How to look after children’s mental health as they go back to school

Following disruption caused by the pandemic, school children are more anxious than ever


Children returning to school after the summer holidays, or starting new schools, are likely to feel more anxious than ever following disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.


They may feel nervous about how their daily school lives will now run or be starting new schools without experiencing the usual introductory tours or knowing fellow pupils.


Indeed, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say that without proper plans and support in place, the effects of the pandemic will limit the chances of children and young people for years to come.[i]


A shocking recent report by iSpace Wellbeing’s Children’s Advisory Board, a working group of 8-13 year olds from both independent and state schools, found 1 in 20 children considered suicide and the same number self-harmed in the past year. The survey of 1,000 children revealed nearly half (44%) have been feeling anxious over the past year and more than a quarter (28%) have felt increasingly lonely throughout the pandemic. One in ten (11%) said they have been bullied and more than one in five children (22%) have felt that their parents were too busy for them.


Paula Talman, iSpace Wellbeing founder, says: Going back to school or starting a new school can create a wide range of feelings and responses for children.

“I make sure I ask my daughter what will help her transition from holiday mode to school mode calmly a couple of weeks before to make sure we are ready.

“Returning to school can be challenging in different ways but remember a child’s role is to explore, push boundaries and express emotions. Our role is to validate their emotions, be empathic and set boundaries so that they feel safe and secure.”


Jo Charlton Educational Psychologist believes being on the lookout for behavioural changes is key:

For many children, although going back to school and reconnecting with friends is enjoyable – there is a lot of readjusting back to the routine, organisational and curriculum demands and long days away from parents and home.

“Children often cope for the first few days or week but then we frequently see some tiredness and associated behaviour emerge as they adjust.

“It can be really helpful to try to recognise this and be empathetic to your child as they adjust. Giving your child some help organising themselves, some focused, dedicated enjoyable time after school, favourite meals and make sure they get plenty of sleep for the first few weeks can really support this transition.”


Paula’s tips whether your child is starting school, moving to a new school, or returning after the holidays:

  • Encourage your children to start going to bed on time a week before school starts. This helps their body clock get back into school mode and to sleep better. A good sleep routine will also help avoid rushing in the morning and skipping breakfast. 
  • Label everything for younger children – you don’t want them to worry about losing things. 
  • Make sure that your child meets up with some friends who will be in their class/school before the start of term, to ease any apprehension and so they have someone to look out for on day one. 
  • It’s not just the children that can find this time stressful – asking your child about their thoughts or worries about going back to school or starting school can help you too. 
  • If you know what your child is thinking about you can help to prepare and support them.  Addressing things in advance can help ensure a positive start to the term.
  • Start a conversation with your child about how they are feeling about going back to school? Ask if there is anything you can do to help? Our iSpace Wellbeing resources can help you with this. The story book Have you ever had a Stressor (available at is ideal for small ones starting school and encourages children to identify small niggles and bigger worries and advises how to deal with them.


For more information or to request interviews contact iSpaceWellbeing@Four.Health.






The importance of digital inclusion for school children – Miriam Manderson, Headteacher, Rooks Heath School

I am no expert in all things digital. However what the past year and five months have shown me is how important and vividly clear the digital divide can become if we do not teach our children how to manage in a world where the understanding of this new digital domain is inevitable.

As secondary teachers, there are certain skills we assume our incoming Year 6 pupils, bright eyed and bushy tailed, expect to arrive with. The ability to read and write at the expected standard. A basic understanding of geographical concepts, exposure to a wide range of musical experiences and experience of sporting endeavours and competitions and the ability to use digital technology.

We also know all too well that there may be gaps and differentials between the students. However, never in my teaching career has it become more apparent that those children who came from schools which were ill-prepared for the lockdown will experience more anxiety about the next steps. Never mind the ordinary worries about the phenomenon which is detentions, anticipating lots of additional homework and assumptions of needing to show adept skills with state-of-the-art technology to accompany their lessons of similar degree, they now must face not knowing how well they will cope in the secondary arena which has moved at an exponential speed to master online learning platforms like never. Will it be Microsoft Teams, Google or another type of shared platform? Will they understand or be able to learn it quickly? Will they have had access to a device or simply the software.

To think that the hidden cost of disadvantage exists where the public do not see it is an understatement. Many of us have heard of ‘word poverty’ and the ‘vocabulary gap’ made famous by Alex Quigley amongst others. We know the importance of reading and acquiring vocabulary to access knowledge and using the digital screen has been shown to engage even the most reluctant readers in reading for pleasure or simply to access information, albeit that is more of interest to them personally than to fulfil the demands of their academic studies. Nevertheless, they are reading. The danger of course is that it goes too far. I recently heard a story of a primary teacher who handed out some books to read and a pupil proceeded to swipe. These were books, not kindles.

