New educational chapter on the horizon for Houlton

Rugby Borough Council granted planning permission for Houlton School on Friday 27 September, enabling works to begin on Rugby’s newest secondary school.

The new facility will see Houlton’s Grade II-listed Rugby Radio Station building transformed into a six form entry secondary school, providing nearly 1000 school places, plus a sixth form.

Opening in September 2021 for Year 7, the school will grow each academic year with a new intake of Year 7 pupils.

The school is a joint venture between Houlton’s master developer Urban&Civic, Aviva Investors, Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and the Department for Education (DfE) , and will be run by the Transforming Lives Educational Trust (TLET); the organisation already delivering Outstanding OFSTED-rated education at Rugby’s Ashlawn School.

Preparatory works including some demolition, remediation and clearance will begin immediately and the main contract to convert the listed building and construct the new buildings will begin in the New Year.

Residents and prospective pupils can view a 3D model and CGIs of Houlton School on display at The Visitor Centre in Dollman Farm, Houlton.

Richard Coppell, Development Director for Urban&Civic said; “It is fabulous news that the planning application for Houlton School has been approved, which marks a major milestone in the development of Houlton. The school will become an important statement building in the heart of Houlton’s growing community and provides us with a rare and exciting opportunity to turn a piece of Rugby’s rich history into a state-of-the-art facility for our local residents and families across the town.”

James Higham, CEO of the Transforming Lives Education Trust, commented: “This is an incredibly exciting moment for Houlton School and the team here at TLET, who are working closely with Urban&Civic on designing, building and opening the new school. Not only will the location be an inspirational place to learn in, but we will also be building on the experience and expertise of our high performing schools in the Trust to develop strong community and the highest education standards.”

Following the opening of St Gabriel’s CofE Academy at Houlton in September 2018, Houlton School is the second of four schools which will be delivered at the development.

Once complete, Houlton will also feature 6,200 new homes, a nursery, a GP health centre, a convenience store and 500 acres of extensive walkways, cycleways, wildlife corridors, ponds and green spaces.

For more information, visit

To register your interest in Houlton School, email

Teen boys reminded: “The power in being a man is being your true self”

With the #MeToo movement and men in senior positions accused of deception, it’s arguably never been a more important time to ask: What does it mean to be a man? How do we tackle toxic masculinity? What is men’s responsibility in the world? How can we celebrate the uniqueness of men?
To celebrate International Men’s Day, Rocking Ur Teens will be bringing together 180 teenage boys and their teachers for an empowerment event to explore these questions and much more.
Taking place on 12th November at Thomson Reuters head offices in Canary Wharf, the oneday interactive event will showcase positive male role models to inspire participants through their experiences and raise their aspirations, showing them that anything is possible when they have the courage and confidence to find their own identity and work hard.
The event will be hosted by Bear Grylls The Island Star and Radio Presenter, Dean Quinton. Participants will also hear from keynote speakers including Andrew Hulbert, Successful Entrepreneur and CEO of Pareto; Cameron Parker, Motivational Schools Speaker and Andrew Odong, Content Strategist and Founder of Creative Media Agency Pesa Productions. They will share their career stories and learned wisdom.
Andrew Hulbert said: “I remember my teens. I was unproductive, lacked direction and wasn’t focussed in the right areas. I have so much experience now that I’d like to have given to my younger self. That’s why I’m involved in Rocking Ur Teens, as it gives me the chance to shape the future of some of the countries brightest teenagers and pass on that learnt wisdom.”

The teens will also take part in a spoken word workshop with Ragz-CV and a session on making good choices. They’ll benefit from speed mentoring with a diverse group of men who will share the advice that they would give their 13-year-old selves – with the benefit of hindsight.
Founded in 2015, Rocking Ur Teens is a social enterprise that equips young people with the skills that leaders of the future need. It does this through its annual events. To date, Rocking Ur Teens has welcomed over 1,500 students and teachers at its conferences. Over the next five years Rocking Ur Teens aims to expand its impact by growing its mentoring programme.

