XULA changes the game for mask wearers in COVID-19 era


Ground-breaking protective mask manufacturer XULA has come up with a range of innovative, transparent masks, which contain a specialised coating 99.9% effective against COVID-19.


The next-generation masks are set to revolutionise the lives of millions during the pandemic, and as we enter a particularly tough time with flu season just around the corner.


The masks, which are made from ultra-lightweight breathable material, provide enormous benefit for a whole range of users. The cutting-edge masks are of particular benefit to those with learning difficulties, who require visual clues for clear communication.


For this reason, XULA has partnered with MENCAP, to give a percentage of each mask sold to the leading learning disability charity, with a minimum donation of £10,000 per year.


The masks further provide enormous benefit to those with dementia, autism, anxiety, and general mental health issues, as well as to the deaf and hard of hearing (who may require lip reading as part of their daily communication). They are also ideal for anyone who finds normal masks restrictive, stressful, and a general burden.


This all adds up to a highly significant percentage of the UK population. In fact, looking at the figures below, nearly 40 million people in the UK have some kind of mental or physical impairment which means their daily lives could potentially be improved by wearing a XULA mask:

Condition Approximate Link

Mental health issues 10 m centre for mental health

Deaf and hard of hearing 11m gov.uk

Learning difficulties 1.5 m nhs.uk

Autism 700,000 bma.org.uk

Dementia 800,000 gov.uk

Anxiety 6.8 m single care

Our masks also give a massive boost to the nation’s glasses wearers. With 59% of the UK population wearing glasses (statistica) that means 39 million glasses wearers can benefit from living their lives fog-free when carrying out daily tasks in public or in the workspace.

Furthermore, XULA masks are incredibly helpful for teachers who find ordinary masks hot and burdensome, and for whom clear communication is key to carrying out their work effectively. This also applies to therapists, business people, and a whole range of other workers for whom clear, empathetic communication is vital to their work.



Lightweight masks for all


XULA masks are ultra-lightweight, weighing just a few grams. As such, these masks are designed for every-day, all-day wear. This makes XULA masks suitable for everyone, from young children, to the elderly. The supremely lightweight masks also make life easier for the everyday user who is required to wear a mask all day at work, whether that be in the office or in a hospitality setting.

Our masks are highly breathable. This means that the user can go about their daily business in complete comfort, without the feeling of being ‘hot and bothered’ found with regular mask wearing.


Our masks are also eco-friendly and reusable. Users can wear a XULA mask for up to 40 washes, giving an extended life-cycle, and reducing the impact on the environment.

XULA masks come in a wide range of sizes, for any user, of any age and size. These are XS, S, M, L, and XL. They also come in a range of colours, for any informal or formal setting.


Certified and independently tested

XULA certified hygienic masks comply with the European UNE0065 standard and are fully compliant with European law. As such, all XULA masks offer best-in-class protection.


All masks are treated with an innovative coating, designed in Switzerland. This coating, known as HeiQ Viroblock, gives fabrics antiviral and antibacterial properties and is proven to be 99.9% effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. HeiQ won the prestigious Swiss Technology Award in 2020.


Further, XULA masks undergo the same rigorous testing criteria used for PPE masks. These tests are independently certified, meaning that XULA masks are tested under the most stringent of conditions.


This testing has shown XULA masks to have:

>     95% Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (filtering microorganisms such as viruses, while maintaining a high level of breathability)

>     96% Aerosol Filtration Efficiency (ability to block airborne particles)

>     95% Particle Filtration Efficiency (blocking respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and speaking)

>     99.9% Viroblock efficiency (blocking COVID-19)


Here for the long term

Given the high levels of protection provided by XULA masks, it is important to note that they are not just for use in the ‘Covid-era’, but are here to give valuable protection against a whole host of viruses and harmful bacteria. As social contact has become more prevalent recently – and as we approach winter – XULA masks provide ideal protection against common seasonal ailments such as coughs, colds, and other respiratory illnesses.




Lessons on death, sex and personal finances now favoured by parents over many traditional subjects

Two thirds of parents think that schools don’t do enough to prepare young people for life events, with more than half saying that lessons about death, finances and sex should be prioritised, even at the expense of traditional lessons such as algebra and poetry.

New research has found that only 29% of parents think schools are currently doing enough to ready students for life experiences, with as many as 53% revealing that they think schools should cover death, bereavement and grief as part of the curriculum. A further three quarters (72%) value personal finance lessons and almost two thirds (60%) say that sex education has a valid place on the syllabus.

The survey was conducted by Project Eileen, a new charity working to advance the education of young people and wider school communities about death and grief, supporting positive mental health and helping teachers and schools manage difficult and sensitive situations.

