AMF Fastigheter brings virtual reality to real estate with Minecraft


 Stockholm, today [27 August 2015] – AMF Fastigheter has partnered with Microsoft to launch the construction for its 130,000sqm Urban Escape Stockholm regeneration, through a unique gaming collaboration with Minecraft and a group of schoolchildren.

Challenging convention, it was the ten-year-olds who had the honour of marking the ground breaking ceremony, when they used virtual TNT to ‘flatten’ a part of  the city centre district in the Minecraft world. This all took place as contractors began construction work on the real site nearby – the first time a property development has been launched simultaneously in both virtual, and literal reality.

The students from Loviselund School in Hässelby, Stockholm were then challenged to design and rebuild their own unique interpretation of the Urban Escape Stockholm neighbourhood in Minecraft – built by online gaming community Team ProPain.

Karolin Forsling, Chief Development Officer at AMF Fastigheter said: “We believe in collaboration in the creative process, and as developers of urban spaces we want to engage with Stockholm’s ‘future talents’, the people who will live, work and play in this city. By partnering with Minecraft, we are giving young people a chance to shape one of Europe’s fastest growing cities and we’re inspired by how they have challenged convention and sparked new ideas.”

AMF Fastigheter will be taking inspiration from the students’ designs in the final delivery of elements such as the hotel and the Urban Escape Rooftops – Stockholm’s first public garden space built in the skies, connecting three buildings at roof-level.

At the launch, Joke Palmkvist, Business Unit Manager of schools and higher education at Microsoft, spoke about how games like Minecraft give students opportunities to develop new skills in an environment that also challenges them creatively. She said, “Minecraft is a natural bridge to working with coding in the classroom, which is a prerequisite for students to understand the digital world. Any of these students could be one of the creators of the next Minecraft, Snapchat or Spotify.

Set for completion in 2019, Urban Escape Stockholm is championing a new approach to city development in the heart of the Swedish capital, with 130,000sq m of mixed use space anchored by two hotels and connected at sky-level by a unique rooftop gardens concept. The scheme will comprise five buildings, four streets and two squares – including a shopping centre, two hotels, office and retail space, restaurants, venues and the pioneering Epicenter, Stockholm’s first innovation house.

Using Coaching to Drive School Improvement

Denise Inwood, Founder and Managing Director (blurred background) HIGH RES

Denise Inwood, former Assistant Head and Managing Director of BlueSky


Denise Inwood, Former Assistant Head Teacher and Managing Director of BlueSky, creators of BlueSky Education, the leading online performance management, professional learning and self-evaluation solution for schools, outlines how to use coaching to drive school improvement.


Strategies for effective improvement in teaching focus on evidence- based research, the development of pedagogy and the importance of collaborative professional development to support professional learning. One way to link these aspects is through the practice of coaching. This article considers why coaching is important, how schools can develop a coaching culture and the different ways coaching can be used to support and measure school improvement.

The importance of coaching
Helen Temperly’s1 2009 summary of teacher professional learning and development, identified the need to create conditions which allow teachers to:

  • experience and develop understanding of an integration of knowledge and skills;
  • gain multiple opportunities to learn how to apply information;
  • challenge beliefs by evidence which is not consistent with their assumption; and
  • have opportunities to process new learning with others.

Coaching can provide a vehicle for these principles to be developed, thus enhancing teacher learning. As coaching supports a collaborative model and enables teachers to use their classrooms and practice for research, it can also encourage teachers to take risks.


How adults learn

Research2 shows that adults learn best when they are involved in the planning and evaluation of their learning; where learning has immediate relevance and is based on experience; and when it is problem-centred rather than content-oriented. Coaching addresses all of these needs.


Teachers are best placed to gather evidence of their practice in the classroom where they spend the majority of their time. Coaching can be the mechanism for individualised professional learning.



  1. Developing a coaching culture


  1. Are you coaching ready?


Coaching requires an approach to professional learning that enables collaboration, challenge, risk taking and a willingness to make changes where necessary. It is worth considering whether your school is ‘coaching ready.’


