The UK’s schools and educational facilities are regularly experiencing problems with their heating system which increases the risk of unexpected closure, according to a new report published by Bosch Commercial and Industrial.

Out of sight, out of mind? A report on the heating and hot water challenge in UK schools’, which is available for free at, exposes that the majority of schools spend less than 20% of their maintenance budget on ensuring their heating system is running efficiently. This is despite the fact that up to 50% of a typical school’s energy usage is attributed solely to heating.

Over a third of respondents are concerned with finding the funds for replacement when it comes to resolving heating system breakdowns, which are often seen as unavoidable or unforeseeable.

Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager at Bosch Commercial and Industrial, who helped author the report said: “Ultimately, a school without heating and hot water must close, so viewing heating and hot water technologies as much more than ‘out of sight, out of mind’ appliances is essential. With significant cuts to funding and increased pressure to reduce energy consumption, it’s more important than ever for schools to be proactive in tackling their heating and hot water challenges.”

The report goes on to explore how latest condensing boiler technology can significantly reduce running costs, as well as providing details on available grants and effective maintenance schemes.

Pete Mills concludes: “As our report details, it is clear that schools are having to contend with the unreliable systems currently in place and are therefore finding themselves at risk of an unexpected breakdown and unprepared to provide a long-term solution. We hope this report will help schools to enhance their heating comfort and energy performance, and consider a boiler replacement project well ahead of an outdated system letting them down without warning.”

‘Out of sight, out of mind? A report on the heating and hot water challenge in UK schools’ is available to download from:

For more information on Bosch Commercial and Industrial and its range of heating, cooling and hot water technologies, please visit or call 0330 123 3004. Alternatively, follow Bosch Commercial and Industrial on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Bristol organisation shows why playtime is as important as class time

Teachers from five European countries visit ‘OPAL’ schools where improved playtimes have produced impressive results.

Monday 12 February: Last week, 30 delegates from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary flew to Bristol to get expert advice on playtime management and design from the Bristol-based community interest company Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL).
OPAL supports primary schools to dramatically improve the quality of day-to-day playtimes. Consequential benefits include improvements in lunchtime behaviour, engagement, learning, personal development and physical activity.
The delegates, which included headteachers, teachers, university staff, psychologists and education experts, visited four OPAL Platinum Award primary schools in the area. They met with headteachers and staff who have completely changed their attitude and approach to playtime provision.
Dr Iva Klimešová, a visitor from the Education Department at Palacký University in the Czech Republic, said: “The experience made us all wish to help develop a kind, child-friendly school. It was extremely refreshing to see children in such numbers happy, deeply submerged in play, absolutely natural, themselves. One couldn’t not notice that it wasn’t just the children who looked happy – it was everyone at the scene. It was contagious.”
With many children finding organised PE and sports activities a total turn-off, OPAL is addressing the childhood inactivity crisis by making playtimes fun, active and playful. It supports schools to make the best use of their outdoor space. Shockingly, OPAL has found that schools typically only allow pupils to use 17 per cent of the available outside space for two thirds of the year because of concerns such as getting dirty, injuries and supervision requirements.
Michael Follett, OPAL Director, said: “There are serious consequences to children not having the space, environment and resources to freely play each day. Without excellent playtimes, children lead increasingly sedentary lives, they are less focused on learning when they return to the classroom, and their social development and life skills can be held back. Making playtime a key part of the school day can address all of these issues. That’s why we were delighted to host our European colleagues last week and take the first steps to making sure the OPAL ethos can benefit even more children.”
The visit was part of a project to identify a European ‘kite mark’ for quality, based on the OPAL Programme. OPAL has been recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood, co-chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin, to the UK government as the ‘gold standard’ for play provision in the UK’s 20,000 primary schools.


Lingfield Education Trust has appointed a brand new schools improvement lead and executive headteacher to its leadership team.

Mark Dent, 37, has joined the Multi-Academy Trust, which has its head office at Lingfield Point in Darlington and comprises six schools across Darlington and Teesside. With 16 years of experience in teaching and having qualified as an Ofsted inspector, Mark will also take on the role of Executive Head at Cambrai Community Primary School which will open in September 2019 in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

He said: “My new role will initially see me working with all of the schools across Lingfield Education Trust to support team development and school initiatives. I’m hugely looking forward to working as part of a Multi Academy Trust, helping to share knowledge and best practice.