With sex education and financial literacy already introduced as part of the national curriculum, the organisation is now calling on teachers to consider their role in preparing young people for the future through enhanced curriculums and lesson plans, with a particular focus on death, bereavement and grief.

The data also showed that life skills and preparing young people for life events are now favoured over more traditional lessons, with fewer than half of parents saying woodwork (38%), algebra (30%), geology (30%) and poetry (26%) should be taught in schools.

Founder and CEO of Project Eileen, Louise Poffley, said: “Young people face a huge range of pressures and schools should be doing all they can to prepare their students.

“We firmly believe that education should cover every aspect of life – death included – to build resilience and benefit mental health. We provide a readymade resource for schools to use to benefit not only the young people taking part in the programme, but also parents and teachers who often face the burden of having to cover these sensitive topics.

“Death and grief are subjects often only covered in response to a tragic situation. At Project Eileen, however, we are passionate about making this conversation a proactive one and ensure we are preparing people for what is undoubtedly a certainty in life.”

Michael was five years old when his father was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer, which signalled the beginning of a long battle against the disease. He said: “Six years after my father’s cancer diagnosis, he passed away after the most tumultuous and difficult years of not only my life but also my mother’s and sister’s.

“As a boy of eleven, entering a new school where I knew nobody, it was impossible for me to talk about my experiences with any of my peers, leading me to feel incredibly awkward when asked any questions about my parents. I changed from an adventurous and popular child at primary school to a quiet and reserved teenager, unable to talk about my feelings for fear of making others feel awkward. This stigma around death needs to be addressed from an early age, as I do not remember a single time during my school days where death and how to handle grief were properly discussed, leading to me feeling isolated amongst my peers.

“I strongly believe that a multimedia approach, such as that used by Project Eileen, is a brilliant way of tackling adolescents’ discomfort around the topic of death. I personally never felt able to discuss either my father’s passing or the difficult years beforehand, even though I knew other people in my peer group who had been through similar experiences. A more open discourse amongst people of my age and knowing that others had been taught about the effects of grief would have helped me to come to terms with my loss in a healthier way.”

Project Eileen helps young people tackle the topics of death and grief. Through a multimedia programme, the charity enables schools and students to address the stigma associated with the topic and provides information and support, preparing them for when their lives are unfortunately affected by death.

For more information about Project Eileen, please visit: https://www.projecteileen.co.uk/

School’s Out Forever: Is It Time to Call It a Day on School Uniform?

School uniform is a staple of the British education system. A variety of brazen blazer colours, tartan skirts, shirts, and striped ties certainly live up to the organisational structure of schools that are represented in movies such as Harry Potter and St Trinian’s.


There’s no formal history of the school uniform; however, it is believed to have originated in 1552 at the Christ’s Hospital School in England. But after 469 years, is it time to finally say goodbye to charcoal trousers and pale blue polos? Should kids be allowed to pick their clothes and show off their personalities?


Here, we reignite the great school uniform debate. We’ll explore why school uniform needs a serious alternative and let you decide whether the school tie should be loosened once and for all.


Uniformity – it’s in the name

The British school uniform is about more than just tradition. Schools maintain a tight dress code for several reasons. Firstly, uniforms prescribe a sense of belonging to an institution, and those who wear a uniform can take pride in an organisation and show respect to their education.


A strict uniform can also convey control and order at a school – a safety net to reduce harassment and bullying. Designer clothing could be seen an ideal which many students could not meet.


Another argument suggests that school uniform is preparing children for the world of work, fashioning them into model citizens that are ready to hit the ground running. But does a monopoly of school uniforms represent real workplaces? In a survey on work attire, only 18 per cent of people said that their company required them to wear a uniform. Meanwhile, 34 per cent could wear casual and 42 per cent could wear smart-casual clothing. The small remainder wore business formal.


It’s clear that casual wear is the prominent choice of attire for many businesses, so why should schools be excluded from doing the same?


The cost of clothing

While smart looking, school uniforms can be heavy on the pockets. According to a government research briefing, compulsory uniforms and sportswear cost an average of £101.19 per pupil. It is suggested that this costs on average £36.24 per pupil per year, as not all items need to be replaced annually. Therefore, if we considered 14 years of education, uniform can cost families £507.36 per pupil. For families on the breadline or with multiple children, is uniform an unnecessary cost that could be avoided?


If families were able to put that money towards casual attire, clothing that is adaptable for inside and outside the classroom, the savings could be in their hundreds. Furthermore, investment clothing that lasts years can be used generationally and beyond school.