There needs to be a clear rationale for coaching and the school development plan should reference it. Staff must understand the benefits, see and model coaching behaviours and be given regular training and opportunities to use coaching techniques. They must also be willing to take accountability for their own performance.


Coaching assures trust and confidentiality and when developed as a self-improvement tool, there will be requirements to track and measure impact. You can use coaching to promote and share good practice and develop staff through the performance management cycle.


  1. Identifying and developing coaches

Using your school’s quality assurance process and self-reviews against standards can identify which expert practitioners would be best developed as coaches. It is important that coaches undergo training to understand the skills required and the ability to be reflective in their own practice. Training can go alongside the coaching to develop coaches throughout the process.

As part of the professional development strategy, necessary resources and annual succession planning should be identified.

  1. Developing coaching partnerships and groups

It is crucial for coaches and coachees to develop strong relationships through mutual respect, where the coach provides a supportive but challenging role. This requires confidence that the process is confidential. The most successful coaching comes through coachees and coaches having ownership of the selection process. If partnerships, triads or groups are seen to be hierarchical or imposed, eg for intervention, the coaching process may not be as successful.


  1. Integrating coaching into a professional learning strategy

A successful coaching programme needs effective planning and should be built into the professional development strategy with resources allocated to it. If staff identify coaching as a way to support the development of their skills, there needs to be sufficient opportunity to build the coach and coachee relationship and the coaching should not be a one-off.


  1. Variations in coaching practice


Your school can use coaching in various ways. It can be peer and specialist coaching or focus on a specific aspect, and use the cyclical process to learn, make changes and embed. For impact and to develop understanding and skills, the cyclical process may need to be repeated over at least two terms. A specific aspect could be to learn a new skill, make an improvement on an existing practice, or work towards career progression or promotion.

The way coaching is used must be transparent to staff. It can support teachers in developing their own practice and improve whole school teaching and learning through routes such as performance management. It should be understood that the relationship is not supervisory and the coach is also a learner.

Peer coaching is reciprocal and about investigating pedagogy together. Working as partners towards agreed plans and goals.

Specialist coaching is where the coach has a greater amount of knowledge and experience in a particular field.


  1. The impact of coaching

If coaching is embraced and undertaken well, teachers will become more reflective, articulate, be more confident to take risks and more aware of their strengths and areas for development. Because they are on a cycle of improvement, staff will be prepared to challenge their own performance, which leads to maintaining a high standard and supporting school improvement. These ‘soft’ impacts are difficult to measure and establishing key ‘hard’ measures is necessary at the start of the process. Establishing expected changes in practice, or on precise pupil progress measures relating to the coaching focus, supports the clear measurement of impact.


If coaching is part of the school improvement process, it will ensure that staff can see a commitment towards their development. Individuals are encouraged to identify their own learning needs to form your school’s coaching programme. Staff can then reflect on the impact of their learning and demonstrate the impact of coaching on their development, enabling coaching to be used as a vehicle for change.



1 Timperley H. ‘Teacher Professional Learning and Development.’ Education Practices Series. 2009


2 Knowles MS, Holton EF and Swanson RA. ‘The Adult Learner: The definitive classic in adult learning and human resource development.’ Routledge. New York. 2012


Schools need to increase focus on recycling, survey shows.

  • One in three people think schools need to place greater emphasis on teaching kids about recycling.
  • A quarter of respondents think that energy-saving lessons are required in schools
  • Government figures show there is a huge disparity between recycling rates at local level.

A new survey has shown that one in three people in the UK believe that schools should prioritise teaching youngsters about the importance of recycling.

Conducted by Direct365 – a workplace supplies and services provider- the research highlighted the point that more needs to be done to inform the next generation about eco-friendliness and how to minimise wastage.