The use of technology in learning should lead to efficient access to knowledge and information, creative tasks being set and undertaken and an elimination of the fear of pressing the wrong buttons. Use of digital technology should be more than just swiping.

If schools are ill-equipped to master the use of technology, then so will the pupils in their care and the digital divide within and across children in different schools widens.

This is where the fusion one of two of my passions lie. The use of digital technology and diminishing disadvantage.

The digital divide begins before pupils at primary can step into secondary education confidently. Some will have been in schools where they were supported by tech-savvy leadership teams, able to lead, direct and implement the use of digital devices, incorporating adequate safeguarding measures and principles along the way. Others will have come from schools at the opposite end of the spectrum with staff who have ‘always done things in this way’, i.e. without recourse to the use of digital devices and they themselves clueless about what exists to deliver a curriculum through the medium of ICT.

I felt deeply moved when I saw the DfE’s call for schools to apply to have digital ambassadors from other schools. The government clearly recognised the extent of panic and uncertainty this caused as we can see from the provision of a grant to schools who had not even contemplated such shared online platforms as Microsoft SharePoint and Teams or Google.

If this drive has had any success at all, then what we should expect in the culmination of this is that the digital divide has been narrowed. Alongside this, is the reminder that the removal of digital poverty is an essential ingredient in all of this. Timely identification and intervention with those pupils who lack a device now needs to be a routine activity that fits into all primary school (and even secondary school) processes. It should not be at the behest of funding. Primary schools will need to prioritise a leader of this area to ensure pupils are properly tracked and monitored so no one is left behind.

Amongst the pupils who are now in primary education, learning through technology should become as easy as writing with a book and pen. It should feel normal and by secondary education, every child should be enabled to navigate online safely, competently and in a way that enhances their access to information and in turn, knowledge.

Children are digital natives. Today, it is not unusual to see babies intuitively tap their way to view their favourite TV programmes on an iPad or toddlers manipulate mobile phones as if they were born attached to their hands. If primary schools are deprived of opportunities and resources to enable their staff to skill up, we risk losing some of our workforce along the way. The rate at which things are changing means the digital literacy needs to begin immediately. It can be motivating and is definitely fun. It is also exciting to think of how the use of technology in young minds, together with the other academia they accumulate is leading to some developing into young ‘Bill Gates’ in terms of their ability to see where technology can take us.

“The limitations of my mind are the limitations of my world” is a quote I have read. We can easily adapt this quote to read, “The limitations of access to digital learning are limitations of our digital world”.

It doesn’t matter which platform primary schools use to help pupils discover, experiment with and learn about accessing and manipulating information online. What matters is that all pupils are truly included in the drive, are equipped with the skills to engage in the use of digital technology whenever and wherever they may be required to and to allow them to progress, grow and thrive in our modern digital world.

Opinion piece brought to you by Kajeet – They can help to find the right solution for your school to keep all students connected for learning wherever they choose to study.

Emergency evacuations – ensuring efficient and reliable roll calls

The fire drill has been a familiar event throughout the lives of most people. From termly practice runs at school through to the regular office drills, we’ve all experienced the scheduled interruption to the day to file out in an orderly fashion and assemble at a designated meeting point. Clipboard in hand and donning their high-visibility vest, the fire marshall is eager to know – has every last person in the building exited the building and is safe and accounted for, in record time? 

Fire drills are a critical and mandatory part of fire safety, to check systems and procedures are in place to keep everyone safe in the event of an emergency. Yet, they are also considered a nuisance by many, seen as a disruption to the working day and met with begrudging sighs at the thought of having to stand outside in the cold to be timed and counted. There has to be a better way to streamline this process for everyone while also providing peace of mind that everyone has been accounted for in the event of a real emergency. In today’s digitally-enabled world, technology holds the key. 

Risky processes

In theory, any sort of evacuation roll call should be a swift and efficient process, whether it’s a training exercise or a real life emergency. But in reality, it’s rare for drills to be met with enthusiasm or a sense of urgency. Confusion can also slow the process down as marshals attempt to ascertain who is on site that day and therefore needs to be accounted for. In the absence of a registration system for staff and visitors, this can cause significant delays as there is no reliable method to establish who should be on the list in the first place. 

