NEO LMS wins the 2018 Tech Edvocate Award for Best Learning Management System

NEO, the learning management system (LMS) for schools and universities created by CYPHER LEARNING, has been announced as the winner of the Tech Edvocate Award for “Best Learning Management System”, for a second year running.

The Tech Edvocate Awards honor the best that edtech has to offer by recognizing outstanding companies, people, and products. The awards process included a judging panel who assessed this year’s top edtech organisations and resources, followed by an online voting system, allowing people to nominate their favorite products. The judging panel was made up of edtech influencers, PreK-12 teachers and parents, college as well as K-12 professors and administrators.

NEO is a world-class learning management system (LMS) for schools and universities, a powerful platform that delivers a great user experience, while incorporating all the essential tools schools and universities need to support efficient teaching and learning.

NEO provides an indispensable set of features including content authoring, competency-based learning, gamification, automation, learning paths, adaptive learning, and integrations with most popular third-party systems.

Graham Glass, CEO of CYPHER LEARNING said: “We are delighted to win ‘Best LMS’ for the second year in a row. We are constantly updating and developing our product in order to meet the needs of schools and universities and ensure we’re making teaching and learning as efficient as possible. We’re so grateful to be recognised for our efforts; it’s a reflection of how much our product has grown, becoming one of the leading learning management systems on the market.”

NEO was also recently selected as a finalist for the EdTech Awards in the category “Learning management system (LMS) solution”. The annual program shines a spotlight on cool tools, inspiring leaders and innovative trendsetters across the K-12, Higher Education, and Skills and Workforce sectors.


THE money a secondary school is expected to save by taking small steps to become more eco-friendly will be pumped back into the curriculum – benefiting more than 1,200 students in Lincoln.
More than 1,600 LED lights are being installed at the North Kesteven Academy – in North Hykeham – during the summer holidays by Lincolnshire-based Greenio, a company that specialises in the installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems.
Once completed, the project will offer savings of over 125,000kg of carbon dioxide per year – saving the school more than £270,000 over the next 15 years, or almost £25,000 annually.
Paul Allison, head of finance at North Kesteven Academy, said: “Our students and 150 members of staff will return to the school in September to a brighter and better working environment.
“It is a pleasure to be working with Greenio as it is a local company that has a great track record of delivering renewable projects, specifically in the education sector in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Our governors instantly gained confidence in Greenio that we would see required savings in what is, for us, the largest one-off project on our site in the last five years – especially at a time when funding for the sector is under great pressure.
“We enjoy some outstanding facilities at North Kesteven Academy and are proud of our breadth of curriculum and the opportunities presented to our students, especially in the performing arts. The money we will save from this project can be ploughed back into building on this.”
Using an innovative funding model, the installation is cost neutral, with the school paying the difference in savings for the duration of a five-year payback period in order to cover the capital cost of the equipment.
Anna Wooster, managing director of Greenio, said: “We have been working with the North Kesteven Academy since the beginning of 2016 so we are looking forward to helping the school take steps to become more eco-friendly over the summer holidays.
“We’d also like to thank Paul Allison for his hard work on what is the biggest project the school has seen over the past five years. He took the scheme on when he first started at the academy over 12 months ago, taking it through the multiple different stages before getting it finalised and signed off by the governors. He has been a big driving force in making this happen, which will have a major benefit to Lincoln pupils for decades to come.
“LED lamps have revolutionised energy-efficient lighting, taking over from incandescent and standard fluorescent tubes. Customers can enjoy the benefits of a system that delivers significant savings in fuel costs and carbon emissions as LEDs consume up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.
“Schools changing their lightbulbs will always be in a positive position as there are no upfront costs. We have been involved in dozens of educational projects since we started in 2013 and many schools have bought new equipment such as laptops and books with the money they have saved. Others have invested in their staff development and even hired extra members of staff.”
Greenio, based in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, is now starting to work with local councils across the UK to reach out to schools and offer them cost-saving heating and electrical solutions.
Anna added: “Our engineers will be working at North Kesteven Academy throughout the summer holidays, however for previous educational projects, we have worked during term times, including late out-of-hours shifts, to ensure the smoothest transition and ensure no classes are interrupted.”
To learn more about this project, or to find out how you can improve your carbon footprint and save money, contact Greenio on 0800 810 0565.

