A new report into digital resilience from family internet safety experts Parent Zone asks ‘Is it time to rethink online parental controls?’


 Ordinary Magic for the Digital Age: Understanding Digital Online Resilience

by Rachel Rosen

Instinctively, adults who care about children want to protect them from risk and prevent them having bad experiences online. The trouble is that we cannot guarantee a safe internet.

Technological and social realities mean parental controls and filtering can only serve as one, limited part of a strategy to safeguard children.

So what is the solution?

Back in 2014, Parent Zone started the debate about digital resilience. Working with Virgin Media and the Oxford Internet Institute, we commissioned the first study into the subject, A Shared Responsibility: Building Children’s Online Resilience.

The groundbreaking research concluded that digital resilience is not something you can foster by eliminating risk. To become truly resilient, you must be allowed to practise managing and evaluating risky scenarios.


True digital resilience means thriving in a new environment, not just surviving disaster, avoiding harm and recovering from setbacks, but also making the most of the opportunities afforded by technology.

Parents want to protect their children from bad things happening to them – on and offline. Is the research into digital resilience robust enough to persuade families to ditch the controls and allow their children to explore the online world with greater confidence?

Vicki Shotbolt CEO of Parent Zone and executive board member of the UK Centre for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) is currently co-chairing a government working group into digital resilience. She says:

‘We at Parent Zone started the conversation about online resilience. Since then, others have taken up the challenge to look into this important area.

‘Now, Parent Zone has commissioned Rachel Rosen to examine the wealth of material that currently exists on digital resilience, sift the wheat from the chaff and look forward to how parents and professionals who work with families can help promote it among our children.

‘Let’s all work together to make 2017 the year of digital resilience.’

Download the report here.

 For expert comment on online safety issues for families from Parent Zone, please contact press@parentzone.org.uk or call 020 704 0415.

Teachers to get hands-on with computing and STEM solutions at Bett 2017


  • LEGO Education, supported by Hope Education for primary and JTRS for secondary, will deliver workshops at Bett 2017 that show teachers how hands-on learning using technology and computing can benefit STEM classrooms
  • Every teacher who  prebooks and attends a workshop will receive a free LEGO® kit and will be entered into a prize draw to win either a full WeDo 2.0 classroom set or a half classroom pack of LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3
  • From January 10 2017, LEGO Education will also be offering digital content, including software, curriculum material and extension pack downloads as well as eLearning, free of charge


12 January 2017: LEGO Education has announced the schedule for its WeDo 2.0 and MINDSTORMS EV3 workshops at Bett 2017, as well as demonstrations of what LEGO Education resources can achieve in schools. The sessions, supported by Hope Education and JRTS, delivered at stand E150, will give UK teachers the chance to get hands-on with award-winning resources that help revolutionise computing and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) lessons through creative exploration. All teachers who pre-book and attend a workshop will receive a free mini LEGO set.

WeDo 2.0 is its latest resource for Key Stage 2 that teaches computing in the context of science. Using the classic LEGO brick and a visual coding platform, pupils can build scientific models and bring them to life using motors and sensors. WeDo 2.0 supports a hands-on, minds-on learning solution, giving pupils the confidence to ask questions and find the answers, and encourage them to discover more. Teachers who sign up and attend the primary workshops will be entered into a prize draw to win a full classroom pack of WeDo 2.0.

LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 is an engineering and robotics solution for secondary pupils in Key Stages 3 and 4 that enables them to explore complex STEM topics in an engaging way. The resource challenges pupils to work like real scientists and develop critical thinking skills through scientific enquiry. Teachers signing up and attending a secondary workshop will be entered into a prize draw for a half-classroom pack.


LEGO Education resources capitalise on children’s love of the classic LEGO brick for the purpose of education, allowing for creative and playful exploration of subjects and boosts both engagement and confidence in the classroom. They can enhance a school’s profile and raise pupil attainment, and teachers can discover how this can be made possible in their school during select sessions throughout the show.