Smaller offices will naturally have greater visibility of who is on site when an emergency occurs. But is memory alone a reliable system that can be depended on when panic ensues in the event of a fire, for instance? As the team increases in size, this becomes an even greater challenge as they must rely on colleagues knowing each other’s diaries. And for places with larger numbers of people – such as schools where there will be students, staff members and often visitors present – this can cause even more confusion. As such, the potential of missing someone is significant and the time it takes to confirm everyone has evacuated the building safely grows even longer – risking potential disaster. 

The complacency and confusion that comes from a lack of a reliable staff and visitor management system could be disastrous and put people’s lives at risk. Businesses have a responsibility to protect the lives of all of everyone on site and relying on people trying to remember who should or shouldn’t be in the office that day doesn’t even come close to meeting their duty of care obligations. 

Visitor management

Traditional pen and paper visitor sign-in books are still often relied upon to keep a log of visitors to a site, but this method is notoriously unreliable when it comes to people recording the time in and out of a building. So how can they be accurately accounted for in the event of an emergency? In a panic, who will remember to collect the sign-in book and also confidently know which staff members are on duty that day? 

Moreover, with a large proportion of employers now operating a hybrid model, with a mixture of staff working on site and from home, it’s more important than ever to accurately record who is in the office so everyone can be ticked off the list if an emergency occurs, and time isn’t wasted trying to find someone who is actually working from home that day. Those businesses without a smart staff and visitor management system are needlessly putting employees’ lives at risk and keeping their drill procedures as unnecessarily inefficient and ineffective.

No one left behind

There’s simply no need to try to depend on unreliable pen and paper visitor sign-in books, or colleague memories to keep people safe. Visitor management and staff sign in apps can provide an immediate central view of all personnel on site. This enables the fire marshal to instantly view an entire list of who is on site for the roll call via any mobile device, rather than wasting time, and potentially putting lives at stake, collecting physical records of who is in the office on any given day.

The importance of fire drills is clear, especially when you consider what could happen to someone unaccounted for in a real emergency. But this needn’t be an element of employer responsibility that is considered time wasting or unreliable. With smart and affordable technology, streamlined solutions can be put in place to make sure no one is forgotten, thereby not only speeding up the process of essential fire drills, but ensuring that in the event of a real-life emergency –everyone is safe and accounted for. 

– Dan Harding, CEO, Sign In App

COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in myopia (short-sightedness) in children[i] – yet one in four parents have never asked about their child’s vision[ii]

CooperVision® is calling on parents to get their children’s eyes checked during the school holidays

and inform parents there are ways to help slow the progression of myopia to help protect their children’s future vision


[LONDON, August 17, 2021] New research among 1,000 parents and 1,000 children by CooperVision®2, manufacturer of MiSight® 1 day contact lenses for children, reveals parents’ lack of awareness and growing concerns regarding children’s eye health:

  • Over a third (36%) do not know, or do not believe, that children’s vision should be checked between the ages of four to five[iii]
  • Nearly a third (31%) incorrectly believe the effect of myopia is not being able to see objects close to you and 18% believe it’s not being able to distinguish between certain colours
  • Over half (54%) don’t know, or do not believe, there are long-term health risks of myopia which includes cataracts, glaucoma or detached retina
  • 60% agree their child likes to spend more of their spare time using screens since the pandemic, with one third of parents agreeing their children spend four to five hours per day in front of a screen
  • One in four (25%) parents have never asked their children about their vision saying they have never thought about it or had a need to ask*
  • 80% of parents agree they are concerned that their child’s short-sightedness could impact them achieving their full potential


Short-sightedness, clinically known as myopia, affects one in six children in the UK by the age of 15[v].  It typically starts in childhood, affecting children as young as five years old[vi]. Myopia usually requires glasses or contact lenses to see distant detail[vii] but if left uncorrected, it could impact children’s performance at school, and worsening myopia may also impact long-term eye health if not managed[viii]. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown restrictions meant children spent more time indoors and behind screens, leading to a substantial increase in myopia (1.4-3 times)1 – potentially putting children’s future eye health at risk.


Musician, presenter and mum of three, Myleene Klass, shares her personal experience of living with myopia: “I’ve had myopia since I was four years old and as I’ve got older, my eyesight has got progressively worse. As a child, I would sit so closely to my sheet music or virtually on top of my workbooks at school. I found it all embarrassing. Myopia is known to run in families and may also lead to an increased risk of future eye health problems, so I’m always asking my kids about their vision. The good news for parents and kids today is that there are special contact lenses such as MiSight® 1 day that can help slow the progression of myopia. So, my advice to parents is to add ‘get kids eyes checked’ to your ever-growing list for the school holidays – it’s really important and will help protect their vision for the future. That’s why I’m supporting CooperVision’s Brilliant Futures™ campaign to prioritise our children’s eye health this summer!”