Free teaching resources from The Open University

Free teaching resources from The Open University

The Open University (OU) has teamed up with Cisco Networking Academy (NetAcad), Birmingham City University, and Computing At School (CAS) to offer a free collection of courses developed for teachers of school children aged 5 -16, based on the UK’s National Curriculum for Computing.

The courses are available on the OU’s OpenLearn Create site []. The OU and its partners on this project are all experts in their fields and provide the best possible content for these courses. Cisco is a worldwide leader in networking solutions and through NetAcad has been offering underserved communities technical and entrepreneurial skills since 1997.

Computing for Schools – Communications and Networks is a collection of 8 courses providing an introduction to the internet and the services it provides, with an emphasis on security awareness and personal safety considerations when online.

The collection comprises:
• The World Wide Web and internet safety
• Navigating and searching the web
• The Internet and the Web
• Using and Understanding Internet Services
• Introduction of Data Networks and IP Addresses
• Identifying network hardware and protocols
• The purpose of network hardware and protocols
• The operation of LAN & WAN hardware and protocols

The content and organisation of topics is based on the CAS Computing Progression Pathways guide.

Schools interested in using these materials as part of the National Curriculum are free to do so. Additional teaching resource to support the delivery, manage classes, and run quizzes are available to schools by registering to become a Cisco Academy.
OpenLearn Create runs alongside the OU’s hugely popular OpenLearn free learning portal. It is an innovative open educational platform where individuals and organisations can publish their open content, courses, and resources.

Gerry Cronin
Marketing & Communications Manager, The Development Office
e: t: 01908 659 048 m: 0793 2727 345

Meet the avatar helping schools and academies safeguard children

Meet Sam; the education sector’s first ever ‘virtual’ safeguarding consultant, lending a cyber hand to busy school and academy leaders in meeting all the latest requirements to protect children and adults from abuse.

Living inside Safeguarding Auditor, a brand new online tool from SSS Learning that audits a school or academy’s safeguarding provision, Sam takes the journey with senior leaders, popping up to share tips and advice along the way.
Regularly undertaking an audit is an essential element of fulfilling the safeguarding remit in educational settings. Safeguarding Auditor allows schools and academies to audit their provision step-by-step, complete required tasks and evidence full compliance to the OFSTED requirements, without the need for an external consultant.
Live updates from SSS Learning’s specialist safeguarding team ensures that audit content is updated whenever changes in legislation, statutory guidance and/or inspection frameworks are issued, ensuring schools fully comply with the latest requirements.

SSS Learning has virtualised top safeguarding consultant
Sam Preston to mentor schools in their compliance journey.

Employing a real safeguarding consultant can cost schools over three times as much as the new tool just for a single audit. And if the following month, legislation is updated or changed, schools could fall foul of new safeguarding requirements. With Safeguarding Auditor, leaders are not only provided with a rigorous list of questions and considerations, but also the text and avatar feature to question their methods and advise on solutions.
As the 2018 update to Keeping Children Safe in Education coming into force on 3rd September 2018, places greater emphasis on ensuring safeguarding policy content considers the bespoke setting & needs of every school or academy, it is imperative that senior leaders take measures to ensure they comply.
From experience of coaching and auditing hundreds of schools and academies over the years, Sam Preston, Safeguarding Director at SSS Learning, said: “Digitising the audit process and handing the power to leaders to conduct their own, is absolutely the next logical step. To drive standards in our time poor society, we increasingly look to the internet to save time and resources. This tool will revolutionise the process and focus face-to-face consultant time on solving more specialist and complex safeguarding issues.”
Each time an audit is completed, it is stored, providing an audit trail which enables demonstration of progress to governance and can be used as evidence of compliance during an OFSTED inspection.
“Automating the audit process not only keep overheads down, but makes sure schools are not left with out of date information on whether they comply with the very latest safeguarding requirements due to a lack of updated information” says SSS Learning’s CEO, Jon Case.
Commenting on her virtual self, Sam said: “As many of us jovially interact with artificial intelligence such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon Echo’s Alexa every day, building a friendly avatar into the tool is about connecting with our customers and delivering an interactive experience.”
And remember, “Safeguarding is a limiting judgement. Don’t let your safeguarding provision negatively affect your inspection outcome” advises Sam.
To purchase Safeguarding Auditor for your nursery, primary or secondary school or academy, please visit for more information or call +44 (0) 29 2059 7000. Please follow us on Twitter (@SSSLearning and @Sam_SSSLearning) or on Facebook for our latest news and product developments.

1 in 4 Employees will LIE About Illness THIS FRIDAY To Avoid Work

27% of employees plan to lie about illnesses to get the day off work this Friday, a survey reveals.
“Sorry, won’t make it in today – must be something I ate” – a common excuse phoned in to workplaces across the UK, typically as the summer weather delivers scorching temperatures. However some of the workforce seems to have an ulterior motive to have a sun day at their employer’s expense.
Office provider asked 2,088 employees over the Bank Holiday weekend if they would consider telling a few “white lies” to avoid a day at work this week. 27% of those questioned said they would tell a lie to try and get an extra day off work this week – with Friday 1st June being the most likely day.
Jane Smith from explains, “When it’s hot, kids are off and it’s a short week people are more likely to lie to avoid a day in the hot office. Some people will attempt to work from home, but some simply won’t turn in at all and make up a lie.”
Employers are getting hot under the collar when it comes to how to deal with fake sick days. Their responsibility to keep staff and customers alike safe and healthy it seems, is open to abuse.
“The challenge is for employers to decide what is right and wrong – yes, they want their staff in work, but they don’t want an office full of sick people”, Jane Smith from comments. “In the new world of working from home, many are seeing this as the best option – but we all know what it’s like trying to work from home – especially when it’s hot”.
Most likely fake sick days this week according to the survey:
• Friday 1st June – 27%
• Tuesday 29th May – 11%
• Wednesday 30th May – 9%
• Thursday 31st May – 8%
Robert from Birmingham commented, “It’ll be raining all summer won’t it, so I want to make the most of it. It’s so hot in work, so yes I have told a porky in the past and had the day off”.
It’s not just those who fancy a lie in who are using excuses not to go into work. Those with children face the common problem of finding childcare during these short school holidays.
Jo from Leeds commented: “I always find it hard to organise the kids, if I get stuck what I can do apart from use up my sick days – as long as I don’t go over, it’ll be fine”.
The weather is forecast to pick up towards Thursday with highs of 23 degrees and then cool off slightly on Friday with highs of 21 degrees. advises all employers to double check sick day excuses this week, especially Friday.

iSAMS Launches Integrated MIS and Accounting Solution for Schools

Northampton, United Kingdom: iSAMS, the leading MIS supplier to Independent Schools in the UK, announced today the launch of the company’s new Finance Solution – iFinance. The iFinance solution brings together the academic, pastoral, administrative and fee billing elements complete with an accounting system to help schools eliminate unnecessary duplication of work and reduce costly mistakes.

On the company’s launch of the iFinance solution, iSAMS Director, Jamie Reid said, “We have spoken at length with bursars and senior management about the frustrations of disparate systems, particularly finance systems not linked with the school’s chosen MIS. Following this feedback, we have worked with a partner to develop a new integrated finance solution, iFinance”.

The iFinance solution was developed to assist in synchronising different sets of data to provide schools with a solution that combines two of many difficult elements in a bursars’ daily work tasks – complicated fee billing and accounts and balances.

