Sony launches first Artificial-Intelligence-based video analytics solution

Basingstoke, UK, 30th January 2019: Sony has today announced its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) based Edge Analytics solution, the REA-C1000, which allows users to create video content in real time, without the need for specialist training or additional staff or equipment.

The compact and lightweight REA-C1000 uses its advanced AI-based video analytics technology to analyse the input it receives from connected cameras and automatically extract the object in focus to combine it with other images in real time on a GPU (Graphics Processor Unit). This unique technology using motion/face detection and colour/shape recognition, effectively makes the REA-C1000 the powerful brain of any connected camera and AV setup, allowing education, government and corporate organisations to cost-effectively create professional content that keeps audiences engaged.

“Video content has become a key method of communication in many organisations including education, government and corporate environments, and the demand for solutions that create high quality content, offer a hassle-free shooting experience, and help distribute content quickly is rapidly increasing,” explained Kenji Izu, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Professional. “At Sony, we want to provide organisations on a limited budget with cost-effective, yet powerful solutions that allow them to easily create professional and engaging video content. The REA-C1000 is yet another example of Sony working with our AV partners in corporate, education and government organisations to create solutions together that help solve the real-life technology and budget challenges of our customers.”

The REA-C1000, available in Spring 2019, comes with the following five optional features: handwriting extraction and presenter overlay, chroma key-less CG overlay, automatic control of output images such as PTZ auto tracking, focus area cropping and close-up by gesture.

Handwriting Extraction and Presenter Overlay: By optimising parameters and processing the images received from the camera, the REA-C1000 can extract hand-written objects from black and white boards using Sony’s unique moving/unmoving object detection algorithm. This allows audiences to clearly see written content and diagrams, while simultaneously being able to see the gestures and expressions of the presenter. This function of the REA-C1000 is particularly well-suited for lecture theatres or remote learning to keep students engaged, even if they aren’t physically in the same room as their teacher. Also, it helps all members of an audience to engage in a live presentation, in a large hall requiring sub monitors.
Chroma key-less CG overlay: Based on Sony’s motion detection technology, the REA-C1000’s chroma key-less function can extract the presenter and overlay them onto any background without the need for a dedicated backscreen or specialist training. This offers a simple, cost-effective chroma key solution to make content like corporates videos, interviews, webinars and e-learning materials much more appealing and engaging. This feature will be made available through a future software update later in 2019.
PTZ Auto Tracking: The REA-C1000 can accurately and smoothly track a presenter, ensuring they constantly stay in frame and in focus throughout their presentation. This feature offers users a cost-effective tracking solution in an education, corporate or conference setting, without having to invest in a camera operator.
Focus Area Cropping: Using this feature, image from one camera can be simultaneously shown as two different output images. The users are able to get an overview image in 4K and a cropped image in HD. The cropped area is selectable to be static or dynamic to follow the speaker’s movement. This feature will be made available through a future software update later in 2019.
• Close-up by Gesture: The REA-C1000 can detect and react to the gestures of audience members, allowing it to show both the whole image and zoomed image in real time. When an audience member stands up, the REA-C1000 can trigger the camera to electronically auto-zoom in to that person, which is particularly useful in education environments to measure students’ reaction and in corporate presentation settings such as during a Q&A session.

After an initial 60 day free-of-charge trial period, each feature can be activated permanently through separate licences, providing users with the freedom to customise features based on their individual needs and budget.

Leveraging Sony’s know-how of image quality and their heritage in camera development, the REA-C1000 will support 4K/HD input and output, and will be able to connect directly to Sony’s PTZ cameras, including its range of XDCAM camcorders, which boast outstanding image quality and are widely used within the broadcast industry. Additionally, thanks to its HDMI network connection, the REA-C1000 can be seamlessly integrated into various common AV setups involving either multiple displays, large screen projections with monitors, or even live-streaming projects.

Visitors to ISE 2019 will be able to experience an interactive demonstration of the REA-C1000 on Sony’s stand 1.N20 at RAI Amsterdam.