Slowing the progression of myopia

Research shows that over two thirds (69%) of parents are unaware that anything can be done to help slow the progression of myopia[ix].  Optometrist, Dr Keyur Patel says “myopia isn’t just about corrective glasses or lenses – it’s about intervention and management. MiSight® 1 day contact lenses are specially designed for children and have been clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia in children by 59%, on average[x]  – which could help reduce the risk of future eye health issues and enable children to reach their full potential by improving their vision. Myopia is on the rise in children since the pandemic and has become a global public health issue, so regular eye examinations are important to identify any problems. Parents, children and opticians need to work together to protect children’s eye health.”


In addition to specialist contact lenses, making small changes to children’s lifestyles and habits may help to manage myopia. Specifically, increased time outdoors can help to reduce the development of myopia, with children encouraged to spend at least 80 to 120 minutes outside per day4.


Myopia can negatively impact children

The research also delved into the experiences of children living with myopia who wear vision correction. While one in five (21%) children remain positive– agreeing that not being able to see clearly won’t stop them achieving their dreams2– some reveal the negative impact it has on their lives. One in five children (21%) agree myopia has them feeling frustrated or feeling like they are falling behind at school2. Many parents expressed concern about their child’s development, as 80% agree they’re concerned that their child’s short-sightedness may impact them achieving their future potential2.


This research shows that we must take children’s eye health seriously,” says GP Dr Sara Kayat. “You can’t see through your child’s eyes, so it’s easy to miss the signs of myopia. It’s crucial that children have annual eye examinations from the age of four or five, usually soon after they start school. It also helps to be aware of any changes in your child’s behaviour, like struggling to see the whiteboard at school or complaining of tired eyes and headaches, as these are potential signs of myopia. The pandemic has had a far-reaching impact and many important health checks have stopped. The summer school holidays are an ideal time to take your children for an eye examination, especially if they’ve not had one in the last year.”


Children sharing experiences of myopia

To raise awareness of the need to tackle myopia, CooperVision® took children with and without myopia on a ‘sightseeing’ trip around London. Those without myopia wore specialist glasses, so they could see the world through the eyes of a myopic child. The heartwarming film of children sharing their experiences of myopia is coming soon.


Brilliant Futures™

The Brilliant Futures™ Myopia Management Programme from CooperVision® includes the proven MiSight® 1 day contact lenses, information, support and regular assessments with your eye care professional. The Brilliant Futures program provides parents with the knowledge, tools and confidence to address myopia in children, and is centred around MiSight® 1 day, the first soft contact lens proven to slow the progression of myopia in children10§. The programme is specially designed to maximise the success of slowing down your child’s short-sightedness.


Children as young as eight can successfully wear contact lenses10, which may help them to feel more competent when taking part in sport and other physical activities and may also help them feel better about their appearance and fitting in with their friends[xi].


MiSight® 1 day

MiSight® 1 day contact lenses with ActivControl® Technology not only correct short-sightedness—they’re also the first soft contact lenses proven to reduce the progression of myopia in children by 59% on average10†. Available from Boots Opticians and selected independent opticians.  To find out more visit


About CooperVision®

CooperVision®, a division of CooperCompanies (NYSE:COO), is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of contact lenses. The company produces a full array of daily disposable, two-week and monthly soft contact lenses that feature advanced materials and optics, and premium rigid gas permeable lenses worldwide. CooperVision® has a strong heritage of addressing the toughest vision challenges such as astigmatism, presbyopia, childhood myopia, and highly irregular corneas; and offers the most complete portfolio of spherical, toric and multifocal products available. Through a combination of innovative products and focused practitioner support, the company brings a refreshing perspective to the marketplace, creating real advantages for customers and wearers. For more information, visit


* 49% said yes – I just wanted to check for peace of mind and 26% said yes – I noticed it was impacting them/their behaviour 

† Over 3 years, compared to a single vision 1 day lens

‡ 95% of children were successfully fit with MiSight® 1 day or Proclear® 1 day

  • compared to a single vision 1 day lens

[iii] As per guidance from NHS Eye tests for children – NHS (

[iv] Jonas JB, Ang M, Cho P, et al. IMI prevention of myopia and its progression. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2021;62(5):6.

[v] Morris T et al (2020) Geographical Variation in Likely Myopia and Environmental Risk Factors: A Multilevel Cross Classified Analysis of A UK Cohort, Ophthalmic Epidemiology, 27:1, 1-9.