Talking about our last boys conference, one teacher said: “Students were blown away by the experience they thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and the opportunity to network and experience new ideas.”
Sponsored by Thomson Reuters, the conference is highly subsidised and tickets cost just £15 per student or teacher.
To find out more about the conference and how to sponsor the event see Tickets for this event are sold out, to register for future events see

UK company pioneers ‘green’ IT in education

As millions of young people across our warming globe are calling for action, one spectacularly successful UK company is helping schools, colleges and universities make a difference and save millions of pounds.

Hampshire-based Circular Computing is the world’s first remanufacturer of laptops and is selling hundreds of thousands of them in response to increasingly loud demands for governments around the world to do more to support a manufacturing industry where technical materials are designed for perpetual cycles of use – what’s called the circular economy.

“We know that education budgets are always tight. Procurement of new top specification laptops in the huge numbers required for staff and students is difficult to justify when finances are subject to public standards of accountability,” said Rod Neale, founder of the company.

“But refurbished or secondhand laptops are unpopular whether you’re in education or out in the world of work. They don’t perform like new devices and they certainly don’t look like new, which is why they typically arrive with a 3-month warranty.

“We came up with a third way by precisely remanufacturing top-model laptops back to their original performance, reliability and brand new appearance.”

Circular Computing employs hundreds of engineers in purpose-built remanufacturing facilities who take the latest models from large corporations’ leasing programmes, including major brands such as HP, Dell and Lenovo, and strip them down to their component level. They are then given new screens, new batteries, new polished finishes – inside and out, with all parts that are not defective reused, before being sold at a fraction of the price of new, including a 3-year replacement warranty or buy-back. 

As internet usage soars, the problems surrounding the IT industry are rising alarmingly. More than 160 million new laptops are made every year. As well as being responsible for around 17% of electronic waste, their production depends on many of the earth’s dwindling resources, including rare ‘conflict’ minerals, metals and water.

The IT industry causes the same amount of much greenhouse gas pollution as the entire airline industry.

Circular Computing laptops are the first in the world to be carbon neutral. The company not only offset carbon emissions through worldwide clean energy projects, but also compensate for legacy carbon emissions by planting 5 trees for every laptop sold.

For those working in education, the benefits of remanufacturing are significant in terms of cost-savings, landfill reduction and the chance to align with a global movement towards greening the planet. 

AVer launches PTC500S professional auto tracking camera for educational presenters

Leading educational AV manufacturer AVer announces the launch of the PTC500S Professional Auto Tracking Camera, which allows the user to create engaging videos for streaming, sharing, and recording during lectures, demonstrations, video conferences and speeches

With a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera, powerful 30X optical zoom and secondary 120° FOV (Field of Vision) panoramic camera, the PTC500S captures full HD 1080p video. Three tracking modes and Multi-Presenter Detection eliminate the need for an experienced camera operator.

The PTC500S has 350° pan and 120° tilt radius and is perfectly suited for large classrooms or auditoriums. Full HD 1080p 60fps video and a powerful remote autofocus function track a moving presenter precisely and display important details more distinctly.

AVer’s algorithms enable the PTC500S to automatically track a presenter’s face and movements. Speakers are free to walk around the classroom without wearing any accessories to give guidance and talk to students.

The PTC500S has a dual lens which gives PIP (picture in picture) mode to simultaneously capture and view the speaker and the rest of the room.

An industry leading multi-presenter detection feature accurately tracks when there are two or more people in the effective area and concentrates on the main subject. Wide Area Tracking provides presenters the flexibility to leave the stage and interact with a crowd or students, all while being continuously tracked even if obscured by other people or objects.

Rene Buhay, AVer Europe Vice President of Sales & Marketing, comments: “Gone are the days when the educational presenter has to stand still in front of the camera. The AVer PTC500S gives presenters the freedom to roam the stage, be natural and to concentrate on doing what they do best – imparting information in a relaxed and spontaneous manner.”

Price: £3999 ex VAT

PTC500S Specifications

1 in 5 teachers have NEVER been thanked – is it time to put that right?

Research ahead of World Teachers’ Day reveals how shockingly under-appreciated teachers are

One in five teachers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job, according to a survey by public sector membership club Boundless.