In addition, from January 10 2017, LEGO Education will be releasing their full range of digital content free of charge to teachers. This will include extension projects and curriculum packs for WeDo 2.0 and MINDSTORMS EV3, as well as eLearning. These can be accessed by visiting: www.LEGOeducation.com/downloads. Eight further extension projects linked to computing are coming soon, and visitors can attend stand E150 at Bett 2017 to find out more.

Simon Davenport from LEGO Education said: “In the UK and across Europe, we’re in desperate need of STEM professionals, but in schools, these subjects can be deemed “boring” and “difficult” by students. This is what we want to change. We want to inspire young people to engage with STEM by showing them just how exciting it can be and how their ideas could revolutionise the world!”

To sign up to the workshops visit:  www.LEGOeducation.co.uk/bett or for more information, visit: www.legoeducation.co.uk

Work starts on £45 million specialist education provision for Leeds



Leeds City Council has embarked upon an ambitious scheme that involves a £45 million capital investment to build three new special schools in the city. The scheme involves partnership with Wellspring Academy Trust, a Trust with specialism in the sector, to deliver substantial long term savings in the city’s special needs budget.


The three purpose-built Academies for pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs will be known as Springwell Leeds and will be sister schools to the Springwell Learning Community in Barnsley, on which the designs for the new Academies are based.

Views of Social Areas

The investment will ensure world class provision for children and young people with SEMH needs in the city, with all Academies being operational by September 2018. Within the ambitious scheme, Leeds has reorganised all of its SEMH provision and has refurbished a fourth site that is also part of the new Academy.

Wellspring Academy Trust has a track record of excellence in special education and was invited by the city to begin managing its Pupil Referral Units and SEMH Special School prior to building work beginning and prior to Academy conversion.


Josh Greaves, Wellspring’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

‘Leeds are using the same invest-to-save model that has proved successful in Barnsley. Through upfront prudential short term borrowing to invest in capacity locally, the city will make substantial medium and long term savings on what would otherwise be out of area placements for youngster with special needs’.


The Leeds City Council Executive Board characterised their project as follows:

‘The SEMH programme is designed to be a ‘win-win’ approach – better for children and young people and better for the council and the public purse’. The board identified risks associated with not acting as: ‘increased costs from a growing need for external placements… the need for costly investment to maintain even minimum standards in existing buildings; longer term costs due to increased poor outcomes such as worklessness and adult mental illness’.


Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Member for Children and Families, said:

“The creation of Springwell Leeds marks a progressive and exciting time for specialist learning provision within the city and the £45m investment by Leeds City Council demonstrates our continued commitment to ensuring all pupils are supported to succeed and reach their full potential. This new specialist provision will radically improve the learning, support and outcomes for some of the city’s most vulnerable children.”

Views of Social Areas1

Scott Jacques, Executive Principal for Springwell Leeds Academy, Wellspring Academy Trust, said:

“The investment made in these buildings will help us to deliver our vision to provide the best possible care and education that we can for children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs. Here at Springwell Leeds Academy we have ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’ for our students and this is at the centre of what we do. We are creating an academy that is welcoming, caring, safe and warm, and believe that all our pupils can be supported and empowered to succeed.”

New website launched to help schools link with parents more effectively


12 January 2017: EES for Schools has today announced the release of its new home-school communications website, Target Tracker Link. The addition complements the existing Target Tracker software that is used by more than one in four primary schools across the UK, as well as the recently released Target Tracker app for iOS.

Teachers are able to create pupil observation reports using Target Tracker while in the classroom using the desktop software, or on-the-go using the app. Once these have been completed and marked as suitable for parents in Target Tracker, the built-in review process in Link means that observations can be quality-checked before making them available to parents. It is also possible to grant access to other family members as well as parents, enhancing the network of people interested in the child’s education.

Schools can customise the way in which parents see observations, including school branding and logos, and they can notify parents by email once new observations have been made available. The software reduces the need for multiple systems, and numerous observations can be made available at once. The website is accessible across a range of devices so that no matter where parents are, they can view the details of their child’s progress at their convenience.

