The London Early Years Foundation has received a second stage of acquisition financing worth £1.5 million from leading social impact investors Big Issue Invest (BII) and Bridges Ventures (BV)’ Social Entrepreneurs Fund. This latest instalment forms part of a £2.75m financing package from the two investors.

LEYF is a charitable social enterprise that runs 36 community nurseries; employing over 300 staff across 9 boroughs, in some of London’s most disadvantaged areas.

With its roots dating back to 1903, LEYF has developed an innovative social enterprise model ensuring that children, regardless of background, can access high quality day care provision. Surplus from LEYF’s more profitable nurseries is reinvested in fulfilling its social aims, which enables the organisation to support many of London’s most impoverished children and their families.

The £1.5m of extra finance will be used to drive LEYF’s expansion through the acquisition of new nurseries across London, and to fulfil its goal of doubling in size to reach 5,000 children.

Encouragingly, LEYF also received offers of finance from a number of other organisations including mainstream institutional investors which highlights that there is significant interest in high impact ventures from the wider market. This is excellent news not only for LEYF, but also for other high-impact enterprises and charities in the UK.

Last year, LEYF successfully raised an initial £1.25m with the support of ClearlySo, an impact investment intermediary that provides advisory and capital raising support to organisations that generate high social and/or environmental impact. This work was supported with a capacity building grant through the pioneering Investment & Contract Readiness Fund, managed by SIB Group and funded by the Cabinet Office. Both ClearlySo and LEYF took the decision to work with the existing investors, BII and BV, who were keen to continue to support LEYF in scaling up and improving the lives of more children.

The entrepreneur, June O’Sullivan explains “We are delighted to have negotiated this second social investment deal. We can now continue to scale up our business and increase our social impact.  More LEYF nurseries mean more high quality childcare places, sustainable apprenticeships and more employment opportunities in areas where there is poverty and unemployment. We are particularly proud that the LEYF childcare model is recognised and supported by so many important investors.”

Stuart Ferguson, Investment Director at Big Issue Invest said: “We are delighted to be able to extend our partnership with LEYF, to enable June and her team to significantly expand over the coming years.  LEYF is a great example of a commercially driven social enterprise that is making a real difference to people’s lives principally through the quality of nursery provision available but also in their commitment to colleague development and wider integration into the local community”

Caroline Tulloch, Investment Manager at Bridges Ventures, said: “LEYF is a great example of what an ambitious social business can achieve with the help of patient, mission-aligned capital. Since our investment, it has seen a step-change in its growth, adding eleven new nurseries to its portfolio – while continuing to improve the quality of the service it provides to young children and families in some of the most disadvantaged areas in London. We are delighted to support LEYF in the next phase of its growth.”

Rod Schwartz, Founder and CEO of ClearlySo, said: “It has been a privilege to work with LEYF over the past few years and to help them map out and begin to achieve their ambition.  Their cross-subsidisation model is brilliant and their potential for scale is enormous.  The need for their excellent nurseries has never been so urgent as today as income gaps widen, budget cuts deepen and the need for reliable provision surges.  On a more personal note, working with June O’Sullivan, Neil Fenton and the rest of their team has been a pleasure.”

UK’s top teenage code breakers battle it out in Cyber City games

  • UK’s top seven school code breaking teams fight to become UK cyber champions
  • Futuristic ‘Cyber City’ themed competitions will challenge contestants to infiltrate networks, stop criminals from causing damage to infrastructure, learn how to gather intelligence and find criminals
  • Cyber-battles designed by leading industry employers including National Grid, BT, Airbus Group, Raytheon, GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, CompTIA, Birmingham City University, University of Warwick, The Antisocial Engineer Ltd and Jenny Radcliffe Training               

Wednesday 2nd December 2015, Warwick University – Seven teams of the UK’s best 13-18 year old code-breakers from schools across the country will today compete in an ‘I, Robot’ style cyber competition to become the ultimate young cyber security defenders. The competition, created by industry giants and government organisations, will task amateur sleuths to intercept messages and infiltrate networks in order to defend the fictional ‘Cyber City’ from criminals.