Scotland’s ‘Fintech Skills Academy’ pilot hailed a success

The pilot of Scotland’s new Fintech Skills Academy initiative, announced in September last year, has been hailed as a success. An ‘Introduction to the Retail Card Payments Business’, run in a collaboration between Dunfermline payment specialist Renovite Technologies and Fife College, concluded on Friday.

Participants with varying levels of experience, from trainees through to seasoned software developers, took part in the course. Its objective was to provide a solid foundation in retail card payments which could then be applied directly to a work environment.

Jim Tomaney, chief operating officer at Renovite Technologies said:

“It is fantastic to see the fintech and education community coming together to promote STEM skills development and pre-empt the potential for a skills gap emerging. After all, demand for people with the right skills is only going to increase as Scotland’s international reputation for fintech excellence grows. I hope organisations and individuals with an interest in working in the sector continue to support and take part in the initiative and help build on its success.”

Stephen Ingledew, chief executive of FinTech Scotland, said:

“The Fintech Skills Academy in Fife is a great example of an ecosystem coming together to address a sector issue. We’re proud to have been part of this initiative alongside Fintech firms, established businesses and the teams at Fife College and Fife council. We believe it will bring more inclusion to the fintech sector by bringing more young people to consider fintech as a career but also allowing experienced professionals learn new skills and stay relevant to the industry’s rapid transformation.”

The Fintech Skills Academy syllabus is aimed at both young people about to enter work for the first time and adults with a background in IT wishing to upskill or retrain specifically for employment in financial technology environments.

Sharon Burns, Curriculum Manager at Fife College said:

“We are delighted to be working closely with local businesses who are leading the way in fintech and payments technologies. At Fife College, we are committed to providing a high level of training to ensure businesses have the cutting-edge skills they need to drive their businesses forward. We recognise it is vital for Fife College to develop close relationships with industry to inform our curriculum and prepare our students for the skills required in the workplace. Fife College is committed to being a leading provider of computing and technology skills.”

The skills academy is being driven by a consortium of International Fintech companies, Fife Council, Fife College – representatives of Opportunities Fife – and Fintech Scotland. Its overarching objective is to provide a steady flow of highly qualified applicants for the growing number of specialist roles in Fintech in the region and to avoid the potential of a skill gap developing.

Matt Kennedy, solutions development manager at Ingenico commented:

“The Introduction to Retail Cards Payment business course is a fantastic learning opportunity for those looking to get involved with the growing Payments industry in Fife. As one of the largest employers in the area, Ingenico is delighted to support this initiative. As well as providing direction for the Fintech Skills Academy, we have also enrolled several employees on its first course. The knowledge gained will complement the existing skills of our employees and equip them to continue delivering for our customers.”

Bridgend schools’ pilot innovative legal services scheme

Fifty-six of Bridgend County Borough’s 59 schools have signed up to a new collaborative way of accessing legal services, the first of its kind for the education sector in Wales.

As part of the group, Bridgend schools will have access to a dedicated, single legal provider – Cardiff-based firm Capital Law – which will assist the schools with any legal challenges they may face.

By providing a legal services hotline to the schools, as well as collating and sharing legal updates and responses to any questions asked, Capital Law will be able to distribute legal advice on a range of topics to all schools that are signed up to the scheme.

Bridgend schools can benefit from any advice that the others request and receive. If one school needs legal advice on its teacher contracts, or on building a new site, for example, Capital Law will respond to that, and then go on to share that advice among all the other schools in the group.

Because Capital has a dedicated education law team that specialises in working with schools, as well as further and higher education institutes, its advice will cover the whole range of legal services that education organisations need to keep running. This will include advice on employment law, like contracts, grievances, disciplinaries, and immigration; real estate transactions, like buying or selling any school land; regulatory and public law, including data protection and GDPR; and commercial disputes.

Capital Law will also work behind the scenes to identify common themes and questions among the schools – on topics like GDPR, data protection, or handling grievances – and develop bespoke training sessions that all schools will be able to attend.

Helen Rowland, Associate at Capital Law, said, ‘We are looking forward to working with Bridgend schools not only on the challenges they currently face but pre-empting future challenges and preparing them for what they may face in a constantly evolving environment’.