The survey also showed that almost 30% of people want to see schools teaching kids how to prevent food waste, while one in four stated that energy-saving lessons should be on the agenda for those charged with managing the National Curriculum. 11% of the 750 respondents also felt that children need more guidance on saving water.

The government has set ambitious climate change targets, with the UK expected to slash its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (set against base levels from 1990). Everybody has a part to play in achieving this, and while it appears the country is on track to deliver, there’s still a general feeling that greater education on the benefits of recycling and eco-friendliness is needed.

Sam Tinsley, General Manager at Direct365, commented: “Our findings show that people still feel there’s an urgent need to teach the next generation about recycling. On the whole, people’s attitude towards recycling and minimising waste have improved dramatically over the years – a point emphasised by an earlier Direct365 study, which showed that as many as 94% of UK homes participate in some form of recycling.”

Despite this, a study published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs earlier this year showed that the amount of waste being sent for recycling varied dramatically across different parts of the UK. The report confirmed that at local authority level, recycling rates ranged from 18% to 66%, which underlines the fact that greater consistency is needed.

Sam added that it’s vital that the UK embraces a recycling culture that is ingrained into people at the earliest age possible. This is why it is important for schools to support learning both from an environmental benefit point of view, and also how they can impact it; so it forms a “habit” at an early age.

“There are plenty of statistics out there that emphasise how much damage we are doing to the planet by sending waste to landfills unnecessarily, and there’s also lots of research in place that explains how much energy and water we’re wasting on a daily basis,” she remarked.

“Schools must reinforce this message, whether that means making formal changes to the National Curriculum or introducing a more informal, holistic approach. Bad habits are hard to break, and it’s far easier to maintain an eco-friendly approach to life if you have been doing the right things from a young age.”

London Grid – Press Release

New contemporary film drama ‘The Prodigals Online’ explores the issues young people face as they transition to adulthood and independent living –  KS 4/5 resource

Led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards the Armed Forces Day Parade makes its way through Guildford in front of cheering crowds. Today, thousands of people across the country celebrated the men and women of the Armed Forces, past and present, at more than 150 events to mark the seventh annual Armed Forces Day.  Events ranged from large scale parades to simple community events, but the main focus of attention was at the National Event in Guildford, attended by His Royal Highnesses The Duke of York and the Prime Minister David Cameron. The Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon and the Worshipful Mayor of Guildford Nikki Nelson-Smith also attended.  The day’s celebrations began with a thanksgiving service at Guildford Cathedral, followed by a parade of more than 900 Service personnel, veterans and cadets through the historic heart of Guildford from the High Street to the outdoor events arena, Stoke Park.  The Duke of York took the salute on the parade route on behalf of The Queen and Royal Family, as the world famous Red Arrows roared over the square in tribute. Afternoon celebrations continued Stoke Park with a variety of military displays including a Royal Air Force GR4 Tornado flypast. Visitors also enjoyed a Sea King search and rescue demonstration, Spitfires and Hurricaines from the RAF Battle of Britain memorial Flight and a Swordfish biplane from the Royal Navy Historic Flight.  In addition, crowds of an estimated 60,000 were treated to three parachute displays from the Royal Navy Raiders, the Army Red Devils and the RAF Falcons, as well as the Royal Signals White Helmet motorbike display team on the ground.  The Red Arrows took to the skies again as the military celebrations drew to a close accompanied by a tri-service group of military bands made of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Portsmouth, the Band of the Grenadier Guards, and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

The Prodigals Online has been produced to engage, educate and empower young people to confidently face the challenges and opportunities of independence and adulthood.


Developed in partnership with the Lambeth Council, Lambeth Health and Wellbeing Partnership and Prodigals Education Trust, these video and music resources provide high quality learning opportunities to enable young people to understand the skills that will enable them to live as successful independent adults.


The resource features:

  • Film and contemporary music for use as a learning stimulus
  • Provide curriculum mapping and lesson plans to stimulate group debate and discussions
  • Support for relevant inter-related themes that provide a unique learning continuum
  • Support for user friendly workshop ​activities


The Prodigals Online resources can be used across the curriculum in a variety of contexts at Key stage 4 and 5. The issues that it features may cause students to become emotional and animated. It is important to consider strategies for engaging all learners in the work safely and without loss of focus. The Prodigals Online materials are supported by teaching and learning resources designed to engage all classes in the learning process.  This level of support it provided to encourage all teachers to use The Prodigals Online within their own teaching context.


The recommended age range for these learning resources is 14 years and above.


The resource is available on

Vet charity launches free BeDogSafe workshops


PDSA sessions aimed at preventing dog bites.

Leading vet charity PDSA is launching new BeDogSafe workshops which, thanks to £550,00 funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, will be available free of charge from September 2015 for schools and community groups.

PDSA has reached over 150,000 children through its workshops between 2010-14, and this new dog safety element has been developed in response to growing concerns about the increase in dog bite incidents involving children. Sadly, children under nine are more likely to be admitted to hospital due to dog injuries than any other age group.*

PDSA’s Education Programme Manager, Rachel Sutherland, said: “Dog bites are still seen far too frequently and sadly this can have horrific, sometimes even fatal, consequences. At PDSA we believe that prevention is vital and we are committed to tackling this issue head on.

“In addition to educating dog owners, we want to help children to recognise the subtle body language that can precede a bite incident and understand how to react appropriately.”  

The workshops will be delivered by PDSA’s team of Community & Education Veterinary Nurses (CEVNs) – six specially-trained staff who travel the length and breadth of the country sharing their expertise, within both schools and communities. The BeDogSafe sessions will cover understanding dogs’ body language, respecting dogs’ space, key dos and don’ts around dogs, and how children can protect themselves if they are scared by a dog’s behaviour.

Rachel added: “Children are the pet owners of the future; by helping them to better understand animals’ welfare needs we can turn their affection into positive action, improving the lives of generations of pets to come.”

In addition to its education programme, PDSA also promotes responsible pet ownership and works with owners to help raise awareness about the importance of proper socialisation and training. Socialisation is the process of gradually introducing puppies to everyday sights and sounds from a very early age which, when done correctly, can prevent fears from developing. Fear can often be a cause of problem behaviour and aggression in later life.

Rachel concluded: “PDSA believes that every pet deserves a happy, healthy life and that education is a vital component in this mission. Any dog, whatever its size or breed, has the potential to cause harm. We would advise anyone who is concerned about their pet’s behaviour to contact their vet for advice in the first instance. With the correct approach and professional assistance most behavioural problems can be overcome.”

Teachers and community leaders can book a workshop by contacting PDSA on 0800 917 2509, emailing or going online at

Special teaching resource packs are also available enabling people to run their own Pet Club, a fun and interactive out of school club. The packs comprise three progressive levels of Bronze, Silver and Gold targeting children aged between 5 and12, and cover all aspects of learning about and caring for animals, including sections on dog safety.

The classroom impact of cashless payments.


Sarah Phillips, Managing Director of WisePay, provider of online payments, bookings and communications services, explains how moving to a cashless payments system has whole-school benefits…

While it is clear that moving to a cashless system holds enormous benefits for school finance offices, administration staff and parents, the many ways it can help teachers and pupils day-to-day are often overlooked. Learning can improve and a harmonious environment can be encouraged simply by not having cash on school premises.


Stealing lunch money is possibly the oldest trick in the book when it comes to bullying. If children don’t have cash on them then this possibility is removed. Lack of money can also be a cause of bullying, but if every child is paying on a swipe card, their account balance will be secret, as will the amount of money they can spend daily. This also applies to Free School Meals. There remains a stigma about claiming a free meal – many families refuse it on grounds of pride, and sometimes pupils don’t claim it at school, preferring not to eat rather than let everyone know they qualify for the bursary. However, if pupils on Free School Meals use a cashless catering service, they simply queue for the tills like everybody else and swipe their card, which registers that they are entitled for a free lunch. The process looks exactly the same as for pupils who have topped up their accounts with cash; it therefore becomes impossible to tell who has had a free school meal and anonymity is protected. This discreteness around money contributes to an environment where pupils are all seen as equal and can be a social leveller in the same way as a school uniform. Self-esteem improves amongst pupils and there is one less cause for conflict in school.