“I’ll also be responsible for the NQTs across the Trust and it is an absolute privilege to help those who are new to teaching and coach them into being future leaders in education.”

Originally from Bishop Auckland, Mark has a wealth of robust teaching experience across the North East, having worked at schools in Newton Aycliffe, as an advisory teacher for Durham County Council, as deputy head at Thornhill School in Shildon and then as headteacher at Cheveley Park in Durham, where he also trained as an Ofsted inspector.

Nick Blackburn, chief executive of Lingfield Education Trust, said: “Mark’s appointment is a really exciting one for us as we look to further strengthen our leadership team at the Trust and grow our network of schools across County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire. Our vision is to make the biggest difference to children in our schools and the communities in which they live and Mark’s work in continuing the hard work of our excellent teaching teams will certainly help us to achieve this.”
More information on Lingfield Education Trust here or follow us on Twitter @LingfieldTrust

British Robotics Seed Fund invests in Magpie Education

AI driven lesson planning and assessment tool secures £300,000 to encourage uptake of STEM subjects in the UK

Martlesham, 15 January 2018. Magpie Education, a firm that aims to inspire students in STEM subjects, through its engaging, cost-effective, AI driven resource tool, has secured seed investment from the British Robotics Seed Fund (BRSF).

The investment sees Magpie Education join a portfolio of UK firms in robotics related fields, from Zoa Robotics to Botskill and Tethered Drone Systems. Funding will be used to market and develop the tool for UK schools, and expand internationally, in the future.

Magpie Education launches in Spring 2018 with plans to grab a share of the UK EdTech market, which is expected to reach £3.4 billion by 2021 and is growing 22% year on year. UK EdTech companies are predicted to grow, on average, at 29% a year, over the next two years, based on 102 startups.[1]

Tackling low levels of interest in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), and the shortage of skilled teachers, Magpie Education provides a platform that incorporates lesson planning, curriculum mapped activities; tailored learning journeys and training (CPD), to deliver inspiring STEM lessons. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the tool helps teachers to accurately assess students’ progress to improve learning outcomes.

Laurence Ellis, CEO of Magpie Education commented: “We have piloted our tool in a number of schools in the UK, and have identified a strong requirement to ensure our children receive good quality STEM teaching. Through automated assessment and progress monitoring, we are using AI to a high level, with the platform predicting and recommending learning pathways for individual students with personalised content based on their progress.”

The simple to use resource tool enables teachers to cross over from other subject areas and teach Computer Science, which is crucial for primary schools with limited teaching resources. Pre-prepared cross-curricula lessons incorporate emerging technologies, such as robotics.

Dominic Keen, CEO of Britbots concluded: “To catch up with STEM teaching on a global scale, we need more tools like Magpie Education’s. We invested as the business has a proven model in a dynamic market, with a highly capable CEO and management team with deep experience in EdTech at the helm.

“The British robotics scene is diverse, and this EdTech start up is looking to shape the future of STEM teaching with a tool based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. With its help, we should see the UK’s pool of scientists, engineers and technologists grow as we compete to develop emerging technologies.”

Useful video about Magpie Education:

Over a million children to be gifted with free books

10th January 2018 – BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity reveals the two titles for this years Bookstart Baby and Bookstart Treasure packs.

David Melling’s adorable 123 Splosh has been chosen for the Bookstart Baby pack, whilst the bold and colourful Max the Brave by Ed Vere, has been selected for the Bookstart Treasure pack.

As part of the Bookstart Baby pack, 600,000 free copies are going to families with babies aged 0-12, who will get their very own 123 Splosh book (published by Hodder) to keep. The colourful rhyming story is a wonderfully funny introduction to numbers and counting for the very young and great to read aloud. The pack also includes rhyme sheets and a booklet filled with tips and ideas for sharing books and stories.

Both Bookstart packs are gifted by BookTrust though local councils via a network of health visitors and other professionals and are being sent out from this week to over 1.2 million young children and their families to help get them started on their reading journey.

David Melling, author of 123 Splosh said: “I’m delighted that 123 Splosh has been chosen as the Bookstart Baby read. It’s a wonderful feeling as an author, knowing that over 600,000 families will be given your book to enjoy together. BookTrust do invaluable work, encouraging a love of books at the earliest age, and I’m proud to be part of the programme.”