Lindsay Harvey, Corporate Director of Education and Family Support for Bridgend County Borough Council, said, ‘This is a really exciting new model – and it’s fantastic that, as a Wales-first, it’s taking place in Bridgend. We’ve got some brilliant schools in the area, and to be able to group together and access legal services in such an innovative way will be transformative for Bridgend County Borough schools.’

For more information on Capital Law visit

Stronger Than Hate: USC Shoah Foundation & Discovery Education Launch Anti-Hate Video Challenge in UK Secondary Schools


Secondary schools across the UK are being encouraged to take part in a new challenge, inspired by the testimonies of Holocaust and genocide survivors, to empower pupils to make a difference in their own communities.

Launched by USC Shoah Foundation in partnership with Discovery Education, the Stronger Than Hate Challenge inspires pupils to take positive local action against prejudice and to capture their work in a short film. Introduced in the US and Canada in 2013, the high-profile challenge is being launched in the UK for the first time, along with new classroom resources to help teachers and pupils recognise and counter hate and discrimination.

Founded after the making of Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, USC Shoah Foundation collects audio visual testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocides around the world, preserving their stories for future generations. Students taking part in Stronger Than Hate Challenge will listen to these testimonies and be inspired to do something positive to effect change in their own communities, capturing their journey in a short video essay that shares their message with the world. Last year’s winning entry was a project to raise awareness of the struggles faced by immigrant families in Chicago, Illinois.

The Stronger Than Hate Challenge is part of a larger educational initiative, Teaching with Testimony, which is comprised of series of resources and videos that empower students to employ empathy, build critical-thinking skills, and become inspired to create a brighter future after listening to first-hand accounts from survivors and witnesses of genocide. Program resources are available at no cost at Discovery Education has also collaborated with USC Shoah Foundation to produce special age-appropriate resources for younger children. These are available to primary schools through Discovery Education Espresso – an award-winning, cross curricular digital learning service for teachers and pupils supporting the delivery of the National Curriculum and the successful integration of digital media into teaching and learning.

Open to UK secondary school pupils age 13-18, the Stronger Than Hate Challenge runs from 14th January to 6th May 2019, with a total prize fund of up to £12,500, including school grants totalling over £6,500 and iPads.

Claudia Wiedeman, USC Shoah Foundation Director of Education said:

“Every year, USC Shoah Foundation continues to advance the mission of engaging students in themes around discrimination, genocide and identity to help young people build the necessary skills to counter hate. By expanding our partnership with Discovery Education and connecting students with real testimonies, we are able to inspire communities of leaders to act in positive and meaningful ways.”

Hazel Carter, Discovery Education UK’s Marketing Director said:

“We are proud to support USC Shoah Foundation, and to bring the Stronger Than Hate Challenge to UK schools for the very first time. We hope that it will enable students to explore challenging topics with their peers, using their voices to stand against all forms of discrimination and intolerance, while working for positive change in their own communities.”

As USC Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg has said, “We show the power of random acts of kindness because the best way to teach empathy is by using the power of example.”

The Stronger Than Hate Challenge UK winners will be announced in June 2019. First prize is a £5,000 grant, awarded to the winning school to help teachers implement positive change. £1,000 and £500 grants will be similarly presented to the second and third place schools. iPads are also on offer for up to four pupils on each winning team.

Schools should visit to enter.

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital content and professional development services, visit


The Cool Initiatives Education Challenge 2019 – launched to meet three challenges for technology identified by Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education


£17,500 up for grabs by students, teachers and start ups with edtech ideas that could change the way we teach and learn in schools

Are you a bright spark with a brilliant educational technology idea that could change the way we teach and learn in schools and drive up educational outcomes? If so Cool Initiatives wants to hear from you! Cool Initiatives, premier early stage investor in education and edtech, has just launched The Cool Initiatives Education Challenge 2019 . It’s giving away a total of £17,500 – no financial strings attached – to students, teachers or early stage start ups that offer an innovative edtech solution to change the face of education as we know it today.
The top prize of £10,000 will be awarded to the winner, £5,000 to the runner up, £500 to each of the four finalists and £500 to the winner of The People’s Choice category. Entry is super simple – all you need to do is provide on line your responses to a series of questions and submit a short two-minute video pitch. The deadline for entries is Friday 8th March.
The sift judges are looking for an edtech solution aimed at servicing early years to secondary education that addresses one or more of the following three challenges for technology identified by Damien Hinds, Secretary of State Education, in August 2018:
• Teaching practices to support access, inclusion, and improved learning outcomes for all;
• Assessment processes to become more effective and efficient;
• Administration processes to reduce the burden of ‘non-teaching’ tasks.
Rolled out nationwide, the competition is open to entrants who just have an idea, those who may be in full/part time work, those who have already started their own business, and early stage start ups that are sole traders, a limited company or a partnership with no external equity-based finance.

The shortlist will be announced on Friday 22nd March, finalists on Friday 26th April and The People’s Choice Award on Friday 10th May when voting on this category closes. The winners will be announced on Friday 17th May.

Commenting on the competition, philanthropist and Founder of Cool Initiatives Jon Thornes MBE said, “Many schools have told us that they’re crying out for better edtech solutions to help them spend less time preparing, monitoring, assessing and accounting, and more time teaching.
We’re seeking to support, develop and invest in ideas or edtech start ups that will help schools and teachers to operate more efficiently and effectively.”
To enter please click on the link The Cool Initiatives Education Challenge 2019

Waitrose & Partners launches £1m initiative to tackle UK plastic pollution


Waitrose & Partners will today launch a £1 million grant fund to give money to projects designed to reduce unnecessary plastic and tackle plastic pollution.

Plan Plastic – The Million Pound Challenge will award money, over one year, to projects that can demonstrate an impact on plastic pollution now and in the future. The retailer is partnering with environmental charity Hubbub to support the chosen projects and measure the impact of the grants.

The £1 million fund has been raised from the sale of 5p carrier bags and grants will range from £150,000 to £300,000.

Applications for Plan Plastic are open until 24th February and will be welcomed from a range of organisations including charities, academic bodies, social enterprises, and schools & colleges, across the following project areas:

Plastics in the community – projects encouraging and enabling plastic recycling and the circular economy linked to social impact, for example, promoting wellbeing in the community.
Education – campaigns aimed at children and young people to raise awareness and change behaviour to reduce plastic pollution.
Public behaviour change – projects inspiring and enabling new ways of shopping and consuming.
Food, agriculture and farming – projects focusing on finding alternatives, reducing use, and increasing reuse of plastics in the food, agriculture and farming industries.
Micro plastics – projects aimed at identifying the impact, reducing the prevalence and preventing micro plastic pollution.

Organisations can apply via the Plan Plastic – The Million Pound Challenge website at

An independent expert panel made up of representatives from academia, industry, non-governmental organisations, business and a senior Waitrose Partner, will convene in April to review the submissions. The chosen grantees will be announced in May 2019.

Tor Harris, Head of CSR, Health & Agriculture for Waitrose & Partners, said: “We hope the fund will help find new and effective ways of accelerating action to rethink how we all use and dispose of plastic now and in the future. We take this issue very seriously, and are making progress all the time, but we’re determined to maintain our momentum as well as supporting others to do the same.”

Trewin Restorick, CEO and Founder, Hubbub said: “Waitrose’s new grant fund is tremendously exciting as it will support innovative thinking on how to combat the issue of plastic pollution. We’ll be on the lookout for entries that really demonstrate a tangible impact and that will have a longer-term legacy beyond the grant funding stage. We’d encourage any eligible organisation working in this space to apply via the website.
Waitrose & Partners is passionate about reducing its impact on the environment and the amount of plastic waste it creates. The retailer has committed to removing all 5p plastic bags from its shops by March 2019 and will also replace loose fruit and vegetable bags with a home compostable alternative by spring 2020. By doing this it will cut almost 134 million bags each year from the environment, which equates to 500 tonnes of plastic.

Waitrose & Partners has also pledged not to sell any own-label products in black plastic packaging beyond 2019 and has already hit its target to remove black plastic on its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and veg. Waitrose is committed to making all its own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023.

The benefits of using technology in the classroom

Tom Crump, Education Programme Manager at Apple Solution Expert for Education, GBM and Sync, looks at the benefits of embracing technology in the classroom.

This year we may see national tech companies, such as Apple, Microsoft and Google, working together with the UK’s education system to ensure our graduates are future proofed against the rapidly changing demands of the modern workforce.

It’s not just the tech giants who should be offering these skills to education centres, with the government recently challenging the technology sector to use their expertise to revolutionise learning in schools, colleges and universities. Schools, colleges, universities and any other education centres, also need to be more open to embracing the use of technology in the classroom.

The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, highlighted five challenges facing the education sector that tech companies can support, including fostering greater access and inclusivity, by developing more effective assessment methods and reducing administration.

While innovation is always needed, there are many ways that schools can work with tech companies to deploy the technology currently available to them to meet these challenges.

Access for all

Technology is brilliant in its ability to break down barriers. This happens in many ways.

One of the schools GBM currently work with approached us as they had four computer suites which they found to be very expensive to maintain and access to the tech was limited. Not every class in a year group could be in the rooms at the same time.

In order to free up space and improve access, they have since switched to a scheme where every pupil can have access to their own iPad. This ensures that all pupils get equal access to technology all the time. Gone are the days that they would have weekly opportunities to utilise technology.

This not only saved the school the cost of having technicians to maintain the equipment, but also allowed these computer suites to be freed to be used as alternative spaces.

What’s more, technology is hugely beneficial for pupils who face challenges in their learning and enables the playing field to be levelled for those with SEN. For example, blind or partially sighted pupils can utilise tech which has inbuilt voice recognition, controls and screen descriptive tools, as well as being able to instantly adjust the size of text to suit.

It can also help pupils who may struggle to engage with physical textbooks. Lessons can be tailored based on each pupil’s learning style and ability, and pupils can be taken through the learning process step by step working at their own level.

While it might seem like a ready made opportunity for some pupils to go ‘off topic’, apps like Apple Classroom allow teachers to monitor students activity, locking iPad devices when a pupil’s’ full attention is required.

Schools across the UK are already deploying iPad devices to meet the different educational needs of pupils effectively and it is only with greater take up and increased access to technology that a level playing field can be achieved.

Effective assessment

Much has been said in the media in recent years about the increasing assessment of children and young people. Successive governments have reformed with the assessment and exam process, all with the goal of trying to create a system that effectively measures performance.

There are two types of assessment that are often implemented in schools in order to measure learning performance.

These are summative assessments, where pupils are assessed at the both the start and the end of a topic to evaluate what they have learned, and formative assessment, where students receive ongoing feedback throughout the topic, constantly checking their progress.

Although these types of assessments are both vital, they can cause added pressure for teachers. However, technology can enable the process to be much smoother and alleviate much of this stress.

Teachers can use technology to easily send projects and worksheets to students digitally. With their own technology, such as an iPad, teachers can take it home to mark and assess. They can also create a system that assesses on an individual basis, being able to give more direct, immediate and personalised feedback which can be speeded up with the likes of audio feedback.

Furthermore, online assessments can automatically and quickly produce data and patterns to help teachers identify where students may be struggling, allowing them to intervene with targeted support immediately, before the student’s education suffers. This type of information can also be used to ensure that lessons can be specifically tailored to the abilities and learning requirements of each pupil.

Working with technology can help build up the connection between teachers and parents, with parents not having to solely rely on parents evening in order to see their child’s work and learning progress. Parents can log in and see their child’s progress at any stage throughout the year. This helps to ensure pupils, parents and teachers are all on the same page throughout the academic year, and allows parents to assist with their children’s learning on an ongoing basis.

While technology is absolutely not a replacement for physical or written feedback, it is a great option for teachers to use as and when they feel most appropriate, with research showing that verbal feedback is more impactful than written feedback. This technology is widely available and already in place in many schools. However, moving to this form of assessment is not only impactful for students but can speed up and enhance the process for teachers.

Reducing administration

It goes without saying that any reduction in time spent on administration is beneficial for teachers and their pupils.

