Can earlier intervention help children deal with anger? – Words by Hayley Sherwood of 1 Decision

As we approach the season of goodwill, National Anger Awareness Week (1st-7th December) is well placed in the calendar to shine a light on anger as a social issue which needs to be brought out into the open and addressed effectively.

Last year the British Association of Anger Management created an innovative ‘Keep Your Cool Over Yule Kit’ for use by individuals, organisations, families, schools and other groups. It consisted of anger management activities, as well as tips on handling anger appropriately and calming strategies for diffusing difficult situations.

Whether it is in the Christmas period or at any other time of the year, we are often hijacked by our feelings and emotions. This can potentially cause a tremendous amount of damage, not least in schools and for children in the classroom or on the playground, so the purpose of Anger Awareness Week is to help people to deal effectively with this powerful emotion.

In my experience, anger awareness and anger management is all about early intervention and changing learned behaviour with regard to certain feelings and emotions. Many children do not recognise anger; they see it as a natural impulse.

Our 1decision videos on anger management equip primary school children with the knowledge and skills to manage this emotion. We look at how children feel in their body when they are angry and challenge them to respond appropriately rather than being aggressive or violent. It is also about saying that being angry is sometimes OK, but it is how we react that is key.

Through our feelings and emotions module we do lot of work on anger management techniques, including looking at mindfulness techniques. One practical exercise is breathing through the diaphragm and being in a relaxed and calm mind. If we can do all of this at an earlier stage of their development, children are less likely to be violent in secondary schools.

There is no doubt that children go through a lot of emotional stuff in the real and increasingly online worlds. We need to help them manage this so it does not become a greater mental health issue, which can lead to more drastic scenarios such as self-harming and worse if they do not manage their anger appropriately.

Hayley Sherwood is creator of 1decision, part of Headway learning resources

HART Prize for Human Rights: Inspiring young people to engage with human rights

Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) have announced the 2019 deadline for the HART Prize for Human Rights. The Prize includes two competitions, an essay and a creative competition, which encourage young people (aged 11 – 25) to examine and engage critically with human rights, focusing on the areas in which HART works.
It is a fantastic opportunity to inspire young people to learn about current global affairs, encourage them to undertake their own research and creative work and help raise awareness of overlooked human rights issues amongst their peers.
Students can enter one or both of the competitions, in one of the following age categories:
• Junior: Year 7 – 11
• Intermediate: Sixth Form
• Advanced: Aged 19 – 25
Top prizes include £250 cash (advanced), £50 vouchers (intermediate/junior), Tea in the House of Lords with Baroness Cox and work experience at the HART office. All entrants will be awarded a certificate to acknowledge their participation and achievement.
“We are always inspired by the commitment to Human Rights which the candidates demonstrate, coupled with compassion and outstanding talent. We are deeply encouraged to know that such inspirational young people will be available to promote justice and human rights our world in the years to come.” Baroness Cox, HART Founder and CEO
Students need to submit their work before 11:59pm on Monday 4th March via the HART Website. Prizes will be awarded at a prize-giving and exhibition evening in London on March 25th in London.
Teachers should visit or get in touch with Hannah Tice at for more information, lesson or homework ideas, posters and flyers.

About HART
HART works with persecuted communities who are deeply affected by conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. We focus on groups and issues which are under-represented in the international media and neglected by the international community. They are groups who are at the sharp end of global inequality and injustice, who are often denied access to power, opportunities and control over the issues affecting their lives.
Find out more:

University of Exeter team pioneers virtual field trips in 3D

Oliver Bartlett conducting PhD research in Greenland capturing data used in the InVEnTA project. Picture (c) Dr Steven Palmer

