Lingfield Education Trust has appointed a brand new schools improvement lead and executive headteacher to its leadership team.

Mark Dent, 37, has joined the Multi-Academy Trust, which has its head office at Lingfield Point in Darlington and comprises six schools across Darlington and Teesside. With 16 years of experience in teaching and having qualified as an Ofsted inspector, Mark will also take on the role of Executive Head at Cambrai Community Primary School which will open in September 2019 in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

He said: “My new role will initially see me working with all of the schools across Lingfield Education Trust to support team development and school initiatives. I’m hugely looking forward to working as part of a Multi Academy Trust, helping to share knowledge and best practice.

“I’ll also be responsible for the NQTs across the Trust and it is an absolute privilege to help those who are new to teaching and coach them into being future leaders in education.”

Originally from Bishop Auckland, Mark has a wealth of robust teaching experience across the North East, having worked at schools in Newton Aycliffe, as an advisory teacher for Durham County Council, as deputy head at Thornhill School in Shildon and then as headteacher at Cheveley Park in Durham, where he also trained as an Ofsted inspector.

Nick Blackburn, chief executive of Lingfield Education Trust, said: “Mark’s appointment is a really exciting one for us as we look to further strengthen our leadership team at the Trust and grow our network of schools across County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire. Our vision is to make the biggest difference to children in our schools and the communities in which they live and Mark’s work in continuing the hard work of our excellent teaching teams will certainly help us to achieve this.”
More information on Lingfield Education Trust here or follow us on Twitter @LingfieldTrust

British Robotics Seed Fund invests in Magpie Education

AI driven lesson planning and assessment tool secures £300,000 to encourage uptake of STEM subjects in the UK

Martlesham, 15 January 2018. Magpie Education, a firm that aims to inspire students in STEM subjects, through its engaging, cost-effective, AI driven resource tool, has secured seed investment from the British Robotics Seed Fund (BRSF).

The investment sees Magpie Education join a portfolio of UK firms in robotics related fields, from Zoa Robotics to Botskill and Tethered Drone Systems. Funding will be used to market and develop the tool for UK schools, and expand internationally, in the future.

Magpie Education launches in Spring 2018 with plans to grab a share of the UK EdTech market, which is expected to reach £3.4 billion by 2021 and is growing 22% year on year. UK EdTech companies are predicted to grow, on average, at 29% a year, over the next two years, based on 102 startups.[1]

Tackling low levels of interest in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), and the shortage of skilled teachers, Magpie Education provides a platform that incorporates lesson planning, curriculum mapped activities; tailored learning journeys and training (CPD), to deliver inspiring STEM lessons. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the tool helps teachers to accurately assess students’ progress to improve learning outcomes.

Laurence Ellis, CEO of Magpie Education commented: “We have piloted our tool in a number of schools in the UK, and have identified a strong requirement to ensure our children receive good quality STEM teaching. Through automated assessment and progress monitoring, we are using AI to a high level, with the platform predicting and recommending learning pathways for individual students with personalised content based on their progress.”

The simple to use resource tool enables teachers to cross over from other subject areas and teach Computer Science, which is crucial for primary schools with limited teaching resources. Pre-prepared cross-curricula lessons incorporate emerging technologies, such as robotics.

Dominic Keen, CEO of Britbots concluded: “To catch up with STEM teaching on a global scale, we need more tools like Magpie Education’s. We invested as the business has a proven model in a dynamic market, with a highly capable CEO and management team with deep experience in EdTech at the helm.

“The British robotics scene is diverse, and this EdTech start up is looking to shape the future of STEM teaching with a tool based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. With its help, we should see the UK’s pool of scientists, engineers and technologists grow as we compete to develop emerging technologies.”

Useful video about Magpie Education:

Over a million children to be gifted with free books

10th January 2018 – BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity reveals the two titles for this years Bookstart Baby and Bookstart Treasure packs.

David Melling’s adorable 123 Splosh has been chosen for the Bookstart Baby pack, whilst the bold and colourful Max the Brave by Ed Vere, has been selected for the Bookstart Treasure pack.

As part of the Bookstart Baby pack, 600,000 free copies are going to families with babies aged 0-12, who will get their very own 123 Splosh book (published by Hodder) to keep. The colourful rhyming story is a wonderfully funny introduction to numbers and counting for the very young and great to read aloud. The pack also includes rhyme sheets and a booklet filled with tips and ideas for sharing books and stories.

Both Bookstart packs are gifted by BookTrust though local councils via a network of health visitors and other professionals and are being sent out from this week to over 1.2 million young children and their families to help get them started on their reading journey.

