Free Compliance for ALL Schools

Compliance management experts iAM Compliant are on a mission to make sure that all schools are operating fully within the law.

Every school has a legal duty of care to their staff, pupils and visitors to their premises. The problem is that remaining within the law can be costly and time-consuming if not managed efficiently. iAM Compliant allows every school to have a free user of their school compliance management software.

Luke Pargeter, Co Founder and CEO of iAM Compliant explains,

“Having visited over 200 UK schools in the last 5 years, it is heartbreaking to see some with huge deficits who cannot even afford stationary until the new school year. School compliance should never be viewed as a luxury. Compliance is a necessity for the safety and wellbeing of each all staff, pupils and visitors, and so we believe offering a free account ensures that no school is left behind in our quest to make every school in the UK compliant.”

This software covers the three key areas of school premises tasks, health and safety training and policies and risk. The digital basis of the system allows reports to be stored easily and safely and updates to be circulated with ease. The extensive learning library is fun and easy to use; we are determined to prove that safety and compliance need not be boring! The free plan gives one user access to the full premises compliance toolkit including incident and accident reporting, personalised audits and risk assessments, fire safety training and how-to video guides for safety and compliance tasks. Reminders and alerts for overdue maintenance and other projects are also included, as well as cost-saving insights.

Recently the learning library has been updated with a free Covid-19 overview course that explains more about the virus, how to spot the signs and other important information regarding face masks and PPE. The iAM Compliant Team also created a library of Covid-19 forms supporting schools as they returned and maintained their premises.

Schools are busy environments and above all iAM Compliant want to ensure that the safety of staff, pupils and visitors can be ensured easily and with clarity.

Mirror Thinking How Role Models Make Us Human Fiona Murden

9 th July 2020 Hardback 9781472975805 £16.99

The first book to explore the importance of role models in shaping our lives through the power of the brain’s mirror neurone, widely accepted as one of the most important advances in modern neuroscience. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who shall I imitate, who shall I call? Mirror Thinking will challenge your beliefs about role models and social circles, unlocking new possibilities for anyone and everyone.” — Aaron Dignan, author of Brave New Work Most of us have someone we look up to and consider a ‘role model’, whether it’s a parent, a teacher or a manager. In fact, a lot of people we come into contact with, whether we consider them a role model or not, probably have more of an impact on us than we realise. The area of the brain that we have to thank for this is our mirror neurone, which learns through imitation, enabling us to grow and develop through the transfer of behaviours and knowledge. Some of this is through conscious learning, but there are many influences we are unaware of. Every interaction we have powerfully imprints on our brain through this neurone, regardless of whether it is something we want to absorb or not. In Mirror Thinking, Fiona Murden uses her experience and insight as a psychologist to empower us to leverage the mirror system to our advantage. Fiona unpacks the psychological principles behind the system in a real and relatable way. Readers are given the skills to consciously harness this knowledge and take more control over this incredible system. She also explores the broader societal implications of the system, including the influence of social media and celebrities, and considers the impact it is having on the younger population of today. Finally, Fiona looks at what it takes to be a great role model to others. If people are mirroring you, what are the things you’d prefer others not to repeat? And what do you want to see played back to you in someone else’s behaviour? Fiona Murden is a Chartered Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, author and public speaker. She gained an MSc in Psychology from the University of London, and started her career at Andersen Consulting. Fiona has worked with high performers from across industries, sport, business and politics for the last 16 years, helping them to achieve optimal performance. Her speaking commitments take her from the Cabinet Office and the NHS to the Oxford Literary Festival and Red Smart Woman’s Week. Fiona’s first book, Defining You, was Silver winner at the Axion Business Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Business Book of the Year. Fiona is founder of the charity Dot-to-Dot aimed at ‘joining the dots on human behaviour’.

“As a professional athlete I found Fiona’s book very insightful on both a professional and personal level. Mirror thinking is something we all do and Fiona gives a great insight on how this influences not just our life but those around us. I highly recommend adding this book to your collection.” David Smith MBE, Nike Athlete, 2x World Champion and London 2012 Gold Medallist.

Primary Academies in West Yorkshire receive Science Quality Award

Bradford based academies receive Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM)

Shibden Head Primary Academy and Wilsden Primary School have received the PSQM GILT and PSQM accreditations respectively, for demonstrating their commitment to excellence in science teaching and learning.

These national accreditations were awarded to the schools in recognition of their effective leadership in science, successful teacher autonomy and innovation, development into science teaching and learning, and good practice shared with other schools within the region.

This year long continued professional development programme has helped the schools grow on their already successful science programmes.

In feedback, Shibden Head was celebrated for its brave modern approaches to learning using floor book and pupil-led methods, whilst Wilsden was praised for its development and collaborative efforts in making science a core subject across the school.

In September, both schools hope to further enhance their science offering and will be encouraging parents and staff to get involved with pupils in initiatives such as the Great Science Share.

The schools are amongst 160 schools from across the country who have received this prestigious accreditation.

Associate Professor Jane Turner, PSQM National Director said: “Schools that have achieved a Primary Science Quality Mark have demonstrated a significant commitment to science teaching and learning, even at this challenging time for schools. 

“Children are engaging with great science both in and outside the classroom, developing positive attitudes towards science as well as secure scientific understanding and skills.

“Science subject leaders, their colleagues, head teachers, children, parents and governors should be very proud.”

Sarah Thornton, headteacher of Shibden Head Primary Academy commented: “Over the last few years our science curriculum has become embedded throughout the school and to be re-accredited with this award shows the continued commitment of our teachers, staff, pupil and parents.

“I would like to give particular thanks to Emma Plows and Emily Rankin who led on this project and through what has been a tremendously difficult year have once again helped ensure our science teaching and pupil learning remains exemplary.”

Mandy Heppinstall Science Lead at Wilsden Primary School added: “We are delighted to have been awarded the PSQM award and to have strengthened our approach to science across all year groups throughout this school year.

“Since the start of the lockdown period our staff, pupils and parents have adapted to new ways of working and this is really a testament to everyone’s hard work, I look forward to welcoming everyone back in September and championing this achievement further in the new academic year.”

Shibden Head Primary Academy and Wilsden Primary School both operate as part of Focus Trust – a charitable multi-academy trust which is based in the North West of England with a vision of providing an engaging and challenging learning environment where the children are happy.

Find out more about the PSQM at

Over 15,000 period products sent to student’s homes by Hey Girls and education partners during Covid-19.

Periods don’t stop for pandemics, and neither does the fact that students across the UK will inevitably be facing period poverty during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Social enterprise Hey Girls’ mission since being founded in 2018 is to eradicate period poverty in the UK, something which will become harder once the true economic impact of Covid-19 becomes clear.

Since 2018, Hey Girls has been working with local authorities, schools and colleges in Scotland and since 2020 in Wales to deliver free period products to students, constituents and service users. 

As soon as the lockdown came into place, Hey Girls had to be innovative to make sure that products were able to reach those in need in a different way.  Working with 22 schools, colleges and universities in the UK they have been delivering home packs directly to student’s homes during the pandemic, initially with enough products to provide period protection for 3 months.

Before the global pandemic, a study by Plan UK found that 1 in 10 girls and women in the UK are currently unable to afford period products from month to month resorting to sometimes using household items like socks, toilet roll or newspaper.

Since 2018 Hey Girls has been working with 37 local authorities, this new partnership innovation has seen 22 educational settings agree to support their students during the pandemic with 15,119 period products sent directly to students properties..

Not only have the home packs meant that more people have access to period products, but many education settings have opted for offering reusable products to their service users.  This has seen a rise in people trying more sustainable and environmentally friendly methods to manage their periods.

Celia Hodson, Founder Hey Girls said: “We don’t believe anyone should be denied access to period products, during a global pandemic or not.  Access to period products is a human right, yet sadly there is still work to be done across the UK to recognise this.

It’s been incredible to witness, however, the acknowledgement from so many educational institutes that this issue is so important, especially during Covid-19.  Working with our partners to provide period protection during the Coronavirus Pandemic hopefully means that students have one less thing to worry about and can feel confident whilst on their periods.”

We are working to expand this initiative across the UK, and welcome the opportunity to work with new councils, schools and colleges to keep everyone period protected during Covid-19.”

A smarter network for Bournemouth University

Intelligent connectivity for a brighter future

Collaboration. Bournemouth University (BU) believes this is the key to encouraging learning, advancing knowledge and enriching society. “We believe that we can do this best by bringing together research, education and practise to create something greater than the sum of its parts,” says Dave Dawson, BU’s IT project manager. One example of this is the university’s animation school, which blends creativity and innovation to stay at the forefront of Hollywood visual effects.
“The network is a keystone service that underpins the delivery of [this] fusion,” says Dave. But to support this vision for the years ahead, BU needed to upgrade. So, we helped them achieve a UK-first: a mass-deployed Cisco SD-Access network.

A network fit for future demand

The university’s network had remained relatively unchanged for over 10 years. Although it still performed well, it was taking up more and more of the IT team’s time to maintain and manage. Time that they could better use on critical projects.

The network also wasn’t agile enough to keep up with growing digital demands. Students, researchers and lecturers – all using more devices than ever before – wanted to get online instantly and work flexibly. But even switching a class to a different room could take weeks to organise. It was stifling BU’s collaborative spirit.

The new network was expected to handle current demand, reduce carbon emissions and remain flexible as the campus expanded. It had to become more agile and Cisco SDA has enabled it to be so.

“We want to be enablers for whatever the university wants to do. Our goal is to facilitate innovation and agility and remove technology blockers.” Mark Woods, Communications Architect, Bournemouth University

Trailblazing a UK-first solution

The university’s IT team thought they’d need to build a bespoke network from scratch. But we knew one already existed, it just hadn’t come to market yet: SD-Access. This is a software-defined LAN (local area network) made up from modular, programmable components. It’s secure. It’s fast. It can be scaled up easily to meet increasing demand. And the entire wireless network is managed from one central console.

With the help of procurement frameworks, BU became the UK’s first institution to be installed with Cisco SD-Access. As this was a brand new product, there were a lot of unknowns. So we invested in a replica for our development lab, to test the impact of changes before rolling them out live to the university.

We worked very closely with BU’s IT team during implementation, even sharing a joint action log. And we were uniquely positioned to liaise between Cisco and BU. We could highlight any bugs our tests uncovered, and fast-track feedback from the university directly to Cisco’s engineers, helping to shape the product.

Reaping the benefits of a smarter network

Bournemouth University now has a fast and agile network. The IT team can set up virtual networks for students, researchers and lecturers in minutes, not weeks. They can easily apply policies to meet the needs of the expanding campus. It’s no longer a drain on resources; it’s making the most of them.

SD-Access comes with a cloud-based portal, which provides a single pane of glass to manage the network from. The IT Team can quickly make changes from anywhere; freeing up their time to focus on key projects.

This end-to-end visibility is also benefiting the university’s researchers. For one thing, it’s helping them win funding. “When we apply for European funding schemes, we now make direct reference to this state-of-the-art architecture,” says Vasilis Katos, BU’s professor of cybersecurity. “It’s a real leveraging point.”

They’re also using SD-Access as a research tool. It’s integrated diagnostic tools compare wired and wireless activity.
Vasilis and his colleagues are using these findings as a model for cutting-edge 5G smart city research.

As always, security is a priority. Smarter authentication means only the right people get access to the applications they need. And the network’s segmented: if a breach should happen in one area, data in other areas stays protected. Building on the successful delivery of SD-Access, new projects to refresh the campus wireless network and deploy new next-generation firewalls were implemented. Each bringing fast, secure connections for everybody’s mobile devices. Helping people across the University work even better together. And supporting BU’s vision of delivering collaborative learning that’s fit for the future.

“With SD-Access, our infrastructure is more secure and easier to scale. It means our staff and students can embrace new ways of working, from the cloud to the Internet of Things, helping us offer a world-class learning experience.”

Dave Dawson – IT project manager, Bournemouth University

For more information Visit:

Juniper Education partners with Lexplore Analytics bringing award-winning AI literacy assessment to schools

Juniper Education has today announced a partnership with Lexplore Analytics to provide schools with Lexplore’s cutting-edge reading assessment, which uses eye-tracking and AI technology to quickly identify potential issues with reading in children as young as six.

The eye tracking technology helps teachers to immediately highlight issues with children’s reading and pick up when a child would benefit from being given more challenging reading materials, so they can act quickly to support their pupils.

The partnership brings Lexplore Analytics into Juniper’s existing offering of software and services used by more than 7,000 schools, which includes advanced pupil assessment tracking tools and an innovative management information system (MIS).

Gavin Freed, chairman of Juniper Education, said: “Many schools are deeply concerned about the impact of the recent school closures on their pupils’ learning progress and they want to help children get back on track as quickly as possible.

“Our partnership with Lexplore Analytics puts literacy at the heart of our offering and gives teachers a holistic toolkit of assessments they can use to prevent children from falling behind as they return to the classroom.”

Based on 30 years of research, Lexplore Analytics tracks the way a child’s eyes move when they read two passages of text, one out loud and one in their head. The technology records how long the child’s eyes rest on one word, and how quickly the eyes move forwards and backwards across a series of words, to identify any reading issues a child may be struggling with.

The solution can spot if a child may be at risk of specific difficulties such as dyslexia, even when they have developed coping strategies to mask problems over time. It can help teachers to ensure gifted readers are appropriately stretched too.

There is no writing involved for children and results are available in minutes, providing a true picture of a child’s reading skills in isolation of their writing or English language ability.

Stephen Park, managing director of Lexplore Analytics in the UK, said, “Juniper is one of the biggest names in pupil tracking in schools and there’s a natural synergy between our two organisations. Through this partnership, we can fulfil a shared desire to ensure that schools across the globe have the cutting-edge tools they need to tackle barriers to literacy and unlock their pupils’ true potential.”

Lexplore Analytics ranked 8th in Europe’s top 50 most innovative companies in 2019. A finalist in the BETT Awards 2019 for innovation, the company won the Best Intelligent Cloud Solution by Microsoft, a Teach Primary SEND Award and its eye-tracking reading assessment has been accredited by the British Dyslexia Association.

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Louise Everett, The Influence Crowd (on behalf of Juniper Education). Tel: 07855 257927.

How can I help alleviate supply challenges post Covid-19 lockdown?

allmanhall’s Procurement Director, Mike Meek, has been providing clients with some helpful and practical advice around procurement and supply chain management. Working with an expert partner for your food procurement will ensure and enable this approach and deliver the cost savings and support that may be essential for you, at this time.

Key tips:

  • Provide advanced notice of reopening wherever possible (2 weeks ideally)
  • Forecast phased return to help suppliers plan stock levels and resources
  • Communicate potential changes to your future product mix
  • Share new protocols and business processes relevant to your supply chain
  • Identify supply chain weaknesses and build contingency for potential product shortages or supply disruption
  • Collaborate with your supply network

An essential concept to remember when planning to re-start operations is that food supply chains operate on a just-in-time (JIT) basis. JIT helps all segments of the supply chain become highly efficient by removing unnecessary waste – both physical and financial.

So, what does this mean and what are the benefits? Well, think of the supply chain as a fast-moving conveyor belt, where efficiency gains are attained at each stage by maintaining perpetual motion and curtailing downtime, work-in-progress, inactive assets, and money tied up in stock. Most significantly for enthusiastic caterers, JIT has led to significant enhancements in product quality, product shelf-life, freshness, and kept food relatively cheap.

There can be downsides too and these should be considered when reopening catering facilities. JIT supply chains can be vulnerable to demand surges or disruption where the effects can oscillate throughout the entire supply chain. On this basis, it is good practice to provide advanced notification of site resumption, perhaps even two weeks’ notice. This will help suppliers refine their operational planning, including supply chain, warehousing, distribution, and furloughed workers.

As service starts to reopen, suppliers will be keen to optimise or revive distribution routes which may result in some re-routing of existing delivery schedules. Whilst not always the case, it is important to consider that some changes to delivery days and delivery frequency may be enacted, with the option for Saturday deliveries potentially removed.

As inventories are not normally stockpiled it is also important to identify and communicate anticipated volume changes, particularly when considering a phased re-opening. This should include menu changes and any new product lines that may be required. Remember, inventory management systems use historic purchase data to help forecast future demand, so it is easy to see how significant changes may lead to impaired service performance if not communicated effectively.

Time to use our imagination again and revisit our high-speed conveyor belt concept. When product or components flow through the supply chain they increase in cost. The raw material component generally only accounts for a small proportion of the overall final delivered cost; about twenty per cent in the UK. Other most notable cost factors include transport, energy and labour attributed to the three connected sectors: agriculture, food processing industry and distribution sectors.

Wastage incurred further along the supply chain is, therefore, more costly. For assiduous caterers, any wastage incurred at this stage is when the product cost is at its greatest. It has already incurred all the costs associated with farming, manufacture, distribution, and potentially catering production. On this basis, it is not only important to manage your wastage but to appreciate that effective pre-planning and communication with your suppliers can significantly reduce unnecessary wastage for them too.

Covid-19 has impacted all segments of the wider supply chain. Clear communication, advanced planning and due consideration will help suppliers improve service performance and manage costs much more effectively whilst navigating through these challenging times. This may require a greater degree of flexibility during these initial stages of business resumption, but you will reap the rewards in the long run.

Should you collaborate with suppliers to alleviate challenges? I would say it is a necessity. allmanhall can help and are already providing support.

See here for more:

Drug offences in schools across country rise

Drug offences in schools across country rise New data reveals shocking numbers of Cannabis and Class A drug criminality and trafficking happening in schools
01 July 2020 New data obtained under FOI – individual regional police force data available on request Cannabis offences rise by 47%, hard drug offences rise by 65%, drug trafficking offences rise by 167% Worst offending regions for drug offences in schools revealed Drug experts urge teachers to take preventative, collaborative action to ease parent’s fears The number of offences for the possession of Cannabis, the possession of hard controlled drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstasy and drug trafficking in schools, colleges and Universities across England have all risen in the last few years, according to new insight by leading drug addiction experts UKAT. As part of a Freedom of Information Request, UKAT asked all Police Constabularies in the country for the number of offences for the possession of cannabis, possession of other controlled drugs and drug trafficking recorded in schools, colleges and Universities across their specific patch.  Of the responses gained, collectively the results show that in just four years, drug offences for cannabis possession have almost doubled, from 371 in 2015 to 544 in 2019, a 47% rise.  The data also shows a concerning uplift in the number of offences for the possession of controlled drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstasy. 63 offences were recorded back in 2015 and 104 last year, a 65% rise in just four years.  The investigation has been the catalyst for the launch of the UKAT Addiction Education Programme ( )- a completely free, interactive workshop led by a drug and alcohol specialist, on site in schools, colleges and Universities across the country to educate and engage with pupils on the dangers of substance misuse and peer pressure.  Part of the workshop explores the risks that come with selling drugs, something that is proven to be happening more and more in schools across the country.  UKAT’s data shows that trafficking in controlled drugs offences have risen by a staggering 167% in four years, from 39 offences back in 2015 to 104 in 2019. Nuno Albuquerque, Treatment Lead at UKAT explains the importance of education providers in England taking proactive steps to prevent the problem developing further; “Our investigation has unearthed every parents worst nightmare; that some children are exposed to and involved in drugs whilst at school; a place they thought they’d be safe at.  “It’s important to stress the power of preventative action and education when it comes to substances, but those who teach may not have the time or the knowledge to confidently and correctly educate pupils on the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse.  “That’s why our addiction awareness programme has launched; to take this burden from the teachers who are already forced to wear many hats and to spin many plates, and to place it in the hands of our addiction experts.  “We are so passionate about working with education providers across the country to collaborate and prevent children from developing life-changing problems with drugs and alcohol. Together, we can make a real difference.”  It’s not just UKAT’s investigation which justifies the need for schools to take greater proactive action when it comes to tackling substance misuse on their premises.  Latest data from NHS England shows that a staggering 38% of pupils aged 11-15 years old were offered drugs in 2018. Furthermore, 19% of 15 year olds used drugs last month (data from 2018) and 29% of 15 year olds who were offered Class A drugs took them. Nuno continues; “Misusing drugs and alcohol as a child can cause significant short and long term life and health problems. The child could become physically and psychologically dependent on the substance, which more often than not, leads to taking ‘harder’ substances or consuming more alcohol in order to feel any effect.  “Because of their substance use, the child could miss out on their education, resulting in a lack of employability. They could then turn to crime to fund their lifestyle and to ‘fit in’ with others around them. Taking proactive, preventative measures will go a long way to ensuring this doesn’t happen to the children at schools in this country.” UKAT’s data takes into account 19 Police Constabulary responses, including Essex Police, Merseyside Police, Devon & Cornwall Police, West Yorkshire Police, Leicestershire Police, and Northamptonshire Police, all of which have recorded that the number of offences for the possession of Cannabis had more than doubled in schools across their patch from 2015 to 2019.  Surrey Police reported a striking rise in the number of hard, controlled drug offences recorded in local schools, colleges and Universities; from 3 in 2015 to 21 in 2019 and the highest number of offences across all police forces.  Drug trafficking offences in schools are the highest in the West Midlands, with 12 recorded last year compared with just 1 recorded back in 2015.   The remaining 20 Police Constabularies either failed to provide the requested data to UKAT under their statutory obligation or were unable to extract comparable data for analysis.  Details on the UKAT Addiction Education Programme can be found here.(link to )
Signs of Drug Use in Children (by Therapists at the UK Addiction Treatment Group)  Changes in mood, eating and sleeping patternsSocialising with different friendsEmotional distancing and isolating from family or loved onesLying or being evasive about whereabouts after school A lack of interest in personal appearance or hygiene Drug paraphernalia in bedroom, school bags, pockets Physical changes like weight loss, bloodshot eyes, regular headaches and sore throats 


** Gen Z – and their teachers – say online learning is here to stay **

** In a major survey, 6 in 10 teens favour blended learning, wanting some or all lessons online and 8 in 10 teachers want it to become a permanent fixture of classroom practice **

Throughout lockdown, online learning has proved a lifeline for students up and down the country, and with all students due to be back in school from September, a ‘blended’ learning approach – which combines online and classroom teaching – looks here to stay.

According to a survey by content provider GCSEPod, the ‘lockdown effect’ – which has seen students flocking in record numbers to its site – could have a profound and lasting impact on teaching practices for generations to come.

Of the 5,000 students surveyed:

  • 64% said they wanted online learning to form all or part of their studies. Within this, 29% said they would like to do at least half of their work online and 10% said they wanted all their lessons to be online.

Of the 800 teachers surveyed:

  • Over half said blended learning was here to stay and over 80% said they were comfortable with online learning being a permanent fixture of teaching.

Used by 430,000 secondary school students, the online learning site has seen a recent surge in engagement from 14 and 15 year-olds, with its easily streamed and downloadable content available to watch at any hour of the day on any device. The platform appears to have struck a chord with teenagers who can spend small chunks of time studying, when it suits them, on their chosen device. 

1 million ready-made assignments have been submitted – and marked – by teachers, since lockdown – more than in the past two years combined.

Co-founder and Director of GCSEPod Anthony Coxon said:
“Our platform reaches young learners through something they already love – technology. It works around busy schedules, allowing students to focus on their most pressing needs, and receive quick and instructive feedback.

“It cuts the workload of teachers with its easy trouble-shooting tools and by engaging students who may not feel confident asking questions in the classroom, whether real or virtual / online.
“The current crisis has only served to strengthen the case for blended learning in schools. Online learning has earned its place at the table, and when combined with strong classroom-based practice, can be a great enabler and leveller. It’s clear that it is here to stay.”

GCSEPod provides short three to five-minute audio-visual learning aids, known as Pods, written by skilled specialists across 27 different subjects. Students can take assessment into their own hands and test their knowledge using the unique Check and Challenge feature and receive instant feedback, which immediately highlights any knowledge gaps they may have. Teachers can see how well their students are progressing and, because of the way the feature has been developed, how they are thinking, making it very easy to see where they may need additional support. 

Zabar Hussain, Head of IT at Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham, said:

“The key is to use GCSEPod in parallel with lessons, so for every topic/lesson taught teachers set the appropriate GCSEPod homework task.  It works as a flip tool mechanism, with pupils accessing the pods prior to their lessons, enabling the teacher to discuss and cement the learning in the classroom.”

The Pods can be viewed on a smartphone by students who do not have access to a laptop or tablet.  Content can be downloaded, watched offline and the collateral that accompanies perfect ‘catch-up’ programmes like Achieve English and Maths can be printed and sent home from school, should the students not have access to the internet.  

In terms of subject area, Maths has seen one of the biggest surges in Pod downloads since lockdown, with a 50% increase from pre-lockdown levels, which suggests students are serious about improving in core subjects. With demand so high, GCSEPod has announced a partnership with the BBC on Bitesize Daily Maths lessons for teenagers, making its content available more widely.  