3D gaming technology is being used by a team from the University of Exeter to take students and researchers on virtual field trips to the Arctic Circle.
The Interactive Virtual Environments for Teaching and Assessment – InVEnTA – uses the latest advances in 3D imaging to take students and researchers to environments from the sunny climes of East Devon to the Arctic Circle and beyond.
So promising is the project that it has been nominated for an international award at the Reimagine Education Conference in San Francisco at the end of November.
The team behind InVEnTA is Dr Steven Palmer, Dr Damien Mansell and Dr Anne Le Brocq, who are all senior lecturers in physical geography in the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences. They are being supported by the University of Exeter Education Incubator.
Dr Palmer said: “Over the past year we’ve been looking into the practicality of using the latest 3D visualisation techniques, which will be very familiar to many computer gamers, to take students on virtual field trips almost anywhere in the world.
“Damien, Anne and I are all particularly interested in studying ice sheets and glaciers, so one of the first case studies we have been working on has been the Russell Glacier on the west of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
“We’ve used data collected by a fixed-wing drone during a 2017 research field trip to create an immersive environment to show how, from a computer anywhere in the world, lecturers can take students on a virtual field trip to the glacier.
“Instead of controlling weapons in a shoot-em-up game, students can control where they go in the virtual environment.
“It helps people visualise what is happening and understand the processes under way. This is also useful for scientific research as well as teaching.
“In one scenario, lecturers create a virtual environment which students then visit. In a second scenario, which provides a much more active learning experience, the tool is given to the student so they create the virtual environment themselves.
“This knowledge construction approach helps students develop new skills and allows them to demonstrate, through the environment they have created, what they have learnt.”
Data from a wide range of sources can be used to feed in to the software, including drones, kite-based photography and handheld cameras, as well as existing datasets familiar to geographers.
A more local case study has focused on the geography of a Devon beach and cliffs.
Dr Palmer added: “At the moment we are focusing on understanding the value of the tool in a university undergraduate teaching environment.
“The support from the Education Incubator has been invaluable. It provided initial funding for the first year which helped us get to this stage, and now its continuing support means we hope to be able to make further progress towards taking the tool into the classroom.
“We’re honoured to have been shortlisted in the ICT Tool for Learning and Teaching category at the Reimagine Education Conference – overall there were more than 1,150 projects submitted from around the world. The awards are supported by some of the biggest names in tech so it should provide a great opportunity to network and spread the word about the cutting-edge work being done here in Exeter.”
The University of Exeter Education Incubator seeks to nurture innovation and collaboration in teaching and learning. It supports academics from across the University by creating spaces in which they can explore and develop pedagogic innovations and ideas. It enables any University of Exeter academic to participate in networks of interested peers, providing access to expertise and examples of inspirational education practice.
To read more about the incubator please see

Ten-week literacy intervention in West Yorkshire boys’ school improves reading age by more than a year in 80% of Year 8 pupils


Head teacher at Upper Batley High School Samantha Vickers explains how Supply Desk’s reading intervention programme ‘Love to Read’ improved pupils’ reading age across the school, which has a high proportion of English as an additional language (EAL) and special educational needs (SEN) students.
About the school
Upper Batley High School (UBHS) in Batley, West Yorkshire is a secondary school catering for boys aged between 11 and 16. Of 674 pupils on the roll, 90% come from ethnic minority groups (the national average is 28%) and for 61%, English is an additional language. 33% of pupils receive free school meals – 5% higher than the national average. UBHS also has a high intake of lower ability learners (based on reading, writing and mathematical ability) at 30% – the national average is 10-16%. The school has a low proportion of high ability learners at approximately 20%, which is half the national average of 40%. The proportion of SEND pupils is 34%, against the national average of 28%.
In 2014, UBHS was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted but has improved rapidly over the past three years, achieving a ‘Good’ rating in its 2016 Ofsted inspection. Attendance has improved considerably, and is now in line with the national average; persistent absence and exclusion have decreased and GCSE and literacy outcomes have improved. Additionally, enrolment of high achieving pupils has increased over the last three years, from 481 to 676.
The challenge
Despite significant improvements in literacy outcomes throughout the school since 2014, increasing reading comprehension continues to be a key focus for UBHS, with particular attention on our large ethnic minority and EAL population.
For many of these pupils, English is not the spoken language at home and their access to English reading material outside of school is limited. Typically, a child’s reading age improves through parents reading bedtime stories but in our community this is less common.
For pupils to access and comprehend their GCSE papers in Year 11, a reading age of 15 years and six months is required – currently the majority of our pupils are well below this level. It is imperative that we support UBHS pupils, especially those in the years preceding GCSEs, in increasing their literacy skills. With improved confidence in accessing and understanding exam papers, they are better placed for success across all subject areas.
The solution
Supply Desk, one of the UK’s leading education recruitment specialists, contacted us about ‘Love to Read’ – a reading intervention pilot running in schools across West Yorkshire – and we agreed to participate. The intervention is driven by the shocking statistic that approximately 1 in 5 (20%) of school-aged children are unable to read and is designed to boost pupil reading ages by up to two years in 10 weeks.
The 10-week intervention ran at UBHS from January 2018 to June 2018 and consisted of pupils undertaking two 20-minute, or one 50-minute, one-to-one reading sessions per week with a teaching assistant trained in Love to Read, provided by Supply Desk. The programme was a book-based approach which supported our pupils with their literacy, enabling them to activate both dimensions of reading – word recognition processes (including phonics) and language comprehension processes. Students were also encouraged to read at home between sessions and an after school reading club was opened and supported by the Love to Read teaching assistant.
28 pupils, from Years 7 to 10, participated in the reading intervention.