The iFinance fee billing feature allows account departments to generate bills and add charges in several different ways for specific applications, current students and alumni. The feature enables the bursary to amend invoices and synchronise this data with a sales and nominal ledger. The flexible deferred income functionality removes the need for monthly journals to be calculated and posted. Featuring a comprehensive suite of interactive reports for pre and post invoice, historic invoices and ad-hoc reports.

The iFinance accounting, consolidation and business intelligence features offer the bursary the capability to generate predefined and custom reports profiled by user. The fully-interactive reporting allows the user to drill down to transaction level and produce customised analysis, which can then be exported to Word, PDF or Excel. The Bank Reconciliation feature allows the user to allocate funds received against outstanding balances, with the balances being fed back to the Fee Billing feature. The approval workflow process enables schools to adopt a paperless purchase order and invoice environment.

The launch of the iFinance solution from iSAMS means schools can benefit from an all-in-one integrated MIS and accounting solution. It offers comprehensive fee billing and powerful accounting functionality which is presented to schools as a secure cloud-hosted solution. It will assist the school bursary to enhance data workflows, gain access to key information for analysis and generate sophisticated reporting for senior management.

About iSAMS
iSAMS is the first management information system for schools that’s entirely browser-based. iSAMS was designed for teachers, by teachers, and specifically developed with educational needs in mind. It allows staff members to access any information through a clear, intuitive interface. Because it’s browser-based, staff can access the same information from home, or anywhere else in the world, as they can in school.

iSAMS is used by over 750 schools with over half a million active users on the platform and currently the leading MIS supplier to UK Independent Schools.

For more information visit and

High profile Ofsted case demonstrates importance of proper staff vetting

By Francesca Snape – Regulatory Law Specialist at Stephensons

Nurseries and early years childcare providers must ensure they have robust policies and procedures in place with regard to the vetting of potential staff and recruitment practices, or they may face enforcement action by Ofsted.
A recent case, which has been widely publicised, demonstrates the importance of early years providers ensuring their policies and procedures for vetting, staff recruitment and safeguarding are in line with statutory requirements as well as the guidance set out by Ofsted. A nursery owner was issued with a Notice of Intention to cancel her registration by Ofsted in April 2018 as a result of a safeguarding investigation, which uncovered that she had employed her partner who had a criminal record for a number of offences and a caution for wilful neglect. It is reported that the nursery owner initially informed Ofsted that she was not aware of her partners caution for wilful neglect from 2005, however, when she provided a copy of her partners DBS certificate to Ofsted, it was noted that this did disclose the caution.
One of the areas Ofsted considers when carrying out inspections is the safeguarding procedures in place – and this includes recruitment processes. Ofsted expects early years settings to be able to demonstrate that they meet all regulations and duties for the purposes of safeguarding judgements in the inspection handbook. At an inspection, inspectors are expected to check that the provider is able to produce evidence of suitability of relevant staff and adults that work at and attend the setting.
Section 3 of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (“the Framework”) outlines the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children are kept safe and specific guidance is provided on suitable people, staff qualifications, training, support and skills. Specifically, providers, other than childminders, must obtain an enhanced criminal records check in respect of every person aged 16 and over, including for unsupervised volunteers and supervised volunteers, who provide personal care, and who:
– Works directly with children;
– Lives on the premises on which the childcare is provided and/or;
– Works on the premises on which childcare is provided (unless they do not work on the part of the premises where the childcare takes place, or do not work there at times when children are present).
‘Personal care’ includes helping a child, for reasons of age, illness or disability, with eating or drinking, or in connection with toileting, washing, bathing and dressing.
In addition to the above requirements, registered providers must also carry out an additional criminal record check (or checks if more than one country) for anyone who has lived or worked abroad.
Registered providers are responsible for ensuring that they carry out assessments of staff suitability and this will also be considered during inspections. Ofsted are responsible for considering the suitability of a provider or registered manager but they will not assess the suitability of other members of staff. As such, to determine whether a provider is carrying out sufficient checks in this regard, inspectors will consider whether there is evidence of the following, although this is not an exhaustive list:
– An enhanced DBS check;
– References;
– Full employment history;
– Qualifications;
– Interviews;
– Medical suitability;
– Any other checks undertaken.
Providers must not allow people to have unsupervised contact with children being cared for until such a time that these checks have been undertaken. It is vitally important that Providers keep a record in staff files of all checks undertaken so that this can be evidenced during inspections.
Under the Framework, Ofsted specifically state that providers must tell staff that they are expected to disclose any convictions, cautions, court orders, reprimands and warnings that may affect their suitability to work with children and this is regardless of whether it was received before or during their employment at the setting.
It is often the case where Ofsted identify a serious safeguarding issue that a nursery’s registration will be suspended in order for a further investigation to be undertaken and if this investigation reveals further or wider issues with the policies and procedures at the setting, Ofsted will normally consider further enforcement action, including cancellation of registration. It appears that in the recently publicised case that the concerns regarding staff suitability checks prompted a wider investigation into the setting which ultimately led to more serious enforcement action being taken.
It is vitally important that providers seek specialist legal advice and assistance where Ofsted are seeking to take enforcement action. Often there are very short timeframes to appeal or challenge action taken by Ofsted, but assistance from specialists at a very early stage can increase the likelihood of preventing further enforcement action being taken.

