Vodafone Foundation has launched the ‘Digital Creators’ Challenge’, a new digital skills competition for secondary schools across the UK*. The programme, which is open to 11-14 year olds, aims to improve young people’s understanding of tech and how it can be used to help the communities in which they live. It will also look to build their digital skills and encourage them to explore a future career in technology.

The challenge, presented in partnership with Teach First, Hopscotch and Apps for Good, will run between September 2019 and January 2020. It will invite young people to work together to design an app to improve lives in their local community, with the chance to win up to £6,000 to spend on IT equipment. Tech advice and practical training will be provided by Vodafone and Apps for Good experts, alongside access to online materials including workbooks and toolkits. In addition, selected schools in government identified Opportunity Areas will be invited to participate in one of ten app development days to help them progress their ideas. In March 2020, shortlisted finalists will be invited to Vodafone’s Technology Hub in Newbury, where they will get to see first-hand how a leading tech company works and showcase their final entries to a panel of tech experts.

Helen Lamprell, Trustee of the Vodafone Foundation and General Counsel and External Affairs Director for Vodafone UK said: “A recent report found only 2.7% of students** chose computing or computer science qualifications at A-Level in the UK. This suggests a digital skills gap in the younger generation – the future workforce for our digital age. Research also shows that girls are under-represented in this area. The Digital Creators’ Challenge aims to close this gap, by building students’ digital skills; raising awareness of the digital careers available at Vodafone and the wider industry; and increasing diversity across technology.”

Previous workshops hosted by partner Apps for Good have shown that after taking part, 53% of students were more interested in specialising in computing and IT during school and further studies, and half of students were more interested in working in the tech sector in the future. Furthermore, 68% of students improved their problem solving skills, 80% of students improved their product design skills and 70% of students improved their confidence.

Schools and community groups are invited to register their interest from today at https://careers.vodafone.co.uk/the-digital-creators-challenge. The programme will run between September 2019 and January 2020, with the winning submission announced in March 2020.

Poio and Kahoot! announce the launch of the English language edition of Poio, empowering millions of children to learn to read through play


Oslo-headquartered Poio (www.poio.com), the app providing a compelling, gamified alternative to traditional learning methods, has today announced the UK launch of its English language platform, empowering millions of British children to learn to read through play.

Poio, launched in 2017 and acquired by Norwegian game-based learning platform Kahoot! in May 2019, has to date helped over 100,000 Scandinavian children obtain the fundamental skills necessary to achieve reading proficiency. The Poio app (and accompanying physical storybook) provides an immersive learning experience for children, typically aged between 3 and 8. Through playing in the app they explore a magical universe inhabited by the eponymous troll and discover reading through linking the sounds of letters to actual words.

The app-based world of Poio, available for £19 in App Store and Google Play, differs from other digital learning tools through its overall focus on play and encouragement, in a safe and secure environment, enabling children to ‘crack the reading code’ and enjoy the reading process. Poio’s goal is to raise literacy proficiency through the utilisation of phonics – the repetitive practice of letter sounds, which can then be blended together to form complete words – introducing children to the fundamental principles of reading.
Poio’s unique learning solution was devised by CEO, educator and Founder, Daniel Senn, out of necessity. Daniel’s son, Leon, had been born with a hearing impairment which meant that traditional learning methods were inadequate. With school curriculums designed for the majority, Daniel felt that children who struggle to learn to read ran the risk of becoming demotivated as they watched their friends and classmates progress. As such, Daniel set out to find a solution, working in close collaboration with fellow educators to devise a tool that encourages self-motivated learning and makes the process of learning to read easier and more enriching for children, irrespective of their circumstances or ability. Consequently, Poio has fast-become a much-loved game for many children, from curious, eager learners, to those that require a different way of thinking in order to achieve their goals.

In launching an English-language version of the app, Poio aims to help address alarming statistics from the Department for Education, which revealed that in 2018, 1 in 5 children left primary school unable to read or write properly, as well as the fact that currently, the UK ranks 17th for literacy among 34 OECD countries.