• 8 pupils were mainstream
• 5 had an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
• 4 pupils were EAL
• 4 had Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)
• 3 had MLD and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH)
• 2 had SEMH
• 1 had dyslexia
• 1 had an attention deficit disorder/autism spectrum disorder (ADHD/ASD)

Key results
The results were incredible – the impact of the reading intervention was widespread across the participant group with some of the boys increasing their reading age by two years in the space of a term. 80% of our Year 8 pupils improved their reading age by more than a year, with one pupil progressing by over three years in the 10 weeks.

Year 7 results:
• 69% made an average increase of 7.6 months over the 10 weeks
• The most significant rise was 18 months – the pupil progressed from a reading age of 14.01 to 15.07
• The second greatest improvement overall was a Year 7 pupil with MLD who improved by 14 months – from a reading age of 7.04 to 8.06
Year 8 results:
• 80% made an average increase of 14 months
• The highest improvement was 3.5 years – with the pupil moving from a reading age of 6.09 to 10.03

Year 9 results:
• For 50% of the Year 9 participants, the average increase was four months.
One of the most important outcomes of the programme was the high level of engagement and intrinsic motivation shown by our pupils – they really enjoyed working with the Love to Read teaching assistant. He was great at improving their comprehension and vocabulary by ensuring new words were practised in sentences throughout the week. Parents were also engaged in their children’s literacy journey and the triangulation between school, the pupils and their parents ensured encouragement, support and praise from all sides.

All of the pupils who took part in the Love to Read programme substantially increased their reading age – the project was a great success both quantitatively and qualitatively. The intervention boosted our pupils’ confidence and self-esteem. They enjoyed the consistent support and loved seeing the progress they were making on a daily basis. The headline results of the programme were astounding and the pupils who participated in the intervention have kept reading. We now have a school-wide reading culture, evidenced by pupils increasingly reading in their own time as well as in lessons.
Perhaps the greatest benefit was observed among our EAL pupils – the programme increased their access to English reading material and the one-to-one support they received, particularly around new vocabulary, greatly improved their confidence and empowered them to read in English.
We aim to continue the intervention and encourage our pupils to keep engaging in reading – it is reading little and often that makes the biggest difference for our pupils. We are expanding the project this year to include more parental involvement as this ensures the development is sustainable. We would definitely recommend the Love to Read intervention to other schools.

Screening, suicide and support while on waiting lists: the questions children and young people want answered about their mental health