The winning school team will receive a £500 prize from AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) Academic Trust which will go towards bolstering technology skills in their institution, as well as a range of cyber and educational rewards.


The final, dubbed Cyber Games, which will take place in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick, is the culmination of months of online competitions and coding exercises, where teams designed and submitted their own ciphers, then played against each other to climb to the top of the scoreboard. The final seven are the highest scoring teams and comprise some of the most prodigious young cyber talent in the country today.


The ‘Cyber City’ is fictional city of the near future, where all aspects of the city are digitally integrated and accessible via the Internet of Things. The city is under threat from a mysterious group of criminals and the teams will have to race against time to repair damage, solve problems and investigate the perpetrators in order to save the city from destruction.


The 28 finalists will be challenged to demonstrate their code breaking skills in front of industry experts in a series of live timed tests which will test their technical skills under pressure. Importantly, a strong emphasis will be placed on teams to adhere to the strict ethical and legal checks that law enforcement must abide by, for example when setting up wiretaps. They will also be tasked to analyse rubbish left in a hotel room to socially engineer passwords to their computer systems; overpower attacks on robotic arms within energy facilities; protect defence barriers in the waterways to block their escape route and perform digital forensics on networks in order to block malicious attacks.


The Cyber Games competition forms part of the Cabinet Office backed Cyber Security Challenge UK schools programme, which provides bespoke teaching resources, designed by its sponsor consortium and partners, to help address the critical cyber security skills gap by sparking interest student interest in cyber security.


The games have been created by some of the leading names in the cyber security industry including: National Grid, aeronautics specialist Airbus Group, defence giant Raytheon, national communications company BT, global IT trade association CompTIA, Birmingham City University, University of Warwick, GCHQ, the National Crime Agency and social engineering experts The Antisocial Engineer Ltd and Jenny Radcliffe Training.


Jason Stanton, Schools Programme Manager at the Cyber Security Challenge UK said: “There is a critical cyber security skills gap in the UK and in order to address this once and for all, we need to spark an interest in cyber security as a career at a young age. We work with our sponsor community to design fun, practical and realistic challenges that teach the core skills in an exciting way and can be delivered by any school in the country. Our aim is for the pupils to leave today feeling inspired and seriously considering a career in cyber. By offering a pathway to future employment, this helps prevent gifted children drifting into cyber-crime, providing a positive outlet for their talents.”


Competition details and free teacher packs are available to schools across the country by signing up on the Challenge website: www.cybersecuritychallenge.org/education or by contacting schools@cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk


Sponsor quotes


“We are delighted that together with Warwick’s Computer Science Department we are jointly hosting the 5th Cyber Security Challenge UK Schools’ Competition Live Final and providing one of the cyber security challenges. With the UK’s high-profile focus on cyber security, as outlined in the Chancellor’s recent speech at GCHQ, it is essential that we help to create the next generation of cyber security professionals. Cyber Security Challenge is providing an inspirational lead in talent spotting and is raising the profile and attraction of a career in cyber security within schools and universities. We are proud to be supporting their work.”

Professor Tim Watson, Director of the WMG Cyber Security Centre at the University of Warwick


“It is vital that we act now to build the UK’s cyber security talent base at grassroots level. The UK cyber security industry will soon be worth £3.4 billion a year yet many children have never been told about the wide array of career opportunities in this field. The enthusiastic response to the competition that we have seen from teenagers across Britain demonstrates the huge pool of gifted youngsters that our economy could be tapping into.”

Rob Partridge, Head of the BT Security Academy


“It’s great to see Social Engineering as part of the Cyber Games this year.  It’s very important to include the human element of cyber crime in this type of challenge because in the real world forgetting about it can be a huge mistake. Most crimes contain an element of social engineering and humans will always be vulnerable to manipulation, hacking the people is often easier than hacking the tech!”