David Melling, author of 123 Splosh said: “I’m delighted that 123 Splosh has been chosen as the Bookstart Baby read. It’s a wonderful feeling as an author, knowing that over 600,000 families will be given your book to enjoy together. BookTrust do invaluable work, encouraging a love of books at the earliest age, and I’m proud to be part of the programme.”

Meanwhile a further 600,000 free copies of Max the Brave books will go out to children aged 3-4 in their Bookstart Treasure pack which they’ll get from their nursery, children’s centre or early years setting. Bookstart Treasure builds on the impact of the Bookstart Baby programme and supports children and families to experience reading and its benefits at a young age. Max the Brave (published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK) is a colourful tale of a brave kitten who sets out to find a mouse to chase. Vivid, bright and bold, EYFS readers will thoroughly enjoy the story.  

Ed Vere, author and illustrator of Max the Brave said: “It’s an incredible honour for my book to be chosen for BookTrust Treasure from such a high-level field of so many amazing books. I can’t tell you how thrilled and delighted I am that so many children are going to get the opportunity to read Max the Brave!

I think it’s so important to put high quality, entertaining and fun books in front of not only children but the grownups who are going to read the books to them. If a grownup is bored reading to a child, that will transmit to the child and if parents know there are great books out there that are entertaining then children will grow up loving reading because it’s fun. I think that’s essential and it’s what reading is all about. Introducing books to children at an early age like this is exactly what we have to do. If we’re going to encourage children to read, which we must because it’s so important, then we have to do it with good books and I’m thrilled that Max is considered a good book. Thank you BookTrust.”

Bookstart, which celebrated its 25th year in 2017 is the world’s first national bookgifting programme, gifting children in England free books at two key ages before they start school, to help develop a love of stories and books.

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust said: “Starting a reading routine early sets young children up to continue reading and enjoying stories as they grow, to find new adventures to get lost in, to experience the simple joy that a story brings. Children who read for pleasure, or are read to from a young age are likely to do better at school, as well as being more socially, culturally and emotionally prepared for life.”

To find out more about each of the books and their authors, visit where Ed is reading Max the Brave and giving away an original illustration and later this month David will also showcase his illustration techniques and giving some advice and tips for budding young artists.


In an education landscape where restricted budgets remain the biggest challenge for UK schools, gaining maximum value from ICT spend is still a key priority for today’s ICT leaders.


Recent research conducted by RM Education into the external ICT support marketplace, which surveyed ICT leaders at over 300 maintained secondary schools across the UK, revealed some interesting insights into the way schools are managing their IT support services, both now and in the future.


RM’s research reflected that while average network team sizes currently comprise of around four or five internal network staff, there is an increasing expectation from ICT leaders that due to continued budgetary pressures, network team sizes will fall over the next two years.


The only exception to this trend is in schools that already have significant external support with their ICT provision, where it is expected that in some instances, network team sizes may actually increase.


However, less than a fifth of those surveyed reported using a fully managed service, and over two thirds of schools said they prefer a modular approach where they can select specific support options that best suit the unique needs of their school, its pedagogy and its chosen technologies.


Chris Burgess, Senior Product Manager at RM Education, says: “The prevalence of cloud technologies is making lives much easier for network teams; they no longer need to manage kit, install updates and, in most cases, fix servers, as this can all be done much more cost effectively through cloud technologies.


“Naturally, this has impacted on the amount of network staff required in a typical secondary school, so it’s unsurprising that most schools are expecting their network teams to shrink over the next few years. This trend is also being driven by BYOD implementation becoming increasingly widespread, coupled with things like enhanced system software deployments and data management implications such as the new GDPR requirements.


“However, while a smaller network team size can help alleviate some of these budgetary pressures, it can also decrease the capacity and knowledge held within an onsite team to deal with the volume and range of support queries they receive each day.”


Chris suggests that an external support service can fill this deficit and help schools to achieve their ICT needs by bringing in the knowledge and experience of a wide pool of external specialists, enabling existing network teams of any size to access support and freeing them up to focus on supporting teaching staff with classroom technologies.


“Network Managers are rightly starting to look at ways to reduce their workload and free up more of their time, so that they can reinvest those resources into making the most of technology in the school and staying on top of technology trends,” says Chris.


“This is an area which does need much greater focus, so while budgetary pressures are the main driver to an ICT support service, freeing up much-needed time to help develop teachers’ skills and give them more confidence with technology in the classroom is also becoming a priority.”


As this research has indicated, schools are increasingly seeking modular support, and their ICT leaders are therefore focussing on exploring flexible and scalable solutions that will best compliment their existing – albeit shrinking – network teams.


