Evidence and research take centre stage at ESIC 2015

A global audience of more than 400 researchers, scientists and professionals joined the SI Network (UK & Ireland) on September 10 to 12 for three days of life changing learning at ESIC in Birmingham, both in person and online via live streaming.

The burning issue at the Congress was the growing body of evidence to support Ayres Sensory Integration being an evidence based practice, whilst at the same time the effectiveness of Ayres Sensory Integration keeps being called into question.

The expert keynote speakers and therapists attending ESIC were on the front-foot when it came to presenting a strong case for ASI:

Professor Roseann Schaaf of Thomas Jefferson University led the pro evidence argument, announcing, “We have it!” She went on to demonstrate how a recent study, led by herself and Dr Zoe Mailloux into Occupational Therapy using Ayres Sensory Integration for children with autism, meets the criteria for an evidence-based practice according to the PRISMA guidelines (Adopted by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy), The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Council for Exceptional Children.

Professor Schaaf says, ”We need to get this kind of recognition from individuals outside and within the profession who’ve been questioning the value and efficacy of ASI. So I think it is a huge leap forward.”

Mag. Elisabeth Soechting, co-founder and President of the Austrian SI organisation GSIOe and PhD student at the University of Vienna, then unveiled her incisive review of studies into the effectiveness of ASI between 2007 and 2013. She found that three studies fulfilled the requirements of a Randomised Control Trial and that many more showed supportive evidence based practice for ASI. Elisabeth also discovered that over 50% of the studies that claimed to be evaluating SI, were in fact looking at sensory approaches, such as sensory rooms and did not employ ASI therapy: that is following Ayers principles as set out in the Fidelity Measure (2007).

Building on the identified need for more research of good quality, the SI Network took the opportunity to announce a series of research grant awards with a total value of £20,000.

Gemma Cartwright, the SI Network’s Research Development Director, says:

“Our challenge is to develop the evidence base for Ayres’ Sensory Integration including sensory strategies prescribed following a thorough assessment (Data Driven Decision Making Processs (2104)). Doing this will help raise awareness, shape training and education programmes and ensure therapeutic interventions are accessible and available to any individual who may benefit. Without demonstrating ASI is a cost effective approach, with an ever increasingly robust evidence base, the application of ASI as an approach and an effective intervention will continue to be in question.”


For more information about the research grants please go to www.sensoryintegration.org.uk/research

Pupil exposure to ICT continues to rise despite its value being questioned

Despite a recent OECD report questioning the value of classroom technology, UK schools continue to increase the amount of teaching time using ICT.


The British Educational Suppliers Association’s (BESA) annual ‘ICT in UK State Schools’ research findings shows that pupils are currently exposed to ICT for 53 per cent of teaching time in comparison to 50 per cent in 2014.


The 609 schools surveyed (294 primary and 315 secondary) forecast that this exposure will continue to rise, with pupils expected to use technology for 58 per cent of learning time by 2017.


The UK has always led the way in terms of the use of technology in education, with many thousands of educators from schools overseas attending Bett, the world’s largest technology in education event, each year.


Caroline Wright, director general designate at BESA said, “The OECD report is based on international findings and is not solely focused on UK schools. It is certainly true that there have been many unwise investments in technology. In almost every case where investment has not gone to plan the reason is overwhelmingly due to a lack of effective investment in continuing professional development (CPD) and teacher training: this often results in hardware sitting idle or teachers having little idea of how to use it effectively. Schools that are using technology well in the UK are not only seeing improved results in traditional examinations but also higher levels of pupil engagement, which improves overall outcomes.


“The crucial point is that we have all to agree what education should be like for the coming decade, but few could argue that any strategy that ignores the technology our children use every day and that permeates working lives will risk failure.”


Wright concludes with a warning. “I would advise against a one sided argument either for or against the use of technology in learning. It is in our most outstanding schools that we see an effective blend of traditional teaching practice and the innovative use of technology.”

The search for the nation’s best young Mathematicians is here!

National Young Mathematicians’ Awards Return

The UK’s biggest maths competition for school teams across the country has returned.  The National Young Mathematicians’ Awards, which are open to teams of four children aged 9 to 11 from schools all over the UK is set to be bigger than ever before with Britain’s brightest maths brains taking on the challenge to be crowned champions!

Each year, tuition provider, Explore Learning, joins forces with the highly prestigious NRICH Project at the University of Cambridge to give children the chance to show off their maths skills in front of the country’s leading mathematicians.  