Using a cashless catering service also ensures that pupils are eating healthy lunches, as opposed to sneaking off to nearby shops to buy junk food and sweets. Lunch money also cannot be lost or forgotten, meaning a child should never have to go without lunch or have to borrow small change from their friends. It is a well known fact that being well-nourished and eating healthy lunches improves alertness, concentration and engagement in lessons. Implementing a cashless payment solution helps to ensure that pupils do not miss their lunchtime meal, directly affecting their behaviour and achievements in the classroom.


An online payment platform also allows pupils to pay for school trips and equipment online, thereby reducing time sometimes wasted in lessons collecting cheques and permission slips, which the teacher then takes to the finance office. It also stops pupils from having to detour to the finance office and queue up outside – which can cut into valuable lesson time or the pupils’ breaks. All these small tasks can really eat into a school day and add an extra burden on everyone, but removing cash from the school can counter these problems and allow teachers and pupils to focus mainly on teaching and learning.


Finally, the more money that schools can save through streamlining their payment processes and administration departments, the more money can be freed up to invest in teacher CPD, innovative digital resources or replacing old technology, ultimately improving the learning experience for everyone.


Sarah Phillips is Managing Director of WisePay, provider of online payments, bookings and communications services.

How To Help Pupils Cope With Back to School Anxieties?

Carefree sunny days filled with activity, ice cream and fun – now replaced with new shoes, sitting still and change, the autumn term begins!


This term in particular can be an anxious time for all young people. The transition to secondary school brings apprehensions of the unknown as well as the cultural differences from the familiar can feel overwhelming. Moving class with different Teachers can feel too much for some or just getting back into term time routine, children can struggle to cope with change.


The biggest hurdle for them to deal with is not the change itself, but the fear of it. The deafening ‘inner chat’ and the mountain of negative ‘what-if’s’ can weigh heavy on young shoulders.


‘What if no-one likes me, what if the work is too hard, what if the Teachers are too scary?!


The over analysis of the unknown negatively feeds the mind to distort reality.

It overtakes rational thinking causing the body to react with physical manifestations of the mental torment. Tummy ache, headache, sickness they’re an outcropping of the internal turmoil.


The apprehensions are equally extensive for Head Teachers and school staff. With the growing number of pupils needing additional attention, the added workload for SENCOs /PRUs with dwindling financial support, term time is a roller coaster of emotions for everyone.


The power of the mind is incredible and a child’s is no different. But at this crucial stage of development without the proper skills to be able to handle situations, problems and challenges, a young person can feel out of control. This can manifest in emotions such as anger, disrespectfulness, disruptive outbursts, mood-swings or crying.


Over the last few years there’s been a significant increase in the number of school aged

children struggling to cope with mind based issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, OCD, self-harm and other patterned behaviours, which are all coping mechanisms.


A stark report from the charity YoungMinds earlier this year… “Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression and between 1 in every 12 children and young people deliberately self-harm.”


With this level of need – it’s inevitable that Head Teachers, House Masters, House Mistresses and key support staff will begin the term dealing with young people struggling to cope with transitional changes associated with the autumn term.


The added pressure and strain on resources often has an echoing effect on staff and the school itself early on in the term, with higher than normal staff absenteeism and employment turnover.


With this stretch in resources many Heads of Schools and Educational facilities think the only answer is some kind of counselling, therapy or individual teaching – special attention that only often creates a false sense of comfort for the pupil.


Whilst pupil wellbeing is paramount – the risk in this type of method is of creating a secondary gain for the pupil. We’re creatures of habit so if we’re made to feel good through a certain emotion there could be a pattern developed in the subconscious to keep the issue going to receive the special attention or treatment.