So what are the options for schools taking this approach? The first is an escalation support model where schools can select specific support or functions; this approach can be particularly beneficial where a network team is small and there is a clear gap in the technology knowledge required to perform a specific task, such as migration from Microsoft to Google.


If an additional level of support was required, schools could also explore pro-active remote services which are focussed on freeing up network teams by performing automated or standardised tasks such as system updates and security checks; tasks which are necessary, but often overlooked when network teams are busy firefighting more pressing issues.


Building on the pro-active service model, schools could also explore remote network management services, which can help them to stabilise their costs, widen their internal knowledge bank and, crucially, to transfer the risks associated with of day-to-day mishaps to the service provider.


The survey also asked ICT leaders what elements of ICT support were most beneficial to their school; the majority of respondents reported that the provision of unlimited usage, multiple platform coverage and expert technical knowledge were key.


Respondents also indicated that their school is most likely to use native tools from Microsoft and Google for identity and access management, while a significant proportion of respondents named RM Education as providing the highest levels of expertise in the provision of support.


“By conducting this latest research, we wanted to explore the current landscape of school IT and the issues that were most important to ICT leaders. The results reflect to us that in-depth technological expertise is a critical driver in selecting a support contract, while budgetary pressures continue to drive ICT leaders to explore options that could offer them much greater security and value for money,” says Chris.


“Conversely, we understand that schools are reluctant to be tied into a contract that isn’t specifically tailored to their needs. Therefore, we anticipate that modular support models which are flexible and scalable will begin to take on much more prevalence over the next 12 to 24 months.”


RM Education can provide schools with a range of hybrid support services on a single flexible contract, from running pro-active overnight checks on your school’s network to security audits, vulnerability scanning and SIMs support.


For more information on ICT support options, visit


Primary schools to win a portion of £50,000 for achieving maths mastery

Primary school maths mastery resource provider, Matific, has today launched its UK Maths Games competition for schools. The competition is now open to all schools across the UK, following a previous successful run in Australia and the US.


Online primary maths resource Matific, is designed around the national curriculum, using problem solving activities to achieve maths mastery.


Open for entries from today for all schools with students from reception to Year 6 students, the competition gives schools the chance to win more than £50,000 in cash and prizes, with the first prize being £1000 cash and £2000 worth of products. In addition to the school prize, participating classes have more than 20 chances to win prizes of up to £1000!


From 1 March, all registered schools can access the Matific math’s resource free of charge. The competition is based on collecting stars for each activity completed. The challenge is to finish with the highest average of the number of stars collected. First, second and third prizes are given for each year group from reception to Year 6.


For full prize details and to register for entry free of charge, teachers and schools should visit:

Over a quarter of UK parents have been put into financial difficulty by their child’s extracurricular activities

  • The average UK parent spends £237.52 per child per academic year on after-school activities
  • Almost a third of children take part in three or more extracurricular activities every week
  • Parents in Cardiff, Glasgow and London pay the most for extracurricular activities


After-school activities are a great way of furthering a child’s education, but many parents across the UK are feeling the financial strain because of them, new research has revealed.


According to a recent study by online personalised clothing retailer, Banana Moon Clothing, over a quarter (28%) of parents in the UK have been put into financial difficulty funding their child’s extracurricular activities, such as sport and music classes.


The study revealed that nearly a third of children (31%) take part in three or more extracurricular activities at school a week, with the average UK parent spending £237.32 a year funding them.


However, a fifth of parents spend more than £300 every academic year on their child’s after- school activities, with a further 10% spending more than £500.


A further fifth of parents (21%) rated their child’s extracurricular activities as poor value for money and almost half (44%) said that there’s too much pressure put on parents to fund these activities.


The top five cities that spend the most on after school activities per year are:


  • Cardiff (£398)
  • Glasgow (£337)
  • Oxford (£294)
  • London (£291)
  • Belfast (£286)


The region where children take part in the most extracurricular activities was London, with nearly one in five children (19%) attending five or more after-school activities every week.


After school activities were also the most expensive with children in school years 4-6, with parents of children in these age groups shelling out £260 per child per year.


Alex Grace, Managing Director at Banana Moon Clothing, said: “It’s encouraging to see that children are taking up to three extracurricular activities each week as it can really aid their personal development. However, it is understandable that some parents are struggling financially when there are so many classes available now for children to attend.


“Don’t be afraid to see if there’s any financial help available and where possible, look at ways you can save money on the associated costs, such as investing in quality pieces of uniform that will last, buying sports kits in bulk or purchasing second hand.”


To learn more on how to save money on your child’s after-school activities please visit: