BenQ Experience Roadshow tours the UK in 2021

The BenQ Experience Roadshow is launching in 2021 to take the manufacturer’s portfolio of educational technology solutions, including interactive flat panel displays, projectors and collaboration devices, directly to the doors of education establishments.

Acting as an extension to the BenQ demo fleet, schools, academies, colleges and universities will be able to book for the roadshow to visit their location; minimising time away from campus, eliminating travel expenses and reducing carbon emissions.

Visitors will be able to experience BenQ’s products in action including the new premium RP Series of interactive flat panels. Transforming learning environments with the power to annotate, collaborate, stream content, download and upload documents to the cloud, the RP Series also safe-guards learning environments via the added protection of BenQ’s ClassroomCareTM features.

In addition, visitors will also be able to learn more about BenQ’s exclusive HealthCare+ solutions. These include an antibacterial touchscreen to instantly kill germs and avoid further spread, the Smart Eye-Care solution to intuitively create a Flicker-Free viewing experience with Low Blue Light, and an Air Quality Sensor, which intelligently monitors the quality of its environment and alerts the teacher to any significant changes. 

The event team will be complying with all government guidelines to ensure that the roadshow is Covid safe, ensuring any changes to practices are reflected immediately.

BenQ’s newly appointed head of education, Nicola Pearce explains:

“With so many uncertainties surrounding trade shows and the already busy schedules of teachers, we’ve decided to take our fantastic line up of products directly to the people that will be using them. By stationing ourselves within a close proximity to the campus, we’re able to comply with Covid restrictions whilst making our solutions available for teachers and IT managers to experience them according to their schedule.

“Solutions will include interactive technology and BYOD enabled solutions for the classroom to digital signage for the cafeteria and corridors, and large format display solutions for halls and lecture theatres. Technology managers will also be able to experience first-hand how to create a complete solution and discuss bespoke integration to their sites, as well as learn how to connect and manage all the technology from one central location.”

Dates for BenQ’s 2021 Experience Roadshow are available to book now and are expected to fill up fast. To register your interest and reserve a date, please contact BQUK.events@benq.eu

Laser targeted reading intervention programme launched to help schools support pupils’ learning recovery

As teachers return to class, the need to identify and address any reading issues will be a priority. With this in mind, Lexplore Analytics has launched a ready-made reading development and intervention programme which provides teachers with proven strategies to target each child’s precise difficulties.

Lexplore Intensive has been developed by experienced teacher,  SENDCO and dyslexia specialists, Pamela Hanigan and Rachel Gelder, who co-founded Lancashire Dyslexia Information Guidance and Support (LDIGS).

With full instruction guides, marking sheets and student workbooks, the reading development and intervention programme for children in years 1 to 10, removes the need for lesson planning around interventions. It can therefore be picked up and used by reading volunteers, and support staff as well as SENDCOs or class teachers.

Dyslexia expert and Lexplore Intensive author, Rachel Gelder, said: “The task facing teachers as they return to school is a significant one. Identifying any learning gaps and supporting pupils as they work through the recovery curriculum is a big ask. With Lexplore Intensive, we have made sure teachers have instant access to a set of proven interventions matched to each child so that progress in the core skill of reading can be made quickly.”

Lexplore Intensive is relevant for all learners with strategies suitable for neurodiverse and EAL learners. Teachers will have access to interventions to develop weaker readers plus ideas to challenge the stronger readers in a class so all children can make progress.

Fellow Lexplore Intensive author, Pamela Hanigan said: “Rachel and I just simply imagined what sort of interventions guide we would want created for ourselves as teachers and that is what we set about making. We have used a range of multisensory learning techniques for each intervention so a full range of learning styles is catered for. It focuses heavily on improving working memory and metacognition so the skills children learn will stay with them beyond the initial intervention.”

The reading development and intervention programme is based on the principles of Letters and Sounds and aligns with the colour coded reading assessment results that are generated when a pupil sits Lexplore Analytics’ unique eye tracking reading assessment. Using both tools together a teacher can have within minutes a full assessment of a child’s reading and a plan of interventions to address any concerns.

Interventions for embedding letter recognition, include revising the alphabet with multisensory techniques, using physical letters (such as plastic letters or letter pebbles), saying and hearing the letters, tracing over these with a finger, tracking the letters and putting them in alphabetical sequence. Using a number of different senses in this way, means the learning is more likely to stay with the child.