Daniel Senn, CEO and Founder comments: “At Poio, we know firsthand that school systems around the world are designed for the majority of students that develop at the same pace and do not facilitate for those who might take longer to grasp the principles of reading, or those who learn in different ways. We have seen the efficacy of a gamified learning solution with our son Leon, as well as with hundreds of thousands of students across Scandinavia, and are excited to bring the method to the UK and the wider English-speaking world. Reading is one of life’s most fundamental and essential skills, and we want to make sure that children everywhere have access to a solution that works for them, while also raising literacy levels and increasing children’s enjoyment of the school curriculum and reading list”.

The knock-on effect of poor literacy is clear; further research by the OECD, conducted in 2015, found that a concerning number of 15-year-olds across the UK lacked a minimum level of literacy proficiency (18% in England and Scotland, 15% in Northern Ireland, and 21% in Wales), and the World Literacy Foundation estimates that the yearly cost of functional illiteracy to the UK economy is £37bn.

Poio – The Game and Learning Method
Poio facilitates learning to read within a safe gaming environment that children want to explore. The goal of the game is to help a troll, named Poio, learn to read the storybook he has stolen from letter bugs (characters known as ‘readlings’) in a magical location called Straw Island. In a troll-like fit of pique, Poio has imprisoned these letter bugs due to his frustration at being unable to read. To help the troll learn to read, children must free the readlings and collect words. These words are broken down into individual phonetic letter sounds voiced by the readlings, helping the child familiarise themselves with the letter and its corresponding sound and the particularly challenging vowel sounds.

The child is then encouraged to spell out the word and then drag it into a virtual book in order to advance the story, with the difficulty of the game adapting to each individual child. As the child proceeds, they can earn coins for completing in-game challenges, with this currency enabling them to decorate houses unlocked by finishing tasks.

Poio focusses on encouragement – rather than lingering on mistakes – to ensure that a point of failure is never reached whereby the player cannot proceed within the game. Constant encouraging feedback helps boost the learner’s self-esteem and ensures that they are motivated to continue, a factor especially important for low ability readers.

In addition, as part of Poio’s offering, parents receive an email with progress report and advice. This helps foster a positive relationship within families, rather than the frustration and isolation often experienced with traditional homework. Once progress has been made and the virtual book has been completed, the physical storybook can be obtained by adults to give to their children as a reward.

Acquisition by Kahoot!
In May 2019, Poio was acquired by global learning platform Kahoot!, making it part of the Kahoot! learning experience, next to the DragonBox family of math apps and school curriculum. In addition to launching the UK version of Poio, the acquisition will enable Poio to launch in other languages and improve functionality, enabling millions of children around the world to crack the reading code.

About Poio
Poio is a game-based learning-to-read app, helping children crack the reading code through play. Founded in 2016, Poio has today helped more than 100,000 children to learn to read. Poio has so far been launched in Norway and Sweden, quickly becoming the #1 learn-to-read app in Scandinavia. In June 2019, Poio will be launched globally through a British English version. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway.


British Museum and Samsung renew partnership for further 5 years


 • British Museum and Samsung renew partnership on the biggest digital learning programming in a UK museum

• Announcement comes as the Museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre welcomed record numbers of children and young people in 2018/19

• Expansion of programming will engage more young people with British Museum’s collection using state-of-the-art Samsung technology, including more ‘Virtual Visits’

The British Museum and Samsung today announce a further five-year partnership, which will take their longstanding and award winning collaboration through to its 15th anniversary in 2024. As part of the new agreement, the Museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre (SDDC) will undergo a major refit and there are ambitious plans to further increase the number of schools and families who engage with the Centre both on site and online.

The SDDC, which is based at the Museum in Bloomsbury, was created to provide a state-of-the-art technological hub for children and young people to learn about and interact with the British Museum’s collection. This past year, the Centre welcomed its highest ever number of visitors, with 25,000 school children and families using the SDDC in 2018/19. Since the Centre opened in 2009, 144,000 have visited the space to take part in a wide variety of activities such as workshops, family drop-ins, and facilitated school visits. It provides the largest programme of digital learning activities in any UK museum, and sessions include “Roman Britain treasure challenge” and “Code the Rosetta Stone”. This September the SDDC will reopen after a refurbishment which will include a full upgrade to the latest Samsung technologies. This will ensure that the Centre can continue to provide a first-class learning experience for the increasing number of visitors.

Currently the SDDC welcomes nearly 500 children and young people per week on average, across 19 activities. Over the next five years the aim is to raise these figures, including the ambitious target of increasing the number of families visiting the SDDC by 25% by 2024. This will be achieved in part by providing an expanded programme of events for under-5s as well as self-led tours for schools.

The Museum also wants to ensure that schools that aren’t able to travel to London can enjoy the educational benefits of the Centre. That is why the Virtual Visit programme – where experts at the British Museum run a learning session via a two-way livestream direct to school classrooms – will be expanded to accommodate more than double the number of students taking part each year, to 3,600. This will mean that more pupils from all parts of the UK will be able to experience the SDDC to learn more about subjects drawn from the curriculum and brought to life through the British Museum’s vast collection.

Thanks to Samsung’s generous support, expertise and technology the SDDC schools and family programmes have transformed the Museum’s digital learning provision into a world class, sector leading and award-winning programme. In 2017 it won ‘Best Digital Museum Experience’ by Leading Cultural Destinations and was given an honourable mention in the Education category at the Museums and the Web 2017 GLAMi awards. In April 2018, it won first place in the ‘Best Science & Technology’ category for London in the first annual Hoop Awards. The partnership between Samsung and the British Museum was also recognised as the Best Education and Learning Sponsorship at the UK Sponsorship Awards in 2015. Highlights of the programme over the past decade have included the Virtual Reality Weekend in 2015, which received significant national press coverage, where visitors were able to explore a virtual reality Bronze Age site through Samsung Gear VR headsets. In 2017 the Samsung Great Court Games were launched which saw hundreds of families explore the British Museum’s permanent collections using digital games.

The SDDC has developed in line with evolving audience expectations, teaching trends, technological advances and changes to the National Curriculum and has been used as a model of best practice with many international government officials and museum professionals. The Centre’s audiences also continue to demonstrate the highest levels of satisfaction, with 95% of families surveyed in 2017–18 stating they found the sessions ‘good’ or ‘very good’, and that 96% of teachers said they would recommend the SDDC to a colleague and would bring a student group to the SDDC again.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, says: “Thanks to the generous support of Samsung, the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre at the British Museum has become a centre of excellence in digital learning that is the largest of its kind in the UK. We are delighted that more children and young people than ever before are enjoying all the SDDC has to offer, and the extension of the partnership between Samsung and the Museum for another 5 years demonstrates that we are committed to see those numbers increase further.”

Francis Chun, President & CEO of Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland says: “We are delighted to renew our partnership with the British Museum once more as we mark our 10th anniversary. Our work together to create an award-winning hub for digital learning is a source of real pride for Samsung. We look forward to continuing to use technology to make the British Museum even more special for young people and making this experience accessible to more people than ever before.”

The Samsung Digital Discovery Centre at the British Museum will close for refurbishment on 28 July and reopen in mid-September 2019. Activities for families will continue to run on weekends over the summer in other areas of the Museum. See britishmuseum.org for details.

When words aren’t enough, teachers find a common language with iPad

A single voice calls out “Sabah-ul-khair” and an eager chorus returns the greeting.
At the beginning of each language class at Wilhelm Ferdinand Schussler Day School in Dusseldorf, Germany, teacher Nick Kyriakidis asks a different student to say “good morning” in his or her native language. On this morning, as is the case most often now, that language is Arabic.
The diversity of this classroom is a reflection of the changing face of Germany and Europe. Over the last five years, the region has seen the largest influx of immigrants and refugees since World War II. Many have fled violence and war in the Middle East, which presents a unique set of challenges to educators, who are not only contending with different languages, but entirely different alphabets. In some cases, new arrivals have never stepped foot in a classroom before.

For Kyriakidis, 47, and his colleague Sinaan El Haq Hadjeri, 31, who alternate teaching the class on different days, one of the most powerful tools they have to bridge that language divide is iPad.
“Kids withdraw when they’re afraid of [making] mistakes,” says Kyriakidis. “If we try to reduce this fear, it’s much easier for them to work with us because they don’t have anything to lose.”
“With iPad … it’s different than when they write something [on paper] and I come in with my red pen and say ‘that’s wrong,’” says Hadjeri. “[With iPad] they learn for themselves.”
Of the school’s approximately 325 students who come from 39 different countries, about 20 percent are “Deutsch als Zweitsprache” (DAZ), which translates to “German as a Second Language.” Of the seven students in class today, four are from Syria, and the other three are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Kenya.

Since the school began the 1:1 iPad program, where every student has access to their own iPad, 100 percent of participants have graduated, an increase of more than 20 percent. And nowhere is the difference more transformative than with the DAZ students.
That includes Medina Ibrahim, 13, and her brother Mohammed, 16, who came to Germany with their parents and two younger siblings. Their journey from Aleppo, Syria, took them through Turkey before the family settled in Dusseldorf.
Medina says that when they arrived they were very lonely because they couldn’t speak a word of German and had trouble making friends.

Over the course of the last year, Medina, her brother and the other students in this class have worked with their iPads daily, including using a number of lessons that Kyriakidis created with Keynote. Today, Medina assembles a sentence into the correct word order, and uses Voice Record to say it in German into her iPad. It gives her and the other students the opportunity to sound out foreign words by themselves, without fear of embarrassment, and to work at their own pace.
Schools all across Europe are finding new ways to use Apple technology to help teachers and students connect and communicate.

“I want to be someone who loved them, taught them and inspired them. Someone who helped them arrive.”

At College Daniel Argote in Pau, France, students are sent home with a video lesson recorded by their teacher on their iPad, and the next day work through their “homework” in class. This way, students whose parents aren’t fluent in French are able to extend their learning both inside and outside the classroom.
At Stenkulaskolan School in Malmo, Sweden, where 98 percent of students speak Swedish as a second language, teachers have seen an 80 percent jump in math grades since they started sending home similar instructional videos, recorded by a teacher in Swedish.
And at St. Cyres School in Penarth, Wales, the 2018 senior class of English as an Additional Language students working with iPad increased their grades by an average of 3.8 points during the year — outperforming their peers who speak English or Welsh as their native language for the third year in a row.
In May, Apple announced that Malala Fund was joining its partnership with vocational school Simplon to teach the coding language of Swift to underserved groups in France, with a new focus on refugee and displaced young women. Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum will help them gain the practical skills needed for a career in software development. Apple will provide funding for teacher recruitment and training, as well as devices including iPad.

Kyriakidis and Hadjeri say they wish they had access to today’s technology and support when they were young. As children, both men came to Germany unable to speak the language, and know what it’s like to feel isolated in a new place. It’s also one of the reasons why the students are fiercely connected to both teachers — a feeling that goes both ways.
“They’re like my children,” says Hadjeri, who on numerous occasions arrived at school to find a student absent, only to learn the family had been deported. “I want to be someone who loved them, taught them and inspired them. Someone who helped them arrive — that’s what I always wanted but never had. Someone who tells you … don’t be discouraged, you’ll get there.”

Over the course of the last year, Medina and Mohammed have progressed so much that this will be their last semester of DAZ classes with Kyriakidis and Hadjeri. Medina recently gave a presentation on Napoleon to her history class, created in Keynote and delivered completely in German. She hopes to one day be an engineer, and her brother, a pharmacist.
Through a translator, Medina says that she was happy back in Syria, but now here in Germany, she isn’t just happy, she is safe.


Foxes class from Castlewood Primary in Horsham, West Sussex have today been revealed as the winners of Beano’s Britain’s Funniest Class national joke competition. 


Foxes class from Castlewood Primary in Horsham, West Sussex have today been revealed as the winners of Beano’s Britain’s Funniest Class national joke competition.

Their joke, “At the bank a lady asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over” received over a third of the final 7.4 million votes on Beano.com crowning them the ultimate champions

The national competition, launched in April this year, challenged primary school classes across the country to submit their best gags to be in with a chance of taking home the title of Britain’s Funniest Class 2019. Ten schools were shortlisted by comedian Harry Hill along with a panel of Beano’s gag masters before being put to a public vote on Beano.com to decide the winner.

Beano.com presenter Emma Shaw today presented the class with the official Beano Britain’s Funniest Class trophy along with prizes including a bundle of Beano annuals and comic subscriptions. The class will also be treated to a special joke workshop to help further hone their budding comedy skills.

Final Position    School Class                              Name                                            Shortlisted joke
1st                            Castlewood Primary School       Foxes                                              At the bank a lady asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over.
2nd                          Polperro Primary, Looe              Talland                                           YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are making a joint website. What would it be called?
3rd                           Bispham Endowed CE Primary  6A                                                  A Mexican man says to his friends, ‘I can disappear in three seconds. Uno…dos…’ and then he disappears without a ‘tres’!

All shortlisted schools will have their jokes added to Beano’s joke generator (www.beano.com/jokes) and receive special Beano certificates marking their achievement.

The two runners-up, Polperro Primary and Bispham Endowed CE Primary, will also each receive annuals, comic subscriptions and a special VIP Beano visit in July.

Mike Stirling, Editorial Director at Beano Studios said, “This competition has now proved to Britain and beyond that we have a nation of funny kids! A huge congrats to Castlewood Primary and all the shortlisted schools – keep that LOLZ comedy genius coming!”

Rachel Nunns, Headteacher of Castlewood Primary said, “We are all so very proud of our Foxes class and their joke. We have been amazed by the support of the parents of the class and how the entire school has rallied behind them. Also the immense public support and votes on Beano.com that have led to this wonderful result!”

Katy Smith, Foxes Class Teacher said of the win, “The class are just so thrilled, they can’t quite believe they have won! We all want to say a huge thank you to Beano, we’ve had so much fun writing jokes for the competition.”

To view the final results of Beano’ Britain’s Funniest Class competition visit http://www.beano.com/jokes

Rolls-Royce and Discovery Education Launch Pioneering Partnership to Bring STEM Learning to Derbyshire Primary Schools

An exciting new partnership to inspire the next generation of scientists was launched at Rolls-Royce HQ in Derby on Friday.

Teachers from local primary schools visited the Rolls-Royce Learning and Development Centre to celebrate the start of the new initiative, which sees the company joining forces with Discovery Education to support STEM learning.

Developed to spark children’s interest in future STEM careers, the pioneering collaboration will provide classroom resources to 40 primary schools across the UK – including 25 in Derbyshire, supported by Rolls-Royce. These schools will be given access to Discovery Education STEM Connect, a new service blending dynamic, digital content with hands-on activities which will help teachers to bring science, maths and design & technology to life for young learners.

The Derbyshire teachers attending Friday’s launch event explored the new resources and activities which will boost STEM learning in their primary schools. With a focus on bringing real-world STEM challenges into the classroom, the STEM Connect resources will also encourage children to think about sustainable futures, inspired by The United Nations Sustainability Goals.

Friday’s event was the first in a series of STEM teacher professional learning celebrations also taking place in Birmingham, Sheffield and Bristol as part of this programme.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Community at Rolls-Royce said

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Discovery Education to provide pioneering STEM learning in primary schools across the UK, particularly in areas of disadvantage. Through this collaboration hundreds of children will experience the power of STEM and learn how engineering & technology can be used to better look after our planet.”

Christine Major, Director of Educational Partnerships said:

“Discovery Education is delighted to be partnering with Rolls-Royce to bring STEM learning to hundreds of school children across Derbyshire and beyond. Our future-focused classroom resources will bring real-world context to STEM learning, inspiring the next generation of innovators while educating children about sustainability and the challenges facing our planet.”

The schools that attended Friday’s event were: Beaufort Primary School, Wren Park Primary School, Shelton Junior School, Griffe Field Primary School and Bonsall CE VA Primary School. These schools are among the first in the UK to access the new Discovery Education STEM Connect platform, which will be launched to schools nationwide later this month.

To request more information about Discovery Education STEM Connect please visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/STEM.

Leading reusable water bottle manufacturer Dopper launches a global Changemaker Challenge to accelerate the development of solutions to plastic and water issues

Twenty shortlisted student projects that offer new solutions to reducing plastic waste and cleaning up the world’s water will go head-to-head in a Dragon’s Den style pitch in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Kathmandu this month, 15-16 June 2019. The winners will receive a research grant of up to €5.000, as well as industry mentoring and support to develop their concepts.

Ideas from the UK’s semi-finalists include: a water bottle made from recycled clothing waste; recycling bins that give users points each time a specific plastic item is placed inside them; a database to make companies accountable for their commitment to reducing waste; and a community app to promote the ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure’ principle of redistributing unwanted goods.

The Changemaker Challenge – seeking out the best ideas around the globe from the next generation of environmental waste warriors – is the brainchild of Dutch social enterprise Dopper. The not-for-profit business raises awareness about single-use plastic waste by selling its cradle-to-cradle water bottles (in 2014, the Dopper Original was the world’s first water bottle to receive cradle-to-cradle certification), ploughing profits into increasing access to safe drinking water worldwide through the Dopper Foundation.

Dopper founder Merijn Everaarts, who will act as one of the five UK Challenge judges, has championed education and the next generation of creatives since founding Dopper a decade ago. His inaugural design competition for a sustainable drinking water bottle – the Dopper Original – was won by Delft University alumnus Rinke van Remortel, who went on to found his own successful sustainable design practice.
Dopper launched the Changemaker Challenge in the Netherlands in 2017 and is now widening the net to run simultaneous competitions in Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Kathmandu, the latter being the area of focus for Dopper’s charitable activity. Anyone studying in one of the Challenge’s selected countries can submit their graduation project for the award, as long as their topic highlights clean water and / or plastic waste. The winners will be announced at simultaneous live events on Sunday, 16 June and press are warmly invited to attend.

Last year Dopper extended the challenge to schoolchildren, working with 15,000 primary school students to promote the best ideas from these young blue-sky thinkers. The plan is to work with schoolchildren in a further six countries in 2020, as Everaarts says: “We want to let the next generation know that we need them, that they have to believe in their dreams and that they can make a real difference.”

Children not getting enough sleep, risking poor diets and obesity, BNF survey finds

New research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) reveals that 32 percent of primary and 70 percent of secondary school children reported sleeping less than 9 hours* on the previous night, despite emerging research linking poor sleep quality to less healthy food choices, and increased risk of obesity. On top of this, 44 percent of secondary school children report waking up at least once during the previous night.

The research, conducted as part of BNF Healthy Eating Week, taking place 10-14 June, surveyed 6,018 primary and secondary school students, aged 7 – 16 years, across the UK, and asked questions about their night time routines, sleep, and eating and drinking habits on the previous night. ‘Sleep Well’ is one of the focusses for this year’s BNF Healthy Eating Week, and aims to highlight why getting enough good quality sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Lucy Chambers, Senior Scientist at BNF says: “BNF Healthy Eating Week promotes and celebrates healthy living by focusing on five health challenges which schools and nurseries are encouraged to take on: Have Breakfast, Have 5 A DAY, Drink Plenty, Get Active, and, new for this year, Sleep Well. With more and more emerging research linking lack of sleep to poor dietary choices, and the burgeoning childhood obesity crisis in the UK, we are keen to place a new focus on sleep this year. Where there are so many significant messages about health which teachers must communicate to their pupils, the importance of good quality sleep can often be missed.

