Schools Showcase their Garden Designs in Royal Horticultural Society Competition

Secondary school pupils present school and community garden designs in RHS Green Plan It Challenge

  • Ten-week project aimed at inspiring the next generation of young horticulturists
  • Designs include conservation, rooftop and peace gardens

Some schools taking part in the RHS Green Plan It Challenge (high res images available on request)

Eight hundred secondary school pupils aged 12-14  have competed in the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Green Plan It Challenge – submitting their innovative designs for a new school or community garden to a panel of award-winning designers, landscape architects and other horticulturists.

 

The entries were assessed at eight regional events with four teams at each walking away with an award.

 

Recurring design themes were the creation of tranquil spaces to help pupils escape the stresses of the classroom, wildlife friendly gardens and features such as green roofs and walls to tackle environmental issues.

 

Winners included Y Pant School in Rhondda Cynon Taf who created a meadow garden to help conserve a population of endangered butterflies, Blessed John Henry Newman RC College in Oldham who developed a peace garden using the Manchester bee motif and Alperton Community School in Wembley who designed a rooftop garden at an underground station to supply the local community with fresh fruit and vegetables. A number of the schools that took part have already committed to bringing their gardens to life.

 

Led by students, the ten-week challenge encouraged pupils to consider the benefits of communal green spaces and explore environmental issues while developing leadership, teamwork and creative skills.

 

Challenge competitors also drew on inspiration from industry mentors and judges including Danny Nagle from Grant Associates, the landscape architects behind the multi-award-winning Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, Tamara Bridge, co-designer of the Jo Whiley Scent Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Lachlan Rae, Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 and Head Gardener at Auchendolly Estate in Scotland.

 

Speaking about the challenge, RHS Head of Community Outreach, Andrea Van-Sittart said: “The Green Plan It Challenge is designed to support young people to develop a host of new skills including teamwork, creativity and problem-solving, and, we hope to inspire some future Alan Titchmarshs and Monty Dons.

 

“All of the entries reveal an understanding of the important role that gardens can play both in terms of providing space to work and reflect and as a home for wildlife and the plants they rely on. We look forward to seeing some of these gardens come to fruition as we set about greening our grey Britain.”

Research finds more children than ever are learning to play music, but few are advancing beyond ‘beginner’ level

 

Almost 460,000 schoolchildren learnt how to play a musical instrument for the first time last year, following a recent boost in government funding.

 

Researchers at Birmingham City University have conducted a nationwide online survey and a series of interviews with music education leaders, to explore the state of music provision in English schools during the 2015/16 academic year.

 

“We found that there are many examples of excellent delivery and organisation of musical programmes taking place in schools around the country, but that provision is patchy in some areas”, said Martin Fautley, project lead and Professor of Education at Birmingham City University.

 

Professor Fautley and research colleagues Dr Adam Whittaker and Dr Victoria Kinsella found that whilst the number of schoolchildren learning to play music for the first time is at an all-time high, only four per cent of learners are reaching intermediate level and just two per cent are reaching advanced level.

 

“Our research drew attention to this trend which seems to highlight an issue with converting musical opportunities into longer-term musical learning – something the sector will need to monitor and act upon in the coming years”, said Dr Whittaker.

On continuation rates, a teacher who was interviewed said: “Parents are happy for the children to have the lesson in school, but when it comes to buying instruments it becomes a parental responsibility. A lot of parents don’t see the value.”

 

The researchers also found that the majority of musical learning takes place in Key Stage 2 of primary school and Key Stage 3 of secondary school.

 

The research was funded by Arts Council England and commissioned by MusicMark, the national membership organisation representing music education hubs in England.

 

Educational supply specialist comes to rescue of school in national headlines for asking parents for donations

An educational supply specialist has come to the rescue of a school that hit the national headlines after asking parents to contribute to vital classroom resources.

Robert Piggott CE School in Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency in Berkshire, was in the news after changes to school funding meant the school and governing body, after consultation with parents, decided to ask parents for a donation of £1 per school day, per child, to cover the costs of teaching resources and books.

When David Pickering, Managing Director of Lancashire based EPSL Educational Printing, read about the school’s plight he contacted the infant and junior schools to offer them a year’s supply of free, personalised exercise books, reading records and diaries.