What’s needed is integrated and simple techniques that all pupils can learn


…and Teachers can easily use that enhances the classroom experience and enables each pupil to feel more empowered and better able to cope with challenges.


One of the simplest yet overlooked ways to calm emotions is breathing!


Nerves, anxieties and fears all have a significant effect on how we breathe. Changes in feelings and emotions can cause panicky, quick and uncontrollable breaths. Helping pupils to better manage their emotions firstly involves awareness and secondly having access to the right tools.


As with learning anything albeit academic, sports or a new skill – progress is a process and so with regular practice pupils are more connected with how they feel and changes in thought, body and breathing will enable them to control things easier and quicker.


To help calm initial nerves and emotions at the start of term why not try this very simple exercise in class… Belly Breathing.


  • Connect hands onto the belly, breathe in through the nose and make the breath push the belly out slightly. Breathe out slowly through the mouth to allow the belly to return to its normal resting place. Try 2-3 of these breaths for a calming effect that helps pupils relax and feel more in control.


Breathing affects everything, including clarity of thought and focused concentration – it allows the brain to relax rather than contract through stress or worry. Controlling the breath is just one of the ways CHAMPS Academy has consistently enabled pupils to achieve better grades, control behaviour, communicate clearer and feel happier in themselves. The recipe for a more blissful classroom!


In just 6-weeks pupils can feel 30% more confident!


Increasing pupil confidence and helping them manage emotions provides them with a greater ability to cope with pressure, handle stress and contend with the trials and tribulations of school life.


Annette Du Bois is the Kids/Teens Confidence Expert and founder of CHAMPS Academy including the proven CHAMPS Method. The only formulated and highly effective confidence and achievement coaching for young people that gets results without the need for counselling or therapy (which also incorporates suitably aged Mindfulness based techniques). As well as working with Schools (including Independent, Boarding and other Educational Facilities) CHAMPS Academy is a Franchise and through accredited training Annette licenses coaches to operate kids/teens confidence and achievement coaching in their area.


For more details about staff training, pupil workshops or guest speaking please contact Annette Du Bois by phone: 01243 601236 or email: or visit

Young People and ‘e-safety’ report shows over a third of children have made friends online with people they did not know

Over half of these went on to meet the person in real life.

One third of young people have made friends online with people they did not know before and over half of these have met up in person. 40% of boys have made friends with strangers online compared to 32% of girls. Online gaming seems to be the main route for bonding with strangers, as games consoles were frequently cited as the device used. These are just some of the alarming statistics revealed in a new report ‘Young People and e-safety’ – – prepared by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and commissioned by the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) a not -for -profit 2,500-strong community of London schools.

Key findings from the report, which surveyed 16,855 London school children aged 7-16, are detailed below:

How do young people access the Internet?

  • 9 out of 10 access the Internet outside of school.
  • 41% of seven-year-olds, 71% of 10- year-olds and 80% of 15- year-olds own their own Internet device.
  • 71% of 15-year-olds use their device in private, compared to 40% of seven-year- olds.
  • 1 in 4 admit that their parents do not know what they do online.

Online safety:

  • Of those young people using social network sites, just over a third have made friends with people online that they did not know before and nearly half of these have gone on to meet this person in real life.
  • 41% went alone.
  • 40% of boys have made friends with strangers online compared to 32% of girls. Games consoles were frequently cited as the device used, indicating that young people are mainly bonding with strangers through online gaming.


  • 1 in 5 report that they have been bullied online.
  • 1 in 10 admit to bullying others online.

Access to inappropriate content:

  • 10% play games which are deemed inappropriate for their age.
  • 16% reported that they had found or been sent online content which made them feel uncomfortable.

However there is cause to remain optimistic – many of the survey’s statistics indicate young people are behaving responsibly online. For example, the majority of young people recognise that some websites are more trustworthy than others and know that they should not believe everything they see online. Furthermore, of those who have been bullied online, 60% told someone about it, stopping the bullying in 77% of cases.