The McPin Foundation, the mental health research charity, today reveals the Top 10 most important, unanswered questions about children and young people’s mental health at a launch event in Parliament.
The Right People, Right Questions project set out to identify gaps in research on children and young people’s mental health, as identified by children and young people, parents, teachers, mental health and social work professionals, and researchers. The output is a list of the Top 10 most important questions not conclusively answered by research.
The hope is that this list will be used by researchers, funders and policymakers to shape research on young people’s mental health over the next three years. This will ensure that resources are used to address topics that matter most to those most readily affected by lack of treatment solutions and poor service delivery.
Childhood and adolescence are crucial times when it comes to people’s mental health. We know that most adults supported by mental health services had problems that emerged in childhood1. This is commonly reported as half of all mental health difficulties manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 242. Last week, it was revealed that 1 in 8 people aged between five and 19 had a diagnosable mental health difficulty in England in 2017. For young women aged 17 to 19 the rate was 1 in 4, with over 50% who identified as having a mental health problem also reporting to have self-harmed or made a suicide attempt.
Despite this situation, young people’s mental health is under-researched. There is a lot that we simply don’t know. The Top 10 are a to-do list for researchers, compiled by people who would not only be impacted by research on this topic but who would also be the participants of any research. Involving them right at the beginning, when the priorities for future research are decided, increases the chance the findings will have real world relevance and can lead to meaningful positive change. We believe it is the first time such a list has been compiled on this topic in this way, following a standard process developed by the James Lind Alliance.
The starting point of the list was a public survey that attracted over 5500 responses from over 2500 people, including many young people, parents and teachers. These questions were categorised into themes, with the largest being questions about mental health interventions and services. Focusing on this theme, the team grouped similar questions together under a single overarching question. Working with independent information specialists, the team checked to see whether these questions had been adequately answered by existing research.
This left 91 unanswered questions. A second public survey, taken by 753 people, was used to prioritise these questions. The 25 questions that were rated the most important were taken to a workshop. Attendees discussed and prioritised the questions, coming up with the Top 10 questions, within the theme of interventions and services, for children and young people’s mental health.
As well as generating the most important priorities for research, the project revealed just how poor we are at getting good information about mental health into the hands of the people who need it. Of the questions submitted by the public, over half of the ones we looked into had already been adequately answered by research. People just didn’t know about it. We think this needs to change as well.
The next step is to get answers to the questions and use them to shape policy and practice. The McPin Foundation calls on research funders to fund research that addresses these priorities, and researchers to develop studies that answer the questions and include young people in the design and delivery of their research. Policymakers need to use the answers to formulate policy that leads to meaningful change.
“The starting point of the Top 10 was a public survey that attracted responses from a diverse range of people. This means the priorities can be seen as an insight into the nation’s psyche when it comes to the state of our children’s mental health. In other words, the list captures a snapshot of what we are anxious about. It is no surprise to see questions about suicide, the role of schools and the impact of parenting as all have a significant impact on children, families, communities and our society”. Vanessa Pinfold, Co-founder and Research Director at McPin
“Checking the existing science, it was interesting to see where the evidence holes were and how this matches up with public policy. For example, there is a lot of talk about screening and ‘wellbeing assessments’ in schools right now, with plenty of it assuming that it is a good thing. As question 1 shows, whether screening should be done in the first place and what the best way would be to do it, is still very much an open question. There is potential for harm if it is not done well. Another interesting area was the desire for support while people are on waiting lists (question 5). We discovered that although there is evidence on the size of the waiting lists and research on what can be done to minimise them, there is very little on how to support people while they are waiting. It is almost like a taboo to acknowledge that waiting lists exist, which results in no funding to find out what could help people while they wait for an assessment or treatment to start”. Thomas Kabir, Project Lead for Right People, Right Questions at McPin
“One of the messages to take away from Right People, Right Questions is the importance of involving young people in research. We can’t possibly make discoveries that have real impact without listening to, and collaborating with, the people who will be affected by the research. Throughout Right People, Right Questions, young people have been involved at every stage, from choosing the name to developing the surveys, to analysis and dissemination. Their input has made a real difference, which is what meaningful involvement is all about.” Rachel Temple, Young People’s Coordinator at McPin

“We were pleased to be a funding partner in this work, supporting our commitment to research on children and young people’s mental health. We continue to fund PhDs in this area and have seen an increase in both the number and quality of applications in recent years. The Top 10 will be useful to us as we consider which children and young people’s scholarship to award in 2019”. Clair Chilvers, Mental Health Research UK
You can view the Top 10 questions on the McPin Foundation website at

Six in ten Education workers feel lonely

– British Red Cross releases new research on the extent of loneliness in the UK –

Six in ten people (60%) working in the Education sector feel always, often or sometimes lonely according to new research released by the British Red Cross. (1)

The Red Cross polled over 4,000 UK adults and found that three in ten (30%) people working in Education don’t have colleagues they feel close to or can talk to about it.

The findings of the research suggest a lack of meaningful social connections could be contributing to people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation as in the Education sector:
• Over a third (36%) of people say they often feel alone, like they have no one to turn to
• Well over two fifths (45%) of those who do have people they feel close to or can rely on say those people live far away from them
• 14% don’t have friends they feel close to or can talk to

Last year the British Red Cross supported over 291,600 people in crisis across the UK giving them someone they could turn to in their hour of need. The charity is calling on everyone to show their kindness this winter, by helping the Red Cross continue supporting those most in need so they don’t feel alone.