The research, which polled 2004 UK workers in advance of the World Teachers’ Day on 05 October, shows:

  • 1 in 5 teachers have never been thanked in their entire career – and the rest have gone 65 days without a thank you.
  • 65 days is the average time since someone last said ‘thank you’ to a teacher – that’s well above the national average for public sector workers of 57 days.
  • 8 per cent of all teachers haven’t had a thank you message in more than a year.
  • 29 per cent of teachers said being thanked by the public would make them happier in their job – higher than the result for working fewer hours

Boundless spokesperson Darren Milton said: “When you think of the part that teachers play in our lives, and of those of our children, to learn that one in five have never been thanked is quite shocking.

“What our research showed was that a small word of thanks – whether in person or online – could have a big impact on the way that teachers felt about their day and about their work.

“By saying ‘thank you’ to people who touch our lives so often, we can make them feel happier and more appreciated.”

For more information, please visit

Stonehenge School complements state-of-the-art learning environment with Boxlight Mimio technology

LONDON (UK) 1st October September 2019 – Stonehenge School has integrated Boxlight Mimio’s award-winning classroom technology across its new campus in Amesbury, Wiltshire to enhance students’ learning experience and future-proof its education provision ahead of continued expansion.
Working in partnership with Oakford Technology, the school has installed MimioDisplay interactive panels in classrooms and offices, as well as the powerful MimioStudio education software which allows teachers to create interactive and imaginative lessons while performing real-time assessment.
As part of a campus redevelopment project to cater for a growing student community, Stonehenge School needed a transformational solution that would reinvigorate the learning experience, improving engagement and reflecting the reality of technology at home and in the workplace.
Following a careful selection process, Boxlight Mimio stood out as the school’s preferred technology partner due to its commitment to improving student outcomes, quality customer support, as well as MimioStudio’s ability to adapt to the schools existing digital resources.
“We’ve been working with Boxlight Mimio for a number of years and we’ve trialled their technologies. We’ve installed them in other schools, and we have a good working relationship which was crucial to us with the new building at Stonehenge School” says Oakford Technology’s Oliver Gee.
The project has resulted in better student participation and improved academic results across the school.

“Integrating Boxlight Mimio was an easy decision” says Nigel Roper, Headteacher, “It saves time, saves effort and most importantly improves outcomes for students. This technology is preparing them for life in the workplace, and it’s been a very positive step forward for us”.
“Our teachers have spent a long time building a bank of resources and being able to transfer them straight over to MimioStudio without any need for adaptation was really important” says Tracy Roberts, Assistant Headteacher responsible for IT infrastructure. “The installation was seamless, and the support has meant that our staff felt reassured every step of the way.”

“We were extremely proud to work with Oakford Technology to bring a next generation learning tool into Stonehenge School” says Hollie Jenkins-Green, Channel Engagement Manager at Boxlight Mimio. “With further campus
developments on the horizon, we’re looking forward to continuing our work with Stonehenge School as they keep building upon their mission to revolutionise learning in Amesbury.”


Thirty-seven children on average are seriously injured and one fatally on UK roads every week* and worldwide, preventable road traffic accidents represent the second largest cause of death or disability for children aged 5-14 years old**. 

Furthermore, road safety is not currently part of the core curriculum in primary education. To help combat this, Dr Catherine Purcell from Cardiff University has released a virtual reality game to teach the next generation about road safety. 

The first of its kind free game called ‘Virtual Road World’ aims to educate children aged seven to nine in road safety.  The app immerses users in a virtual environment where they need to complete a series of quests requiring them to cross roads as they find their way around a virtual city. 

By playing the game children learn how to safely navigate roads, traffic and crossing points.  Whilst at University of South Wales Dr Purcell worked with students from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science to consult with 100 primary school aged children about the look and feel of the game, and collected in-game data from over 200 children aged between seven and nine from schools in Newport. 

Dr Catherine Purcell said: 

“The app has been developed not to replace but to support and enhance existing road safety educational practices.  Through our research we know that educating children through the use of illustrated books or kerb side practices can be highly time and resource intensive.  We have utilised technology to upskill children in their understanding of road safety. 

“The more children get into the game, the more opportunity they have to understand the risks and make safer decisions about where and when to cross the road.  I hope that the app will now prove a fun and successful way of supporting road safety education for children of this age.”

Dr Purcell was awarded a grant of £67,468 from the Road Safety Trust to research and produce the app. 