Now in its sixth year, the competition is easy for schools and teachers to enter and will consist of three rounds.  The first is a knockout contest undertaken at an Explore Learning centre on either the 10th, 11th or 12th November.  Those victorious will go through to a regional Semi Final on 25th November where schools battle it out against other top schools in their area with the five highest scoring maths brains winning a place in the Grand Final at the University of Cambridge on 8th December.

Last year’s winners were a team of four hugely talented young mathematicians from Holbrook Primary School in Horsham, West Sussex who beat off more than 1,300 teams to be crowned champions.  They were awarded their prize by the world famous statistician, Sir David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University, and Carey Ann Dodah from Explore Learning.

Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “We had such an overwhelming response to last year’s National Young Mathematicians’ Awards and the enthusiasm, ambition, determination and creativity from all the children that took part in the Grand Final was wonderful to see.  Maths is so often regarded as a subject that can put children off their studies but this competition shows that not only is it fun and engaging, but a fantastic opportunity to build on teamwork, reward children’s success, develop their confidence and realise their skills for numbers.

“In all the rounds children are challenged to solve a multi-layered, high-level problem.  Teams are assessed on their ability to get to the root of the problem, teamwork and their true mathematical thinking.”

Last year more than 1,300 teams entered the competition with the top five making it to the Grand Final at the University of Cambridge.  Finalists included Mortimer Primary School from South Shields, Cheadle Hulme School from near Stockport, Barry Primary School in Northampton and Ashton House Primary School in Isleworth.

The deadline for schools to submit their team is Friday 9th October. For more information and examples of other past problems teachers and schools can visit www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngmathematicians or contact their local Explore Learning centre. 



discovery education logo


− 2015 Coding Camp provides educators activities and tools to equip pupils with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to be competitive in a digital age. −


United Kingdom September 2015— Pupils may have had a brief respite from school, but summer continued to be a time dedicated to teaching and learning for educators. From 16 June to 31 July, Discovery Education, in its core mission to empower educators with high-quality content and pedagogical strategies, hosted a free, virtual event for its school partners seeking to strengthen their toolbox of strategies for teaching coding, a topic which accounts for half of the new Computing programme of study.


“I really enjoyed working through a cycle of steps to help develop computational thinking. I believe this sequence of working can be used in other areas of the curriculum, and the examples from the websites helped to illustrate the theories underpinning the pedagogy,” explained Coding Camp participant, Sean Hall, IT Coordinator at Scotholme Primary School, Nottingham.


During the 7-week camp, participants studied the six phases of the computational cycle, practical examples and activities to implement during each phase, applications of the concepts, and a scheme of work. In considering the process of planning, developing, creating, and reviewing a computer game, educators thought about how pupils could develop a digital story using the same tools and process. By the end of the virtual professional development, participants created a portfolio of activities and tools to share with colleagues and students.


“As for this school year, I intend to use the knowledge I gained to help other members of staff during staff meetings, inset days, and informal CPD with my colleagues. I think it will improve the teaching of computing, as teachers will be able to improve their own computational thinking to aid questioning and coaching of the children,” Sean further shared.


More than 800 schools, with over 1,100 educators, participated in the second annual Coding Camp, which was free for Discovery Education users. To further support educators in teaching coding, Discovery Education Coding provides complete support for teaching coding in primary schools. A scheme of work, lesson plans, and helpful video tutorials are included in this service, which aligns with the National Curriculum. For more information on Discovery Education Coding visit: http://www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/what-we-offer/discovery-education-coding.


“As we enter the second academic year with coding as part of the National Curriculum, Discovery Education is supporting teachers with high-quality content to enhance the delivery of this complex subject, so their students have a great learning experience and achieve success. Coding Camp exemplifies Discovery Education’s core mission to empower educators with ready-to-implement technologies, pedagogical strategies, and a network of professionals,” said Christine Major, Director of Professional Development at Discovery Education.


For more information regarding the 2015 Coding Camp, please visit: http://www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/coding-camp.