An intervention aimed at a group of older children with comprehension difficulties could include cutting up the lines of an unfamiliar poem and asking the children to recreate the poem in what they believe to be the correct order. The aim of the exercise is not to see whether the children manage to recreate the poem exactly, but to explore their discussion around the meaning of the phrases and how they would logically fit together.

Aimee Cave a SENDCO and assistant head at Pocklington Junior School who has used the workbook said:Lexplore Intensive allows me to provide small, targeted interventions most days. Even if I have just five spare minutes, I can pick it up and work with a pupil.  It ensures everyone progresses with their reading.”

Lexplore Intensive is currently available for download as a paper workbook. From October 2020 it will be available digitally from Lexplore Analytics’ new online portal.

Lexplore Intensive is available free of charge to existing Lexplore Analytics assessment users and also available to purchase as a stand-alone reading development and intervention programme. Teachers and school leaders can find out more about Lexplore Intensive at  https://www.lexplore.com/gb/lexplore-intensive/

Teachers Invest in Child Mental Health Training Ahead of World Mental Health Day

Following the surge in online training undertaken by teachers during school closures, new trends have emerged highlighting the critical issues currently affecting the education sector.

Teacher training on the topic of child mental health has increased 510% this year compared to 2019, according to the latest reports shared for World Mental Health Day (10th October). The subject has been the cause of debate within the sector, with concerns raised regarding the impact of virtual learning and COVID-19 related procedures on a child’s mental wellbeing.

With more time spent online this year than ever before, and many children still unable to return to school, training on internet safety has seen the biggest increase of all among teachers this year, with an uptake of 960%.

Demand for online training courses among teachers has been at an all-time high according to the reports shared by High Speed Training. School closures provided a unique opportunity to invest in skills and CPD increased by 114% on average in 2020 compared to 2019 across all topics.

The online training provider is responding to rising safeguarding concerns by creating new mental health training and supporting content that will be available for teachers for free, set to launch later this month.

Dr. Richard Anderson, Head of Learning and Development at High Speed Training, said: “This year has brought with it new challenges and the impact that these will have had on children in education cannot be underestimated. Teachers have a valuable role to play in a child’s wellbeing and our thanks go to all that have gone above and beyond to try and bridge the gap created by moving to a ‘virtual classroom’, and that have invested in developing their skills, particularly those that support mental health. While schools have officially reopened, the challenges are far from over, and we must not forget that there are many young people facing extraordinarily difficult times ahead and who may not yet be able to return to class. This World Mental Health Day is an important reminder for all of us to take extra care.”

For more information and to be informed of new course content going live, simply visitwww.highspeedtraining.co.uk/education.

KidZania London re-opens its doors with a fun-filled weekend to celebrate the super-human effort of key workers

The edutainment attraction for children, KidZania London, thanked key workers throughout its celebratory re-opening weekend, which included the burial of a bespoke Time Capsule 

Half Term booking now available!

London – October 6, 2020 – At 10.00am on October 1st and after extensive safeguarding preparations, KidZania London, the indoor city run by kids officially opened its doors once again. Occupying the largest retail space in Westfield London (equal to the size of Leicester Square), KidZania London underwent significant operational changes to ensure a safe return, with even more opportunities for enhanced learning through educational, fun and realistic role-play experiences.

Across the sold-out weekend, KidZania London recognised the hard work and sacrifice of frontline key workers throughout the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, by offering them free adult tickets. In addition to this, key worker activities have been enhanced to help celebrate and honour these hard working professions.

Families enjoyed even more relevant key worker themed activities such as delivering ‘food parcels’ to collection points around the city and distributing PPE gear for medics at KidZania’s very own Alder Hey Hospital. Police Officers were even tasked with reminding guests to follow social distance guidelines across the site. In a direct response to their required frontline efforts, KidZania keyworkers now enjoy increased ‘salaries’ and daily ‘Zank-U’ parades. The ZanKs Heroes theme and activities will continue throughout October, including October Half Term which is selling fast!

During lockdown, KidZania invited children to record and share their experiences and feelings in penned letters to their future selves. Children up and down the country were encouraged to get involved, writing a letter to their future selves about how they have coped through the lockdown and their views of the world around them had changed.

Following phenomenal response, letters and accompanying pictures (including photographs and drawings) were curated into a Time Capsule and buried during a ceremony at KidZania London. Footage of the ceremony was released on Saturday and a bespoke display has now been unveiled for future visitors to enjoy.

Alongside this video, KidZania London released footage taken from an insightful virtual panel discussion which focussed on the important ways in which KidZania supplements a child’s education. The panel featured key KidZania principles as well as healthcare professionals and guest speakers including Prof Dr Ger Graus OBE – Global Director of Education, KidZania; Ric Fearnett – KidZania London Governor; Iain Hennessey – Clinical Director of Innovation, Alder Hey Children’s Health Park, Innovation Hub; Hero Brown – Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Muddy Stilettos; Serlina Boyd – Founder & Publishing Director, Cocoa Publishing; and last but not least, KidZania London Mayor, Kishan Shah.

In keeping with government guidelines, KidZania London is operating reduced opening hours across fewer days in the week. Booking for Half Term, w/c October 26, is now available. Guests are asked to book ahead online to guarantee entry, as well as familiarise themselves with the full list of health and safety measures and requirements before visiting.  Opening times vary from 10.00am – 3.30pm, 10.00am – 7.00pm and 4.00pm – 8.30pm. KidZania is also available for private hire or school /group bookings of 150+ on request. Visit www.kidzania.co.uk to book tickets and for more information.

NURTURING POSITIVE MENTAL WELLBEING IN THE COVID-19 WORLD: TOP TIPS FOR PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Dr Libby Artingstall and Dr Sile McDaid (Team Mental Health) are the medical experts behind Wellbeing Through Sport, a unique programme developing mental and physical wellbeing in primary age children.

After months without the routine, support systems and social benefits provided by the school environment, the negative impact on children’s mental health is another unwanted legacy of the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers in this area are warning of major adverse mental health consequences, presenting yet more difficulties for primary schools who are already facing an incredibly challenging day-to-day environment. The situation is still evolving but we have already seen evidence that COVID-19 has impacted on the mental health of children, and in our opinion, we can’t afford to overlook this. The Co-SPACE study recently undertaken by experts at the University of Oxford provides some insight, with the parents/carers of primary school children taking part reporting an increase in their child’s emotional, behavioural, and restless/attentional difficulties.1

Ahead of COVID-19, we were already seeing alarming signs of child wellbeing in the UK reducing or becoming stagnated, with a 2018 UNICEF report revealing that the UK performed ‘average’ or ‘below average’ compared to other rich countries.2 There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the problem, meaning we are now at a critical point for the mental health and wellbeing of primary age children, which must be prioritised and protected throughout and beyond the pandemic.

As evidence suggests that 50% of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14 years3, we believe it really is important for schools to help with the promotion of good health and the prevention of poor health, and primary schools are uniquely placed to play a pivotal role in supporting children to be mentally and physically healthy, now and into the future.

With the government now requiring that children learn about their mental health and wellbeing, more emphasis is now rightly being placed beyond the traditional academic and educational outcomes. Here are our top tips for primary schools developing their wellbeing programmes:

  1. Ensure a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing

A whole school approach is a key component of the Wellbeing Through Sport programme as we believe that for real and meaningful differences to be made, the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing needs to extend beyond the programme curriculum and be embedded across the whole of a school.

This means prioritising mental health and wellbeing and delivering a systematic approach to support this. We believe that being proactive to drive positive mental and physical health outcomes, in pupils and staff, is just as important as being reactive when problems arise.

  • Recognise the importance of, and take steps to enable organisational confidence and capability

Provide training, as part of continuing professional development, and resources to equip staff members with the understanding and skills they need to drive positive change.

  • Strive to develop and maintain an environment that is safe, affirming, and which creates a sense of belonging

The right school environment can enable pupils and staff to stay safe, keep healthy, and empower self-care. Foster an open culture where mental health and wellbeing is promoted.

  • Ensure an open-door policy for pupils and staff

It’s important to listen to the voices of the children, young people, and staff in your school so they feel safe and able to raise concerns.

  • Make sure there are clear and effective early-help pathways in place

To avoid any delays in accessing professional support, take steps to understand what support might be suitable and how to access local support services. Staff should feel part of a multi-agency working team and understand their role.

  • Work in partnership with families and your local community

Support parents and carers to recognise their role in supporting children and young people to be mentally and physically healthy, and ensure there are clear communication channels in place.

  • Promote wellbeing through physical activity

It goes without saying that activity is good for children physically, but studies also suggest it plays an important role in building resilience and supporting recovery from mental health problems.4 Programmes such as Wellbeing Through Sport have been specially designed to generate positive outcomes for both physical and mental health and we recommend combining wellbeing learning with physical activity for this reason.

Sources

  1. Mahase, 2020 & Pearcey et al, 2020
  2. The Children’s Society, 2018 & UNICEF, 2013
  3. Kessler et al, 2005
  4. Public Health England, 2020

About the Wellbeing Through Sport programme

The Wellbeing Through Sport programme has been developed in partnership between Team Mental Health and primary sports education specialists, EdStart Sports Coaching.

The aim is to deliver a programme focused on promoting good mental health and wellbeing, and therefore reducing the likelihood of a mental health problem occurring.  Covering areas such as emotional awareness, empathy, conflict resolution and assertiveness to build emotional intelligence and resilience, children are not only equipped with the life skills needed to strengthen their wellbeing but also complete at least 30 minutes of physical activity at the same time, highlighting the importance of both mental and physical health – which has been shown to have a strong influence on mental wellbeing. Schools receive a place on the Wellbeing Through Sport Masterclass and participating staff members will learn how to promote good mental health through completing online CPD UK accredited training.

For more information about the Wellbeing Through Sport Programme, please contact enquiries@edstart.org.uk / 0300 303 4414

About Team Mental Health

Team Mental Health is headed up by two medical doctors, Dr Libby Artingstall and Dr Sile McDaid who specialised to become consultant psychiatrists. With significant collective experience of working with children, young people and adults experiencing mental health problems, they became acutely aware of how limitations in the way mental health is perceived and managed could impact on the ability of a person to realise and achieve their potential.

Libby and Sile realised that for real differences to be made, expert led support to inform and empower the frontlines of our communities was essential. They collaboratively reflected on their knowledge, experience, best practice recommendations and the evidence base, and considered carefully how these could best be combined to develop an accessible, meaningful and empowering intervention. For the last four years, Team Mental Health has been successfully working with schools, businesses and the sports sector to promote good mental health, prevent mental ill health and detect signs of mental health problems.

About EdStart Sports Coaching

EdStart provides sports coaching and extracurricular school sports clubs, delivered by a team of highly trained and qualified professional coaches. The organisation helps schools meet government targets for weekly levels of physical exercise for children, whilst lightening the load on teachers with innovative new sports software.

£60M REDEVELOPMENT OF ONE OF UK’S LARGEST INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS COMPLETES

THE multi-million-pound redevelopment of one of the largest independent schools in the UK has completed, delivering state-of-the-art facilities for students in Macclesfield.

The King’s School employs 250 people and provides education for more than 1,200 students from pre-school through to sixth form. This £60m redevelopment scheme unites two previous sites across the town into one central area, with the new campus sitting adjacent to the school’s existing sports pitches at Derby Fields. 

21,000m2 of new academic building has been built, creating 350 rooms, along with a separate sports centre and 75-acres of sporting and outdoor facilities. 

The new sports centre houses a 25m, six-lane swimming pool, a six-court sports hall, an indoor cricket centre, a dance and martial arts studio, a fitness suite and a café. Outside, students will have use of five new rugby football pitches, a rounders field and two floodlit AstroTurf hockey pitches, and netball courts.

National independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard has provided full design and engineering services for the project. Duncan Green, managing partner, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have completed this large-scale scheme for The King’s School, creating a high-quality central site for its students to thrive in – especially important as pupils return to the classroom after months of online learning.”

Natalie Clemson, director and project lead, said: “We worked very closely with VINCI Construction UK, the main contractor for the scheme, from the pre-contract stage. This meant we were able to fully integrate the team into the design process early on, creating a synergy and ensuring that detailed knowledge of the scheme and design intent was retained from start to finish – something extremely important to the headmaster and governors. 

“Completing a significant project like this during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but it was here that our close relationship with VINCI Construction UK benefitted everyone. Like many construction projects across the UK, we felt the impact and we had to change our working methodology completely. We introduced virtual site visits during the fit-out stages to suit social distancing and safety measures and held our site project meetings remotely. Despite the challenges, this had minimal impact on the scheme itself, which is a testament to the working relationships developed throughout the project and the professionalism of all involved.”

It was important to the school that the new facilities provided a reduction in its carbon footprint, while also improving budgets through energy efficiency, so that money saved on fuel bills can be reinvested back into the curriculum for the benefit of the students. 

The new, sustainable facility has been rated as BREEAM ‘very good’, and incorporates eco-features including sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), bat and swift boxes, beehives and outdoor classrooms to further connect pupils to their natural surroundings.

Simon Hyde, who was Headmaster during the design and construction phase, said: “This has been without a doubt the most ambitious project for the school in its 518-year history, and we could not be happier with the finished product. 

“A connection to nature has been very important to us at the school, and we are incredibly lucky to be set in our rural, woodland location. The new campus will allow us to expand what we offer, for example the new floodlit netball courts will allow us to host netball tournaments, something we simply could not do before. We also have Cheshire’s only indoor cricket centre.”

Dedicated art, music, science and computing rooms for both the infant and junior divisions have been built, as well as a dedicated hall, lecture theatre and library. In the senior division, teaching and learning areas have been organised by faculty, with the science department also benefitting from 15 high-tech laboratories, prep rooms and office space.

Martin Horton, project manager at VINCI Construction UK, the main contractor, added: “The new school site sits perfectly in the landscape, and along with its spacious and naturally-lit spaces is a very impressive facility. We were very pleased to work in close conjunction with Pick Everard to deliver the new school, while ensuring the safety of all those on site.”

Preliminary works started in August 2018, with the aim of the school being ready for the start of the 2020/21 academic year. The school has now welcomed back its pupils in line with the latest government guidance regarding COVID-19. The large indoor and outdoor areas including extremely spacious corridors, are helping the school to operate in a Covid-safe way.

The project has been funded by the school selling its previous two sites in Fence Avenue and Cumberland Street to housing developers, areas which will provide sustainable and affordable homes, along with retirement and assisted living options.

Pick Everard employs more than 500 staff across its 13 offices, providing a range of project, cost and design consultancy services. For more information, please visit www.pickeverard.co.uk

Revealed on World Teacher’s Day: a remarkable rise in how often we tell them ‘thank you’

UK survey shows increase of 88 per cent in the space of one year

A remarkable turnaround in the way the nation feels about teachers on World Teacher’s Day has been highlighted by a survey which says appreciation from the public has risen by 88 per cent in one year.

Just 12 months ago a survey by public sector membership club Boundless asked public sector workers when they were last thanked for the doing their job.

It shockingly revealed that the average teacher had gone 65 days without a ‘thank you’.

Now the same survey has been repeated – and the overall figure has dropped to just eight days. That’s a difference of 88 per cent.

The same survey also revealed:

  • 45 per cent of teachers say they feel appreciated by the public, up from 39 per cent a year ago.
  • 88 per cent of teachers say they either love or like their job.
  • 58 per cent of teachers are proud to be part of the public sector.
  • 55 per cent of teachers feel a connection with other people working in the public sector.

Now the public is being encouraged to continue its appreciation by supporting World Teacher’s Day on Monday, 5 October.

Darren Milton at Boundless said: “The figures coming back from our survey are hugely encouraging because they show that millions of people have been saying ‘thank you’ to teachers and doing so far more often than a year ago.

“It’s not surprising that public appreciation rose dramatically during lockdown and it’s vitally important, as it is for all public sector and civil service workers, not to forget what they have done for us. Even when, hopefully at some time in the future, the Covid-19 emergency eases.

“We have already seen people in the UK mark Public Service Day in June, now World Teacher’s Day is another time to step back and think about what our teachers have been through and how they continue to do so much for society.”

Not everything in the Boundless survey was rosy, however.

For instance, 51 per cent of teachers still feel their profession is less valued than 10 years ago, whilst 26 per cent say they have never been thanked by the public during their entire career.

“It’s clear there’s more to do,” said Darren. “Although the number of teachers feeling appreciated by the public has risen, a figure of 45 per cent shows a lot of room for improvement.”

For more information, please visit www.boundless.co.uk.