Sally Lines, CEO of Road Safety Trust said: 

“Virtual Road World goes beyond 3D video and games for entertainment, offering a fun and accessible way to help children choose safe road crossing sites in the real world.  We believe it can make a difference to keeping children safer on the roads.” 

To access the app, simply search for ‘Virtual Road World’ on the Apple Store.

For more details about the Road Safety Trust, please visit  

Revolutionising Teacher Workload – Unlocking the Potential of EdTech to Facilitate Change

Research out this week from University College London shows that on average teachers work around 47 hours a week in term-time, around 8 hours a week more than comparable OECD countries. As many as 25% of teachers work more than 60 hours a week – this is both primary school teachers, (who work between 47-49 hours a week) and secondary school teachers (46-48 hours a week). This has come about despite promises from successive governments to cut back on teachers’ hours.  So what’s the problem and why have previous initiatives so far failed to help?

The paper, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first piece of research to look at data from more than 40,000 primary and secondary teachers in England collected between 1992 and 2017. It turns out that whatever schools have tried, teaching hours have remained “broadly stable” throughout this 15 year period.

This period happens to coincide with one of the most progressive periods of digital innovation for the entire planet, which should have positively benefited the education profession. Over this time frame, we have seen some significant  technological innovation in teaching so the problem may in fact be that there has been too much emphasis on innovation and a failure to ensure that it’s coherent. It’s certainly not cutting the teacher’s workload and it may be that it’s actually slowing teachers down.

Another issue here is the impact of government policy. Consecutive governments have wielded the “solution” of technology to the problem, but in each case this has failed to make a dent in working hours for teachers. In our analysis this has largely been down to two factors; form and habit – let’s explain. It is the form each technological innovation has taken – and most of these have purely been the transfer of paper processes onto screens.

This has dogged every single stage of digital transformation from when computers were first invented. There are inevitably short cuts that the computer can bring, but each iteration of new computer system needs to “rethink” every step of every process. It is often the case that stages of the paper process can be eliminated, or the computer can offer suggestions or short cuts for each step, but when first generation systems of ANY kind are put forward their authors are in such a rush, they simply ape the paper system and don’t improve it.

Sometimes data can be input multiple times, by multiple people when there should be a single spelling of a name, or a single list of results.  This is what we call a single version of the truth – multiple inputs create several contradictory versions of that truth.

Let’s parallel this to the creation of cars. When Henry Ford developed the first car, the chassis was placed high because the previous engine i.e. a horse, needed to be pulled by something quite high. Suddenly they realised that the engine could go at any height.  This is what has happened in EdTech – products are introduced, and teachers get used to them – but some have failed to simplify unnecessary steps and this has resulted in no improvement to teacher workload challenges. 

Another vivid example of this is how tech addressed the learning without levels scenario which was designed to enable teachers to differentiate activities, refine their planning and provide support more effectively. But when it was automated all it did in the end was to replace numbers with words, and put tick boxes on a screen. Teachers actually ended up doing more formative assessments.

Secondly, what we witness is that teachers, who are genuinely overwhelmed within the classroom, really want to be convinced by a revolutionary tech solution, and they tend to embrace it enthusiastically, but without being able to take a step back and see if the system works for them.

The latest Teacher Tapp survey results show that almost a fifth of teachers spend more than seven hours a week marking. If you ask those same teachers if they would carry on marking if external factors like Ofsted were removed, this dropped very little, something like 5% across all teachers.

It is very apparent over the last 25 years regardless of colour of Government that there has been no major impact on teacher workload reduction.  In fact the current Government EdTech strategy, and the revised Ofsted inspection framework, should have provided some hope that there is recognition that teachers are overworked and that previously EdTech has had absolutely no impact on alleviating this. This is perhaps because the inspection framework talks about looking at “external assessment data” by allowing teachers to demonstrate how students are improving without the need to be constantly capturing internal tick box attainment data.

The best EdTech solutions are those that are easy to use, which save teachers time and which share data across multiple systems and this then enables a pupil assessment which fits within current policy and yet dramatically addresses teacher workload.  There are some good solutions on the market and teachers need to invest some time trying them, and looking at whether or not they cut the amount of time they use for pupil assessment. If they do they are a good thing, and if they merely mimic the past, don’t buy into them.

Author – Shehzad Najib, CEO, Kinteract


CONSTRUCTION has started on a new £6 million sports hub at a prestigious, academically non-selective state boarding school in Woking.