Sahara Attributes AV Award Success To Early Adoption Of New Technologies By Schools And Colleges

Cleverstore on Clevertouch Plus

At this year’s AV Industry Awards, it is the education technology providers that are set to create a storm and lead the way in terms of innovation and development.   Kevin and Nigel Batley, founders and directors of Sahara Presentation Systems plc, better known to the education sector as the manufacturer of Clevertouch, have both been recognised in the Outstanding Achievement category.  This is due, in no small part, to the way in which UK schools and colleges are paving the way over other sectors as the early-adopters of new technologies.
Sahara has also been shortlisted for Manufacturer of the Year and Distributor of the Year and Clevertouch, the interactive front of class touchscreen manufactured by Sahara, has been shortlisted for Product of the Year. The winners will be announced at the AV Awards 2015 on 25th September.
Kevin and Nigel have been instrumental in positioning Sahara as the forward thinking and innovative AV provider within the education sector.  They recognised early on the trend for the education sector to be outward focused in their approach to selecting new technologies within the classroom.  Young people are natural early adopters and as such many head teachers, teachers and school boards are keen to ensure their pupils are able to take advantage of the very latest in technology hardware.
Through their work with schools and colleges, Kevin and Nigel realised that it’s not just the power of hardware that is required to engage pupils and improve the learning environment.  The creativity and availability of software and apps is of equal importance.  Sahara has spent the past 12 months developing the recently launched Cleverstore App Store, available for free on the Clevertouch Plus screen, which gives teachers instant access to leading educational digital and collaboration tools.
Shaun Marklew, Sales & Marketing Director, Sahara Plc says “Over the years I have had some fantastic mentors; and Kevin and Nigel are no exception. Their dedication to the business and the education sector is second to none. I’m very proud to be working for Sahara at this exciting time, and working with such inspirational colleagues makes it very rewarding.”
Clive Couldwell, Editor, AV Magazine comments “It’s a great personal pleasure to recognise companies that have been part of the backbone of the AV industry over such a long period, and have behaved with such integrity.”


Howard Jackson photo cropped

A Macclesfield-based education finance software company has revealed ambitious new growth plans, which are set to create dozens of new jobs for the local area, following its announcement of a 48 per cent increase in turnover.

HCSS Education, which provides practical and effective software solutions, training and consultancy services to the education sector, reported a rise in revenue this year from £2.3m in 2013/14 to £3.4m in 2014/15.

The growth has been fuelled by the company’s investment in developing software, training and consultancy services that benefit the education sector. And its latest growth plans include further product investment to help it become the leading education finance software provider.

HCSS Education predicts its growth plans will take its turnover to £4.5m in 2015/16 and up to £7.2m in 2016/17.

Profit before tax is expected to jump by 139 per cent this year, from £502K in 2014 to £1.2m in 2015.

HCSS Education is also making a large investment in its workforce to support its continued growth, with positions open for various roles across the business including a commercial operations director, a test analyst, an account manager and a business development executive. Having already appointed four new staff members in recent months including a front end developer and two apprentices, it aims to grow its team from 64 to 100 by 2016.

Howard Jackson, CEO at HCSS Education, said: “We’re experiencing a period of substantial strategic growth and based on this year’s figures we’re predicting that 2015/16 will be a record breaking year for us.

“Over the last few years, HCSS Education has transformed into a hugely successful business, delivering innovative products and services to the market and this is set to continue, along with new client wins and a big recruitment drive.

“Our goal now is to invest in more offerings for the education sector to ensure that schools, academies and local authorities have the tools, support and guidance they need to ensure effective financial management.”

 For more information, please visit http://www.hcsseducation.co.uk/

New Level of Climbing Available at The Showroom


Youngsters can advance their climbing skills at Lincolnshire’s largest indoor climbing centre, following the launch of its new bouldering wall and national accreditation.

The climbing centre, located in The Showroom on Tritton Road, has recently been granted approval to deliver two new climbing qualifications to children taking part in the National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme (NICAS).

Sam Tweed, Climbing Wall Supervisor, said: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to develop the climbing skills of young people in the community to a higher standard.

“Our new bouldering wall, which was installed earlier this year, is a brilliant addition to the climbing centre – without it we would not have been able to enhance what we can offer at the centre or even further progress to deliver levels 3 and 4 of the NICAS.”

The scheme is administered by the Association of British Climbing Walls Training Trust (ABCTT) and is recognised by the British Mountaineering Council. Consisting of five levels, it is designed to educate young people about the history and safety measures of the sport, and develop their skills from novice through to advanced.

The Showroom Climbing Centre runs a number of clubs and individual sessions for children aged seven years and upwards, through to late teens. All sessions are conducted by trained instructors who are qualified to deliver levels 1 to 4 of the scheme.