Jenny Radcliffe, Creative Director and Head of Social Engineering, Jenny Radcliffe Training


“Events like the Cyber Security Challenge competitions are essential to encourage the next generation of security professionals. With recent breaches seeing involvement from adults as young as 15, now is the time to actively encourage the good in our youth – not just publicise the bad.”

Richard De Vere, Principal Consultant, The AntiSocial Engineer Limited


“To ensure the long-term sustainability of the UK’s cyber security industry, we must engage the next generation in cyber security and research.  Events such as the Cyber Games are a fantastic way to encourage young people into the sector and develop the talented cyber professionals of tomorrow.”

Dr Kevin Jones,‎ Head of Cyber Operations Research Team, Airbus Group Innovations


“CompTIA recently published research showing that 63% of UK Executives believe the cyber security threat is increasing, with almost half listing human error as a growing factor in security incidents including the use of social media and failure of to follow security procedures. It has never been more important to ensure that people starting work have some knowledge of the cyber security threats out there and understand how best to act. By raising the profile of cyber security through the use of interesting and fun competitions we are switching on a new generation of tech savvy kids to the vast opportunities, within the fast paced world of IT.”

Graham, VP Skills Certification, Europe and Middle East, CompTIA


“As a leader in cyber security, Raytheon has a long history of supporting and growing talent in order to ensure business growth. There is a critical skills requirement in the cyber sector and through our STEM engagement programme we are committed to addressing the shortfall to this requirement. These Cyber Security Challenge UK  games are designed to illustrate how the higher education sector can play a role in solving ‘real-world’ cyber security issues on a global scale. Not all cyber security professionals come from the same backgrounds; there is a great deal of variety within the talent pool. From our experience, we found  the best analysts can range from software developers to postmistresses and researchers, through to server engineers and helpdesk workers. Each fresh mind brings a new dimension and potential, and it is the responsibility of companies like Raytheon to steer and guide those careers.”
Graham Le Fevre, Head of Business Development, Intelligence & Security, Raytheon UK


– Ends –


Over 80% of schools in England feel pressurised to convert to academy status, new research has found.

A study of over 100 schools in England by HCSS Education, a leading education finance specialist, found that a staggering 82% of schools feel that there is pressure for them to convert to academy status.

However, when teachers and school leaders were asked whether they would actually want their school to convert to an academy, over half of schools (59%) said no.

When asked what their main concern was about the conversion process, 65% stated that staff may be nervous or wary of the change.

Other concerns included losing the support of the local authority (47%), and the school being unsettled during the transition phase (41%). 29% of schools were concerned about the leadership team’s capabilities and 24% had worries about producing a viable business plan.

41% of schools feel that the main reason their school would convert is because they would be forced to become an academy.

However, 82% of schools do approve of the key principles of an academy: that giving heads, teachers and governors greater freedom over their budget can help improve the quality of the education they provide.  59% of school staff would want to convert because it would give them more independence and freedom than a maintained school.

The survey was conducted as part of HCSS Education’s Academy Futures report, which takes an insightful look into how the education landscape is changing and the impact the rise of academies is having on both teachers and parents. It explores the barriers to conversion, the challenges schools may face when they first convert, and how these issues can be addressed.

Howard Jackson, CEO of HCSS Education, said: “After David Cameron set out his vision for the schooling system, stating that every maintained school in England should become an academy, we wanted to find out what the education sector and parents really thought about this, so we decided to conduct our own research to look into the rise of academies and the impact they are having.

“The results of the survey were really interesting and it seems that the pressure from Government is having a significant effect on academisation and is a contributing factor for many conversions.

“However, while the benefits
of greater autonomy are appealing to help improve educational standards, there are still a number of concerns that are perhaps holding schools back from change. Losing the support of the local authority is clearly daunting for schools but how the changes will affect staff and pupils is the number one concern for most.

“Academisation doesn’t come without its challenges. But what is important is that both academies and maintained schools keep their focus on raising educational standards. While greater autonomy and changes to school structures may be a solution, fundamentally it is what is happening in the classroom on a day-to-day basis that is important and will help them to flourish.

