School Group Visits at BBC Gardeners’ World Live this summer

13-16 June 2019 | Birmingham NEC
BBC Gardeners’ World Live organisers are pleased to announce that the dedicated schools day returns at the NEC Show, 13-16 June 2019.
Schools will be able to book special tickets for Thursday 13 June 2019 with the option to add seats in advance to the dedicated BBC Gardeners’ World Live Theatre schools session at 11:30am, free of charge with Lee Connelly, the Skinny Jean Gardener of Blue Peter fame. School tickets are just £17 per pupil (plus one teacher ticket free with every eight bought). This 30-minute theatre session will be packed with energy and enthusiasm, and will leave the teachers as inspired as the kids!
As part of the day out, school groups will discover a vast variety of plants in the Floral Marquee including Carnivorous Plants, Air Plants, Bonsai and Cacti – favourites amongst the younger visitors! Teachers are encouraged to discuss interesting designs and ideas whilst exploring the Show Gardens, giving pupils inspiration for future projects.
NEW for 2019! The Teapot Plant Pot Competition is a gardening competition inviting Early Years nurseries, pre-school settings and reception classes. This competition is a simple and fun gardening activity devised to complement the EYFS Statutory Framework. As well as the planting activity, the children will need to nurture and care for their plants for them to grow and thrive in their containers. As part of the competition the Early Years leaders and Reception Year teachers are to offer up their Teapot Plant Pots with residents of a local elderly or care home. Final entries will be submitted by photograph with a selection of the best displayed in the Floral Marquee at the Show. Register your interest by 1 March.
Local schools can take part in the ever-popular School Wheelbarrow Competition, which has a new theme for 2019: Around the World. Schools are encouraged to look at the plants and gardens, as well as the architecture and cultures, of the world for their inspiration, creating a homage to their chosen land in the space of a barrow! Visiting School Groups will be able to explore the wheelbarrows, planted up with fresh ingredients for a tasty recipe.
Plus, every ticket includes free entry to the BBC Good Food Show, so the day out will run seamlessly from plot to plate!
SCHOOLS, RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY! Contact the Group Box Office on 0800 358 0058 for more details and to reserve your School Group tickets. You’ll have plenty of time to firm up numbers before making payment. The payment deadline is 6 May 2019.

New RSE and Health Education guidelines give subjects “status they deserve”

The Department for Education (DfE) guidelines for Relationships Education in primary schools, Sex Education in secondary schools and Health Education for all ages are a welcome development that support Headteachers in giving these subjects the status they deserve.

Having contributed to the consultation, and personally met with the DfE to explore the best possible approaches to make RSE more relevant to modern life, I am delighted with the overall outcome. Our interest is mainly within primary education, of course, and getting the right building blocks in place to support children in today’s world. My view is the new guidelines give us a recognised platform to do just that – and I am in total agreement with what schools are required to have in place for September 2020.

We now know that primary children will be taught age-appropriate online safety – including what to do if they come across something they are uncomfortable with, the importance of respect for others even when posting anonymously, and the dangers of talking to strangers online. We also know that primary children will learn how to look after their own mental wellbeing and to recognise when their classmates might be struggling, as well as covering nutrition, the importance of staying active and spending time outdoors, and getting enough sleep. I am pleased to say that 1decision is fully set up to support these guidelines.

The guidelines fit the overall ethos of the proposed new Ofsted inspection framework, which is currently out to consultation. Importantly they acknowledge that personal development cannot be assessed in a uniform way, that all children are different and develop at different rates, and that the best way for children to thrive as individuals is not to be limited by a previous system that was obsessed with statistics and data.

I have, however, been disappointed to read what I consider to be somewhat narrow media headlines focusing on how primary school children will be taught about gay and transgender relationships as part of compulsory lessons, which really only serves to alarm a proportion of parents who will inevitably not welcome it. They have also chosen to link the guidelines to a protest among more than 300 parents and children in Birmingham who are unhappy that lessons on homosexuality and gender will be taught, as well as the petition signed by over 100,000 people objecting to the RSE curriculum.

Many school communities will be distracted and swayed by these stories, and we all have a responsibility to make a stand on the wider focus of learning and the societal issues the guidelines address. Nobody can say the teaching of sexual content, cyber safety and mental health are not important. Yet here we are focusing on LGBT issues when RSE and Health Education encompass so much more. The message should be about equality, diversity and inclusion – that we are all unique in some way and this should be embraced – rather than reinforcing divisions around male/female, black/white, gay/straight and so on. Children need to be taught to be accepting of differences and opinions.

The DfE has said it will provide £6 million of funding in 2019-20 for a school support package to cover training and resources to ensure teachers are well prepared ahead of the subjects becoming mandatory. This commitment to funding, together with the guidelines, offer autonomy and flexibility for schools to commission the best possible learning resources to support the requirements for RSE and Health Education. September 2020 is only 18 months away and schools should have clarity now as to when exactly they will be able to access this funding. For all the promise and potential created by the new guidelines published, this is the biggest question we do not yet to know the answer to.

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

Game-based learning helps Wirral secondary to raises standards in maths

About the school

Bebington High School is a specialist sports college based in the Wirral in North West England. The school’s vision is to ‘shape exceptional futures’ which it achieves through the values represented in sport: leadership, perseverance, fair play, teamwork, and loyalty. The school encourages all within its community, including parents, to gain leadership and coaching awards, opening up further opportunities for students and prides itself on its position in the community.

As the only non-faith and non-grammar school in the area Bebington High has a high proportion of pupils qualifying for free school meals as well as EAL and SEND students.

What were the challenges?

Christine Edge-Sayer is Assistant SENCO and Head of Resourced Base Provision at Bebington High. As an area of the school that has been rapidly expanding, Christine was keen to find a solution that would help engage students with moderate learning difficulties to be more motivated in their maths learning.

“We already had an additional literacy programme in place to work alongside the English curriculum and we wanted to replicate its success with our maths programme.

“One of the main challenges we face with our students is a lack of confidence in their maths abilities. Many of them become trapped in the fixed mindset of not being able to ‘do maths’, often due to not having mastered the fundamental concepts earlier in their school careers. This leads to a subsequent lack of motivation and difficulty engaging them in trying to improve.

“Another challenge was in finding a solution which would allow us to set work at an emergent level, but with an interface which didn’t immediately alert students to the fact they were working at a lower level – and risk knocking their confidence further. We also wanted the solution to be learner-led so students could take charge of their own development.”

How is Mathletics meeting these challenges?

“We began using Mathletics in June 2018 to reinforce knowledge from maths lessons, ensuring that key concepts were deeply embedded and students had adequate opportunities to practise the methods they’d been taught during class. As Mathletics allows you to repeat activities and view results in real-time this was hugely useful for engaging reluctant learners.
“From a teaching point of view, having an online resource which is fully learner-led allows us to start some students on Mathletics whilst delivering further teaching or one-on-one guidance to students still struggling with basic concepts. As Mathletics is highly personalised it helps us to deliver differentiated learning to all our students with the handy placement quiz ensuring they start at the correct level.
“As the resource is reward-based we really find all our students from year 7 – 11 enjoy using it. Not only are they motivated when using the resource but they work hard to get their set work done so that they can choose to go on Live Mathletics, the 60 second mental maths game. ”
What are the overall results?

“Since introducing Mathletics we have seen a huge improvement in students’ maths, particularly with the strengthening of mental methods.
“Mathletics has also helped increase students’ motivation to learn. Even those who are more difficult to engage enjoy Mathletics sessions.

“Personally, I have noticed an increased confidence in Maths lessons as I deliver these across the year groups in our department. As Mathletics is highly personalised it enables me to set work appropriate to their ability, without alerting them to the fact they’re working at a level below the national standard and knocking their confidence. This allows them to improve their understanding of basic concepts and set off on the correct path to more advanced mathematics.

“From a teaching point-of-view Mathletics allows me to set work and view students’ progress to see if they understand the concept fully when working independently. Topics are clearly broken down making it quick and easy to set work and saving valuable time on planning and marking.”

What’s next?

“One of the areas we’re keen to develop is to increase parents’ engagement with their children’s learning. As Mathletics can be used at home we would like to use it more consistently for homework; this would definitely save us time on marking!

“A step that we’ve already made is to purchase additional licenses for our mainstream classes. We’ve already started talks with the Maths department about using the resource as an intervention tool.

“We are excited to continue using Mathletics to raise standards at Bebington High!”

Not-for-profit LGfL is first educational technology company and internet service provider to work with City of London police to block known piracy sites

LGfL DigiSafe, safeguarding arm of not-for-profit internet service provider LGfL, is proud to announce that it is the first educational technology company and internet service provider to work with City of London Police to block all websites on the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit’s (PIPCU) Infringing Website List. The Infringing Website List (IWL) documents known piracy sites, which will now be blocked to LGfL’s 3,000 member schools across the UK. As well as preventing students from accessing inappropriate material, this move means that schools do not need to fear legal repercussions due to pirated material being accessed from the school site.

The PIPCU is a specialist unit within the City of London Police funded by the UK Government Intellectual Property Office. The unit is dedicated to tackling serious and organised intellectual property crime with a particular focus on offences committed using an online platform. Together with a number of organisations, including the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) the PIPCU established the Infringing Website List to make it easier for individuals and organisations to exclude known, illegal sites from ad buying, selling or trading as well as to block websites included on the list.

LGfL DigiSafe is LGfL’s strategic response to the complex challenges faced by schools: a Centre of Excellence dedicated to engaging and collaborating with teachers and safeguarding leads as part of its service offering. Committed to protecting children and teachers, LGfL DigiSafe considers it its duty to work with stakeholders such as the PIPCU to allow schools to enjoy the internet without risk.

Online Safety and Safeguarding Manager at LGfL DigiSafe, Mark Bentley commented on the partnership, “LGfL DigiSafe is committed to partnering with relevant stakeholders in order to achieve our mission of saving schools money and keeping children safe. By working with City of London police to block its List of Infringing Websites to our community of over two million students we not only prevent children accessing inappropriate material but also provide reassurance to senior leaders that this illegal activity cannot be committed on the school site, meaning headteachers do not need to fear liability for copyright infringements”.

Detective Constable Steve Salway of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said, “The Infringing Website List (IWL) is the first of its kind to be developed by law enforcement and we are pleased that LGfL DigiSafe has taken it on. The online safety of school children is of paramount importance and our IWL is able to prevent them from viewing inappropriate material. It will also put a stop to them accessing copyright infringing content, leaving London schools with extra peace of mind.

“PIPCU is at the forefront of combating digital piracy. As part of our Operation Creative, City of London Police Detectives work with content owners and internet service providers to disrupt this criminal activity online. The disruption of internet infrastructure has seen over 1,800 illegal websites cease to operate, protecting UK consumers along with the preservation of the UK Creative industry.”

For more information on LGfL DigiSafe including a complete range of resources for online safety and safeguarding please visit

To find out more about the PIPCU and the Infringing Websites List please visit

Stone Group becomes latest HP For Education partner

HP For Education benefits now available to Stone customers through its trade-in and rewards scheme

February 2019: IT provider Stone Group has been chosen as one of 22 solutions partners by HP For Education, enabling the former to offer a wider range of IT and recycling services to schools, colleges and academies located within mainland UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Stone’s customers are now able to trade in any working laptop, desktop, or tablet for high quality up-to-date models that better meet the needs of students. Buying or trading in old devices will earn schools rewards that enable them to utilise their HP Marketplace wallet. Rewards are also available for larger, bulk orders.

These rewards can come in the form of a cash rebate for the school, academy, or college, or the ability to redeem trade-in rewards to support the customers products, software, consultancy and e-learning and training requirements, provided by Stone. All cash rewards are paid to the school within 30 days of the claim making using HP for Education a financially risk-free option for IT refreshes.

HP For Education also offers ‘Guaranteed Future Value’, which customers can register for. Two years after the initial purchase, schools customers can trade in devices at guaranteed values against the purchase price of new replacement devices.

CEO of Stone Group Simon Harbridge says: “Offering customers the choice to work with us via HP promotes sustainability and affordability, something which we are passionate about at Stone. We already work very closely with HP and the HP for Education programme allows Stone to provide customers the very best technology while also helping to balance their budgets.”

Neil Sawyer, Channel Director UKI at HP, adds: “At HP, we recognise that with tight budgets schools have to make difficult decisions every year between buying much-needed education hardware or investing in software such as education programmes and training courses. We want to stop schools from being forced to minimise their IT assets or forego software purchases in order to invest in vital education technology.”



CO2 laser engraving and cutting machines are now in extensive use in education and can present hazards if not selected and operated correctly. HPC Laser look at some of the fundamental issues that should be considered.

It is a common misconception that the visible red laser is responsible for providing the engraving and cutting function in a laser machine. In fact, this low power device is only used for positioning and it is the much more powerful invisible beam, usually generated in a laser tube in the rear of the machine that provides the more powerful beam for the engraving and cutting functions.
Similar to the way in which the suns rays can be focussed and intensified using a magnifying glass, CO2 laser engraving and cutting machines work by passing this invisible laser beam of typically 6-7mm diameter through a focussing lens. This reduces the beam diameter down to only microns at the correct focal height (usually around 50mm from workpiece to lens) and increases the intensity of the beam sufficiently to enable cutting and engraving of suitable materials.
Once the unfocussed beam has passed the focal point it begins to diverge, weaken and scatter around the machine cabinet. This scattered beam is then absorbed by the coated metal surfaces of the machine. Because of the relative ease in which the focussed beam weakens and becomes harmless, it is the unfocussed beam that is considered the more hazardous of the two, particularly due to its ability to travel long distances whilst losing only a small proportion of its power.

Firstly, and most importantly NEVER operate the machine unattended. No matter how tedious the cutting or engraving process is, do not leave the machine whilst it is operating.
A properly functioning compressor delivering a good supply of air to the machine nozzle clears away smoke, debris and fumes but also minimises the risk of igniting flames during processing. The effectiveness of the air assist compressor should be checked periodically.
HPC Laser operate a strict policy in terms of training in machine safety. There are warning labels on each of our machines, there are warnings and notifications in our operating manuals and machine supervision is a very clear element of our training programme when we supply a new machine. As part of our standard training programme, every customer is fully briefed regarding the risks of leaving the machine unattended.
Cleanliness is another very important factor in fire risk mitigation. Whilst cutting some materials such as wood and plastics, potentially flammable deposits can collect on the machine bed. If they are allowed to accumulate these can increase the risk of ignition. Addressing this risk is extremely straightforward – just clean these deposits from the machine bed on a regular basis.
Always keep an easily accessible fire extinguisher by the machine, just in case. Because electricity is involved and you may have to tackle a fire whilst the machine is still plugged in, we recommend a Co2 or other electrically-compatible extinguisher. HPC Laser also recommend the training of appropriate personnel in the use of fire extinguishers.
Keys to operate the machine should only be accessible to suitably trained and qualified persons.
Basic machine housekeeping is always recommended and very good practice. Keep your machine cabinet clean and free from dust and material offcuts. Adopt a policy of regularly cleaning and maintenance as part of your operating regime.

Because of the incredible flexibility of modern laser engraving and cutting machines it is easy to forget that not everything can be safely processed. PVC for example produces hydrochloric acid, carbon monoxide, dioxins and chlorinated furans when burned and can seriously damage the machine but more significantly present significant health risks to any personnel in the vicinity of the machine.
If you are in any doubt, it is imperative to discuss your requirements with the material manufacturer and obtain a copy of their appropriate health and safety documentation before starting work.


Even in education, buyers of laser machines often overlook the matter of compliance with the appropriate CE safety standards. The relative ease of buying potentially non-compliant and hazardous machines either directly from an overseas manufacturer or through a UK supplier brings with it a potentially serious safety risk.
In compliance with international standards, laser machines are classified from class 1 to 4 depending upon the level of laser radiation emitted from the machine during operation. A DVD player for example would be typical of a class 1 system where the laser beam cannot escape and no special safety provisions are required. Class 4 laser systems would typically have a means for the operator to make direct contact with the laser beam, such as open slots in the machine cabinet or the absence of a lid safety switch. Operators of such machines should be aware of the safety requirements of a class 4 laser system, including the requirement to wear laser compatible safety glasses. The UK Health and Safety Executive state that class 4 machines are not suitable for use in an education environment. This view is reinforced by CLEAPSS, an impartial organisation providing health and safety advice to education and recognised by the HSE, the DFE, DEFRA and the Home Office.
Any equipment imported into the EU must be compliant with the appropriate EU directives which specify the legislative requirements of the equipment. Various ISO and EN standards offer product-specific guidance on how to comply with these directives. It is this combination of directives and standards that form the basis of the CE compliance assessment that must be carried out.
Once an assessment of the product has been undertaken and compliance is proven, a technical file of supporting evidence is compiled. The file owner is then able to create their own CE declaration of conformity which states the directives and standards that the machine is compliant with.
The wording of some ISO/EN standards can be open to a degree of interpretation by the reader and good practice is to ensure that assessment is carried out against the most stringent interpretation of the standard.
HPC Lasers 2019 range of Laserscript engraving and cutting machines now incorporate industry leading Allen Bradley CE marked safety switches on all machine panels required for operation and maintenance. These panels include the machine lid, any drawer or panel that can be removed for debris recovery and the door containing the laser tube itself. Such switches serve to ensure that under all reasonable circumstances the operator is unable to gain access to the potentially hazardous unfocussed laser beam.
CE compliance also requires the machine supplier to offer a comprehensive operating and maintenance manual with the equipment. Such documentation should include safe location and handling instructions, instructions for safe operation and a map of all machine warning labels with instructions on how to obtain replacements should any be lost.

Laser engraving and cutting machines form an integral part of the UK education curriculum. When selected and operated correctly they can provide safe and reliable operation for many years. If you would like any further guidance regarding safe laser machine operation, certification, selection or please do not hesitate to contact HPC Laser or CLEAPSS who would be pleased to assist.

Schools “concerned” about Relationships, Sex and Health Education changes

New research by Headway Education, a social enterprise established to help provide children, and those who teach them, with the most up-to-date, sophisticated, high quality and engaging materials possible, has revealed that schools are growing increasingly concerned that they are not equipped to deliver the requirements of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum from 2020.

In September next year, Relationships Education will become compulsory for all pupils in primary schools, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) mandatory within secondary schools, and Health Education compulsory in all schools. However, in a survey of 168 headteachers, other senior leaders and class teachers undertaken in January and February 2019, 66% of respondents said they were “concerned or very concerned” about funding to support the new curriculum. A further 60% reported being concerned or very concerned about the need for high-quality resources, finding time to teach these subjects (54%), teacher training (52%) and parental support (39%).

Although the majority of respondents knew about the new curriculum, 36% were “vaguely aware or had little or no awareness” about the expectations around Health Education and even less about Relationships Education and RSE (34% each). There was an appetite for training, with 59% saying they would be “likely or very likely” to undertake an online programme to support their understanding of each subject. Around 35% of schools said they would have to invest in additional resources.

Schools were asked how well PSHE (as currently the most commonly used term for these subjects) was embedded in their educational setting. Whilst 91% “agree or strongly agree” that their pupils generally enjoy participating in PSHE, that PSHE is at the heart of our curriculum (82%) and that PSHE is a timetabled lesson every week or at least every other week (81%), other responses were less positive. Around 57% of respondents “disagree or strongly disagree” that their school follows a locally agreed syllabus or has invested in a nationally recognised programme (56%).

Ken Pritchard, Managing Director of Headway Education, said: “There are clearly high levels of concern regarding preparation for the new subjects. In particular, teacher training, the issue of funding and the need for high-quality resources are the main reasons behind this concern. Results show that over a third of schools are already certain they will need new resources to ensure they meet the new requirements. Whilst the majority of respondents know about upcoming change, there is still work to be done.”


Bureau Veritas is urging the education sector to heed the government’s impending 15th February deadline to submit outstanding asbestos management surveys, as the legacy of asbestos exposure in UK schools is leading to increasing deaths.

It comes after MP’s issued a stark warning that they were ‘seriously concerned’ that almost a quarter of schools have not responded to repeated requests for information on the amount of asbestos in school buildings and how risk is being managed .

It is estimated that around 86% of UK schools contain asbestos and according to the
National Union of Teachers, asbestos related deaths have increased significantly from an average of three per year during the period 1980-85 to an average of 17 per year. This equates to at least 319 teachers dying from mesothelioma – the most serious and incurable form of asbestos cancer – since 2013, with a further 200-300 former pupils estimated to succumb to diseases linked to asbestos exposure at school later in life.

The Department for Education’s Asbestos Management Assurance Process (AMAP) was introduced in March last year, with the aim of collecting data on asbestos management in schools to ensure compliance with legal obligations to protect staff and pupils under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. To-date the submission deadline has been extended three times, with the upcoming February date being the final chance for the remaining 23% of schools to respond.

Matthew Potter, Service Line Manager – Asbestos at Bureau Veritas, comments: “All schools, colleges and universities have an obligation to ensure that premises are safe for staff, pupils and visitors, which includes the effective management and reporting of any asbestos on site. Despite the huge progress that has been made over the last two decades in asbestos management, the reality is that there is still a massive job to do in eradicating asbestos from our older building stock, particularly in schools. Staff and pupils at schools across the UK are particularly at risk due to the high proportion of school buildings built in the post-war era, when asbestos was a common component of many popular building products.

“Schools therefore need to take decisive action to provide assurances that asbestos is being properly managed to negate the serious risk asbestos exposure poses. Especially concerning the increased risk of early exposure to asbestos, with reports suggesting that a child exposed at age five is five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than someone exposed at age 30 .”

In addition to mesothelioma and lung cancer, other serious diseases including asbestosis, pleural thickening and other forms of cancer can be caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. During the period 2006-2016, more than £10million in compensation was awarded to former pupils and members of staff exposed to asbestos in schools in England and Wales .

Bureau Veritas offers a comprehensive range of services to help businesses and organisations, including schools, in achieving and maintaining asbestos control compliance. This includes building surveys, annual re-inspections, project management of asbestos remediation, site risk assessments, air monitoring, four stage clearance air testing, laboratory sample analysis, management plans and training – all of which can be undertaken within school holidays.

For further information, call 0345 600 1828 or visit

Cisco partners with University of Edinburgh to accelerate innovation

Cisco today announced a partnership with the University of Edinburgh to collaborate on opportunities in AI and data-driven innovation, a key pillar of the recently announced Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

As the first initiative in the partnership, Cisco has committed to support 20 start-ups through the University and Wayra UK’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain Accelerator. Over a three-year period, Cisco will provide business development and technical support, mentoring and access to tools for resident start-ups.

Based at the University’s Bayes Centre and designed to accelerate the best AI and blockchain start-ups in Europe to scale globally, the programme is already home to the first cohort of 10 start-ups.

Tony Gribben, Country Manager, Cisco Scotland, said: “The insight that we can gain from data opens up amazing opportunity for all industries – not least with its application in the field of AI. We’re delighted to be working with the University of Edinburgh to bring this to life in Scotland. The ambition to drive economic and inclusive growth for the region is something that we very much support, and we look forward to continuing to partner with industry, government and academia on initiatives towards that goal.”

Jim Ashe, Director of Commercialisation and Industry Engagement, University of Edinburgh, said: “Cisco is a valued partner within the Bayes Innovation Programme. As well as becoming a key supporter of our flagship AI and Blockchain Accelerator programme, the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding underscores our intention to work together more collaboratively across all areas of Data-Driven Innovation. We look forward to collaborating with Cisco’s Networking Academy, Research Centre and wider Innovation and Investment teams on projects that will support innovative research, accelerate data adoption and fuel entrepreneurship across a wide range of initiatives.”