Local schools also utilise the facilities offered at The Showroom climbing centre; the NICAS scheme can be offered to students as reward packages, GCSE packages, or after school groups.

Since it became an awarding centre in 2014, over 50 children have completed Level 1 and nearly 20 have completed Level 2. Each level requires a number of hours climbing experience to pass and after achieving each stage budding climbers are awarded with a certificate on behalf of the ABCTT.

Sam explained: “Our clubs and sessions are intended to help enable children and young adults to cope with fear and stress, and encourage both self-reliance, teamwork and responsibility for others.

“The sport itself is also a great way for young people to stay active, burn calories and develop muscle tone.” 

Sam now hopes the climbing centre will receive approval to deliver the National Indoor Bouldering Award Scheme (NIBAS) in the near future.

To see the full list of clubs and sessions available at The Showroom Climbing Centre please visit: http://www.lincsymca.co.uk/the-showroom-lincoln/activity-centre/climbing/climbing-wall-sessions-and-clubs/

For further information about The Showroom Climbing Centre, including schools involvement please contact Sam Tweed on 01522 508376.

Ensuring excellence in staff induction

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, shares how schools can ensure excellence in staff induction.



The most valuable asset of a school is its staff and ensuring successful introductions of new colleagues into the organisation is a critical process. Getting induction right ensures staff are confident in their practice, effective in their performance and impact on learners as rapidly and positively as possible.



The importance of effective induction

A clearly structured and well-managed induction process serves two important purposes. It ensures staff are welcomed and supports them in getting to grips with to undertake their their new role in the shortest possible time.

Most schools have a documented staff induction process, but managing and quality assuring this can be challenging. Induction often involves co-ordinating many contributors so a clear programme and method of documenting the process will help establish consistency in the quality of experience and the transition from induction to regular management of staff performance, i.e. appraisal.


Key Features of Effective Induction


  1. Understanding the organisation or role

It is easy to overwhelm new staff with a mass of information covering general school information, policies, procedures and expectations. Structuring this in a staff handbook can be helpful, but ensuring individuals digest and understand it in the context of their role is more important and is made easier through a staged approach to induction. This involves personalising and introducing information in a priority order depending on the role, or signposted in relation to the core expectations of that role. Reviewing this at key points, for example, in group sessions or review meetings, provides the assurance that critical information has been understood.



  1. Mentoring and coaching


The role of the induction mentor is a critical one. Appointing a nominated colleague with whom regular contact is possible means that questions and issues can be addressed quickly and without fear of judgement. Having a clear expectation of this role, with necessary training available, ensures consistency and means that concerns can be addressed as soon as they arise.

  1. Agreeing performance targets and identifying immediate learning needs


With this support and a baseline review in place, you will be able to agree appropriate professional objectives or targets and identify any immediate professional learning needs for new staff. Whether the completion of these objectives is within a defined induction period or over a year, the precise identification of success criteria should be documented to allow rigorous monitoring through an agreed evaluation process.



  1. Personalising professional learning


A structured induction programme, with regular reviews with the mentor or coach, provides the opportunity to review the impact of initial professional learning and plan further personalised CPD activities to meet the new colleague’s needs. This approach also ensures effective induction into the school’s professional learning programme and philosophy and communicates expectations about measuring the impact of CPD on practice and outcomes.



  1. Monitoring performance


The monitoring of individual staff performance should follow the school’s usual procedures for performance management with the additional support of the induction mentor or coach. Together, these processes should ensure that any concerns are identified and addressed early on and strengths recognised and maximised. It is important to have a systematic quality assurance process to track the impact of the induction process. This self-evaluation is usually overseen by a senior leader and will involve staff who mentor, coach and line manage new staff, as well as the staff members themselves.



From induction to continuous improvement

Having an induction process which staff feel involved in and empowered by, ensures that they immediately feel part of the organisation and understand its ethos and commitment to them as professionals. Final sign-off of the induction process should be formally acknowledged. If it has been effective, induction will have reinforced the behaviours of continual review and empowered the new member of staff to lead their own improvement alongside, and in collaboration with, their colleagues.





Persil ‘Learning for Tomorrow’ initiative in partnership with UNICEF to help more children access new learning experiences


September, London – Today Persil launches the Learning for Tomorrow Initiative, its first step in committing to help improve the future of children around the world and support them in reaching their full potential through access to quality education and new learning experiences.


Globally, there are 130 million children in education who will reach year 5, but fail to learn the basic reading, maths, writing and social skills they need to achieve their full potential. Furthermore, an additional 58 million children are out of school without access to basic education.