The survey also found that of those in the Education sector who felt lonely:

• Almost six in ten (59%) said their loneliness is having a negative impact on their life, and 56% worry their loneliness will get worse
• Over two thirds (67%) often feel completely alone when surrounded by people
• Over a quarter (27%) of people said they have no strategies for coping with their loneliness

The British Red Cross is there every day for people, providing services across the UK for those who are alone and isolated, helping them connect with their communities.

Whether that’s providing dedicated support and companionship to vulnerable people at home; lending a wheelchair so people are able to get around following a health crisis; supporting refugees to become valued members of their community; reuniting families that have been displaced; or inviting people to join us in building kinder, more connected communities across the UK – the Red Cross is there.

The British Red Cross also co-chairs the Loneliness Action Group in partnership with the Co-op – a coalition of charities, business, public sector leaders and government who together are working to tackle loneliness in our communities and continue the work of the Jo Cox Commission.

Zoë Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross said: “Loneliness and social isolation doesn’t discriminate. Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background.

“We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful, human connections. This will be concerning for all of us to hear, no matter where we live in the UK, or with whom.

“Every one of us would want someone to reach out to us if we found ourselves all alone. People who need our help may be closer than we think, and could feel much more connected if we offer them our kindness.

“The British Red Cross is there every day, helping people connect with their communities. A donation this winter could help ensure we continue this vital work supporting those most vulnerable.”

Text KINDNESS to 70141 and donate £5 to help make sure support is there for those who need it most.



People throughout Wales have until Friday 30th of November to nominate outstanding teachers and Youth workers working in schools all over Wales for the Professional Teaching Awards Cymru 2019, and with a new category being introduced this year, there are even more opportunities to celebrate the very best in Welsh education.

Nominations for the awards are already flooding in, but with two weeks still to go until the closing date, The Welsh Government’s Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, is urging everyone to nominate their education heroes to ensure that excellent education professionals receive the recognition they deserve.

Categories for awards this year include Teacher and Headteacher of the Year, Best use of Digital Learning, Inspirational use of the Welsh Language and Promoting Wellbeing, Inclusion and Relationships with the Community.

For the new Youth Work in Schools category, judges will be looking for those who have shown real commitment to improving the standards of youth work in schools, excellent leadership skills, and a drive for personal and professional development.

Dylan Lewis, Best Use of Digital winner 2018, Pontarddulais Comprehensive said: “Coming back to the school was amazing, it was lovely to have pupils and parents congratulating me on my achievements. Since winning the award, I have been invited to take part in discussions on the future direction of digital technologies both in the school and within our cluster schools.

“It is vital that in the teaching profession teachers are acknowledged when they go above and beyond. We are in a profession that has the ability to inspire the next generation of designers, developers and creators.”

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams said: “We’ve already received so many fantastic nominations from across Wales for this year’s awards, however I want to spread the message far and wide so we can celebrate all the very best that education in Wales has to offer.

“I’m also delighted that this year’s awards will include the Youth Work in Schools category. Youth work plays a crucial role in supporting so many young people throughout Wales, helping them gain confidence and competence to ensure they fulfil their full potential. The award allows us to recognise the big impact their hard work has on the broader educational system.

“If you know someone that goes above and beyond the call of duty to support the education of young people across Wales, be it a member of support staff, a teacher or a headteacher that is making big steps for your school, please take the time to nominate them and help us celebrate the greatest of Wales education professionals.”

To nominate a teaching professional doing great work in your area, visit: Nominations close 30 November 2018.