He said: “Schools across the UK are struggling to make ends meet due to changes in funding and we believe that every child should have access to quality books to help them with their studies.

“The story about Robert Piggott School highlights this issue and I hope our donation will be a real boost to the pupils, teachers and staff.

“I was thrilled when they accepted our offer of personalised exercise books, diaries and reading records and I look forward to hearing feedback from our ultimate judges — the children!”

Mrs Akers, Executive Headteacher added: “The media attention following our request for voluntary contributions was rather unexpected, as we are not the first school to have to resort to this sort of request.

“We were thrilled to receive the call from EPSL Educational Printing offering us a very generous donation of a year’s supply of exercise books, diaries and reading records.  To learn that the stationery is also embossed with our school logo is wonderful.

“I am sure the children will be very proud of their new high quality books and will produce their best work to go in them.

“Thank you to EPSL Educational Printing for our rather unexpected and very special early Christmas present.”

EPSL Educational Printing has provided more than 5,300 personalised books including exercise books, diaries and reading records to Robert Piggott Junior and Infant school.

Each item was designed, printed and collated in the company’s state-of-the-art Blackburn facility in Lancashire.

EPSL Educational Printing was founded in 1975 by former teacher Fred Pickering. He was succeeded by his son David in 2002 and the company now provides millions of exercise books and ancillary products to thousands of schools across the UK.

Nureva to demonstrate its new, dynamic learning environment at Bett 2018

Nureva Inc., an award-winning collaborative solutions company, will be demonstrating the latest version of its integrated solutions on stand C160 at Bett 2018.

New features in Nureva™ Span™ software, digital working walls and the HDL300 audio conferencing system combine to create a dynamic collaborative learning environment for primary, secondary and postsecondary settings around the world.

 

The Nureva Span visual collaboration system transforms classroom walls into large, ultra-wide interactive surfaces that display an expansive digital canvas. Learners create their ideas on their personal devices – either a computer, tablet or smartphone – and share them in the cloud. The Nureva HDL300 audio conferencing system resolves the frustrating and persistent issue of poor audio pickup, especially where global collaboration takes place between dynamic classroom environments.

 

Nureva’s products support a fresh approach to collaborative, student-led learning; focusing on enabling the physical and virtual spaces where educators and learners converge, to create dynamic learning experiences.

Nancy Knowlton, Nureva’s CEO said, “we’re excited to demonstrate our expanded solutions for collaborative learning spaces to the global education community attending Bett. Visitors to our stand will see how new features in Span software and the addition of the HDL300 audio conferencing system open up exciting opportunities to create truly unique learning experiences.”

Hallfield School announce appointment of new Headmaster

Governors of Hallfield School have today announced the appointment of a new Headmaster.

Keith Morrow, currently Headmaster at The Elms School in Long Eaton in Nottingham, will take on the headship role at Hallfield School from September 2018.

Keith will be the 14th Headmaster to lead the independent school in Edgbaston in its 139 year history.

He will be taking over the helm from the Acting Headmaster Richard Batchelor and Deputy Head Mrs Anne Oliver who will both remain at Hallfield School as Deputy Heads. Mrs Oliver will also retain her responsibility as Head of Pre-Prep and EYFS.

Speaking of his appointment, Mr Morrow said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed as the next Headmaster of Hallfield School.

“Hallfield has an excellent reputation and a distinguished history. I am particularly pleased that Mr Batchelor and Mrs Oliver will be assisting me as Deputy Heads as I work with the governors, staff and parents to lead Hallfield into a very exciting future.”

Keith has 17 years of experience as a Headteacher, ten of them at The Elms. He has worked as an Ofsted Additional Inspector and held a number of whole school roles including the co-ordination of mathematics, assessment and ICT and has taught Geography in KS3.

Keith has worked as an External Adviser for Cambridge Education and advised Governing Bodies on the performance of Headteachers and is also a Reporting Inspector for ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate).

Keith Uff, Chairman of Governors, said: “Mr Morrow is an experienced Headmaster who has led The Elms with great success. We look forward to working with Keith and the wider leadership team to initiate an exciting new chapter in the history of Hallfield School.”