“Schools registered for BNF Healthy Eating Week receive a variety of free resources and activities to encourage pupils to embrace the five health challenges. This year, we have created a number of resources for teachers to educate students about sleep in relation to health, and these can be used throughout the year as well as part of BNF Healthy Eating Week activity.”

The survey also reveals what some of the barriers might be to a good night’s sleep, with 59 percent of secondary school students and 49 percent of primary school students stating that, on the night of the survey, they used screens (computers, tablets, phones, television) just before bed. On top of this, one in ten (9 percent) secondary school students reported drinking a caffeinated drink before bed.

Only about a third of secondary and primary school students stated that they felt well rested or wide awake when they woke up and 32 percent of secondary school students said it took them more than 10 minutes to get out of bed after their alarm went off.
Chambers comments: “The implications of a bad night’s sleep can go much further than feeling tired. Where lack of, and disturbed, sleep can lead to both adults and young people feeling grumpy and irritable, regular poor quality sleep can have a negative impact on dietary choices, including higher intakes of calories and more frequent snacking on less healthy foods.”

Amongst the other key elements of BNF Healthy Eating Week are the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast, and drinking plenty of fluids. The survey looked into how schoolchildren start their day, and reveals that a quarter of secondary school students reported not having anything to eat before school, with one in ten primary school students reporting that they did not eat breakfast that day. Of those who did have breakfast, only 17 percent of secondary school children reported including any fruit or vegetables. Additionally, a quarter of secondary school students do not drink anything before starting their school day that day.

Chambers comments: “Breakfast helps children to get the day off to a good start by providing the energy and nutrients their bodies need for good health and it’s also a great opportunity to make a start on your 5 A DAY. It is recommended that we should consume around 6-8 unsweetened drinks every day to keep hydrated. This is particularly important for children who should be reminded to drink fluids regularly, as they may not remember by themselves.

“We hope that BNF Healthy Eating Week will enthuse and educate students about these important health challenges. For the ‘Have Breakfast’ challenge, resources and activities for children include: a ‘Have Breakfast’ meal planner, ‘Guess the Fibre Content’ games, and a ‘My Breakfast Swapper’ chart, with tips for how to make a healthier breakfast. For Drink Plenty, resources provide handy tips on how to stay hydrated, such as keeping a reusable bottle of water with you throughout the day.

“Alongside the concerns about sleep and diet, the survey also found that 15 percent of children reported not brushing their teeth before bed the night before. This is a worrying finding as we know that good dental hygiene is vital for oral health.”

All of the BNF Healthy Eating Week materials have been designed so that the initiative can be continued all year round. Visit www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/hew/bnfhew19.html or www.foodafactoflife.org.uk for more information.

Boris Johnson attends ceremony to mark school’s playful achievement

While others are cutting school breaktimes to make way for more lessons, this Uxbridge school is harnessing the power of playtimes

Monday 10 June: Boris Johnson MP joined staff, pupils and parents at Hermitage Primary in Uxbridge on Friday at a ceremony to mark their achievement in making playtimes a key part of the school day. The school received a Platinum Award for their completion of the Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) primary programme – an award-winning1 mentor supported school improvement programme that addresses all the areas that schools must plan for to strategically and sustainably improve the quality of playtimes.
Research shows that play contributes to children’s physical and emotional health, wellbeing, resilience, approach to learning and enjoyment of school. Given the importance of play in children’s lives and current concerns about children’s physical activity levels, mental health and educational attainment, there are considerable benefits for children and schools to making playtime a key part of the school day. Despite this, a recent report from UCL’s Institute of Education found that school breaktimes are being squeezed. Hermitage Primary Headteacher Elaine D’Souza said:
“OPAL has revolutionised playtimes at our school. Children are so engaged that behaviour incidents have reduced by 80 per cent. Children who don’t like participating in group sports are running around the playground and taking the lead in games. We are delighted to receive our Platinum OPAL award and to have welcomed Boris Johnson to Hermitage to witness the power of outdoor playtimes – I believe that Government has an important role to play in setting the standards for school breaktimes.”
OPAL was developed by the organisation’s founder, Michael Follett, who is the UK’s most experienced expert on school playtimes. Michael said:
“Hermitage Primary is a shining example of what can be achieved when staff, children and parents work together to make playtimes better. I believe that improving playtimes is the key to improving the quality of life for every child in the UK – and it doesn’t have to cost a penny more than is already in existing budgets. Schools currently spend £400 million on supervising playtimes, but the job is a policing role, not a productive one. If every school created a lead post of play coordinator to take a strategic approach to playtime, children and teachers would reap the benefits.”