“After reading our report, we anticipate that many schools will have more clarity when it comes to understanding the key changes involved in conversion. We hope that the report will also help reassure schools that despite the major changes involved in conversion, there is support and guidance available to help newly-converted academies to find their feet and for individuals to be successful in their transformed roles.”

For more information, please visit http://www.hcsseducation.co.uk/blog/academy-futures-report


Holroyd Howe named Contract Caterer of the Year at the FSM Awards 2015

Holroyd Howe named Contract Caterer of the Year at the FSM Awards 2015

Managing Director Ronan Howe receiving the FSM award for Contract Caterer of the Year from Adrian O’Hare Sales Director, Peros.

Holroyd Howe, one of the UK’s leading independent school caterers, has been named ‘Contract Caterer of the Year’ at this year’s FSM Awards held at the prestigious Lancaster Hotel in London on 23rd November 2015. Managing Director, Ronan Harte was also shortlisted for Senior Executive of the Year and Head Chef Matt Potts was shortlisted for Unit Chef of the Year.

The award, which recognises outstanding companies in the contract catering world, was presented to the Holroyd Howe team at the high-profile event attended by 400 people from the contract catering elite.

The winners of the awards were selected by a panel of judges made up of experts from across the contract catering industry and sponsors of the awards.

Ronan Harte, Managing Director, Holroyd Howe, comments,

“It is a real honour to receive this award for the organisation as a whole. We are very proud of how hard our teams have worked over the course of this exciting  year and this award is testament to that. As a business our focus has always been to deliver creative, delicious food; that engages and inspires pupils, whilst also safeguarding their health and wellbeing. We are delighted that this award recognises that.”

London Grid for Learning to save schools a total of £16m and deliver ‘more for less’ to UK Schools

The London Grid for Learning (LGfL), a charitable trust which serves a consortium of local authorities and schools has signed a record deal with Virgin Media which will enable it to save its schools a total of £16m over 5 years off their current charges, while adding 130,000Mbps of speed to schools’ connections.  By serving as a publicly owned central purchasing body, LGfL helps schools, local councils and other public sector organisations to secure high speed, uncontended connections, sophisticated safeguarding and filtering software, and award-winning educational content, without the burden and delay of running multiple costly tendering processes.

The new contract extension offer has already been launched to the first schools with well over 1000 schools deciding almost immediately to take advantage of more speed for less cost. The very first school to return the renewal to LGfL was Raynes Park High School in Merton.  When asked why the school felt confident to renew with LGfL, Barry Pratt the Projects and Operations Manager said, “The service is really good, particularly since the launch of LGfL 2.0 in 2011.  It’s extremely reliable and there is so much value-added. For myself and our finance team it’s just about one of the easiest decisions we’ve ever made.  We have looked around before and thought we might just about get broadband for the money we were paying then, but when you add in Enterprise-class virus protection, full Exchange email, the curriculum content our teachers use and everything else, there’s no comparison. The new deal – doubling the bandwidth and paying less, is just more good news.”

“There has never been a more important time than this to use London schools’ collective buying power to achieve the best value services,” said Brian Durrant, Chief Executive, London Grid for Learning Trust. “With the right learning tools and technology in place, every child can be empowered to have the best chance in life. A dynamic and technically advanced learning environment will be at the heart of every London school in the future and with this infrastructure in place, a new era of learning can begin.”

“As public sector organisations are faced with ever more challenging efficiency targets, the ability to securely share services across council or government departments will be a considerable benefit. By using London Grid’s new LondonPSN procurement, any Local Authority will be able to avoid the delay and high cost of running yet another procurement and purchase services that will harness efficiencies as well as benefit from more affordable prices,” said Mr Durrant.

For more information regarding the London Grid for Learning including their BETT 2016 finalist nominations please see: http://www.lgfl.net/Pages/default.aspx


Students from across Northern England are being given the chance to showcase their work before two leading figures in international media, as part of a unique fundraising event.


On January 29, the University of York’s Central Hall will be hosting a charity fashion show featuring the designs of young people from a number of regional colleges and universities.