For more information about Hallfield School visit www.Hallfieldschool.co.uk

Safeguarding for Schools and Teachers

Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools

 

Examples of hate crime and terrorist attacks are rising in the UK and Europe. In 2015-2016, there were 7,631 referrals to the Prevention programme, which aims to stop people being drawn into terrorism. A quarter of these referrals were under-15’s. Never before has there been a greater need for schools to present a clear narrative to promote community cohesion. Schools and teachers need resources to help protect and safeguard young people from radical ideas.

Andrew Moffat MBE, offers advice for parents and schools on how to talk to children about terrorism. Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools uniquely offers strategies for schools to work with parents and children together in school-based workshops, to reduce the risk of radicalisation. Andrew, Assistant Head Teacher at Parkfield Community School, offers strategies and lesson plans that have been tried and tested in his inner-city school in Birmingham.

Moffat says, “When we piloted these workshops in my own school, we got an overwhelmingly positive response from our parent community. Children loved working on the activities with their parents and the parents engaged with us in discussions about community cohesion and the importance of everyone knowing they belong. The workshops were a fantastic way to develop the schools’ No Outsiders thread and take the messages in to the community.”

Building resilience of young people and the promotion of fundamental British values is at the heart of preventing radicalization. By promoting and celebrating ideas of equality and community cohesion as opposed to those of division and separation, ‘radical ideas can be reclaimed’.

Meeting the SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual, Cultural) needs faced by schools in the 21st Century, Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools is an essential book for schools, parents and those concerned with the radicalization of young people.

Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools is available via https://www.routledge.com/9781138564312

For press enquiries, please contact:
Thomas Bassett
thomas.bassett@tandf.co.uk

About the Author:

Andrew Moffat has been a full-time teacher since 1996 and is currently Assistant Head Teacher at Parkfield Community School, a large primary school in inner city Birmingham. Andrew is the author of “No Outsiders in our school: teaching the equality act in primary schools” (Speechmark 2015) which gives guidance on how to build an ethos of equality and diversity in schools.

In May 2016 Ofsted awarded Parkfield Community School ‘Outstanding’ status and recognized ‘No Outsiders’ as a key strength. In June 2017 Andrew was awarded an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education, and in September 2017 the Ofsted chief Inspector Amanda Spielman referenced No Outsiders in a speech to BEP as an example of good practice; helping, “pupils confront prejudice and stereotypes,” and teaching, ”pupils to make a positive contribution to their communities.”

Andrew regularly speaks at conferences and leads training on using the No Outsiders ethos to promote community cohesion and reduce potential for radicalization.  Andrew has a M’Ed in emotional and behavioral difficulties and is currently studying for a PhD on the role of schools in reducing radicalization. He is the founder of www.equalitiesprimary.com and is active on twitter @moffat_andrew.

The iron grip of the government’s school accountability system is damaging children’s education, warns former No10 policy adviser

With teaching-to-the-test, gaming and curriculum-narrowing all on the rise, RSA issues call-to-arms 

  • Former Number 10 policy adviser to Nick Clegg warns that school leaders’ growing desperation to meet the government’s high-stakes performance targets is leading to decisions that are not in the best interests of children and young people.
  • While acknowledging the important role the accountability system played in raising standards over the last 25 years – particularly in the basics of numeracy and literacy – Julian Astle [biog], the RSA’s education director, argues in a new essay that the educational costs of this system now outweigh the benefits and that the risks of inaction are greater than the risks of reform.
  • With gaming – particularly with regards to pupil admissions and exclusions – growing, and teaching-to-the-test so common it is mistaken for good practice, Astle urges the head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman to follow through on her suggestion that Ofsted referees ‘the game’, looking not just at what schools are achieving, but at how they are achieving it.
  • The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) urges everyone with a stake in our school system to join the debate about how, without abolishing tests and dismantling the entire accountability system, we can support teachers to focus on the substance of education, rather than the proxy goals of targets and league tables and the tactics for hitting and climbing them.

 

Teaching-to-the-test, gaming and a narrowing of the curriculum are damaging the education quality in too many English schools, a new essay by Julian Astle, a former Number 10 adviser and education chief at the RSA [Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce], warns.

The Ideal School Exhibition is the result of Astle’s travels across England in search of inspiring ‘mission-led’ schools that are bucking a growing and concerning trend: that of schools narrowing their focus and hollowing out their teaching in the scramble to meet the constantly shifting demands of the government’s accountability system.