Join the conversation with #TeachingAwardsCymru

The Professional Teaching Awards Cymru 2018 categories:
NEW Youth Work in Schools
Supporting Teachers and Learners
School Business Manager/Bursar
Promoting Collaboration to Improve Learning Opportunities
Promoting Wellbeing, Inclusion and Relationships with the Community
Teacher of the Year
Headteacher of the Year
Outstanding New Teacher
Best use of Digital Learning
Inspirational use of the Welsh Language

Ofsted and the college curriculum: AoC responds

In her speech at the Association of Colleges Annual Conference and Exhibition today, Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said that colleges must do more to help college students reach their potential. In response, Kirsti Lord, Deputy Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
“One in three students leaves school with less than 5 GCSEs, so supporting people to achieve at level two is one of the most important things we as a country can do. For a strong economy and vibrant communities, it’s vital that everybody is given the opportunity to access high quality skills and training to get on in life.
“It is right for the Chief Inspector to challenge colleges to ensure a strong level two offer – and colleges challenge themselves every day – but it is also time for government to act.
“Colleges have experienced a decade of constant cuts and endless reforms, including a GCSE maths and English re-sits policy that does not address the root causes of issues or allow colleges to tailor their support so that they can help every student to achieve.
“If government are serious about supporting people into study and into work then they need to invest in the institutions and people that can make that happen.”

Tackling the epidemic of cyberbullying needs a coordinated response


This week, the Anti-Bullying Alliance is running 2018’s Anti-Bullying Week – a timely reminder that, despite our best efforts, bullying remains a serious problem for many schools, children and parents. Bullying is a major factor behind the growing mental health crisis in schools – one in three 13-15 year olds are suffering from a mental health problem according to a recent survey by charity Action for Children. It’s also linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts in young people, as well as a higher risk of substance abuse and alcohol problems in later life.

Although government research has found that in-person bullying within schools has lessened over the last decade overall – most likely thanks to increasing awareness of the seriousness of bullying and a no-tolerance policy in schools – bullying is increasingly migrating to online channels, primarily through the social media platforms that have become a central part of young people’s lives. The figures are alarming. In the UK, incidents of cyberbullying have grown 37% year-on-year according to a report from internet safety company Smoothwall, and one recent study by international anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label found that 17% of British children have been victims. Elsewhere in the world, the picture is very similar, with a new Pew Research Center survey finding that 59% of U.S. teens have personally experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behaviours. The US-based Cyberbullying Research Center furthermore says that the number experiencing cyberbullying has doubled since 2007.

While in-person bullying can often be effectively tackled within school premises and primarily involves students, schools and parents, cyberbullying is more pervasive and comes in more forms. Victims can be targeted anywhere, at any time, and can feel like there’s no escape from the abuse. Cyberbullying therefore presents a different challenge to in-person bullying – one that requires coordination from stakeholders across not only education, but also wider society as a whole. Tech giants such Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – whose platforms play host to the majority of cyberbullying – are now central figures in the debate. Just as UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds recently called on large tech companies to do more to drive a technological revolution in education, so to do they need to take more responsibility for the products that they produce for young people and help protect their users.

That’s not to say they are ignoring the problem. Facebook operates a bullying support hub where users can block people and report content that is then taken down if it violates Facebook’s Community Standards by intentionally degrading or shaming. Both Facebook and Instagram also use artificial intelligence to identify abusive language, and Facebook has also committed to funding anti-bullying training in schools. Nevertheless, the Ditch the Label survey found that 70% of teenagers questioned thought that social media companies do too little to prevent bullying, and both non-profits such as the NSPCC, teachers, parents, even the UK government, believe they can do more.

The issue of cyberbullying isn’t so far removed from the complex debates currently raging around hate speech and free speech, trolling and fake news on the social media sites we use. For example, the Canadian province of Nova Scotia recently introduced an anti-cyberbullying bill after a high-profile teenage suicide, but the law was later removed by the courts for violating free speech, demonstrating the difficulty in using legislation to curb the problem. We’re still grappling with our relationship to the new hyper-connected communication media available to us, and what it means to use these responsibly. This ability to use technology and media in safe, responsible and effective ways – often termed digital citizenship – is a vital competency for the 21st century, though we’re still some way from seeing the topic introduced into national curricula around the world. So far, non-profits are taking up the task. Common Sense Education, for example, offers a free K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum that has cyberbullying as one of six core curriculum topics, with over 500,000 teachers now using this resource worldwide. Meanwhile, The DQ Institute, an international think tank that provides solutions and policy recommendations to help nations build ethical digital ecosystems, have created a Digital Intelligence Quotient, or DQ number. Derived from eight core digital citizenship competencies – digital safety and cyberbullying management being one of them – the DQ number aims to set an international standard of digital citizenship, and I believe this level of global integration and awareness is needed if cyberbullying is to be tackled effectively.