SCHOOLS ENCOURAGED TO ADDRESS ASBESTOS RISK AS GOV LAUNCHES £2BN REFURBISHMENT FUND

As the UK Government pledges over £2bn for upgrades and repairs to schools and colleges in England this year, Bureau Veritas is urging educational institutions to address the ongoing risks associated with asbestos.

In April, the Government announced it will invest £1.4bn in buildings and facilities for schools as it aims to reach its target of one million new pupil places by the end of 2020. In addition, further funding was announced in June as part of a ten-year ‘transformative rebuilding programme’, of which £760mn is to be spent this year to upgrade and repair schools and further education colleges.

It is estimated that around 86% of UK schools contain asbestos and according to the National Education Union, since 1980 at least 363 school teachers have died from mesothelioma – the most serious and incurable form of asbestos related cancer – with 249 of these passing away since 2001. As a result of being exposed to asbestos as a pupil in school, around 200-300 people die each year as adults from mesothelioma.1

Asbestos fibre release becomes a potential risk to health when it is disturbed, damaged or poorly maintained. Uncontrolled repair or construction work has contributed to the rising cases of mesothelioma.

According to leading health and safety authority Bureau Veritas, it is therefore vital that schools investigate their asbestos risk ahead of any planned refurbishment or renovation works and that it is properly managed, for the benefit of current and future generations of teachers and pupils.

Anthony Flynn, Technical Asbestos Manager at Bureau Veritas, comments: “The recent Government funding announcements will be welcomed by schools and colleges across England, as many look to update their old-fashioned or inefficient buildings.

“With this though comes a responsibility for duty holders to ensure asbestos risk is a top priority when conducting repairs to the fabric of the building. Especially at a time when schools are undergoing changes to manage their coronavirus risks, and therefore may be considering significant maintenance works – the importance of effectively managing asbestos cannot be overlooked.”

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) places duties on those responsible for the management of asbestos in schools and for staff or others working in the premise who need to know about the asbestos and how they can contribute to its effective management. For academies, free schools, voluntary-aided and foundation schools, the duty holder will be the school governors or the trust, while for independent schools, it may be the proprietor, governors or trustees.

Anthony continues: “Many schools planning works will likely have been built prior to the year 2000, and as such, it’s highly likely they will have been built with Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs). While these may sit deep in the walls or ceilings undetected for decades, when disturbed or damaged through construction works, ACMs can become a danger to health, because asbestos fibres are released into the air and people may breathe them in.

“Ahead of any planned construction works or refurbishment in school buildings, especially those that pre-date 2000, it is vital that a Management Survey is completed, which will identify what type of ACMs are present and where they are. If managed carefully, the presence of asbestos in schools will not pose a risk to staff and pupils, however, poor management of asbestos could endanger lives. Thus, taking the time now to invest in asbestos management is vital.”

Bureau Veritas is a leading testing, inspection and certification body which offers a comprehensive range of services to help businesses and organisations, including awareness training for duty holders, the requirements under CAR 2012 in relation to understanding and implementing an asbestos management plan and crucially keeping it up to date. This includes building surveys, annual re-inspections, project management of asbestos remediation, site risk assessments, air monitoring, four stage clearance air testing, laboratory sample analysis, management plans and training – all of which can be undertaken within school holidays.

For further information, call 0345 600 1828 or visit www.bureauveritas.co.uk.

‘Mindful e-learning tech’ rolled out to help pupils close COVID-19 learning gap

  • New AI education platform Shiken launches to offer students mindful learning
  • Focused on STEM content for GCSE students and undergraduate medics, it offers over 50,000 free quizzes and trivia questions to support pupils as they progress through the new academic year 
  • Using teacher-created content, the app helps to address ongoing disruption to education by acting as a remote, on-demand learning tool with integrated mental health support  
  • Designed by a doctor, a headteacher, and a video game specialist, multiple domains of expertise are brought together in one user-friendly platform 
  • It’s already being used by 4,500 pupils, with over 1,000 tutors and 200 schools on the waiting list
  • On average, users are spending 35 minutes per day on the platform, with 8 minutes dedicated to mindfulness practice

London, UK – A new AI education platform has launched, integrating mindfulness techniques with AI-driven learning tools to help students catch up on lost summer-term learning and cope with future disruption. 

The platform, called Shiken (meaning ‘test’ or ‘exam’ in Japanese), offers GCSE Maths and Science support, as well as tailored help for students studying medicine at university. There are over 50,000 teacher-created questions, quizzes and study tools currently available. 

Crucially, Shiken combines AI insights with gamification and tailored exercises to create mindful learning experiences. With academic and covid-related anxiety still at worryingly high levels amongst teens, the platform is designed to positively impact their mental health whilst easing them back into education. 

With one-in-20 school pupils still absent from the classroom, Shiken offers a balanced blend of guided and independent learning. This is designed to foster continued self-directed study – a skill designed to prepare students for A Levels as well as potential future lockdowns. Students can use the Shiken app to study alone, or join ‘groups’ to collaboratively tackle a range of fun challenges.

Animated ‘Study Buddy’ characters guide students on their learning journey, with new Buddies and accessories unlocked when progress is made. AI optimises the content for each individual learner and ensures they’re getting feedback, remaining focused, and staying on track to meet their personalised goals. 

The platform has been designed by a team of industry experts. They include a former Headteacher, an NHS doctor, and a graphic designer with expertise in creating mindful content. 

To further support remote learning, schools and tutors can create their own content to publish on the platform. This means that, should students have to return to remote learning, they will have access to engaging, teacher-tailored study materials from their smartphones. 

Nat Al-Tahhan, Creative Director at Shiken, comments:

“This is an incredibly stressful time for students. With many feeling anxious about being back in school or university and getting their learning back on track, we wanted to create a platform that empowers young people to have a less stressful, more enjoyable learning experience. Everything on Shiken – from the questions to the graphics – has been designed with mindfulness and fun at its core. Mindfulness can improve knowledge retention and recall, as well as help reduce stress. We’ve built the perfect partner for students keen to build back their confidence and find the fun in learning once more!”

Patricia Young, a former Headteacher adds:

“Young people are highly adaptable, but this year has been, and continues to be,  incredibly challenging. Many teens are worried about catching up on the learning time lost and achieving the grades they need to fulfil their ambitions. It’s important that they are handed back the control over their learning, and allowed to have some fun while they study. As a former headteacher, I’m convinced that platforms like Shiken will play an important role in tailoring educational support to each student’s needs.” 

The Army’s Black History education resources remember Black service people throughout history

These resources recognise Black British, African and Caribbean people’s contribution to the history of the British Army with curriculum links to History and Citizenship.

These Black History digital resources for key stages 3 and 4 include an assembly and lesson plan to help students understand the stories of Black British, African and Caribbean service people who have often been unfairly excluded from the history books and help students consider some of the reasons for and effects of these omissions.

Supported by consultancy from The Black Curriculum and BlackPoppyRose, the assembly resource profiles service people from throughout history, while the interactive lesson resources offer source materials to help students explore the contributions and stories of Black Britons, West and East Africans and Caribbean service people during World War One. The resources also offer examples of the role of Black women in the armed forces and document case studies of a Trinidadian, British and East African (from the Tanzania-Malawi border region) woman during WWI.

These resources also aim to explore the importance of Black History within the wider curriculum. Questions at the end of each resource help facilitate discussions that address the significance of Black History Month and studying Black History more broadly and how this relates to modern discussions on race and diversity, including reflections from current Black soldiers to help build student’s discussions.

Major Jennifer Close said: “We’re very pleased to release these resources for Black History Month 2020. These resources address the important historic contributions by Black British, African and Caribbean service people and help facilitate discussions on race and diversity in the classroom.”

Lavinya Stennett, Founder & CEO of The Black Curriculum said:
“These are timely resources and we at TBC are in full support of knowledge that supports fuller narratives that uncover the diversity within the UK. BASE have done a fantastic job in making this accessible and it is my belief that many audiences will benefit greatly from this learning.”

Selena Carty, Founder of BlackPoppyRose said:
“History has so many layers, we are now exploring a wider narrative to be able to understand the impacts of choices made in the past. These Army Black History education materials are an extremely useful resource to start an overdue conversation.”

The resources are part of the British Army’s dedication to addressing the inequalities within the organisation and raising awareness of the contributions of Black service people both historically and now.

You can download the resources now at: https://apply.army.mod.uk/base/lessons/black-history-month