Meanwhile a further 600,000 free copies of Max the Brave books will go out to children aged 3-4 in their Bookstart Treasure pack which they’ll get from their nursery, children’s centre or early years setting. Bookstart Treasure builds on the impact of the Bookstart Baby programme and supports children and families to experience reading and its benefits at a young age. Max the Brave (published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK) is a colourful tale of a brave kitten who sets out to find a mouse to chase. Vivid, bright and bold, EYFS readers will thoroughly enjoy the story.  

Ed Vere, author and illustrator of Max the Brave said: “It’s an incredible honour for my book to be chosen for BookTrust Treasure from such a high-level field of so many amazing books. I can’t tell you how thrilled and delighted I am that so many children are going to get the opportunity to read Max the Brave!

I think it’s so important to put high quality, entertaining and fun books in front of not only children but the grownups who are going to read the books to them. If a grownup is bored reading to a child, that will transmit to the child and if parents know there are great books out there that are entertaining then children will grow up loving reading because it’s fun. I think that’s essential and it’s what reading is all about. Introducing books to children at an early age like this is exactly what we have to do. If we’re going to encourage children to read, which we must because it’s so important, then we have to do it with good books and I’m thrilled that Max is considered a good book. Thank you BookTrust.”

Bookstart, which celebrated its 25th year in 2017 is the world’s first national bookgifting programme, gifting children in England free books at two key ages before they start school, to help develop a love of stories and books.

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust said: “Starting a reading routine early sets young children up to continue reading and enjoying stories as they grow, to find new adventures to get lost in, to experience the simple joy that a story brings. Children who read for pleasure, or are read to from a young age are likely to do better at school, as well as being more socially, culturally and emotionally prepared for life.”

To find out more about each of the books and their authors, visit where Ed is reading Max the Brave and giving away an original illustration and later this month David will also showcase his illustration techniques and giving some advice and tips for budding young artists.


In an education landscape where restricted budgets remain the biggest challenge for UK schools, gaining maximum value from ICT spend is still a key priority for today’s ICT leaders.


Recent research conducted by RM Education into the external ICT support marketplace, which surveyed ICT leaders at over 300 maintained secondary schools across the UK, revealed some interesting insights into the way schools are managing their IT support services, both now and in the future.


RM’s research reflected that while average network team sizes currently comprise of around four or five internal network staff, there is an increasing expectation from ICT leaders that due to continued budgetary pressures, network team sizes will fall over the next two years.


The only exception to this trend is in schools that already have significant external support with their ICT provision, where it is expected that in some instances, network team sizes may actually increase.


However, less than a fifth of those surveyed reported using a fully managed service, and over two thirds of schools said they prefer a modular approach where they can select specific support options that best suit the unique needs of their school, its pedagogy and its chosen technologies.


Chris Burgess, Senior Product Manager at RM Education, says: “The prevalence of cloud technologies is making lives much easier for network teams; they no longer need to manage kit, install updates and, in most cases, fix servers, as this can all be done much more cost effectively through cloud technologies.


“Naturally, this has impacted on the amount of network staff required in a typical secondary school, so it’s unsurprising that most schools are expecting their network teams to shrink over the next few years. This trend is also being driven by BYOD implementation becoming increasingly widespread, coupled with things like enhanced system software deployments and data management implications such as the new GDPR requirements.


“However, while a smaller network team size can help alleviate some of these budgetary pressures, it can also decrease the capacity and knowledge held within an onsite team to deal with the volume and range of support queries they receive each day.”


Chris suggests that an external support service can fill this deficit and help schools to achieve their ICT needs by bringing in the knowledge and experience of a wide pool of external specialists, enabling existing network teams of any size to access support and freeing them up to focus on supporting teaching staff with classroom technologies.


“Network Managers are rightly starting to look at ways to reduce their workload and free up more of their time, so that they can reinvest those resources into making the most of technology in the school and staying on top of technology trends,” says Chris.


“This is an area which does need much greater focus, so while budgetary pressures are the main driver to an ICT support service, freeing up much-needed time to help develop teachers’ skills and give them more confidence with technology in the classroom is also becoming a priority.”


As this research has indicated, schools are increasingly seeking modular support, and their ICT leaders are therefore focussing on exploring flexible and scalable solutions that will best compliment their existing – albeit shrinking – network teams.


So what are the options for schools taking this approach? The first is an escalation support model where schools can select specific support or functions; this approach can be particularly beneficial where a network team is small and there is a clear gap in the technology knowledge required to perform a specific task, such as migration from Microsoft to Google.


If an additional level of support was required, schools could also explore pro-active remote services which are focussed on freeing up network teams by performing automated or standardised tasks such as system updates and security checks; tasks which are necessary, but often overlooked when network teams are busy firefighting more pressing issues.


Building on the pro-active service model, schools could also explore remote network management services, which can help them to stabilise their costs, widen their internal knowledge bank and, crucially, to transfer the risks associated with of day-to-day mishaps to the service provider.


The survey also asked ICT leaders what elements of ICT support were most beneficial to their school; the majority of respondents reported that the provision of unlimited usage, multiple platform coverage and expert technical knowledge were key.


Respondents also indicated that their school is most likely to use native tools from Microsoft and Google for identity and access management, while a significant proportion of respondents named RM Education as providing the highest levels of expertise in the provision of support.


“By conducting this latest research, we wanted to explore the current landscape of school IT and the issues that were most important to ICT leaders. The results reflect to us that in-depth technological expertise is a critical driver in selecting a support contract, while budgetary pressures continue to drive ICT leaders to explore options that could offer them much greater security and value for money,” says Chris.


“Conversely, we understand that schools are reluctant to be tied into a contract that isn’t specifically tailored to their needs. Therefore, we anticipate that modular support models which are flexible and scalable will begin to take on much more prevalence over the next 12 to 24 months.”


RM Education can provide schools with a range of hybrid support services on a single flexible contract, from running pro-active overnight checks on your school’s network to security audits, vulnerability scanning and SIMs support.


For more information on ICT support options, visit


Primary schools to win a portion of £50,000 for achieving maths mastery

Primary school maths mastery resource provider, Matific, has today launched its UK Maths Games competition for schools. The competition is now open to all schools across the UK, following a previous successful run in Australia and the US.


Online primary maths resource Matific, is designed around the national curriculum, using problem solving activities to achieve maths mastery.


Open for entries from today for all schools with students from reception to Year 6 students, the competition gives schools the chance to win more than £50,000 in cash and prizes, with the first prize being £1000 cash and £2000 worth of products. In addition to the school prize, participating classes have more than 20 chances to win prizes of up to £1000!


From 1 March, all registered schools can access the Matific math’s resource free of charge. The competition is based on collecting stars for each activity completed. The challenge is to finish with the highest average of the number of stars collected. First, second and third prizes are given for each year group from reception to Year 6.


For full prize details and to register for entry free of charge, teachers and schools should visit:

Over a quarter of UK parents have been put into financial difficulty by their child’s extracurricular activities

  • The average UK parent spends £237.52 per child per academic year on after-school activities
  • Almost a third of children take part in three or more extracurricular activities every week
  • Parents in Cardiff, Glasgow and London pay the most for extracurricular activities


After-school activities are a great way of furthering a child’s education, but many parents across the UK are feeling the financial strain because of them, new research has revealed.


According to a recent study by online personalised clothing retailer, Banana Moon Clothing, over a quarter (28%) of parents in the UK have been put into financial difficulty funding their child’s extracurricular activities, such as sport and music classes.


The study revealed that nearly a third of children (31%) take part in three or more extracurricular activities at school a week, with the average UK parent spending £237.32 a year funding them.


However, a fifth of parents spend more than £300 every academic year on their child’s after- school activities, with a further 10% spending more than £500.


A further fifth of parents (21%) rated their child’s extracurricular activities as poor value for money and almost half (44%) said that there’s too much pressure put on parents to fund these activities.


The top five cities that spend the most on after school activities per year are:


  • Cardiff (£398)
  • Glasgow (£337)
  • Oxford (£294)
  • London (£291)
  • Belfast (£286)


The region where children take part in the most extracurricular activities was London, with nearly one in five children (19%) attending five or more after-school activities every week.


After school activities were also the most expensive with children in school years 4-6, with parents of children in these age groups shelling out £260 per child per year.


Alex Grace, Managing Director at Banana Moon Clothing, said: “It’s encouraging to see that children are taking up to three extracurricular activities each week as it can really aid their personal development. However, it is understandable that some parents are struggling financially when there are so many classes available now for children to attend.


“Don’t be afraid to see if there’s any financial help available and where possible, look at ways you can save money on the associated costs, such as investing in quality pieces of uniform that will last, buying sports kits in bulk or purchasing second hand.”