Both teachers and parents share the same concerns about online safety. This year, a back-to-school campaign launched by UK non-profit Internet Matters revealed that 73% of Year 7 parents were anxious about their child’s ability to manage online relationships, and 80% were concerned about cyberbullying. But schools and teachers often feel ill-equipped to deal with the problem: the Smoothwall study found that 62% of teachers do not believe they are fully supported to tackle the issue, and 84% believe the government should be doing more to help train them. Tech companies once again shouldered much of the blame; 77% of teachers do not believe that they are doing enough to protect young people.

Clearly, there’s no easy answer to the growing problem of cyberbullying, the responsibility for tackling the problem falls on many shoulders. Certainly, banning social media or certain apps doesn’t work – that would be like trying to put the genie back into the bottle. Besides, social media and the internet offer extraordinary opportunities that young people should feel confident to be able to use at any time without the threat of abuse. Instead, we need a coordinated response from those across education, government and industry. Tech companies should be looking to collectively commit to tackling the problem, agree on industry standards of what constitutes abusive content, as well as provide a single source of information for users on how to address it. We need to advance the digital citizenship agenda so that both adults and children learn the digital skills necessary to navigate internet safely. As part of this,
the government must listen to schools and teachers who call for more training and resources on how to teach students to be more responsible digital citizens, as well as consider introducing more online safety related material into the curriculum.

But for any measures to be effective, different stakeholders mustn’t just point fingers of blame but rather approach the problem of cyberbullying from the same angle. Parents, educators, governments, tech companies, and of course students themselves must reach a common understanding. It’s a challenging project, and the only way forward is to foster communication and cooperation between groups who may not ordinarily find themselves talking to each other. At the Tmrw Institute – a new organisation from Tmrw Digital that curates conversations between the varied stakeholders in the EdTech industry – we have this cooperative outlook at our core. Maybe the growing problem of cyberbullying is where this approach will yield the greatest results.

Vikas Pota is Group Chief Executive of Tmrw Digital

Options Trent Acres school celebrates Outstanding Ofsted

An Options Trent Acres student learning.

Options Trent Acres, Kings Bromley, Staffordshire, a special independent school for boys and girls aged 8-18 with autism and a range of complex needs, including mild learning disability, is celebrating having been officially declared ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. The school, run by Options Autism is part of the Outcomes First Group.
Inspectors commended the school, stating that Options Trent Acres “provides a rich and rewarding educational experience for all pupils”.

Headteacher Melanie Callaghan-Lewis

Headteacher Melanie Callaghan-Lewis was praised for being “an inspirational leader who has the highest aspirations for pupils”. The Ofsted Inspectors went on to say that, “the…strong and determined leadership has created an incredibly positive learning culture, centred on pupils experiencing success and achieving their potential”.

The report also highlighted the commitment of other school staff, noting that they are: “relentless and successful in their drive to improve the life chances for all pupils”, adding: “all staff buy into the school’s ethos of being fully inclusive and a safe place where…pupils are supported to overcome their, often immense, barriers to learning”.

Other factors in the school’s success included a wide-ranging, exciting curriculum that is highly effective in supporting the development of a broad range of skills and building students’ self-esteem, with pupils studying a variety of subjects, such as music, art and geography. Additionally, Trent Acres pupils develop their vocational skills through, subjects such as equine studies and animal care. The curriculum is supplemented by after-school activities, including horse-riding, textiles and homework clubs.
Concluding, Inspectors said: “staff have a detailed knowledge of pupils’ needs. They use this information to devise individual programmes of work that enable pupils to develop socially, emotionally and academically” and “teachers work in close partnership with other professionals from health and social care to provide pupils with an exceptional quality of guidance and support”.
Melanie Callaghan-Lewis commented, “I am delighted to see that the hard work and dedication of our staff has resulted in this excellent result. We are extremely proud that Options Trent Acres is recognised as an ‘Outstanding’ school and we look forward to continuing to provide a great educational experience for our pupils.”
Options Trent Acres will be open to the public on 14 December, from 9am-1pm, with tours of the facilities, coffee and cake and meet-and-greets with the head girl and boy throughout the day. The opening day will provide those interested in alternative schooling, including parents and commissioners, with an opportunity to discover the education environment and full breadth of experiences offered to pupils at Trent Acres.
For more information on Options Trent Acres, visit