Award-winning construction firm Stepnell has been appointed by Gordon’s School to build a new sporting facility for the pupils and staff, which will be delivered over a 36-week programme.

The ultra-modern build – designed by NVB Architects – will include a 1,223 square metre sports hall with associated changing rooms and supporting spaces. Stepnell will also be installing a new all-weather pitch with the help of S&C Slatter to provide a high-quality playing surface for both football and rugby.

The company has a proud history of refurbishing, designing and building educational facilities and Gordon’s School will be a welcome addition to its large portfolio of both public and private sector clients.

Rob Speirs, regional director at Stepnell, said: “We’re delighted to have started on site at this fantastic school and we are really pleased to be involved in a project that will help sporting development in the school curriculum.

“Physical education teaches students the importance of teamwork, communication and discipline – attributes that are all essential for future employment and are used by our own teams on site.”

As specialist sector experts, Stepnell has significant experience of the complexities of educational construction and has been working to anticipate risks and opportunities to help Gordon’s School maximise the whole life value of its investment.

Rob added: “The team is highly experienced in negotiating live sites and has put special measures in place to ensure the safety of all staff and students is maintained whilst the work is taking place.

“Gordon’s School is an amazing establishment and we are committed to ensuring that the sports hub reflects the high standards that are already exceeded by the school.”

The sports hall – based on the recommendations set out by Sport England guidance – will combine with the new all-weather pitch, the school’s existing hockey pitch, netball courts and established playing fields to create a sports hub for the school to help promote and strengthen its ‘sport for all’ approach.

Susan Meikle, Bursar at Gordon’s School, said: “Gordon’s School selected Stepnell for our £6m sports hall and all-weather pitch not just because they tendered the best value bid, but because of the manner in which their bid was put together, as well as their experience of working in education.

“At every stage of the tender process, Stepnell sent all relevant personnel to site and clearly worked as a professional team together, and with their subcontractors; this meant that we knew they had really considered every aspect of the project carefully, putting forward suggestions for value-engineering and really wanting the best for us the client, and therefore our students.

“Stepnell have worked with us to complete any feasible preparatory work, ensuring once on site properly, the project can run without undue delay. We look forward to completion in summer 2020.” To find out more about Stepnell visit: or join the conversation at @Stepnellltd.

Wilsden Primary School receives certification for online safety

Bradford-based school ensures online safeguarding measures are in place

Wilsden Primary School in Bradford, West Yorkshire – part of the Focus Trust – has become a Certified School Community 2019 after implementing and effectively delivering online safeguarding measures set out by National Online Safety, an independent online safety provider.

This recognition from National Online Safety follows the school’s commitment to going above and beyond their statutory requirements in terms of online safeguarding outlined in the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), which was published in September 2018.

The academy has demonstrated this commitment through advanced training programmes which are not only focused at teachers but wider staff members, school governors and parents, as well as ensuring key personnel have received additional training.

Other initiatives set up by the school include the creation of e-safety newsletters which are shared with parents and staff, weekly ICT sessions held with the children on how to be responsible and work with the local police on best practice when it comes to safeguarding.

Wilsden Primary Academy operates as part of Focus Trust, a charitable multi-academy trust which is based in the North West of England, with a vision of providing an engaging and challenging learning environment where the children are happy.

Head teacher John Davison said in response to the accreditation: “Online safety for our children is of the upmost importance, we now live in a digital age and with young children having access to mobile phones and tablets it is important that teachers and parents alike understand how best we can protect children.

“It is our aim to ensure 100% of our staff receive training on safe practice and what to do if something goes wrong, ensuring a child is supported.

“What is important is that we should be embracing this new technology and helping children use these platforms positively, helping aid their learning and development instead of fearing these platforms due to security risks. I hope this training will empower our staff to achieve this.”

Wilsden Primary School joined Focus Trust in 2017 in order to be able work collaboratively with the 15 schools that make up the trust helping encourage the use of best practice ensuring the best learning environment for each and every pupil.

National Online Safety are an organisation who began life in 2017 who encourage schools to adopt a whole-school community approach as they believe combining awareness with education, through a joint approach through schools and the wider community. It is the best school-led approach to online safety.