Heathfield School rated ‘Excellent’ by Independent Schools Inspectorate

Heathfield School, the Ascot-based independent secondary boarding and day school for girls aged 11-18, is celebrating having been officially declared ‘Excellent’ in all areas by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).

Delighted headmistress, Marina Gardiner Legge, said, “I’m thrilled to see that the hard work and commitment of our brilliant staff has been formally recognised in this outstanding result and that we have progressed ‘up’ one grade from ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’ – the best you can get! This report demonstrates how through setting high expectations and focussing on the progress of every girl, real change can be made.”

Inspectors rated the quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements as ‘Excellent’ stating that “Pupils consistently demonstrate positive attitudes to learning, have highly developed communication skills, and achieve their best”. They went on to confirm that, “Pupils demonstrate outstanding subject knowledge and understanding and display extremely effective study skills and abilities such as analysis and synthesis of knowledge”. They also described pupils’ non academic achievements as “outstanding”.

Personal development was also rated ‘Excellent’ with Inspectors commenting that, “Pupils are socially aware and work extremely effectively with others to achieve common goals and demonstrate conspicuously substantial self-knowledge and resilience that prepares them well for the next stage of their lives”. Inspectors also noted that, “Pupils know how to stay healthy, particularly in terms of diet, exercise and a balanced lifestyle with a good understanding of risk”. They concluded that “Pupils [also] respect and value diversity in society and appreciate their own and other cultures.”

Last year Heathfield celebrated an amazing performance in its GCSE exams having achieved the school’s best ever results with 60% of girls achieving A*-A and grades 7,8,9 in the new and significantly more demanding English GCSEs – an 11% improvement on figures for 2016. Eight in ten girls (87%) achieved all A*-C grades in their A Level exams this summer, with more than half gaining all A*-B grades.

Parsons Green Prep’s Year 6 pupils achieve excellent 11+ results

Parsons Green Prep’s Year 6 children have achieved excellent 11+ results this year. Three children were offered scholarships to Putney High, Radnor House and Wimbledon High, with one of them now going to St Paul’s Girls School.

All of Year 6 managed to get into one of their chosen schools and they passed examinations at the following establishments:

Benenden, Cheltenham Ladies, Eaton Square, Francis Holland, Fulham Prep, Godolphin & Latymer, Harrodian, Ibstock Place, Kew House, Lady Margaret’s, Latymer Upper, More House, Putney High, Queens Gate, Radnor House, St James, St Mary’s Ascot, St Paul’s Girls, Wetherby, Wimbledon High, Whitgift

The children have now accepted places at the following schools:

Benenden, Harrodian, Fulham Prep, Francis Holland, Kew House, Lady Margaret’s, Queens Gate, St Paul’s Girls and Whitgift.

The school’s new headmaster, Mr Tim Cannell, commented: ‘Congratulations to all our Year 6 children. They worked incredibly hard for their exams and the school is very proud of all their achievements and the fantastic staff that taught them.’



As part of an extensive sustainability programme and after suffering several legacy boiler failures, Royal Grammar School Worcester required a reliable and efficient heating solution across its seven plant rooms.

The heritage of Royal Grammar School Worcester means there are certain challenges when incorporating energy efficient technologies within buildings dating back as far as the 19th century. Having opted to enhance its sustainability credentials and replace a poor performing heating system, the school needed to tackle the integration of new boilers across its estate while using its pre-existing pipework. As an added complication, the replacement of the aged heating boilers and systems needed to be completed over the six-week long summer holidays before term time commenced.
After two initial boiler breakdowns at the end of 2014, where the school had to rely on electric heaters during term time, Bosch Commercial and Industrial were approached to carry out a review of the estate and identify other areas of risk. Many of the existing boilers were legacy boilers over 15 years old so would be costly to repair, if they could be restored at all, and were not in line with the school’s ambition to improve energy efficiency and future proof its estate. Overall, it was decided that a total of 21 high-efficiency condensing boilers would be installed across seven critical locations, with each plant room presenting its own unique challenges.

Mixing the old with the new

Bosch Commercial and Industrial recommended its GB162 boiler as its compact dimensions made it especially suitable for the plant rooms, many of which were difficult to access and were restricted in space. Also, the range of outputs available and the option to cascade meant that the school could cater for different heat demands across different areas of the site. With net efficiencies of up to 110% and NOx emissions of less than 40mg/kWh, the GB162 range provides clean, low-carbon heating and hot water.

Energy efficiency is a top priority for the school and the GB162’s ability to automatically modulate its output down to less than 20 per cent in order to precisely match the demand for heat, will result in reduced fuel consumption and improved overall seasonal efficiency.

One of the key challenges of the project was the old and corroded pipework system, which had the potential to affect the operation and efficiency of any new heating appliances. To overcome this, a plate heat exchanger was installed to provide two elements of protection and to separate the old and new systems.

Improving sustainability
Work commenced on site on 13th July 2015 and was concluded successfully on 21st August 2015. Due to the boilers being fitted in the summer holidays, the school has already experienced its first winter with the new system in place and has seen improved control. The complex nature of the ongoing sustainability project means that the situation remains under review. With plans to replace other legacy equipment on site, upgrade to solar technology, LED lighting and secondary glazing, and to improve insulation, the school is expecting significant energy savings in the long term.
Stephen Bailey, Managing Director at Alphabet Industries Limited and Client Engineer on behalf of Royal Grammar School Worcester, said: “Bosch were the ideal fit, offering excellent support and a total solution with a flexible product. The team were extremely accommodating and their knowledge on how to approach a problematic situation really shone through. In January we had a situation where two more ageing boilers failed and we called upon Bosch again to deliver replacements into a purpose-built plant room. Given the recent cold temperatures, it was great that Bosch turned things around so quickly.”
Ian Roberts, Bursar at RGS Worcester, added: “After investing in new boiler installations across the site, we have seen a noticeable improvement in how effectively our maintenance team operates. The consistency of having just the one type of boiler to maintain is saving time and helping us to build a specialist workforce.”
Lance Blackburn, Commercial Technical Manager for Midlands and North Wales, at Bosch Commercial and Industrial, commented: “It is great that we have built such a strong relationship with RGS Worcester and that we were the first company to spring to mind when there were problems to solve. The GB162 was perfectly suited to the site due to its flexibility and energy efficient characteristics, and with the school’s commitment to investing time and money to make changes in line with its sustainability programme, it is set to maximise on the benefits of the new installations.”
For a more in-depth look at the considerations that need to be made when investing in a new heating system, ‘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 products and services, including its comprehensive industrial boiler range, please visit or call 0330 123 3004. Alternatively, follow Bosch Commercial and Industrial on Twitter (@BoschHeating_UK) and LinkedIn (Bosch Commercial and Industrial UK).