The Northern Youth Fashion Show, in aid of two refugee charities, will be attended by Katharine Viner, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue and Artistic Director of Condé Nast.


The event has been has been organised by HARD Magazine, a fashion publication at the University of York, and will not only showcase the designs of students from universities across the region, but will also raise vital funds to support refugees.


Students from the University of York, the University of Sunderland, Leeds College of Art, Newcastle College, Hull College, the University of Central Lancashire, Liverpool John Moores University, and Leeds Beckett University will all be taking part.


It will also include a talk with Ms. Wintour, followed by a question and answer session led by Ms. Viner.


Proceeds from The Northern Youth Fashion Show will be split between the Xavier Project, which runs schools, creates jobs, and offers mentoring schemes to some of the biggest refugee communities in the world and Refugee Action York, which plays a pivotal role in integrating refugees in the local area.


“We wanted to host an event that would highlight the creative talent of students and support the community by fundraising for local charities,” said Ellie Wintour, one of the event organisers.


“It’s fantastic to have Anna and Katharine on board to help make it a success. We are pleased with the positive response we’ve had so far. It’s going to be a night to remember.”


The event is being sponsored by train company Grand Central and a spokesman said they were delighted to be on board.


“At Grand Central, we take pride in supporting young people – whether that is through hosting art competitions for emerging talent or by making student travel experience more enjoyable through our free Wi-Fi offer and affordable with our unique discount,” he said.


“The Northern Youth Show is an opportunity for us to once again demonstrate our commitment to young people, as well as their colleges and universities that are based along our routes.”


Tickets for the event cost £30 and £15 for students and are available at http://www.yusu.org/tickets from Monday November 30. A champagne reception and live music performances are included in the evening’s programme.


A “Ticket And A Tin” option is also available, with tickets priced at £10, but purchasers must include the donation of a tin of food to go to a York foodbank.


The evening will also include a champagne reception and live music performances.


Wear it Wild: Young ones become wild ones for WWF


What: WWF is calling for youngsters across the UK to sign up and take part in Wear it Wild – WWF’s unique annual fundraising event.

School children up and down the country will wear their wildest clothes to school to raise money and awareness for WWF’s work to protect endangered species and their habitats. Sign up now at wwf.org.uk/wild
When: Friday 27 May 2016
Where: Across the UK. It’s open to everyone – whether you’re a school pupil or a CEO, you can help protect our incredible planet and wildlife by wearing it wild.
How: Wear it Wild challenges the nation to be as wild as they dare. Some ideas to get you started, you can:
• Wear an animal inspired outfit to school
• Paint your face as your favourite animal
• Have a Wear it Wild party or animal themed sports day

So help WWF raise vital funds to help protect our beautiful planet. To support schools WWF will be providing a wide range of curriculum related resources to link your Wear it Wild activities to the curriculum.

Why: Sometimes you just have to let loose and go wild to show your passion for a cause. In the past 40 years, the planet has lost more than half of its wildlife populations. That’s why on Friday 27 May WWF is asking people to take part in WWF’s ‘Wear it Wild’.

Why take part? What’s the urgency?

• Populations of incredible species have declined by 52 per cent in just forty years
• 95% of wild tigers have disappeared in the last century to just 3,200 in 2010
• Rhino poaching has increased by 9300% in the past 8 years
Money raised from Wear it Wild will help support WWF’s work to protect endangered species around the world. So go wild and be part of something that will really make a difference!

Sex education in schools not inclusive of same-sex relationships, new research finds

Secondary schools in Britain claiming to incorporate sexual diversity into their sex and relationship education (SRE) are in fact upholding heteronormativity, university researchers have found.

Researchers at Birmingham City University and Sheffield Hallam University discovered that same-sex practices are being positioned outside of the classroom, potentially leaving young people without a comprehensive and inclusive sex and relationships education.

Interviews conducted with SRE teachers in eight secondary schools across Yorkshire, all claiming to be inclusive of young people’s sexual diversities, almost always constructed young people as heterosexual in their discussions.