Chris Smith, Head of Target Tracker at EES for Schools, said: “The lives of both teachers and parents are becoming increasingly busy and they are on the move more often than not. We hope Link will provide a flexible and versatile connection between home and school, to ensure that all parents are kept informed of their child’s progress, and in turn, help the child to feel better supported in their learning. We also want to reduce the workload of teachers by streamlining the evidencing progress and getting parents on-board throughout the year to ensure that all of their pupils are developing well both in and out of the classroom.”

For more information, visit: eesforschools.org/TargetTracker/Link

Half of students predict online tracking of study habits would result in higher grades


Almost half of university students (47%) predict they would achieve better grades if their lecturers were able to track their study habits and progress throughout the academic year, according to new research.


The University of the Future report by digital learning platform, Kortext, reveals that 91% of students are happy for universities to use analytics to track their weekly progress if it helps them to achieve better grades.


Three quarters (76%) of those who took part in the research also said they believe that closer monitoring of study habits, such as whether students are reading core texts, would result in fewer students dropping-out of university.


As part of the study, Kortext asked 1,000 current and former students about their university experience.


The majority (92%) said universities should use technology to make it easier for students with additional learning needs to access textbooks and other course materials. Furthermore, 60% believed their academic performance would improve if they had access to their textbooks and other course materials online.


James Gray, founder and CEO of Kortext, said: “The majority of students at universities today are used to their data being used to track everything from their health to their shopping habits and entertainment. Universities have access to data which can be used to track their students’ performance, as well as wider learning trends. Our research shows that students want universities to use analytics to help them achieve better grades.


“Going to university is a big financial commitment, so it’s understandable that students are driven to get the best results and best value from their course.


“Technology can enable lecturers to support students through their learning and help to spot anyone who may be struggling with their studies before they reach the point of failing exams or even dropping-out.”


Kortext is the UK’s leading provider of digital textbook and learning solutions and is currently working with more than 40 universities to provide a comprehensive digital learning platform which gives students access to the textbooks they need anytime, anywhere and on any device.


For more information and to read the University of the Future report please visit: www.kortext.com/kortext-news/kortext-university-of-the-future

Boosting student performance and well-being at Ormiston Sudbury Academy

Kingswood’s ‘Realise Your Potential’ course develops the resilience and skills students need to succeed not only in academic learning but in work and wider life


Colomendy Centre, North Wales

Colomendy Centre, North Wales

The school

Ormiston Sudbury Academy (OSA) in Suffolk is a mainstream state school for pupils aged from 11 to 19, rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted and now well on its way to being Outstanding. It converted to academy status in September 2012 and is a member of the Ormiston Academies Trust. On a day-to-day basis OSA aims to offer students a positive and challenging experience to ensure they become the best that they can be.


OSA had a group of students who were capable of achieving, yet spent a lot of time doubting themselves and not taking their learning seriously, as the school’s Director of Inclusion, Kelly Jacques, explains.

“I wanted this group of students to ultimately realise that they did, indeed, have potential! This isn’t always easy to show in a classroom environment, especially if they have experienced failure. We had a mix of Year 9 and Year 11 students.  I wanted the Year 9s to go back to school with increased self-esteem ready to choose their options for Year 10. Then I hoped that the Year 11s would rise to the occasion of being with a group of students for whom they could become role models, as well as increasing their confidence ahead of starting their new challenge of sixth form college the following September.


OSA chose the ‘Realise Your Potential’ (RYP) personal development course offered at Grosvenor Hall in Kent, one of Inspiring Learning’s Kingswood activity centres.

RYP is designed to improve student performance, attainment and well-being by creating self awareness and giving students the understanding, tools and practical experience necessary to manage pressure, stress and challenge. It focuses on developing life skills such as positive thinking, goal setting, anxiety control and maintaining focus to enable students to perform at their best, even in high pressure situations.    The intensive but fun five-day programme of physical and mental challenges gives students the chance to practice techniques and understand how to apply them to life back in the classroom and beyond.

How people perform under pressure and rise to a challenge is often called resilience, or mental toughness. Studies in the UK and Holland show that mental toughness can account for up to 25 per cent variation in attainment in exams and tests. There are also strong links with positive behaviour and wellbeing.

Every course begins with a 48 question psychometric assessment (MTQ-48) which measures the four components of resilient behaviour – Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence. The assessment outcomes help indicate the traits that will be focused on throughout the programme with activities and challenges designed to encourage self-awareness.  A second assessment at the end of the programme makes it possible to measure progress during the residential and the impact of the course. Evidence-based teaching strategies are increasingly important in schools and this unique programme provides an even stronger measurable evidence base, clearly demonstrating to teachers the positive impact this residential programme can have upon learning.

The course uses a mix of adventurous activities, reflection time and review sessions to equip young people with new life skills, introduce them to a range of challenges and teach them how to be the best they can be. Each activity focuses on different interventions known to improve areas of performance and resilient behaviour, facilitated by specially trained staff.

For example, a favourite activity among students is Jacob’s ladder – a high-rope activity involving small teams of climbers pulling together to help each other. It is a very focused task where people have to work together collaboratively – it’s impossible to complete this unless the students work as a team to overcome challenges and solve problems along the way.
The results

Kelly Jacques was delighted with the impact the RYP course made on her students – the benefits of which carried on once they were back in school. “The course met my objectives and allowed me to form different and better relationships with these young people,” she said. “This has allowed me to have difficult conversations with some of them, in an easier, safer way. Students have felt they can open up to me; after all I have seen them take risks (and vice versa!). One of our students is now receiving literacy support after six months of refusing  “I don’t need it!” now she feels empowered to say ‘I can achieve, but I need this support to help me’.

“We had many important changes within the group – some I expected, others took me by surprise. In particular I saw students, who had never stayed away from home before, manage their feelings/emotions much better than I predicted they would. I saw students start taking risks, become leaders and have fun! Having fun is something that some of our students desperately needed to experience.

“The single most beneficial aspect of the course was that it allowed our students to spend time away from school, in a safe managed way. Some of the students I took have never spent time away from home, this, for some, was very much needed. This allowed students to take risks!

“Being away from home also taught the students that if they cause a ‘difficult situation’ socially they had to deal with it, as they couldn’t just ‘go home’ after school – they had to live, sleep and eat with the group. This was a great lesson in understanding how you can affect other people’s emotions.

“I would absolutely recommend this course to other schools – I already have recommended Kingswood as a company to organise a residential with. The instructors are fabulous, as are all the facilities – this makes me feel safe bringing other people’s children to these venues.”

Safeguarding in a modern world: SSS Learning debuts fresh approach to online training at Education Show 2017



Schools and nurseries can now deliver the highest quality safeguarding training to meet statutory and Ofsted inspection requirements, whilst making vast cost savings with SSS Learning’s new e-learning courses, debuting at the Education Show 2017 (stand H81).


Developed as a ‘much needed’ catalyst for change in safeguarding training, the concise courses are fully CPD-accredited and certify individual educators, replacing ‘often insufficient or costly’ traditional group training methods.


Already used by over 60,000 frontline professionals to help protect children and young people from a broad spectrum of issues, the courses cover a broad spectrum of issues; from child protection and child sexual exploitation (CSE), to forced marriage and honour based violence, prevent duty (radicalisation and extremism) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).


The updated DFE (2016) Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance emphasises the importance of regular updates and annual Safeguarding / Child Protection training. Under the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, safeguarding remains a limiting judgement. SSS Learning’s secure online CPD accredited safeguarding courses enable schools and academies to meet this remit.


Sam Preston, eLearning and Training Director, SSS Learning said: “Our individual, online courses can be completed anytime, anywhere. All you need is an internet connection, enabling staff to fit training in around their busy schedules. Each engaging training video can be viewed individually, or even as a group during INSET and then every participant must log-on and complete the assessment. This ensures that every single member of staff is individually certified. Historically, most tutor-led, group training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is can be problematic. Fixed session INSET relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, individual learning outcomes cannot be not fully evaluated and those absent or staff recruited post INSET have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later.


As the courses are delivered online, SSS Learning has achieved significant cost savings for schools. The organisation utilises the very latest e-Learning technologies and techniques, using combined animation and video to produce high-quality online training courses engaging every learner. Individual progress can be monitored through the administration portal enabling leaders to monitor and ensure learning is secure.


Visitors to the stand will receive a complimentary copy of SSS Learning’s brand new Anti-Extremism and Human Rights software. For further information, please visit the team on stand H81 at the Education Show (16th – 18th March 2017, NEC Birmingham), visit the web site at www.ssslearning.com or call meet current statutory and inspection requirements. You can also follow us on Twitter (@SSSLearning), Facebook (facebook.com/SSSLearning) or connect with us on LinkedIn.


Scotland’s first prep school seals deal with IT solutions provider

opal cargilfield

Multi-platform IT solutions provider Opal has bolstered its position in the education market by adding the oldest independent boarding and day prep school in Scotland to its client list.

Founded in 1873, Cargilfield School was the first prep school to be established in Scotland and currently caters for more than 300 children aged 3-13 years. The organisation had previously experienced major problems with its IT infrastructure and turned to Opal in a bid to find a robust long-term solution.

Opal created a multi-site server virtual environment to protect the school against loss of data and downtime. The work included a comprehensive disaster recovery system for Cargilfield’s main school building, the installation of a 40Gb fibre optic cable with ultra-fast Wi-Fi and a secure cloud-based back-up solution to protect critical school data.

The deal is the latest win for Opal in the education sector, where it already works with several high-profile state and independent schools across the UK.

Ross Murdoch, deputy head at Cargilfield School, said: “Previously we had a three-year contract with another provider but we weren’t satisfied because we were finding glitches and problems with the network on a regular basis. We decided we’d look for another provider because we knew we needed someone with experience in installing an infrastructure that would allow children and staff to use our newly integrated iPads.

“Thanks to Opal, we now have a more reliable and robust network that’s scalable and can evolve with the development of our school.”

Opal provides a wide variety of services and specialises in the creation, integration and maintenance of Apple and Windows environments. An Authorised Apple Premium service provider, JAMF Pro Integrator, approved Microsoft partner and a part of the Apple Consultants Network, the Newcastle-headquartered company works with local, national and international companies and its biggest client has more than 50 sites globaly and 25,000 employees worldwide.  

Andrew Metcalfe, managing director of Opal, said: “We’re delighted to be helping a long-standing and respected institution in Cargilfield School. We’ve built a disaster recovery solution, robust network and introduced mobile device management solutions that allows the school to monitor, manage and maintain iPads, both on and offsite.

“Having worked with many education providers, we have a excellent understanding of their increasing reliance on and adoption of technology to improve the learning experience for students but additionally, enabling staff to focus on teaching and not IT issues”

For further information on Opal IT, please call 0330 22 33 011, e-mail support@opal-it.co.uk

or visit http://www.opal-it.co.uk/



Education and training providers must embrace technology-enhanced learning solutions or risk losing out to more innovative providers, awarding organisation YMCA Awards has warned today.

A newly released report from the international awarding organisation reveals that increasing numbers of students now expect access to on-demand learning, enabling them to learn at a time and place suited to them.

The report surveyed students on their study routines and revealed that 68% of elearning is done outside of traditional 9am – 4pm learning hours using digital resources, and 16% is undertaken on a weekend. In addition, almost half of students said they had used a Smartphone in their studies over the past 12 months.

Experts at YMCA Awards are now warning that as students continue to take advantage of the proliferation of technology and flexibility of digital learning, education and training providers who fail to respond to this changing marketplace could lose out to competition that choose to embrace it.

Commenting on the findings, Rob May, Director of YMCA Awards, said: “It is clear from our research that providers are still at various points in their digital learning journey; there’s still work to be done to make strides towards industry wide adoption. One thing we can say for sure is that students are really benefitting from the flexibility that digital learning offers.”