With greater availability of technology like the iPad, comes a reduction in the requirement for teachers to take home stacks of books to mark each evening. For some tasks, apps and programmes can automatically monitor student progress and send updates, without the need for manual review by a teacher. For more complex projects, work can easily be reviewed, annotated and feedback automatically sent to a student, all from an easy-to-transport device like a Mac or iPad, or even an iPhone.

Technology can also help greatly with the safeguarding of pupils. Whether it’s using an app to take the register, which makes the process of a potential fire drill much easier to control, to ensuring widespread awareness of someone’s food allergies. Other factors in relation to a pupil’s wellbeing can be documented and continuously monitored and checked over time without teachers having to go through all their paperwork to cross-check.

What’s more, with greater use of technology in classrooms, teachers can avoid the time spent in front of photocopiers and printers getting worksheets ready for class. This all frees up time for teachers to dedicate to pupil’s learning – allowing them to provide additional one-on-one support or develop more innovative and creative learning experiences.

Ongoing skills

While there may be some naysayers, it’s worth reiterating that introducing technology, like an iPad, into the classroom doesn’t just enable pupils to be skilled on using an iPad. With this system of learning comes plenty of transferable skills and lifelong learnings, and is essential that we prepare students with these skills early on. Learning through technology leads to individuals who are able to be independent, creative, inquisitive and able to present back and voice ideas themselves.

Schools need to allow students to learn in a way that reflects the modern world of work. Technology is the solution. Teaching students with technology is a much more effective way to ensure young people enter the world of work with the right skills and ready for the challenges they will face.

Schools that already embrace technology in classrooms have attested to a transformative impact on students. It’s hard to see why this approach shouldn’t be rolled out in more schools.

Meeting the challenges cost-effectively

If you want to start to use technology, whether it is an iPad subscription or a parental contribution, connectivity must be fast and reliable to ensure student and teacher buy in. If the network is slow and things are not working properly, students and teachers will not want to use the devices. So as well as the devices, it’s vital to make the sure the wider infrastructure is there.

While IT budgets can be a concern, as technology advances at pace, there are a host of cost-effective solutions to introduce devices like the iPad and the framework needed to support them into schools. This includes subscription and buy back options that allow schools to trade in their old tech and pay for new devices on a monthly basis, avoiding a one-off payment and providing ongoing support if any issues arise. What’s more these solutions allow schools to regularly trade in their devices for newer models, ensuring that students are always keeping pace with the latest developments.

Schools are also offering parents the opportunity to pay a nominal fee (£10 a month) over a period of years to buy their child’s device when they leave. This makes the devices sustainable and allows schools to reinvest the funds into infrastructure, other technologies and training.

Many schools are also using their pupil premium to fund the deployment of new technology into their classrooms. The premium is designed to facilitate extra support for pupils from low income or disadvantaged backgrounds. What better way to ensure the premium is used effectively to support as many pupils as possible than to give these students access to technology, something that’s proven to raise attainment across the board.

Response to Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy

The Department for Education (DfE) has today published its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, which NASBTT has been involved in shaping. Giving her reaction to the strategy, NASBTT Executive Director Emma Hollis said:

“NASBTT is pleased that the government has clearly recognised the challenges faced by the teaching profession and is committing to address them. It is good to see competitive salaries and pathways for teachers remaining in the classroom on the agenda, alongside the acknowledgement that there is a highly competitive (and shrinking) graduate market. We are also thrilled that our own contributions to the development of the strategy are recognised and we are committed to continue to work in consultation with DfE as plans are put into action.

We are especially delighted that the Early Career Framework (ECF) is outlined as we hoped for – and we look forward to seeing the transformative plans for an entitlement to professional development for all early career teachers being implemented. It was essential to have a commitment to funding the ECF, as well as the additional time off-timetable in the second year of teaching for all for early career teachers, and we are pleased that both are guaranteed.

Having previously advocated that mentoring is crucial to making the ECF work, we are very pleased to see the strong focus on quality mentoring, with fully-funded mentor training. This commitment is also reflected in plans to launch the Teacher Developer NPQ, which will be explicitly tied to the ECF, as the first of a new suite of qualifications. We would be delighted to share with the DfE our expertise in creating our own suite of Teacher Educator Programmes which develop the knowledge and skills of those people working in schools who support and educate other teachers, including newly-appointed mentors, coaches, CPD co-ordinators, CPD facilitators and teaching school managers.