New research highlights schools’ lack of confidence in handling online abuse

RM Education has today released key findings from its latest research – conducted in association with the NSPCC – into online safety policy and practice in UK schools.

The survey asked 1,158 senior leaders, designated safeguarding leads and network managers from primary and secondary schools for their views and experiences in creating safe online environments for pupils.

Results revealed that only 37 per cent felt very confident in identifying and handling online abuse incidents involving children, while 57 per cent of secondary school respondents and 77 per cent of primary school respondents felt only somewhat confident, or unconfident, in their understanding of the threats students face online.

When asked how they would approach a coercive sexting incident between pupils, in which an image was circulated around school, just 61 per cent said they would confiscate the device and inform parents and police.

The remainder of responses to this question were varied, suggesting inconsistencies in awareness around recommended practices. 7 per cent of education professionals said they would forward the image on, which directly contradicts the government’s advice on Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Schools also indicated they were unclear around where the ultimate responsibility for online safeguarding lay. Only a quarter of respondents cited their Designated Safeguarding Lead as the main point of contact for online safety, while nearly half (49 per cent) of heads in primary schools were defined as the lead.

Underpinning these statistics was an overall lack of confidence from respondents in their school’s approach to online safety. The majority of secondary school professionals were only ‘somewhat confident’ in their school’s approach, while the majority of primary school professionals were ‘unconfident’. Only 15 per cent of primary and 18 per cent of secondary respondents said they were ‘very confident’ in their school’s approach.

Tools for tackling online threats also varied between primary and secondary schools. While 97 per cent of all respondents had filtering software in place at their school, 30 per cent of secondary schools and a staggering 73 per cent of primary schools had no software in place to monitor students’ online activity and identify potential threats or risks of harm.

A recurring theme in the research appears to be training, with a third of schools not providing staff with regular online safety training and a further 12 per cent providing training only when requested by staff.

However, most respondents felt the frequency of training would have little impact on their confidence in dealing with online safety incidents, and a quarter of respondents made no changes to any aspect of how they approach and manage online safety after training.

Overall, the research confirms that schools need a greater degree of support to implement and apply effective online safety training and policies.

Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of RM Education, said: “The results of the survey have further highlighted the challenges we frequently hear from schools. Online safety is a huge concern, and while many schools have invested time and effort into online safety, there is still significant work to be done to help staff feel more confident in ensuring their young learners are protected online.”

Almudena Lara, NSPCC Head of Policy, added: “Social media, sexting and online pornography did not exist a generation ago and this survey underlines how crucial it is that today’s teachers feel equipped to help their pupils navigate healthy relationships in the modern world.

“As part of the Government’s rollout of compulsory relationships and sex education lessons in schools, there needs to be comprehensive training and support in place to help teachers incorporate online safety awareness into this programme.”

The survey also explored how online safeguarding practices were determined and implemented. Just 9 per cent of respondents involved students in shaping their school’s approach, while 32 per cent didn’t involve students in developing policies. This could represent a significant area of opportunity for safeguarding leads seeking to build and embed a more effective whole-school approach.

RM works with thousands of schools and colleges across the UK, using technology solutions to help teachers to teach and learners to learn. Their team of experts provide guidance and support for schools, helping them to develop the systems and policies to ensure children can be safe online.

For more information, visit www.rm.com