As one of Unilever’s sustainable living brands, Persil plays an important part in Unilever’s vision of a more sustainable future.  Unilever is putting sustainable living at the centre of everything it does – working to create a better future through its brands.


In 2015, the Persil Learning for Tomorrow initiative will partner with Unicef, the world’s leading children’s organization.


Clare Logan, Brand Manager for Persil UK and Ireland said: “Persil has supported learning experiences where children explore, experiment and exercise their creativity for more than a century. We believe this is the best way for them to develop essential life skills and prepare themselves for a bright future. Even now, there are millions of children around the world, including here in the UK, who don’t receive that opportunity. Working with Unicef on the Learning for Tomorrow Initiative is our first step to ensuring each and every child has access to quality and enjoyable learning experiences – now and for generations to come.”


The initiative is funded with an initial €1.4 million donation from Persil and Unilever Global Partnerships, which will contribute to Unicef’s education programmes, providing access to quality education opportunities for 10 million children in Brazil, India and Vietnam.


Programmes that will be funded by the initiative across Brazil, India and Vietnam include teacher training, literacy activities and awareness campaigns to increase the demand for quality education.


Kate Goldman, Director of Partnerships and Philanthropy for Unicef said: “Whether they live here in the UK or in any other country around the world, every child has the right to go to school and enjoy all the positive things that quality education can bring. Knowledge and secure learning: These experiences must be freely available to all. Our partnership with Persil will help us begin turning that vision into reality – and ensure no child is ever left behind when it comes to their own bright future.”


To introduce the Learning for Tomorrow Initiative, Persil has commissioned BAFTA-nominated director Amanda Blue to create the ‘First Day’ film, a short documentary in which mothers discuss the momentous milestone of their child’s first day at school. The film is available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d_H_NVlPx4 and will be supported by a social media campaign encouraging parents in the UK to share their experiences of their children’s first day of school.


To find out more about the Learning for Tomorrow Initiative or read about Persil’s partnership with UNICEF, visit www.persil.co.uk/learning-for-tomorrow.


Setting the standards for safe Food Service Allergen Management


Assessing where allergen cross contact and contamination can occur from the supply chain through to the kitchen and then on to a customer requires the same due diligence as food safety management.


Whereas companies have been getting to grips with managing food allergens in their businesses; making sure this new method of working is continuous and carried out by all staff all the time is difficult to say the least.


Members of the Allergen Accreditation scheme have already adopted HACCP style practises in their businesses and this has proved to be invaluable by operators and achieved high acclaim from visiting inspectors.


These same members are leading the way and as part of their Sharing of Best Practice they now contribute to the design and concepts behind the schemes (FA) HACCP.


It was one thing to create extensive flow charts and written policies for companies to adhere to safe allergen management and assessing where critical control points occur.  But in reality the risk would be for yet another set of excellent papers would add to the long list of files in the kitchen office, rarely to be seen and read by staff.


Making HACCP more staff friendly was required when it came to allergen management.  A method was needed that ensured all staff would read and understand the key messages for the safe management of allergens and something memorable and enjoyable to look at was the key.


Introducing Hazards of Allergens!

The serious angle is that each issue has a serious message on safe allergen management representing back of house and front of house.  They build up in to an excellent collection of A-Z scenarios covering many of the FA HACCP’s that can be encountered.


Story lines include: referring to written allergen data to double check for a customer, use of gloves, use of separate serving utensils, dealing with May Contain statements etc.


They are not just briefing papers however.  They work really well as training handouts and reminders to staff as well as excellent induction tools for new starters and for temporary staff.



“In a comic format, that we all love, makes it very easy for all members of staff to quickly understand the message!” Comments Julian Edwards CEO of FSAM.  He also adds “We have been writing  allergen and intolerance policies for some 20 years and it is very rare that we have seen these visibly available to staff in the catering businesses we visit.  These comics will bring to life what is normally a bind for caterers and it will make it so much easier for employers and managers to get staff to read them and sign that they understand them!”


The Allergens of Hazard comic collection is freely available from Allergen Accreditation which the operational name of Food Service Allergen Management.  They have been inspired by the very best allergen managers who have committed to Sharing Best Practice with the UK catering industry.  Accredited business can download these off the member’s area and any other interested parties can email enquiries@allergenaccreditation.co.uk for their free regular issue.


Introducing the new: (Food Allergen) Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Collection