Explore Learning Writers’ Awards Now Open for Entries!

• Free writing competition for children aged four to 14 announces theme of: a chance to change the world!
• Winners awarded a trip to Disneyland Paris and £500 of books for their school
• Singer, dancer, author and prime time TV show host, Alesha Dixon, is this year’s incredible judge who will surprise the winner at their school!

The Explore Learning Writers’ Awards are now open for the eleventh year and will be judged by best-selling author, singer, dancer and TV presenter, Alesha Dixon! The annual writing competition is aimed at children aged four to 14 and will inspire the next generation of authors. Whether they’re a reluctant writer or a budding Roald Dahl, this competition will inspire children from across the UK to get creative and write their very own short story inspired by this year’s theme – a chance to change the world!

Children are tasked with creating a 500-word story all about how they could transform the world, whether that’s by making waves to save the planet, becoming a superhero, exploring time travel or anything else their imaginations can conjure!

Alesha Dixon has been an inspiration to children throughout her career encompassing singing, dancing and huge success as a judge and presenter on programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent. Alongside these achievements, Alesha has written three very popular children’s books – Lightning Girl (launched in April 2018), Lightning Girl 2: Superhero Squad (September 2018) and Lightning Girl 3: Secret Supervillain (March 2019) about a 11 year old girl who discovers her superhero powers! Through her main character, Aurora Beam, she aims to spread a positive message of empowerment and self-reliance to young girls – and boys – across the country.

The winner of the competition will be announced during a surprise assembly in which Alesha and the team from Explore Learning will present them with a trophy, a trip to Disneyland Paris for their family and £500 worth of books for their school. Every child that enters will receive a certificate to celebrate their story, along with personalised feedback from one of Explore Learning’s inspirational tutors.

Alesha Dixon says: “I am really looking forward to reading all of the imaginative ways the children of this country would change the world in this year’s competition. Having written stories myself, I know how rewarding it is and really hope they will take as much pleasure from it as I have. This is a great way to capture young imaginations and encourage thinking about bigger issues, while developing their writing talents.’’

Children can enter by visiting their local Explore Learning centre for an entry form or entering online at www.explorelearning.co.uk/writersawards. Simply hand the story back in, file online or send to Explore Learning’s head office at ELWA, Explore Learning, 74 North Street, Guildford, GU1 4AW. Don’t forget to include your contact information so they can get in touch if your child wins! The competition runs until Sunday 5th May.

To help kick start children’s imagination, Explore Learning will be running a number of free creative writing workshops in their centres, libraries and schools – encouraging every young writer – from the passionate to the reluctant!

Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “We are thrilled to have Alesha Dixon as our judge for 2019. Her Lightning Girl series is so popular with our members and we know that she will inspire lots of children across the UK to get writing. We are so excited to now be open for entries and can’t wait to read the incredible stories the children of the UK come up with!”

Previous judges of the awards have included some of the UK’s most prolific authors like David Walliams, Steve Backshall, Cressida Cowell, Lauren Child, Liz Pichon, Jonathan Meres, Andy Cope and Alan Durant. Last year’s winner was eight year old Mia Falatoori from Churchfields Junior School who won the title with her story which you can read here, as well as seeing her joy at meeting David Walliams.

Throughout the competition Explore Learning will be providing some top writing tips from their creative writing team, previous winners, judges and best-selling authors via their website and social media. They will also be hosting a collection of free downloadable information on their website that can be used at home or in the classroom.

Explore Learning are an award-winning English and maths tuition company with 144 centres located all over the country. Over 35,000 children aged four to 14 attend their centres each week and over the course of the last 18 years have helped over 200,000 children. Explore Learning’s aim is to help every child reach their full potential and get the best results they can, developing a generation of fearless learners.

For more information about the National Young Writers’ Awards visit www.explorelearning.co.uk/writersawards.


Palletways, Europe’s largest and fastest growing express palletised freight network, has announced it will be partnering with the road safety charity, Brake to deliver education sessions in schools across the UK.
The educational sessions will be delivered by Palletways members and will be focused on improving road safety awareness amongst primary school children. In partnership with Brake, Palletways members will lead sessions on safe and sustainable road use, effective road safety policies and on alternative sustainable transport options aimed at school children.

Brake is a national road safety charity which works with communities and organisations across the UK campaigning to end road deaths and injuries. The charity aims to make communities safer through an extensive education programme and offers support to people bereaved and seriously injured in road traffic collisions.
Rob Gittins, Managing Director at Palletways UK, said: “Safety is at the heart of our business and this is a fantastic opportunity for our members to share their experiences and best practice with primary school children across the UK. Brake plays an essential role in improving road safety in the UK and supporting victims of road traffic collisions and we are delighted to become an official corporate partner. I am very much looking forward to this partnership developing over the coming year and for Palletways to continue to have a real impact within local communities.”
Simon Park, Managing Director at Kidds Transport, a Palletways member said: “We are really excited to get involved with Palletways’ and Brake’s educational sessions. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to engage with local schools and give something back. I very much look forward to sharing our success stories with the local community in the next few months.”
Michael Bristow, Senior Corporate Fundraising Officer at Brake said, “Brake is pleased to welcome Palletways on board as charity partners. Through conversations we’ve had, it’s clear that there is a real passion and commitment from the team at Palletways to spread their safety culture into the communities they operate within. We are looking forward to supporting the development of their school’s programme and hope that this is the start of a long and successful relationship.”
Kidds Transport is one of over 115 independent transport providers that are part of Palletways’ UK network. They benefit from shared expertise and resources from within the group to deliver consignments of palletised freight to market faster and more cost effectively than ever before. The Palletways Group, famed for its industry-leading IT developments and operational systems, comprises 450+ depots and 20 hub operations, through which it provides collection and distribution services across 24 European countries, including the UK.

Premier League talks Maths with Rachel Riley at Leicester City FC for World Maths Day

Pictures copyright Plumb Images / Alex Hannam 07903 169347
World Maths Day at King Power Stadium with Rachel Riley

– Leicester City’s Marc Albrighton and Conor Tee joined Rachel Riley to celebrate World Maths Day
– An event was held at King Power Stadium for local primary school children
– It marked the launch of LCFC Community Trust’s Premier League Primary Stars Maths provision, ‘5000/1’

Leicester City’s Marc Albrighton and Conor Tee’s maths skills were put to the test by Countdown presenter Rachel Riley at an event at King Power Stadium to mark World Maths Day!

Around 60 children from four local primary schools attended the event, which saw LCFC Community Trust launch their Premier League Primary Stars maths provision, ‘5000/1’.
The initiative uses the power of football and the appeal of the Premier League to inspire learning and get children engaging with maths in an active and stimulating way.
During the event, the pupils took part in a series of maths-related activities, before being joined by Riley, Albrighton, Tee and Club Mascot Filbert Fox pitchside for a game of Battleships.

Speaking to LCFC TV, Marc Albrighton said: “If I could’ve done this when I was a kid, come to a football stadium and learn maths, then I probably would’ve come out with better grades! It’s an important life skill, it’s a main subject that you need to know about. You need it in everyday life, so it’s important to concentrate and make sure that you do your best in it.”

The visit concluded in The Gallery, where a short Q&A session was held with each of the special guests – and Riley hosted a game of Countdown.

Pictures copyright Plumb Images / Alex Hannam 07903 169347
World Maths Day at King Power Stadium with Rachel Riley

Speaking to LCFC TV, Rachel said: “Football is a brilliant maths material to promote numeracy. If you think about kids playing online, they’re all looking at statistics to pick their favourite players, they’re looking at pie charts, they’re looking at heat maps, at how many runs a player has made, how many goals a team has scored and how many points teams have in the table. This event is about showing children that maths has a real everyday practical use and can be fun at the same time.”

Premier League Primary Stars Maths is available in LCFC Community Trust’s partner primary schools from this month.

Community Director Allison Tripney said: “We think it’s really important to show the link between football and academic subjects. We’re very keen to support what teachers do and give the young people in our local schools the best chance to achieve the highest grades possible.”

For more information or to register, visit:www.plprimarystars.com.

More school trips are needed to inspire a passion for heritage as research finds millions of young people never visit museums, galleries or theatres

• Young adults prefer to stay in and watch TV or use social media than go out and visit a museum, gallery or theatre
• More than a third (36%) of 18-30 year olds never visit galleries, and almost a quarter (24%) never visit theatres. While just under one in five never visit museums (19%)
• Engaging children with heritage and culture early on is important as people who were not taken to heritage locations as children on school trips are far less likely to visit them as adults

Schools have a vital role to play in engaging young people in heritage, according to new research by Ecclesiastical, the specialist heritage and education insurer. The research revealed that school trips to historic houses and museums help to inspire a lifelong passion for heritage. The survey of 2,000 18-30 year olds1 across the UK found people who were not taken to heritage locations as children on school trips are far less likely to visit them as adults. The research revealed millions of young people in the UK never visit heritage organisations.

Many young adults are disengaged with the UK’s heritage

The perception that heritage organisations are ‘boring’, distance to travel, and cost are the top three reasons that prevent young adults from visiting heritage organisations. More than a third (36%) of 18-30 year olds never visit galleries, and almost a quarter (24%) never visit theatres. While just under one in five never visit museums (19%). Almost half (48%) never visit stately homes, while a third (33%) never visit castles. The research revealed a stark gender gap in attitudes towards heritage with young men far less likely to visit heritage buildings than women.

Millions of young people never went on school trips to heritage organisations

Many of the young adults surveyed had never visited heritage organisations as a child. More than a third (37%) had never visited a stately home, while a quarter (25%) had never visited a gallery as a child. Just under one in five (19%) had never visited a castle as a child.
People who were not taken to heritage locations as children on school trips, are far less likely to visit them as adults. For example, 60% of those who went to museums as children visit at least once a year now they are adults. While of those who never visited museums as children, 69% never go as adults. In contrast, engaging children with heritage and culture early on can help to inspire a lifelong passion for heritage. For example, 50% of those who visited galleries as children visit at least once a year now they are adults.
Research by The Sutton Trust, which focuses on improving social mobility, has found educational outings such as going on trips to museums and galleries help bright but disadvantaged students to get better A-levels2. While schools are under increasing financial pressures, the charity recommends that enrichment vouchers should be funded through the pupil premium for both primary and secondary pupils. While many young people are missing out, some schools are using methods such as whole-school fundraising, with the proceeds pooled, to help pupils attend school trips.
Faith Kitchen, heritage director at Ecclesiastical added: “As a leading insurer of heritage buildings we’re passionate about history and culture in the UK. Schools have a vital role in engaging young people in heritage and our research highlights that school trips can make a huge difference in inspiring the next generation.”
Lizzie Glithero-West, Chief Executive at The Heritage Alliance commented: “These findings emphasise the importance of introducing children to culture from the start; an organisation that makes families and school parties welcome is investing in the future audience for our historic environment in a tangible way. Ecclesiastical’s research also found over 50% of respondents said that a digital experience inspired them to want to visit in person, and over a third said a good online presence would encourage them to share their experiences of heritage organisations on social media. We have future ambassadors for the sector waiting to be harnessed…”

Chubb to showcase lockdown procedures at Schools and Academies Show


Ashford, Middlesex, England, 6th Mar., 2019. Chubb Fire & Security Limited showcases its sophisticated ‘lockdown’ technology and fire safety solutions at the Schools and Academies Show 2019 to demonstrate its expertise in helping to safeguard students, staff and property in educational establishments. The exhibition will take place on 3-4 April 2019 at the London Excel. Chubb is a part of Carrier, a leading global provider of innovative HVAC, refrigeration, fire, security and building automation technologies.
Lockdown, according to the National Counter Terror Security Office (NaCTSO), is a procedure designed to quickly restrict access and egress to all or part of a site or building through physical measures in response to threat, either external or internal.
Larger sites and higher student numbers mean these procedures have become increasingly important over recent years, with some councils across the UK insisting their schools have lockdown procedures in place. A key challenge for schools is the time it takes to communicate an emergency while also managing a situation and ensuring student safety.
Chubb’s solution uses sister company, EMS’ leading wireless technology to provide a simple, yet effective system which can be deployed quickly to provide a lockdown facility. Small, discreet wireless handsets are provided to teachers and staff, which can be connected to alarms, access control systems and gate mechanisms according to each individual site’s layout and requirements. When a hand-set is triggered, a pre-determined ‘cause and effect’ plan is activated resulting in a series of visual and audio alarms that support school staff in their emergency lockdown procedures.
Mark Pettit, director of strategy and business development, Chubb Fire & Security, said the show will be a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate Chubb’s understanding of the challenges facing educational establishments:
“There is a balance to be struck between providing the utmost in safety and providing a warm and welcoming environment,” he said. “Also, security, or a lack of it can impact Ofsted ratings, and there are no hard and fast rules about what security is required, rather a solution is tailored to the specific environment.
“Fire is also a critical consideration for any school, as fires disrupt the education of thousands of children annually. A well-maintained, effective fire solution is key, and particularly popular is wireless technology that causes minimal disruption during installation.”
In addition to lockdown procedures, Chubb will showcase its capabilities in fire risk assessments, the installation and maintenance of fire, intruder, access control and CCTV systems, as well as the 24/7 monitoring of fire and security systems.
Chubb’s stand will be in the Building Estates and Management Zone, stand number 912.
For more information, visit www.chubb.co.uk.

Bright Hygiene support Oxford Brookes University and 5asideChess event to build awareness of mental health and suicide issues.

Bright Hygiene, one of the UK’s leading specialist kitchen cleaning companies, will be offering their support to 5asideCHESS at Oxford Brookes University. This joint event is particularly poignant as the day of the Oxford Brookes University event is University Mental Health Day.

5asideCHESS is a social enterprise determined to reconnect people in a disconnected world. Their team offer a unique way of addressing the issues around social isolation and the feelings of not fitting in that are increasingly experienced by our university students. This year, they are running events around the country using a short form of the traditional game of chess to help engage and connect individuals. Games are open to players and non-players alike and often result in the sharing of expertise and experiences from one to the other.

Ryan Childs of 5asideCHESS said: “We are incredibly grateful to Bright Hygiene for their support with our enterprise. We all know that issues around mental health and suicide amongst university students is on the rise and we aim to help address these with this important event supporting University Mental Health Day and our ongoing tour.”

He added: “We are supported by The Battling Suicide Bus, which acts as a safe place to meet and talk about concerns, or just share the time of day by saying ‘Hello’ to our team and other visitors. Students often share their feelings of loneliness or disconnection, using the bus or the chess tournaments as a conduit to start the conversation. It also offers a space where students can share memories or leave a testimonial to a friend or family member who has taken their own life.”

Francesca Smith, MD of Bright Hygiene said: “Bright Hygiene are delighted to be supporting the 5asideCHESS team at this important event at Oxford Brookes University and throughout the remainder of their tour of colleges and universities in the UK. We are acutely aware of the many and complex issues young people are facing following our interaction with the team and we want to support their huge efforts in helping this age group share their challenges and fears.”


Britannia Village Primary in Newham celebrates its new status as a Centre of Excellence for ICT in Mathematics

Britannia Village Primary School, a thriving multi-cultural inclusive school in the heart of Newham, East London, already a Google Reference School, is celebrating its new status as a Centre of Excellence for ICT in Mathematics. The school – rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted – was awarded its new status by 3P Learning, international provider of curriculum-mapped learning resources for maths and English and the team behind the number one worldwide resource for maths, Mathletics.

The school will play an important role in the wider community, becoming a go-to point for best practice in the application of ICT software. Head of School, Kiel Richardson is thrilled to be at the helm of this exciting development, and is opening his doors to extend a warm invitation to teaching staff at neighbouring schools keen to find out how they too can use innovative resources such as Mathletics to encourage increased independent engagement.

Since adopting Mathletics, pupils have become more engaged in maths learning at home, enjoying the ‘gamified’ approach that the resource encourages, with its fun activities, animations and competitions where children are able to compete live with other pupils from across the globe.
“Achievements are celebrated regularly within our school which has raised the profile of home learning,” said Kiel Richardson, Head of School.
Commenting on the school’s use of Mathletics, Luke Craig, ICT Leader, said, “It has so much potential to help children master maths and we are happy to share how we use this program.”
At 4.15pm on Wed 27th March, Britannia Village Primary School will host its first free maths best practice session for teachers at neighbouring schools. All are welcome! Please click on the link to book your free space.
If you would like to learn more about Britannia Village Primary School please visit http://www.britannia-village.newham.sch.uk/
To hear more about the impact of Mathletics in primary schools please visit http://uk.mathletics.com/

Smoothwall launches new tools to better protect children in the classroom

Following a year of new leadership, the digital safety provider unveils new rebrand and launches new classroom management and cloud filtering solutions

LEEDS, Monday 4th March 2019 – Smoothwall, a global developer of digital safeguarding solutions for education, has today launched two brand new solutions and unveiled its new corporate rebrand.
A leader in the EdTech space with over four million users worldwide, the company has added Smoothwall Classroom Manager and Smoothwall Cloud Filter to its pioneering suite of products designed to protect students from online harm.
Classroom Manager, the company’s first formal foray into classroom assistance, empowers teachers to monitor and control student devices to help maintain focus and improve learning outcomes in busy digital classrooms, as well as lower their reliance on technical support. The solution allows teachers to manage session times and monitor tabs on current and background screens with the ability to remotely close tabs when necessary.
Additionally, Smoothwall continues to develop its pioneering web filter with the launch of Cloud Filter. Schools will be able to deploy web filtering without the need for hardware, allowing them to filter content on all managed devices, on or offsite. Smoothwall is one of the only providers that give schools a choice of on-premise, cloud or hybrid deployment options to accommodate the requirements of diverse technology environments.
As well as launching Classroom Manager and Cloud Filter, Smoothwall has also unveiled its new corporate rebrand which comprises a top-to-bottom redesign of the company’s identity, website, graphics and communications. Smoothwall’s new brand assets include a logo that contains the company’s, ‘Circle of Trust’, a graphic that reflects the company’s relentless mission to be the most trustworthy global safeguarding provider.
Today’s announcement comes less than a year after former Microsoft and Tesla executive, Georg Ell, joined Smoothwall as Chief Executive Officer.

“Smoothwall started out at the nexus of the dot-com era as an open source firewall – built by users, for users,” said Ell. “In 2019, we are staying true to our pioneering roots, taking our solutions, support and customer relationships to new heights, to ensure that as our digital world evolves, we keep our customers one step ahead. In a world where children are becoming increasingly exposed to online risks, our focus is absolute. Our mission to keep children protected and safe is the pinnacle of everything we do. From enrichment of current solutions, as well as greater customer support and education about the risks, it’s all done in the name of protecting students.”

Major UK-wide literacy study of over 1 million children reveals formula for literacy success

Also reveals this year’s most popular books in schools

• Over 1 million young people’s reading habits studied as the report reaches its eleventh year
• Reading motivation, appropriate reading challenge and reading practice time essential ingredients for literacy success
• J.K Rowling Harry Potter series dominates favourite books
• Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, and David Walliams amongst most-read authors

The biggest ever UK-wide literacy study by literacy and assessment provider Renaissance UK has found a clear formula for children’s literacy success: reading practice, reading for pleasure, and appropriate challenge of books.

The study of over 1 million pupils (1,057,720) across the UK and Ireland for the ‘What Kids Are Reading’ Report also reveals the most popular books and authors among the UK’s school children.

The report also shows that England and Wales are reading the most difficult books of the home nations, but with the worst comprehension, while Scotland, joint with Northern Ireland, has the best comprehension, but pupils in Scotland are reading the easiest books.

The report was written using Renaissance’s data and analysed by University of Dundee academic Professor Keith Topping.

Formula for literacy success

The comprehensive report found that reading practice (estimated engaged reading time) has a direct bearing on attainment of students across the board. The more time spent on reading practice, the better the student performed, regardless of ability or year group.

In addition, the report underlined the importance of reading motivation and reading for pleasure. Pupils’ favourite books were read with a better comprehension, often in spite of the text being of greater difficulty. In addition, less difficult texts which were not as favoured, sometimes had poorer comprehension by children.

Reading time also has a direct bearing on vocabulary expansion. From the beginning of primary school to the end of secondary school, students with an average daily reading time of 30+ minutes are projected to encounter 13.7 million words. At the end of secondary school, their peers who averaged less than 15 minutes of reading per day are likely to be exposed to only 1.5 million words. The difference is more than 12 million words. Children in between, who read 15–29 minutes per day, will encounter an average of 5.7 million words—less than half of the high-reading group but nearly four times that of the low-reading group.

Some researchers estimate students learn one new word of vocabulary for every thousand words read.[1] Using this ratio, a student who reads only 1.5 million words would learn only 1,500 new vocabulary words from reading, while a student who reads 13.7 million words would learn 13,700 new vocabulary terms—more than nine times the amount of vocabulary growth.

Children in primary and secondary school were found to be reading markedly more than last year, particularly those in primary school. While there is little to separate boys and girls in terms of their reading attainment, boys tend to prefer non-fiction, especially in secondary school and in turn, the non-fiction favoured books tend to be male-dominated books such as sports biographies.

The report also found that children should read books with appropriate challenge where possible. If reading is done at a level below the threshold of difficulty which promotes reading growth, referred to in the report as ‘Zone of Proximal Development’, little or no growth in attainment is likely to occur, but if reading is done at a level significantly above this threshold, the text will be too hard, and no or little growth in reading attainment occurs.

The report shows that each of these factors, reading motivation, reading time, and appropriate challenge all come into play for literacy success of a child as not one alone can be attributed to success – and recommends that teachers, librarians and parents should bear this in mind when recommending books for children.

Other recommendations in the report include; teachers and librarians encouraging peer discussion on favourite books, ensuring a diversity of choice of books on offer, and putting in place at least 15 minutes of dedicated reading time for children per day to ensure that they get enough reading practice.

Renaissance Director of Professional Services James Bell said:

“Literacy is at the heart of every successful education. Reading is fundamental to a broad range of subjects. Children need to understand their exam paper they’re facing, whether that’s maths, science, or history.

“Reading motivation, appropriate reading challenge and reading practice – this is the key to literacy success. We have to make sure that children are both challenged and charmed by the books they read.”

Professor Keith Topping said:

“This report gets under the skin of children’s reading habits in the UK, and the results are eye-opening. We can now see that balancing the three factors of appropriated reading challenge, reading practice, and reading motivation is fundamental for children’s reading progress.

“Although important, instilling reading culture in schools isn’t just about dedicated reading time. Teachers and librarians should also encourage lively classroom discussion about fiction, with children sharing favourite authors and titles. They should also be on hand to advise on books with appropriate challenge bespoke to the child’s interests. And of course it is important to encourage children to read outside of school,so letting them take books home is crucial. 

Favourite books and authors

The study for the 2019 What Kids Are Reading Report also found that:

• J.K Rowling dominates the favourite books within primary schools with her Harry Potter titles taking the top 7 spots. Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone comes out on top, with Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets second, and Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban third.
• In secondary schools, J.K Rowling again comes out on top with Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell takes second spot, with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline taking third.

In addition to measuring the books that young people most enjoyed, the study examines their most read books over the last academic year. It found that:

• Jeff Kinney remains the most widely-chosen and read author overall for the sixth year running, followed by David Walliams and then Roald Dahl.
• Jeff Kinney has replaced Roald Dahl as an enduring favourite among primary school pupils by taking five of the top ten most chosen and read books, with Roald Dahl taking just two – but the most widely read for that age group was Bad Dad by David Walliams.
• Roald Dahl, David Walliams and Jeff Kinney were the only authors to appear in the primary school top ten.
• For secondary school pupils, David Walliams’ book Gangsta Granny has remained at the top as the most widely-chosen and read book – with Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid coming second. However, Jeff Kinney’s books make up 6 of the top 10.