Trauma-Informed Practice expertise guides teachers in supporting pupils’ return to school

School teachers on Teesside University’s MA Education (Trauma-Informed Practice) have highlighted how they are applying their studies to support pupils who have been directly affected by Covid-19 and the implications of lockdown.

With schools remaining open to key worker and vulnerable children throughout the pandemic, and in the past month ‘reopening’ for further year groups, students on the course have been practising their learnings around what constitutes a traumatic event and how it impacts upon children and young people. The MA, which launched last September and can be studied full-time or part-time, is designed to enable teachers to develop capacity to operate as reflective professionals in trauma-informed educational settings.

Katie Harris, Team Leader for Year 3/4 pupils at Breckon Hill Primary School in Middlesbrough, who is studying the programme part-time and due to complete her MA in September 2021, said: “The course has helped me to support pupils affected by the pandemic because it has taught me to question behaviour and ask why it is occurring. I am better prepared to help a child identity their feelings and help them find ways to feel safer. I appreciate the importance of taking the time to talk to children about how they are feeling and working together to find strategies to help. The course and assignments have provided me with a bank of ideas that I can draw on to use in the classroom.”

She explained how the MA was preparing her for better supporting Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), trauma-exposed and vulnerable pupils. “I signed up to the course as I wanted to know more about the effects of trauma on children and how best to help them in an education setting,” Katie said. “This was not covered when I was training as a teacher and I wanted to extend my own knowledge in order to best support the children in my care. Now I have a better understanding of the brain’s development, the barriers that can prevent ‘normal’ development, and how these may present themselves in a classroom. I also understand how some classroom practices can negatively affect pupils and I am learning to adapt these in order to reduce triggers and promote feelings of safety.”

Katie added that she felt able to better understand her pupils and identify how she can help them feel safer and happier in school. “I remember sitting in a lecture after a particularly long day and suddenly realising just how important schools and teachers are to a child’s life,” she revealed. “All teachers want to make a difference, but I never truly understood the power and influence we could have until then. Some of the content covered within the MA should be part of CPD for all teachers because it is so important to understand the barriers to learning that ACEs and trauma present and how this affects a child’s behaviour in the classroom.”

Sophie Nolan, a Year 3 teacher at another primary school, is also among the first cohort of students on the MA Education (Trauma-Informed Practice) based in Teesside’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law.

“I feel privileged being able to understand, to a certain extent, how this pandemic may affect children’s relationships, academic achievement and personal growth. Comprehending the science behind a child’s brain functions has enabled me to better educate myself and my colleagues about the importance of the relationships we have with our pupils and how much of an impact we can have on them. Additionally, learning about many different techniques and practises that can help children, such as mindfulness, allows me to implement them to help pupils at my school during what I predict will be a difficult transition back to school,” she said.

Having started the MA last year, Sophie pointed to “a sense of excitement knowing that my pedagogy was growing” as she was able to integrate her new knowledge into practice. “Over the past few years, I have enjoyed the opportunity of teaching in a challenging area and helping many pupils who face many different hardships every day,” she said. “I know I have taken my role as a classroom teacher very seriously and have endeavoured to encourage and support not only the pupils in my class, but all of the pupils I have met. It is the challenges I see these pupils face daily that rooted my interest in the MA. Through theory and practice, I wanted to better equip myself in aiding any child who faces difficulty, and I wanted to improve my understanding of how ACEs could affect a child’s life.”

Sophie added: “This course has made me realise that any behaviours are external prompts for a how a child is feeling internally. Whilst teaching and supporting children from a deprived area, it has helped me better equip myself in understanding many of the various adversities my pupils may experience. I now feel capable and well informed to be able to evaluate different children’s behaviours, in conjunction with their home life circumstances, and be able to understand the theory behind why the children are the way they are. I would definitely recommend this MA, because I now know how important and necessary this course’s content is to educate professionals to best support and foster our children’s holistic development.”

Lynn Miles Star award nominee

For an informal discussion about opportunities to study the MA Education (Trauma-Informed Practice) or the new Postgraduate Certificate in Trauma-Informed Learning and Teaching which is available for educators of children and young people across all settings, please contact Lynn Miles at The trauma team in Teesside University’s Department of Education and Social Work also offer CPD and short courses, both face-to-face and online, and are available for consultancy work. For further details please contact / telephone 01642 384068.