These schools provide a glimpse of what England’s school system could look like if more headteachers could escape the warped logic, skewed priorities and perverse incentives the accountability system all too often produces.

But Astle warns of a growing problem in many English schools of:

  • Narrowing the curriculum – particularly as pupils approach primary school SATs and GCSEs, when schools increasingly focus their time, energy and resources only on those subjects that will affect their league table position.
  • ‘Teaching-to-the-test’ – the practice whereby schools drill pupils in the tactics and techniques of exam taking and focus their instruction on the specific demands of the test and the mark scheme – which not only turns young people off learning but which generates superficial, temporary and illusory educational gains.
  • Gaming – particularly the practices of manipulating the admissions and exclusions system to attract high-performing students and remove low-performing pupils, and of entering large numbers of pupils for easy-to-obtain qualifications of little interest or value to the learner.

To tackle these problems, Astle recommends:

  • Training teachers in the use and misuse of assessment to develop a deeper understanding within the profession of how teaching-to-the-test impedes, rather than supports, learning.
  • Making explicit Ofsted’s emerging role as: the guardian of a broad and balanced curriculum; a counterbalance to the pressures of the DfE’s numbers-based accountability system; and the body mandated and expected to referee the ‘game’, looking not only at what schools achieve, but how they achieve it.
  • Withdrawing the ‘right’ for schools to act as their own admissions authority, and engaging with the RSA’s proposed Commission on School Admissions to ensure that the ‘low road to school improvement’ (manipulating the admissions system rather than improving teaching) is permanently closed.
  • Abolishing the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ category and handing the definition of excellence back to the profession. Ofsted should play a role more akin to the ‘Food Standards Agency’ than ‘restaurant critic’, focusing solely on identifying serious underperformance. As the government and the inspectorate step back, so teachers, coming together through bodies like researchED and the Chartered College of Teaching, should step up, ensuring that research, collaboration and evidence-led practice drive-up standards.
  • Creating a contestable ‘middle-tier’ to ensure that every school – particularly struggling or isolated schools without a high-performing local authority or Multi-Academy Trust behind them – is provided with timely and effective external challenge and support, with middle-tier bodies that cannot demonstrate an ability to maintain or raise standards replaced by ones that can.

The publication of The Ideal School Exhibition kick-starts the RSA’s work to convene a new movement aimed at unlocking the untapped potential of an overworked and disempowered teaching profession and to get our schools focused on the pivotal relationship at the heart of teaching: between the teacher, the pupil and the text – the real substance of education.

The essay will be launched today [16 November] in central London, with speakers including:

  • David Laws, former schools minister, now executive chairman, Education Policy Institute
  • Daisy Christodoulou, director of education, No More Marking
  • Peter Hyman, co-founder and executive headteacher, School 21
  • Julian Astle, director of creative learning and development, RSA.

Julian Astle, education director at the RSA, said:

“Having worked at the centre of government, I know that the architects of England’s school accountability system are motivated by the best of intentions: to expose serious under-performance and raise standards.

“But as the grip of that system has tightened over the last 25 years, and the catalogue of unintended consequences and perverse incentives has grown ever longer, it is hard to not to conclude that the costs now outweigh the benefits. We have reached that critical point where positive change becomes possible – where the risks of inaction are higher than the risks of reform.

“The RSA calls on everyone who recognises the importance of assessment and accountability, but who shares our concerns that the system as currently designed is damaging children’s education, to join the debate about how to reform that system for the better.”

 

Peter Hyman, co-founder and executive headteacher at School 21 in Stratford, said:

“This report outlines with vivid clarity the pressures on schools to meet the accountability framework of Ofsted and exam results. It shows that it is difficult but possible to drive through a more expansive vision of education that meets the needs of these complex times.  And it makes the case compellingly for a reform agenda that allows a more rounded view of education – the development of head, heart and hand.”

 

Daisy Christodoulou, education director of No More Marking, said:

Exams are only an indirect measure of academic achievement, which means it is possible for them to be gamed and manipulated in such a way that they lose their original meaning.