Brian Durrant, Chief Executive at LGfL, said “This is a substantial survey which tells us a great deal about developments in children’s online behaviour and the risks and issues that need to be addressed. However we are encouraged by many of the findings and we hope that the guidance we provide will help schools ensure all pupils are equipped with the knowledge to use the Internet safely, as it is ultimately a wonderful thing.”

To address the areas of concern, LGfL’s expert esafety team has provided recommendations detailing how schools can support young people – and their families – in increasing their online safety. Questions such as “How do you help young people understand what images are appropriate to share?” and “Do you know which of your pupils have limited access to technology at home?” invites schools to consider if any changes need to be made to their esafety policies. LGfL also offers esafety resources and software for LGfL connected schools alongside broadband, associated ICT services and BETT award-winning curriculum content.

The report can be read at For esafety resources, tips and advice, schools can head to www.esafety

Why I look for McDonald’s on a CV


Whenever I look at a CV I am always delighted to see that the applicant has spent time working with McDonalds. The number one thing it tells me is that the person is a grafter – keen, willing to work hard and most importantly of all equipped with a wide range of ‘soft skills’ including great communication, team work and time management.


I worked for McDonald’s myself when I was a student teacher in France and it was a great way to pick up language skills. Nowadays I visit with my children and when we pop in for breakfast at 7.30am I am full of admiration for the keen youngsters behind the counter who are up, cheerful and hard at work, when many of their contemporaries are still in bed!  All credit to them – they are earning their own money and picking up valuable employability skills which will stand them in great stead throughout their working lives.


McDonald’s have done some research into the value of ‘soft skills’ and found that they contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today, with this contribution predicted to increase to £109 billion during the next five years. But they also discovered that by 2020 over half a million UK workers will be held back quite significantly by a lack of said soft skills, which will in turn affect all sectors of business in the UK.


At PET-Xi we similarly value skills such as communication and teamwork as they are vital components of good customer care. Being presentable and able to work efficiently, at the right pace are key factors affecting employability, and skills which I am always keen to discover and foster in my own team.


I believe that such ‘soft skills’ are very important to business success – just as important as ‘hard’ academic results in many areas, such as resolving conflict and ensuring that customers have a happy experience.


The McDonald’s ‘Backing Soft Skill’s campaign’ is supported by, among many others, the I Can charity which helps children communicate. Their research shows that in some socially deprived parts of the UK, upwards of 50 per cent of children and young people have poor speech, language and communication skills, potentially limiting their success at school as well as their life chances.


Our PET-Xi courses can help here – particularly in overcoming communication difficulties and removing this and other barriers to learning.  Literacy and numeracy skills are now more important than ever – GCSE C grades are vital gateways through to other courses and improved prospects – so our focus and support for these ‘hard skills’ never wavers.  But I recognise that serving it with a ‘side order of soft skills’ is critical to a child’s future!


Fleur Sexton is Joint Managing Director of PET-Xi, leading provider of intensive, immersive, motivational, results-based interventions that have a positive impact on learner progress from primary to GCSEs.


Groundbreaking interactive science platform supports immersive learning at leading London secondary school



The Heathland School in the London Borough of Hounslow is among the first schools in the UK to use the new interactive science platform IntoScience from 3P Learning.


About the school


The Heathland School in the London Borough of Hounslow is a co-educational comprehensive school for 11-18 year olds, rated ‘outstanding’ at its last two Ofsted inspections.  Larger than average, with 1,800 students, the school is a Mathematics and Science College combining traditional values with a modern approach to learning. It is committed to delivering exceptional academic success within an environment where pupils thrive and become confident, independent and informed.  Its use of dynamic teaching methods aims to encourage students to develop a taste for intellectual enquiry, so equipping them with the skills to become lifelong learners.