Launched in August 2018 as a £1.3 billion investment, the City Region Deal aims to help Edinburgh and South East Scotland accelerate growth and create economic opportunities and new jobs to drive inclusive growth. The City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation component has five focus areas: talent, research, adoption, data and entrepreneurship, and will be led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Heriot-Watt University.

Today’s announcement is the latest example of Cisco’s commitment to driving innovation and digital deployments across Scotland, the UK and in the field of AI through its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme. In July this year, Cisco and University College London announced the opening of an AI Centre in the heart of London. In Scotland, Cisco is leading the 5G RuralFirst project which will enable some of the UK’s most remote and rural communities to be the first to benefit from 5G technology. The project includes a network of 32 organisations, with testbeds and trials primarily to be based on the Orkney Islands.

FXP Festival launches for 2019 with new creative category

FXP Festival, an East Anglian education initiative which aims to drive social mobility in the region, has announced the launch of its 2019 competition (6-8th July) with the introduction of an exciting new category.

Originally formed as a STEM initiative based on a computer game design and development competition, FXP Festival 2019 is expanding to include a ‘Storytelling’ category, which will encourage students to develop both their creative writing and illustration skills. Publishing and education company, The Curved House will be supporting FXP’s Storytelling category with the provision of creative writing workshop materials and one-to-one mentor sessions, with established authors and writers, to help teams to develop their work.

Hosted annually by Cambridge Regional College, FXP Festival is linked to the computer science curriculum and, for three years, has successfully been using computer games to increase interest and uptake of STEM subjects, build young people’s digital skills and provide an insight into what careers in the technology, creative digital and related industries might offer.

In previous years, there have been two competition categories – ‘Game Concept’ where teams design and map out the creative concept of an original computer game, and ‘Game Development’ where teams programme and build an original game concept. New for 2019, the third category – ‘Storytelling’ – will challenge students to work in teams of up to five, to write and illustrate an original story for publication.

The initiative was developed by Cambridge Regional College, Jagex, North Cambridge Academy, and Conscious Communications, and, thanks to its sponsors and supporters, the FXP weekend is completely free for participating teams.

Alison Taylor Co-founder of the Festival and Managing Director of Conscious Communications, comments: “FXP Festival is all about providing exciting progression opportunities for the young people in our region. By incorporating elements of the national curriculum, as well as sourcing valuable learning materials from our industry supporters, we aim to provide students with an important connection between what they learn in the classroom, their further and higher education options, and the exciting career opportunities right on their doorstep.

“In previous years it has been wonderful to see student teams come to FXP to try their hands at games development and, as a result, engage more with their computer science education. This year, we wanted to expand our reach to students that won’t necessarily have an interest in coding or games design, but might have a hidden flair for other important skills, such as creative writing and art. The ‘Storytelling’ category will give these students the opportunity to develop their abilities with the support of industry experts, while building other important soft skills such as team work, ingenuity and communication.”

FXP Festival is supported by major companies in the technology, creative digital, and publishing sectors, which provide expertise, mentoring and coaching to students and their teachers. 2019 supporters include: Anglia Ruskin University, Arm, Rizing Games, Jagex, Table Flip Games and The Curved House.

Kristen Harrison, Founder, The Curved House, comments: “The Curved House – alongside our flagship publication, Visual Verse – aims to inspire and celebrate creative writers, both published and unpublished, and we are so excited to use our expertise to develop the next generation of writers at FXP Festival! Ahead of the weekend, we will share valuable creative writing teaching resources with the teams to help them hone their skills in preparation for the competition. We will also run an additional writing competition over the course of the weekend for all participating students, and will publish the winners in our August edition of Visual Verse. The Curved House is excited to bring a range of writing challenges and expertise from the book industry to FXP – to inspire the writers, illustrators and publishers of the future.”

FXP 2019 will take place from 6th – 8th July, at the Rizing Games studios at Cambridge Regional College and is open to schools, colleges, home school groups and out-of-school clubs across East Anglia. Teams can register their interest by emailing

If your business would be interested in getting involved with FXP Festival through mentoring, funding or other support please contact Joanna Colley