“This report makes some vitally important points about why this is so damaging, and why the pursuit of exam results and accountability metrics therefore has to be informed by an understanding of the curriculum, and of what it means to master a subject.”

 

Ed Vainker, co-founder and headteacher at Reach Academy in Feltham, said:

“While clearly setting out why schools need to be held accountable for their performance, this paper highlights a truth that everyone at Reach Academy in Feltham would recognise: that ultimately, quality and excellence cannot be imposed from outside through regulation – they need to be owned by the school, and driven by a sense of social mission and moral purpose.”

 

David Laws, former schools minister and now executive chairman, Education Policy Institute, said:

“Anyone who cares about the quality of the education England’s school children are receiving would do well to consider the warnings contained in this thoughtful essay. Ensuring the accountability system creates the right incentives, and drives the right behaviours, is a key priority.”

Mersey Ferries brings learning to life for thousands of schools across the North West

Mersey Ferries offers discounted rates on school bookings, with access to their attractions including Spaceport and The U-Boat Story

 

Schools receive one adult free per six paying children for all ferries attractions

 

Mersey Ferries days out are top of the class for school groups when it comes to educational days out in Liverpool, with thousands of youngsters across the region jumping on board every year. The Mersey Ferries school packages offer fun and interactive learning for children studying science, geography and humanities.

 

Children have the opportunity to learn at Mersey Ferries’ unique attractions, the U-Boat Story and Spaceport, whilst also enjoying the River Explorer Cruise.

 

Once on the ferry, students and teachers are able to experience a fascinating commentary on the history of the UNESCO World Heritage waterfront, whilst also enjoying Liverpool’s most recognisable landmarks from the River Mersey. The historic facts and tales told on-board offer students an informal way to learn more about the River Mersey, Liverpool and Wirral.

 

Departing hourly, groups can start their journey from any of the three terminals, as the 50-minute River Explorer Cruises sails between Pier Head, Seacombe and Woodside. There is the option to disembark at each port and spend time at the U-Boat Story and Spaceport attractions.

 

Gary Evans from Mersey Ferries, said: “For children focusing on the study of World War II, our Woodside terminal offers a chance to examine historic themes and take a look at a magnificent piece of engineering in the form of a real German U-boat.

 

Exploring the U-Boat is an experience that helps bring the impact of WWII to life for a lot of children. They’re usually surprised by the limited living quarters and seeing the vessel first-hand stays with them, helping them with their long-term learning, as well as reading the real-life stories of the crew.”

 

Free admission to The U-Boat Story is included with River Explorer Cruise tickets and is suitable for all children studying World War II.

 

Gary Evans continued: “For a unique educational science trip, which will leave children feeling inspired about space, Spaceport is our multi-dimensional attraction, which has direct links to the astronomy curriculum.

 

“Visitors have the opportunity to visit the interactive zones, and enjoy our fascinating Sci-Fi Icons exhibition, which both adults and children love. It’s a completely interactive day and has always been well received by schools who have previously visited us.”

 

As part of the visit to Spaceport, children can also become virtual space explorers in the 360-degree Space Dome Show, which is currently showing ‘We Are Aliens’ a show from the creators of the award-winning ‘We Are Astronomers’ and ‘Astronaut’, narrated by Rupert Grint.

 

Prices for the River Explorer Cruise educational trips start from £5.50 per child, with schools receiving one adult free per six paying children for all the attractions.

 

For more information or to book tickets for Mersey Ferries, U-Boat Story and partner ticketing with other Liverpool attractions – call 0151 330 1420 or email: sue.fairbairn@merseyferries.co.uk

 

For bookings for Spaceport including combined ticketing with Mersey Ferries – call 0151 330 1003 or email: spaceport.schools@merseytravel.gov.uk.

CATs system could be limiting the overall progress of children say almost 4 out of 5 secondary school teachers

  • CATs taken by Year 7 children at beginning of secondary school as a measurement of intelligence and a predictor of GCSE grades may put a ‘glass ceiling’ on academic ability and potential, according to study

 

  • Nearly three quarters (70%) of Year 7 teachers use the test results to inform level of support given to both the neediest and most adept of pupils yet only 8% believe CATs are very accurate at predicting eventual GCSE performance

 

  • 68% of teachers feel demoralised and unmotivated in their job from not being able to help most students outperform their CATs predicted grades

 

London – 16 November 2017: CATs (Cognitive Ability Test) – an assessment widely used when children start secondary school in order to gauge intelligence and predict GCSE grades, could inadvertently be limiting children’s academic progress and preventing them from achieving the highest possible grades, according to a new study published today.