We are excited about working with the DfE and other key sector bodies to ensure that the ECF builds on and complements high-quality ITT, starting with a review to the ITT core content guidance. Whilst we also appreciate plans to streamline the complicated application process for candidates, we need to ensure there is continued support for partnership working and a change in the dialogue from schools-led or HE teacher training providers to a recognition that both are valuable and both are needed for a vibrant, choice-driven marketplace.

We are therefore cautiously optimistic about plans to rationalise the complex ITT market but maintain that this must not disadvantage smaller providers where they are necessary and valuable – for example in remote areas, coastal regions and other cold spots. We would also encourage caution in any review of the ITT market – the wording of the strategy points to there being a need for a “more efficient and effective system”. However, if taken out of context this could undermine the sustained contribution and impact of School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) providers and School Direct Lead Schools, and the challenges they face around recruitment, a message that needs to be emphasised.

We maintain that government teacher recruitment policies should aim for the brightest and the best and not simply ‘bums on seats’, and the DfE must put its trust in local providers to ascertain local need and set their recruitment practices accordingly.”

Merseyside Schools Leading the Way with New Child and Learning-focussed Ofsted Guidelines


Parents of school-age children will be well aware of the changes to the Ofsted framework, due for 2019, which has been heavily featured in the press this week.
Amongst other changes to the framework – such as short notice inspections, with just two and a half hours warning – this year, Ofsted has promised to make its inspection reports more accessible to parents because they are its “most important education stakeholders”, according to a senior official.
They are also shifting the focus from exam results to assessing the quality of learning. Previous Ofsted inspections have focussed on outcomes and exam results, which places “too much weight on test and exam results” and lacked emphasis on the curriculum and learning journeys of children.
Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector of Education, has announced that the quality of teaching, learning and assessment judgment (which Ofsted has admitted is too focused on outcomes) will be replaced with an overall quality of education judgment.
This, Ofsted states, will “de-intensify the inspection focus on performance data and place more emphasis on the substance of education and what matters most to learners and practitioners”.
The good news for Merseyside parents is that Liverpool and Wirral schools are leading the way for the new ‘child and learning-focused’ inspection framework, with pioneering, Liverpool based assessment software company, Balance – an in-lesson primary school assessment software to track pupils learning progress – developed and managed by Angel Solutions Ltd.
According to Ofsted, judgements will be made by shifting the focus from results onto “what is being taught and how schools are achieving a good education”.
Eighteen Liverpool and Wirral schools are now signed up to this revolutionary way of teaching, with assessment leads attending ‘Balance Hub’ CPD days each term, gaining access to the latest cutting edge educational research and sharing best practice. The Hubs are led by Tom Wallace, SLE in formative assessment, former deputy head teacher of Outstanding rated Cheshire West school St Bernard’s RC Academy, and the co-founder of Balance.
With Balance, teachers use the clear, progressive and flexible curriculum to know exactly where to focus their teaching. Learning is discussed and reflected upon using a ‘learning wheel’ judgements 1 to 9, or secure. Children are firmly placed at the heart of learning, discussing how they could constantly improve. Valuable assessment information is then gathered and intuitive and simple analysis shows exactly where children are in their learning journey – tracking a depth understanding and self-improvement, not marks.
Teachers can then plan what to do next to make sure all pupils achieve their full potential. The Balance way of assessment is a revolution in learning. Learning wheels give a whole new insight into children’s progress. Teachers are quickly able to show how well children have done in their lessons and easily share this with parents. No nonsense of steps, levels, points or bands; just learning.
Because the curriculum is broken down into simple progressive steps, teachers can focus on exactly how well children have progressed in every area. By capturing the small steps in this way, teachers are truly accountable to the learning of every child, not the data!
Not all children learn in the same way and Balance help teachers reflect on what works best and where children may be struggling, fill gaps of key knowledge and understanding.
And it’s good news for teachers, too. According to Ofsted, when the new changes come in to place, workload should decrease amongst teachers. Currently “schools inevitably feel they must do a ton of recording and collating of information to present during the inspection.” The intention is that “a focus on substance will help to tackle excessive workload.” And will focus on what will “genuinely assess quality of education”, which is fundamental to the philosophy of Balance. Especially with Balance’s verbal feedback tools and strategies, teachers have found they’re saving so much time, allowing them to focus on what matters most.
Schools should feel empowered to “put the child first” and will be rewarded “for doing the right thing by their pupils.” This in contrast to attempting to achieve good results at the cost of personal development and the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum. “Those who are bold and ambitious and run their schools with integrity will be rewarded as a result.”
The change in Ofsted guidelines follows a string of failures, such as the collapse of the Wakefield City Academies Trust, which last year announced it was giving up control of 21 schools, while tens of thousands of pupils remain at schools unable to find a trust willing to govern them.

