting our commitment to research on children and young people’s mental health. We continue to fund PhDs in this area and have seen an increase in both the number and quality of applications in recent years. The Top 10 will be useful to us as we consider which children and young people’s scholarship to award in 2019”. Clair Chilvers, Mental Health Research UK
You can view the Top 10 questions on the McPin Foundation website at