 

Glass ceiling over achievement

 

The research*, commissioned by UK education technology firm Zzish, found that almost 4 out of 5 (79%) secondary school teachers believed that CATs – whose results also determine which learning groups children are likely to be placed in class based on their predicted learning pace – may be putting a glass ceiling over children’s ability and potential.

 

One rationale for this is because teaching programmes that are heavily informed by CATs results, at best, only ensure that grade predictions (e.g. C and B grades) are fulfilled rather than exceeded (A and A* grades).

 

CATs tests are generally regarded in the industry as having a high level of validity – that is, its believed that 95% of the time, the results and predictions it yields for pupils’ academic progress and performance five years later is said to be accurate*.  Three quarters (75%) of secondary school teachers who teach Year 7 who say that they use student progress against CATs predictions in order to decide which students to focus their teaching efforts on, say they do so to ensure underachieving pupils get back on track to attain national average levels of achievement across core curricular subjects – yet only 8% believe unequivocally in its accuracy.

 

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

 

While the assessment is said to be useful in identifying moderate learning difficulties, 68% of teachers admit to feeling demoralised and unmotivated in their job because they were unable to able to help most of their students outperform their CATs predicted grades.

 

This is particularly true of secondary school Mathematics teachers (66%) and is potentially symptomatic of a wider disengagement problem in the discipline and a critical decline in students pursing it further beyond GCSE.

 

Demoralisation in teaching is a pervasive issue that continues to beleaguer the profession, where overworked teachers feel that there aren’t enough resources to make a meaningful impact on pupil progression and outcome – but demotivation is particularly troubling. An eighth (12%) of teachers in the study who do not use CATs prediction to inform their teaching effort say that students generally fail to exceed their CATs predictions so using the results in this way is not a good use of time.

 

Hope for breaking a self-fulfilling prophecy?

 

Despite the apparent sense of helplessness that teachers feel in being unable to help a majority of children realise their full academic potential, 78% agree that – with the right teaching and support, many children could still outperform their CATs predictions. An overwhelming 95% of secondary teachers say that if they had more time and resources, they would even be able to transform children who are underachieving into high achievers.

 

Just under two thirds (65%) believe that education technology could be the route to more effective teaching and learning and by extension the key for breaking the self-fulfilling prophecy of CATs scores, but current classroom technology is failing to drive mastery of subjects, optimise teachers’ time and convince sceptics of its efficacy.

 

Nearly all in this group (94%) believed that – as part of a strategy to improve academic performance – education technology had the potential to enhance both children’s enjoyment of learning and their enjoyment of teaching – thereby significantly increasing positive outcomes.

 

The CATs system was well intended, but we have inadvertently designed a system around them that reinforces student predictions rather than one that aims to excel them. Students who are behind on predicted progress are given extra help to catch up whereas those that are on track are left alone,” commented Charles Wiles, CEO of Zzish.

 

“Whilst predictions can add value to our teaching they should not be used to set a glass ceiling on achievement. All children of all abilities should be encouraged to achieve their full potential no matter what their predictions say. To do this we must design systems focused on this mission. The Education Endowment Foundation, for example, has carried out research that shows techniques such as mastery-based learning and self-cognition can have a tremendous impact on helping students progress faster.”

 

He continued: At Zzish we are focused on encoding these and other discoveries into software tools for teachers so that they can more easily apply these techniques in the classroom, save time and help their students achieve more.  For example, Zzish makes it much easier for teachers to differentiate their teaching resulting in students of all abilities achieving improvements of 8-10% in standardised test scores for science. And our mastery dashboards are automatically populated by playing fun classroom quiz games saving teachers hours of time each week in tracking student progress against learning objectives.”

 

Wiles, who is a former Google product manager and holds a doctorate in robotics and artificial intelligence, was motivated to set up Zzish, the leading edtech venture in 2014 when – as a single parent – he was trying to get his smart but disengaged and recently bereaved teenage son to enjoy school where he was struggling in the bottom sets.