Adam Vasco, St Vincent De Paul Catholic Primary, Liverpool:
‘The Balance Hubs have become an integral part of school improvement and CPD for SLT and key staff in ensuring that children’s learning is at the heart of what we do. Too often schools partners and networks were based on nothing other than geographical similarities, however, the Balance Hubs ensure that like-minded schools can share their expertise, advice and support each other on our journeys in ensuring that our children have the finest education possible and that we as educators can work smarter, focusing on the areas that matter. The support from the Hubs has helped us to embed Balance in school and we have certainly come a long way in a short amount of time. We believe we are at an exciting point in education, enabling us to focus our attentions where it really matters. Balance encapsulates all this, rooted in sound pedagogical research, the Hubs provide an opportunity for us all to engage with the pioneers and educationalists who are shaping the future of education.’

What other teachers have to say:

“Every day we are constantly having that dialogue where are we how do we feel what do we have to do next all the time in all the lessons as staff”

“The whole culture has changed in school. We have got rid of marking now. We have no green and red pens!”

“We use it in every lesson it has impacted every lesson. The conversations we’re having now are more meaningful with regards to feedback to the children”

“Easy to use, straightforward the children really understand it as well”

“We have managed to reduce the workload but not reduce the quality of the marking and the feedback that we give to the children. When you share the learning wheel with the children. The [children] absolutely love it”

“Children are self-assessing themselves. Shared dialogue about children’s understanding.”

3P Learning wins International Digital Education Resource at Bett for curriculum-mapped Mathletics resource

3P Learning, creators of award-winning online maths and literacy resources, designed to help children gain confidence in their reading, writing, numeracy and multiplication skills, is celebrating having scooped a 2019 Bett Award in the category International Digital Education Resource for its world-leading maths resource for key stages 1 – 4, Mathletics.
Used by over 5 million users world-wide and guaranteed to make learning fun both at school and at home, Mathletics employs a ‘gaming-style’ challenge and reward system to engage and captivate users, to embed vital maths skills and to build strong, confident pupils equipped to perform well in school and in life-long learning. It also supports a smooth transition between the various phases of school education as well as personalised teaching and learning.
Mapped to a number of international curricula, Mathletics is proven to significantly increase levels of student engagement, confidence and motivation and to improve attainment and progress in maths. This year’s award win marks 3P Learning’s and Mathletics second Bett Award win in the International Digital Education Resource category which it was awarded previously in 2016 alongside winning the category for Whole Course Curriculum Content. Overall this marks 3P Learning’s fifth Bett Award win for its range of resources.
Now in their 21st year, the Bett Awards are considered by many as the most esteemed accolade in the education technology industry. The winners are seen to have excelled in ICT provision and support for schools, with a clear focus on what works in the classroom. The award was presented at a prestigious ceremony at The Troxy in Central London on 23rd January, hosted by comedian Marcus Brigstocke.
Commenting on the award win, Judy Peritz Wynne, Head of Marketing EMEA at 3P Learning said, “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this award for International Digital Education Resource in what is recognised worldwide as one of the highest accolades in education. At 3P Learning and Mathletics our emphasis is on spreading a love of learning to all schools within our 5 million strong community of pupils and teachers. We would like to thank all of our schools for their outstanding support and feedback; this wouldn’t have been possible without them!”
For more information on 3P Learning and Mathletics please visit