“In terms of the promotion of homosexuality and lesbianism, we don’t really get into all that”, said one teacher, who has been teaching SRE for over eight years.

“If they openly want to discuss homosexuality, I don’t think the classroom is the best place to do it”, the research participant added. “It’s something that we say if you have concerns about, we have the drop-in clinic with the school nurse.”

Current legislation for SRE in UK schools advocates inclusive provision when delivered, but isn’t obligatory.

Keeley Abbott, lecturer in Social Psychology at Birmingham City University and research lead, said: “Our findings highlight a lack of understanding amongst teachers around what constitutes real inclusivity within the context of sex and relationship education.

“Lesbian, gay and bisexual students could be being left vulnerable here with a lack of any sex education provision that is relevant for them.

“We need the Government to step in and make SRE statutory with a policy, ensuring that teachers reflect on all aspects of their SRE practice and work to an inclusive curriculum that takes account of young people’s varying sexual identities, relationships and cultural backgrounds.”

Dr Sonja Ellis, lecturer in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, added: “Teachers also need to be aware of the various ways of imposing heteronormalizing practices through their use of terminology, and should be using words such as ‘partner’ instead of ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’.

“Teachers currently have no restrictions when deciding both their approach to and delivery of SRE. We hope that our research encourages individuals at a policy level to see that they play a crucial role in establishing a clear curriculum framework from which teachers can gain clarity and confidence.”

New Funding…

National deafblind charity Sense today (25 November) responded to the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Government’s promise to increase the amount of free childcare available to parents.
Deputy Head of Public Policy, Kate Fitch said:
“We are pleased that the Government has announced an additional £300 million of funding for the Nursery sector, alongside the previously announced extension of free childcare. This will be a huge relief to many providers who have been struggling to supply the free childcare scheme and stay afloat.
“However, we are concerned that the parents of the disabled children we support may not be able to access the free childcare on offer due to a chronic shortage of suitable childcare and play provision in their local area. This is unacceptable.
“The Government must urgently consider how it will ensure that all eligible children, including families with disabled children, are able to access the 30 hours free childcare, before the plans are rolled out.”

EasiLume’s LEDs fit the bill for Focus School

EasiLume lighting at Focus Learning Trust School, Stoke Poges

EasiLume has just completed an LED lighting project for the Focus Learning Trust School at Stoke Poges. Commissioned by Atlas Solutions Ltd, EasiLume designed, supplied and managed the complete lighting project as part of the refurbishment of the school.

The school was fitted throughout with LED lights, using LED panels and fittings from EasiLume’s Cavona and Loreo ranges. Atlas Solutions chose EasiLume for its extensive range of LED products, ideal in a varied school environment. The lighting is fully controllable and at least 50% more efficient than conventional lighting. LEDs save on both energy and maintenance costs – a significant economy for the school over the years. As well as providing more lumens for fewer watts, a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours means maintenance costs are slashed too. The Focus Learning Trust can expect to save around 50% on its current bills.

But it’s not just economy which makes LED lighting ideal for the Focus Learning Trust. The ill effects of flickering fluorescent lights have been recognised for years. Studies suggest children who spend too much time studying under poor quality lighting and missing out on natural light are more likely to develop myopia. Quality LEDs in a well-planned, evenly distributed lighting design minimise those health risks. They give a light closer to natural daylight, increasing comfort and productivity throughout the day, helping the students to concentrate.

The school environment is perfect for LED lighting as each area can tailor the system to its needs. The installation is versatile, dimmable and fully controllable, easily integrated into smart technology. Instant-on lighting can be paired with motion sensors, so it’s only on when needed. Individuals can have complete control of their surroundings. The enormous potential of LEDs for saving energy becomes clear with a simple calculation: If everyone in Europe switched to LED, it would save the equivalent amount of energy produced by 10 nuclear power stations.

To find out how EasiLume can help you get the most from your lighting call Stuart Dixon, Head of Sales on 0333 800 5555, follow @EasiLume and visit www.EasiLume.com.