“I just felt my son’s test scores were not reflective of his true ability,” Wiles confides. “I was also really surprised at how passive his teachers were in response to my request that we get him up to the level to do Higher Maths and Triple Science.  They tried to convince me that doing the easier courses would not impact his ability to get into the top universities. It also reminded me of another teacher who told me that the tests that students take when they join secondary school, aged 11, are 95% predictive of their final GCSE grades that ‘it doesn’t matter’ what or how subjects are taught; ‘it would make a marginal difference’ to the final outcome. But I believed that something positive could be done. ”

The eureka moment occurred when, one day at work, Charles got a notification from the SongPop app he played with his daughter, alerting him that it was now his turn to answer a music quiz they were currently playing. Wiles thought, “wouldn’t it be good if this was an educational quiz rather than a pop one? And what if that same app took the performance data and diagnosed learning gaps that, through targeted play, could help a child memorise and master a subject?”

 

Today, 80,000 teachers from 110 countries and a million students currently use it. Last year, Zzish was a finalist in the Teach Secondary’s Technology & Innovation Awards 2016 for its role in improving standards of teaching and learning at Key Stages 3 and 4 during the 2015/16 academic year. One school professed that it has improved test scores by 10% in six months. It is also a finalist in this year’s E-Assessment Awards for Best Use Of Formative Assessment. In 2015, Zzish was shortlisted as an EdTech 20 startup in recognition of its innovation and growth, selected as a Future 30 business at the Bett Show 2015, and also one of only two edtech startups accepted on the 2014 TechStars London program from a pool of 1,200 applicants.

 

PUPILS ‘MAKE WORLD BIGGER’ TO WIN NATIONAL COMPETITION

Ten primary school pupils from across the UK are celebrating after scooping top prizes in a national competition.

 

The children were all winners of Discovery Education’s Make Your World Bigger, a video challenge designed to keep children learning during the summer holidays.

 

The competition, which attracted over 2000 entries from schools across the UK, saw pupils take part in a 30-day film adventure, watching a daily Discovery video clip to learn something new.

 

Answering questions along the way, and enjoying fun activities such as star gazing and butterfly spotting, the summer challenge encouraged children to be curious about the world around them, using films about space, natural history and geography to spark their imagination.

 

One of the winners was Kiera-Gracie Jenner from Loseley Fields Primary School in Godalming, Surrey.

 

9-year-old Kiera-Gracie was given the exciting news about her win earlier this term. The pupil was presented with a huge Discovery goody bag, packed with prizes including a VR headset, space shuttle kit, night vision googles and more.

 

Kiera-Gracie’s school will also receive a year’s free subscription to Discovery Education’s Coding Service.

Jill Pearce-Haydon, Headteacher of Loseley Fields Primary School said:

“The Discovery Education Make Your World Bigger competition really encouraged our pupils to keep learning this summer- and we’re thrilled that Kiera-Gracie was a national winner. Kiera-Gracie was delighted to receive her goody bag and I’m sure the whole school will benefit from some of the exciting prizes she received.”

Kiera-Gracie said: “I entered the competition over the summer holidays. I had to watch 30 videos over 30 days on everything from: the desert, space, under the sea and many more.  I then had to answer questions based on the videos, some were really hard! Even though it was quite difficult, I found it very enjoyable! I can’t believe I won and I hope Loseley Fields enjoy their prize too!”

Joshua Wilkinson from Alpha Prep School in Harrow was also a winner. “The competition was an amazing experience, made better by the fact that I won!”  said Joshua.

Catherine Howard, Director of Educational Partnerships at Discovery Education said:

“We were impressed with the children’s summer learning, and their commitment to completing the fun 30-day challenge. The competition can really help teachers and parents to keep children motivated during the long break from school, and we’re thrilled that so many used our fascinating film clips to broaden their horizons.”

The Make Your World Bigger videos were drawn from Discovery Education Espresso’s digital learning service – an award-winning platform used by over 1.8 million pupils across the UK. Featuring spectacular content from some of Discovery’s best-known channels, such as Animal Planet and Discovery Science, the service helps teachers to meet curriculum goals, while inspiring pupils with curiosity about the world around them.

Schools interested in a free trial of the Discovery Education Espresso service can request one here.