The issues faced

 Miss_L_Gimber                   press

Central to The Heathland School vision is a commitment to providing its students with exceptional and unrivalled learning experiences.   “It’s essential that we remain at the cutting edge of education,” said Lyn Gimber, Heathland’s deputy head of science and head of chemistry.  “We like to take advantage of innovative opportunities as they present themselves and are particularly interested in finding ways to ensure that some of our less motivated pupils get the most out of their lessons.  There will inevitably be some students in school who struggle to complete homework assignments so we always look for activities which will encourage them to participate.”


Winning solution

The Heathland School was already involved with 3P Learning, global leader in online education, being a long-time, successful user of its award-winning Mathletics digital resource. They therefore needed little convincing that a similar learning platform covering science would be equally effective.

IntoScience is an immersive and highly engaging interactive 3D environment which brings the theory of science to life. It is aimed particularly at pupils aged 12-16 (KS3-4) and covers all fields of science.

The resource is particularly strong on pupil engagement and enquiry-based learning – allowing children to enter a 3D HD world packed with virtual experiments and deep contextual examples where they can discover, learn, play and revise their scientific knowledge. It brings the enthusiasm and passion which pupils typically enjoy while doing real experiments, to the learning of the theory behind them and the scientific concepts involved.


Essentially an interactive text book, IntoScience has the additional benefits of 100s of HD videos to support the other content and a competitive gaming element including the ability to collect points and certificates and play live quizzes with other students around the world.


“As soon as we were introduced to it we immediately saw its potential to engage and motivate our students,” said Lyn.  “I particularly like the way it looks because it doesn’t look like a traditional educational product – it’s visually engaging, more fun and is very accessible and easy to use.”





“We started using IntoScience in September 2014 and the reaction from staff and students has been very positive,” said Lyn. “It was brand new to us and we had never used anything like it before, so we had to make sure first of all that our teaching staff were fully conversant with all the features and benefits. We’ve since found that the more confident the teacher, the better the outcomes.
“It’s too early to see an impact on our exam results, but we can already see students are enjoying it and that it provides good opportunities for them to revise because they can access it at home as well as while they are in school.


“The interface is very pupil friendly and certain features are great at attracting pupils to use it – particularly the ability to create and customise an avatar which represents the student as they explore a range of locations including a ‘research lab’, a ‘biodome’ and an ‘observatory’.”


The gamification of learning is a hot topic in education at the moment and something which IntoScience encompasses in its approach, making the subject more engaging and easier to understand.


“Students can also spend the ‘inquiry points’ they gather by playing ‘games’ within the resource,” said Lyn. “This element of competition incorporated into the software is great and really encourages students to do as well as they possibly can. They really enjoy the ‘quests’ and seem to like the fact they can play a game while they are learning.


“For staff, one of the most popular features is the in-built feedback and summaries of student performance. This helps us to track each student’s progress and to see which challenges and areas they have attempted – especially useful for setting tasks and activities as homework and checking when it has been completed.


“I would definitely recommend it.”





Box out – About IntoScience


IntoScience brings the theory of science to life in a way no book or other resource can. From playing basketball on the moon to discover differences between weight and mass, crashing a car to learn about friction or exploring virtual Asian woodland to learn about the taxonomy hierarchy, IntoScience offers experiences for learning which are out of this world, yet remain true to the principles of science.


Already widely used in Australia and the United States, IntoScience was launched in the UK in 2014, where its topics and activities are linked to the National Curriculum objectives.  It is a fun and inquiry-led way for students to interact with science, particularly at KS3, expanding their learning through knowledge application and reasoning. It is packed with features and resources for teachers, including detailed lesson and homework guides covering everything from summaries of key learning points to suggested timings and discussion points. It also monitors and reports student progress and results, including formative assessment.

Heralded as a ‘ground-breaking leap forward in secondary school science education, it is tablet friendly and highly suitable for use in a flipped classroom environment.

For a free trial click here or visit  For further information on 3P Learning please visit .