To learn more on how to save money on your child’s after-school activities please visit:

England’s leading charitable provider of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education welcomes consultation on Relationships and Sex Education

Coram Life Education, which delivers Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education to one in eight UK primary schools, supports the Department for Education’s plans to consult on the best way to deliver effective Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

As RSE is compulsory in all schools from 2019, the eight week consultation will help shape the education to equip children with the knowledge and skills to stay safe and to know when and how to ask for help.

Digital technology means inappropriate content like online pornography, sexting, and fake and dangerous advice and myths are readily available. Coram Life Education’s teaching resources are used by half a million children in over 2,000 schools and the recently launched comprehensive Relationships Education programme reflects current Department for Education (DfE) guidance. The online Key Stage 1 and 2 programme will be updated following the consultation and will help primary schools meet statutory requirements to deliver Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) from 2019.

Coram Life Education’s Managing Director of Education & Wellbeing, Harriet Gill, said: “Coram Life Education welcomes the DfE consultation. It will provide parents, teachers, young people, service providers and policy makers with a platform to share views and evidence of what works. When delivered by confident teachers in discussion with pupils, RSE is an enriching, empowering experience, based on pupils’ right to education that helps them navigate a complex real and virtual world and to stay safe in the process”.


“In our experience, the earlier children are equipped with skills and strategies to remain resilient in adult life the better. When we researched schools’ readiness for statutory RSE, more than a third said they needed additional support to teach the subject. Our expertise in primary education led us to create the Relationships Education programme, helping children develop healthy friendships and relationships, learn about body ownership, consent, identifying safe and unsafe touch, puberty and reproduction and staying safe online.”


Coram Life Education’s Relationships Education programme covers all primary school years from an early stage, as the teaching of safety, body ownership, private parts of the body, distinguishing types of touch and types of secrets helps protect children and may increase the disclosure of abuse.***


The age-appropriate lesson themes reflect the needs and requirements of young people themselves.** Our research showed that the big issues for children are friendship issues, low self-esteem, body image and sharing inappropriate images or images without consent.

Content was developed from insight through the charity’s research with primary school head teachers, many of whom are delivering aspects of RSE now. However, two thirds said they needed more guidance on statutory requirements.*


The Relationships Education programme was funded by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical and is now available in the 2,000 schools delivering Coram Life Education, and is accessible to any primary school subscribing to ‘SCARF’, the charity’s online wellbeing resource.

1 in 4 teenagers couldn’t enjoy Christmas without social media

More than one in four teenagers – an estimated 866,000 young people in England and Wales – say they couldn’t enjoy Christmas without social media according to a new survey carried out for The Children’s Society.


Almost one in three, more than one million, said they thought it was getting harder to enjoy Christmas, while only 1 in 10 felt it was getting easier.


Many young people are left casting envious glances at their peers and people they follow, with 31%, almost a million, saying that social media use at Christmas makes them want more gifts and presents after having compared themselves to others.


One in five children think that friends on social media seem to be having a better Christmas than them.


However, 40 per cent felt that social media made them think more about those who are less fortunate than they are at Christmas time.


The poll of 1,010 13-17-year-olds, conducted by Research Now for The Children’s Society, found nearly a third (32%) increased their use of social media over Christmas, with only 8 per cent saying they spent less time on the online platforms.


Almost half (47%) of all young people said they didn’t spend enough time with friends during the Christmas break, with three quarters (76%) of those who use social media more at this time of year saying they did so to see what their school friends were doing over the holidays. Worryingly 13 per cent said they use social media more at Christmas to help them feel less alone, while 17 per cent do so to escape family stress and 32 per cent do so because they feel bored.


Matthew Reed, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone, including children. Many miss their friends whilst not at school and social media can represent an important lifeline to the outside world.


“Although social media can have many benefits, we know that overuse can be damaging to young people’s well-being and may harm their mental health.


“There will however be many children this Christmas, with nowhere to turn, and at The Children’s Society we support thousands of these young people.  It is vital that more of them are able to access the support they need all year round.”


The Children’s Society is calling for tougher regulation and decisive action by social media companies to ensure the online world is safer for children and to minimise risks like cyber-bullying and online grooming.

It wants to see clearer child-friendly guidelines, better advice on blocking people and reporting issues, and quicker and more effective responses to reports of inappropriate behaviour and material.

Mr Reed added: “The Government must do its bit to make sure this happens, and we would urge it to listen to the voices of young people in developing its proposed Code of Practice for social media companies, which we would like to see in place as soon as possible.”