[vi] McCullough SJ, O’Donoghue L, Saunders KJ (2016) Six Year Refractive Change among White Children and Young Adults: Evidence for Significant Increase in Myopia among White UK Children. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146332.

[vii] Zadnick K, et al. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015 Jun; 133(6): 683–689

[viii] CooperVision Data on file 2019. UK ECP webinar

[ix] CVI data on file 2019. Online survey in UK by YouGov Plc; n=280 myopic parents with children 8-15 years

[x] Chamberlain P et al A 3-year Randomized Clinical Trial of MiSight® Lenses for Myopia Control. Optom Vis Sci 2019;96:556–567

[xi] Walline JJ, et al. Optom Vis Sci. 2009;86(3):222-32Jones LA, Sinnott L, Chitkara M, Coffey B, Jackson JM, Manny RE, Rah MJ, Prinstein MJ; ACHIEVE Study Group. Randomized t




How to spend less time on admin and gain more time with pupils

Graham Cooper from Juniper Education advises that if your teachers are snowed under with admin, stretched to the limit with tasks or spending precious evenings and weekends on planning, then workload is a problem for your school.


Heavy workloads have been a major issue for schools and teachers alike for the past few years.


In 2020, 31% of education professionals were working more than 51 hours a week according to the Teacher Wellbeing Index published by Education Support. Juggling planning, marking, pupil assessment and communication with parents all take their toll.


Naturally, these tasks come with the territory, but all too often they take longer than necessary and can spill over into personal time, making teachers feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.



Task Prioritisation


No doubt your team already knows you are committed to reducing their workload but with all the changes schools have had to manage during the pandemic, new tasks have likely been added to everyone’s to-do list.


So, if you have not already done a review of what tasks are currently eating up staff time, now is the moment to start making change happen.


Although the idea of a task review may sound like another ‘task’ it’s quick to achieve and has long-lasting results.


You can start by asking your teachers to write down four or five administrative tasks that they do every day and rank them high to low in terms of time and effort to complete and their impact on teaching and learning.  Ask them to comment on what they think would be the consequence if they stopped doing these and whether it would have a negative effect on teaching and learning.


If there are tasks which chip away valuable time each day without helping children, then these are the ones to look at first to see if they can be done differently or not at all.


Effective Time Management


The next step is to encourage teachers to employ time management skills. One method that works very well is allocating designated times to each task and setting cut off points once that time is completed.


For example, teachers can set themselves a time of one hour for lesson planning. When that time is up, they move on to marking or whatever is next on their list. They can then do another hour of lesson planning another time but by breaking the process up into short slots, most people inevitably get more done, rather than when they try and spend three hours on the same task.


Again you can weigh each task up against their impact on teaching and learning and decide what tasks get the biggest chunks of your time.


Curriculum planning time


Despite the introduction of PPA time many teachers dedicate hours of their lives on the evenings, weekends, and holidays to creating great lessons. Often planning sessions in schools are interrupted by calls or other tasks.


It might be that by implementing a few small changes, your teachers would get more from their PPA time so they don’t have to use so much of their out of school time on the task.


You could carry out a straw poll to ask teachers what one thing would help them get more from their PPA time. Then check back in with your staff to let them know if you can accommodate their suggestions.


This could involve shifting someone’s PPA time to the morning when there are likely to be fewer interruptions or giving teachers a longer session every fortnight rather than once a week. Alternatively, it might make a world of difference to your teachers if they could work collaboratively during these sessions.


Or you could set up a workshop session and invite everyone to come with an example of a great lesson and the impact it had, as well as an example of a lesson that didn’t work so well, and some thoughts on why. It’s a positive way to share best practices and saves teachers reinventing the wheel in their planning.



Efficient Communication


Good communication has taken on a whole new importance in the age of coronavirus, with schools having to keep staff informed of urgent messages relating to health matters, absences, rotas and changing guidelines. However, if you mark every email ‘urgent’, people will soon switch off and the genuinely urgent messages get lost in the background noise.


Draw up a quick questionnaire to ask everyone what the best way is to contact them for an urgent message. Then ask which way they prefer to hear about a news item or an event announcement.


Give them a range of options such as a phone call, email or text message. You could also suggest other tools your school uses such as Teams, WhatsApp or the school app.


When you have your answers, set out a standard communications method for urgent and non-urgent messages.


People are likely to have strong preferences, so bear in mind you won’t be able to please everyone, but this will help select the best options for the majority. Ask everyone to stick with those communication channels, if possible, as this will simplify the way you communicate, eliminate duplication, and ultimately save time.


These strategies are key to helping schools win back more time for themselves and their staff. By asking staff to contribute to the changes, you will get everyone on board with your school’s new, more efficient ways of working, and teachers will have more time to spend with pupils.



For more ideas on how to save time, visit for a set of free resources from Juniper Education aimed at primary school leaders.




As top grades reach record highs, edtech tools in teacher-led assessment demonstrate a commitment to fairness, says Turnitin

WITH this week’s A-level results showing the proportion of pupils receiving A* or A grades has reached a record high of 44.8%, edtech provider Turnitin has emphasised the importance of fair and accurate assessment for all. This year’s teacher-assessed A-level grades highlight the role of online assessment in supporting objective grading, Turnitin says.

By using edtech tools across the learning journey, tracking student progress and gaining a full picture of academic achievement, students, teachers and administrators can have trust that grades have been correctly awarded.

Aaron Yaverski, Turnitin Regional VP for Europe, commented: “Much of the news we’ve seen this week has focused on the rise in top grades. But this misses an important piece of the puzzle schools and colleges must be confident that the way they are assessing and grading students truly reflects their achievements and capabilities.

“The last two exams seasons have been unlike any other, and education secretary Gavin Williamson is right to say that this is ‘a year we can’t compare to other years.’

“However, even if the UK returns to traditional exam-based assessment next year, the way the education sector has pivoted to teacher-led assessment demonstrates how important it is for us to trust in the grades teachers are awarding.

“This means using the right assessment support system, with the data and insights to inform accurate grading, show a full picture of individual student learning and build trust in the grades awarded by teachers.”

From coursework, mini exams and mock exams, schools and colleges have used a range of evidence to fairly award student grades. Around 15% of institutions had their submitted grades queried by the exam boards, but only 1% of marks were altered following these submissions. With 65% of UK further education colleges using Turnitin tools, the global edtech provider says the role of assessment software in the modern learning environment is clear. 

“The rise in top grades provides a reflective moment for all of us in the education sector,” Yaverski continued. “Features such as grading rubrics and data-driven insights are central to modern assessment tools such as Gradescope. These tools support consistent grading from standardised rubrics, giving students, university admissions officers and employers the confidence that grades have been earned and awarded correctly.”


Back to school edtech: myphizz boosts children’s physical and mental wellbeing

A brand-new app built by four former teachers and self-taught coders will launch in schools from September 2021, providing teachers with the tools they need to engage pupils in an active curriculum. 


Following a decrease in activity levels among children during the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s announcement that £320 million will be invested into physical education in schools this year, myphizz provides a solution for teachers to encourage children to play more sport, increase social skills and lead more happier and healthier lifestyles. 


Using a live leaderboard, children have the ability to set myphizz challenges in their classrooms, compare results across their school, as well as nationally. Teachers also have access to a functional control dashboard which measures individual pupils’ activity levels.


Working alongside brand ambassador and Olympic sprinter Adam Gemili, myphizz empowers children to take control of their own mental and physical wellbeing. The new app, which runs through secure schools networks and is only visible to school communities, is available to download from the Apple App Store, Google Play and can be accessed as a web-based application on PCs, mobiles and tablets. 


myphizz has undergone numerous successful trials in schools earlier this year. Siobhan Roe, teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School trialled the app with her year three class and said: “myphizz has been a huge hit amongst our pupils – there’s been such a buzz in the classroom with every single pupil involved in creating, sharing and accomplishing activities. The children have rushed home to tell their parents all about their ‘phizzes’ and we can’t wait to see the rest of school enjoy it.


“The platform is so easy to use and I’ve found the images to describe the ‘phizzes’ really useful as it helps a lot of the children with their reading and spellings as they compare words and pictures. The mix of activities that can be set is incredible – we’ve used myphizz for practicing our times tables as well as challenging each other to do as many press-ups as possible! myphizz has opened up a world of fun activity and movements for our children.”


Co-founder and director of myphizz, Anthony Mcbride added: “Working with tech developers, educational experts and sporting icons, we’ve developed a platform which means schools can raise the quality and frequency of physical activity in a sustainable way.


“Unlike other apps, myphizz users formulate their own activities and challenges, which can range from a 100m sprint time to completing as many star jumps as possible in 15 seconds.”


To register for a 14-day free trial visit


Poor digital access and lack of tech for UK teachers holding back remote learning, new survey shows

  • Survey of UK teachers suggests nearly half (47%) of teachers lack tech facilities at home harming their ability to teach remotely
  • Digital Poverty Alliance says findings highlight the need for a national digital poverty and inclusion strategy


10 August, 2021, London: The Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) and Dixons Carphone have today released research revealing that almost half of teachers lack adequate tech provision at home to enable them to teach remotely. 


As young people await the results of A-Level and GCSEs following an academic year in which pupils lost around a third of their learning time as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the DPA is publishing the research to highlight the need for greater public investment in digital inclusion to improve equality of education and address digital poverty. With remote learning likely to continue in some capacity for many schools and being a daily fact of life for ill or excluded children, the research suggests major challenges with the UK’s readiness to support remote education.  


The findings come from new research among 700 teachers in 200 schools across the UK which revealed that 47% said they did not have adequate technology at home to enable them to carry out teaching work remotely.  

The numbers making up the 47% are:  

  • 24% had internet access, but they did not have a suitable device on which to work 
  • 16% had reliable internet, but only had one suitable device at home that had to be shared with others in their household 
  • 7% said their internet connection did not have adequate data 


Many respondents also lacked access to a suitable device for home working, with 20% saying they had access to a mobile phone but no other suitable device.  

  • 66% had access to a laptop 
  • 11% said they had access to a desktop computer 


Just 53% said their home internet set-up was fully suitable for home working. If these results were representative of the wider UK teaching population, this would mean between 250,000 and 295,000 teachers are lacking suitable means to deliver remote teaching from home. 


The research was carried out in June and July 2021 in schools with a high level of ‘pupil premium grant’ children, meaning children from low-income backgrounds. These results give insight into the reality behind a series of similar questions that were posed to Gavin Williamson by the House of Lords COVID-19 Committee on 18th June as part of their investigation into the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on children and families. 


Paul Finnis, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance said, “These shocking results expose the difficulties faced by teachers in fulfilling their responsibilities due to a lack of essential digital access. As a result, many will have been unable to help their students prepare for this year’s exams to their full potential. 


This pandemic has revealed the staggering disadvantages facing many teachers as well as their pupils. The UK is facing not just a legacy of lost learning that children have had to cope with during lockdown, but also the lost opportunities for supporting their learning and their lives at home by providing the access they needed to the digital world over the past year. 


We cannot close the country’s educational attainment gap unless the government also addresses and levels up digital inequality. Urgent focus is needed to support not just disadvantaged children, but also those tasked with their education.” 


According to Ofcom research from April 2021, digital poverty affects millions nationwide, with 1.5m UK homes still having no internet access. On top of this, during the pandemic, 20% of children did not always have a device for online learning while schools were closed, and 4% of school-age children had to rely solely on mobile internet access during the pandemic. This means that low-income families with children have additional costs to consider in order to make sure their children have access to online learning and to not fall behind in school. 


The Digital Poverty Alliance is a non-profit, member organisation, supported by Dixons Carphone, the business behind Currys PC World, and the Institute of Engineering and Technology, with the aim of eradicating digital poverty. 


Assad Malic, Group Strategy & Corporate Affairs Director at Dixons Carphone said: “The research findings highlight the very reason Dixons Carphone became a founding partner of the Digital Poverty Alliance and pledged £1m to equip 1,000 teachers with technology to the benefit of 30,000 pupils. Our business exists to help everyone enjoy amazing technology and supporting teachers is our first priority, they have been among the heroes of the pandemic and the findings show how immense the digital divide is in education. We’re committed to making a difference and would urge others to recognise the issue and provide valuable funding.” 


The results of this survey will form part of the guidance that the DPA uses as it seeks to work with Government, business, charity and not for profit stakeholders to drive a national digital poverty strategy. As part of this, the DPA will be launching a Community Board and digital community platform this autumn to bring together key voices in this area. More information can be found at 


Lord Jim Knight, the Chair of the Digital Poverty Alliance Board, commented: “Without a clear and co-ordinated national strategy to drive digital inclusion, which considers the needs of people and their support networks, the UK cannot hope to deliver a long-term robust recovery plan from the Coronavirus pandemic. Teachers much be equipped to provide equality of education to all to build the skills of the next generation” 


Survey Methodology 

200 schools were invited to take part in the survey by the Learning Foundation as part of the Tech4Teachers programme and were asked if they could circulate to their teachers to complete. 700 teachers responded overall. Respondents could select more than one answer about what devices they had access to (meaning some of those who had access to a laptop may also have access to a desktop computer). The results were analysed by the Learning Foundation and Digital Poverty Alliance. 


Q: How do you access the internet at home? 

About the Digital Poverty Alliance 

The Digital Poverty Alliance is a non-profit organisation convening individuals from across business, government, charity and education, with the sole aim of eradicating digital poverty in the UK and ultimately globally. The organisation works to convene and combine the multiple initiatives and research on digital poverty to create one national strategy. The Digital Poverty Alliance was founded by The Learning Foundation and is supported by Dixons Carphone and the Institute of Engineering and Technology. 

Charity number 1086306 

NetSupport further enhances’s online safety provision by including integration with Microsoft Teams

NetSupport today announced that its newest solution for classroom management and online safety,, will now further enhance students’ online safety at all times – and, critically, in any location – by including integration with the widely-used communication and collaboration solution, Microsoft Teams.

With many students equipped with their own school learning devices to enable blended and individual learning to occur both inside and outside of school hours via platforms such as Teams, online safety no longer stops at the end of the school day or applies to only certain applications.

Schools can now widen their safeguarding provision by connecting their Microsoft 365 tenancy to to allow keyword and phrase monitoring of  Teams channels and chats. Powered by more than 14,000 phrases across multiple languages,’s keyword and phrase monitoring tool enables schools to monitor what topics their students are typing or searching for across diverse applications and learning environments – helping to identify, support and protect students engaged in any concerning activity. It also allows schools to share and exchange local terms with other schools and add any new ones to their database to further broaden their eSafety net.

Going beyond highlighting concerning words or phrases, expands on the context in which these terms are being used (i.e. whether they are accidental, academic or indicative of risk) using contextual intelligence. From looking at the time of day, the device used, the history of similar searches a student has carried out, and whether the search is within a school lesson or in their own time, helps schools determine a false alarm versus a genuine risk.

Linking the accounts couldn’t be any easier (simply sign into the Microsoft 365 account through the portal and accept the link) and, once linked, the school’s tenancies will be listed, so they can see and edit the details and monitoring settings for each tenancy. For example, schools may wish to exclude selected channels and users from monitoring – such as teachers’ chats – helping to maintain privacy and reduce false positive alerts.

Al Kingsley, CEO of NetSupport, comments, “With this latest integration to, schools can offer a comprehensive solution to keep students safe while using their school devices online, as well as ensuring that they are fully monitored and protected across a range of applications and environments, including Microsoft Teams.”

“With Microsoft Teams becoming an effective learning environment for students and educators worldwide, online safety is of paramount importance to us,” said Yaron Hezroni, Teams Ecosystem Principal Program Manager at Microsoft. “We are pleased to see NetSupport’s online safety measures integrate with Teams Graph APIs to monitor chat and ensure students are protected at all times.”


Already deployed by schools, Districts and Ministries of Education across the world from the US to the UK, UAE and beyond, provides award-winning teaching, classroom management and online safety tools – all hosted and protected by Microsoft Azure. From screen sharing and monitoring (all within one environment) to remote control and assessment tools, makes it easy to lead learning in classrooms and with remote learners. For more information, visit

‘JUST ONE TREE DAY’ – still time to sign up!

4 August 2021: There is still time for schools to join hundreds of others and sign-up to the highly popular ‘JUST ONE Tree Day’, taking place on Friday 15 October (England) and Friday 1 October (Scotland).

Schools throughout the UK and around the globe have already committed to participating in this international non-uniform day that encourages children to bring in £1 to plant a tree and help reforest the planet – a tree is planted for every £1 raised. Over 150,000 children from eight countries have joined together since JUST ONE Tree Day first launched in 2019.

Schools can sign up here.                                                          

About JUST ONE Tree Day

The day highlights to children and young people how their individual actions can make a difference in the fight against climate change and the biodiversity crises. It is the flagship event of JUST ONE Tree, a British not-for-profit dedicated to removing CO2 from the atmosphere through global reforestation.

The event is open to both primary and secondary schools – those taking part can access lesson resources that fit in with the national curriculum. As part of their fundraising activities, children learn about photosynthesis, the benefits of trees for both people and wildlife and the vital role they play in reducing the impacts of climate change.

JUST ONE Tree founder, Amanda Bronkhorst: “JUST ONE Tree Day was born out of my passion to make a difference – not only for my young daughter, but for the future of all children. JUST ONE Tree Day has resulted in over 150,000 trees planted and I know that this year the ‘children’s forest’ can grow even bigger.

“School participation is doubly important because not only do they raise funds, the forest planted on their behalf helps compensate for a school’s environmental impact.

“Many children today struggle with climate anxiety, caused by the reality of our climate crisis. But JUST ONE Tree Day tells them that we can all make a difference with a simple action.  By taking direct action it spreads hope and positivity. It’s important to involve our young, helping them tackle their worries of today while setting them up for a sustainable lifestyle that aids their future.”

The money raised is used to plant the ‘right trees in the right place’ – supporting reforestation projects in Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal and Zambia, including mangrove forests and kelp regeneration.