Bob Harrison, architect of the FELTAG report supported the findings saying: “It’s not about technology, it’s about thinking differently about learning and assessment. How learners expect to receive training mirrors how our expectations as consumers have changed in recent years: increasingly, we believe that the world should fit around our timetable, and not the other way around.”

The report also future gazed into what might be next for the sector and suggested that personalisation and user experience (UX) will be key focuses for digital learning developers moving forward, both holding the potential to improve attitudes towards digital learning.

For further information please visit www.ymcaawards.co.uk

Search Begins to Find the UK’s Most Inspiring School Gardeners



Royal Horticultural Society’s school gardening competition is now open for entries


The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is calling on school gardeners from across the country to enter the search to find the next generation of star horticulturists, as it launches its annual competition, the RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2017. The competition is supported by leading greenhouse manufacturer Gabriel Ash.

Celebrating gardening in schools by uncovering inspirational gardeners across three categories, the competition shines a light on green-fingered pupils, passionate school gardening teams and the often unheralded teachers and parent volunteers who encourage them. Nominations can be submitted from Wednesday 11 January to Friday 28 April, 5pm.

Shortlisted gardeners will be given video cameras by the RHS to produce a short video highlighting their love of gardening, which will be assessed by an expert panel of judges including horticulturist and television presenter Frances Tophill.

The winners will receive prizes that include £500 of gardening vouchers for their school, a Gabriel Ash greenhouse or coldframe, tickets to an RHS Flower Show and the chance to work alongside a crack team of RHS experts and have a well-known TV gardener visit their school.

In 2016, the RHS Young School Gardener of the Year prize was won by six-year-old Fred Wilcox who attends Trafalgar Infant School in Twickenham.  Described as ‘a young David Attenborough’, Fred impressed the judges with his enthusiasm and talent for gardening, including his knowledge of bugs and minibeasts and demonstrations of planting and taking cuttings.

The RHS School Gardening Team of the Year award recognises an outstanding gardening team that has made a difference to their school environment.  Last year the title was won by a 15-strong group of pupils from Stafford Manor High School in Stafford, who took on a project to build ten raised beds with unbridled enthusiasm and worked extremely hard to make the garden a productive, pleasant and inspirational space within the school.

RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year celebrates dedicated teachers and school volunteers who show a passion for encouraging pupils to garden, as well as linking gardening to the curriculum. Sharon McMaster, a parent volunteer from Ballycarrickmaddy Primary School in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, was the 2016 winner.

Sharon said: “It has been a wonderful experience winning the award, from visiting RHS Wisley to receiving the many prizes for the school. Frances Tophill coming to meet us and garden with us was the highlight of our year!”

Frances Tophill, an RHS School Gardeners of the Year judge, said: “I’m proud to support the RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition as it recognises and rewards the wonderful work being done in schools around the UK to inspire the next generation of young horticulturists.

“Thousands of schools are helping their pupils experience the many joys and benefits of gardening, including being active, spending time outside in the fresh air, learning how to grow their own food, and developing useful life skills such as teamwork.

“If there’s an unsung gardening hero at your school and you’d like to give them the recognition they deserve then please nominate them.”

Sarah Cathcart, RHS Head of Education and Learning, said: “It’s fantastic that so many schools embrace gardening and the competition is an important way of showcasing the UK’s young gardening talent.

“Gardening offers such broad potential for learning across the curriculum and I hope that for many pupils, it will sow the seed for a lifetime’s interest in gardening and the many exciting career options that exist within horticulture.”

Di Limam, Managing Director at Gabriel Ash which is donating over £17,000 worth of prizes to the competition said: “Gabriel Ash is proud to support the RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2017 competition as we firmly believe it recognises the talents and inspirations of the next generation of young gardeners.”

To enter the competition, schools should visit the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website at: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening (from 11 January)

To get an idea of what the RHS is looking for, view the 2016 finalists’ videos on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening’s YouTube page at: www.youtube.com/user/RHSSchoolGardening

For more information and photos please contact Claire Weaver on 020 7821 3043 or claireweaver@rhs.org.uk