Comfort is king

Kids today have had a taste of school without uniform – aside from the odd own-clothes day. The pandemic shifted not only the learning experience outside the classroom, but it also shifted uniform back into the wardrobe. Kids were able to sit through their virtual lessons in clothes they picked themselves.


While being in a classroom has clear benefits for most children, the casual attire of school-from-home did show a side to education we don’t often see: comfort.


Education today is centred around the student experience and what’s best for their learning. That’s why you’ll now see a variety of methods of instruction in the classroom. These include visualisation, cooperative work, and inquiry-based interaction. But uniform, in this sense, is a limiting factor. If children are not comfortable in their learning environment, how can we expect them to learn?


To be truly comfortable in education settings, shouldn’t we allow kids to wear what makes them comfortable — whether that be girls leggings, boys shorts, or a snug hoodie?


Express yourself

Since schools take part in the formative years of a young person’s life, we should be encouraging them to make bold choices and to express themselves. What better way to do that than through clothes?


The rise of social media platform TikTok has put a spotlight on different cultures around the world – perspectives that kids in Britain don’t regularly see. This includes children in the likes of America and Canada, where school uniform is rarely used. Videos under the hashtag “SchoolFit” have racked up close to 80 million views, with stylish individuals showing what they’re wearing to school that day.


Allowing students to choose what they wear is another responsibility that encourages organisational skills. And it doesn’t mean that the clothing will be disrespectful, encouraging clothing that is positive for a working environment may be better practice for future work than prescribing a uniform where no prior thought is required by the student.



As children return to the classroom on a full-time basis, after having a taste of alternative learning, now may be the time to try an alternative to school uniform. No one knows what the ideal learning environment looks like, so experimenting with clothes could be key to unlocking comfortable education where students thrive.









NEW REPORT: lack of skills holds back digital learning, affecting both students and teachers

While 68% of teachers rate poor access to the internet or a device as the biggest barrier to digital learning, 56% said it was held back by a lack of digital skills among parents, teachers, and learners


25th October 2021: Oxford University Press (OUP), the world’s largest university press, has today published a new global report exploring the digital divide in education, following the shift to digital learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The report, Addressing the Deepening Digital Divide, captures the views of 1,557 school and English language teachers from 92 countries—including the UK—on the digital divide, including the barriers to effective teaching and learning, and the impact of the divide on learners’ development. Based on the insights gathered, the report puts forward recommendations for policymakers and educators to future-proof the education system and narrow a divide that unfairly disadvantages millions of learners all over the world. 


Key findings from report include:

  • Limited digital skills are nearly as great a problem as access to technology: poor digital access (i.e. physical access to the internet or a device) was the biggest barrier to digital learning, cited by 68 per cent of teachers as a problem. A lack of digital competency ranked a close second, with 56 per cent of respondents reporting that teachers and learners alike lacked the skills to make digital learning a success.
  • Engaging students in online lessons was a bigger challenge than costs, education funding, or digital infrastructure: teachers felt their greatest challenge during the pandemic was engaging students in online lessons—a difficulty reported by six in ten teachers (61 per cent).
  • Disadvantaged students have been significantly affected by the shift to digital learning: 70 per cent of teachers said the most disadvantaged students lost learning due to limited or no access to digital devices. 44 per cent of respondents felt that the wellbeing of disadvantaged students had been particularly negatively affected during the pandemic. 
  • Teachers want parents to play a bigger role in their child’s digital learning: half of the teachers surveyed (50 per cent) said a lack of parental understanding of digital tools/platforms limited the effectiveness of support available to their children; and 58 per cent said disadvantaged students tended to receive less educational support from their parents and families. 

OUP has made the following recommendations to address the deepening digital divide:

  • A greater focus on independent learning: students who take an active role in their learning will be more engaged in their education, leading to better outcomes. Independent learning gives students valuable screen-free time and removes some of the pressures disadvantaged students feel to be online for a full day when struggling with poor internet connection, limited access to a device, or high data costs.
  • Build digital competency skills among educators, students, and parents: OUP’s report reveals that a lack of digital competency among teachers, students and their parents is holding back digital learning to a worrying degree. A move from sporadic ‘upskilling’ to ‘always-skilling’, in which teachers have regular training touchpoints, will ensure that digital knowledge does not become outdated.
  • Target resources to address both ends of the digital divide: the report urges governments around the world to prioritize investments that support affordable access to reliable internet connections and devices. Governments should actively collaborate with teachers and students and use their recent experiences to inform future policy and curriculum development: with a focus on free resources to address the skills gap, and on wellbeing and mental health.

Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press said: ‘The world of education continues to undergo significant digital transformation, and yet so many learners are being left behind because of the digital divide. And as our research shows, it isn’t just about ensuring people have access to the relevant devices, or improving connectivity; unless we fill skills gaps and make sure teachers, learners, and parents know how to use digital tools effectively, the digital divide will only continue to grow.’


Adding to this, Fathima Dada, Managing Director of OUP’s Education Division, said: ‘It is imperative that governments and policy experts come together on a global scale to address the issues identified in our report. We know where the problems lie, and we now need a forward-looking approach to fix them. We owe it to students to ensure that digital learning is fit for purpose, not just in times of crisis, but as we start to look ahead to the future of learning.’

The report will be discussed in more depth at OUP’s upcoming event on Thursday, 4 November, The Forum For Educatorsa global, online event bringing together educators from around the world to connect and share ideas on how to improve learning for the future.


Better Health supports Mental Health with inclusive self-care activities for pupils

The topic of mental health and its effects on students is one of the most pressing issues currently faced in the classroom. In response to World Mental Health Day (10 October), Better Health is encouraging teachers to facilitate classroom discussions about mental wellbeing with their Every Mind Matters resources for 10-16 year olds. The resources can be found on the School Zone and are free to download.  


The Every Mind Matters resources are NHS-approved and designed to support student mental wellbeing through a range of PSHE topics, featuring videos co-created by young people. The new activities encourage students to find self-care actions that work for them, and allow them to reflect on how they feel.


Analysis shows that some children and young people’s mental wellbeing has been substantially impacted due to the pandemic.1 Children with a probable mental disorder were twice as likely to have missed 15 or more days of school in Autumn term 2020 school (18.2%) as those unlikely to have a mental disorder (8.8%).2 


Alongside the new self-care activities, the Every Mind Matters resources cover important topics such as Social media, Building connections, and Dealing with change that can be used to support wellbeing across the whole school and link to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education. Lessons are flexible, ready-to-use and co-created by teachers and young people to encourage students to take part in peer-to-peer discussions. 


The Department for Education recently confirmed that eligible schools and colleges will be able to apply for a grant of £1,200 each, which can be used by senior leaders to gain the knowledge and skills they need to roll out an effective ‘whole school or college approach’ to mental health and wellbeing, embedding it into their culture and making it a priority alongside academic recovery.


As a way of bringing this to life in the classroom even further, Better Health is also giving educators the chance to win a wellness workshop for their school, hosted by Mind, the mental health charity. The session encourages students to think about their own personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of their school as a whole. The workshop uses a range of exciting and experiential activities to engage the group, in both mind and body wellness. 


Children and Families Minister, Will Quince, said: “It’s absolutely vital that every child has access to the support they need and deserve, which is exactly why we’re prioritising children’s mental health alongside education recovery. These resources from Every Mind Matters will help support teachers to engage their students in important discussions around mental health and provide them with an additional set of resources to support their wellbeing.”


Louise Clarkson, Strategic Change Lead at Mind said: “We know that the past eighteen months has been an extremely challenging time for young people across the country, especially for those with pre-existing mental health problems. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, there was growing recognition of the scale of mental health challenges among students and increased demand for service. If a young person is experiencing a mental health issue, it’s vital that they know they’re not alone, and they deserve support. So it’s good to see that through a range of activities, Every Mind Matters is helping teachers find the right tools to help them facilitate healthy discussions in the classroom, which could empower students to find additional ways to improve their mental health, and ask for support if and when it is needed.”


The free resources from Better Health have been specifically designed to cater for all abilities and the activities are suitable for KS3 / KS4 including SEND students. Some of the resources are also suitable for KS2 pupils. 


Whilst supporting students through mental health issues, it is important that teachers also look after their own mental wellness. The Every Mind Matters Mind Tool, available on the School Zone, provides additional support for teachers. By answering a short series of questions, the Mind Tool provides teachers with personalised, practical tips so they can find out what works for them.


Samantha Rosehill, an Assistant Head Teacher who worked on the project said; “The mental wellness of students is one of the biggest priorities in education right now. With so much confusion, stigma and apprehension surrounding the topic, having these short and time-efficient resources is invaluable.” 


Speaking of the flexibility the activities offer, Rosehill continued to say, “What’s so impressive is how adaptable they are for the different levels of ability and age groups teachers often face. The self-care based activities come with great guidance giving teachers the confidence to deliver a very important topic to their students. I can see them being well-received with teachers and pupils”


To enter the competition and access the inclusive new resources simply sign up to the School Zone by 30 November 2021. Like all teacher resources from Better Health access is completely free. 


New research reveals three quarters of school leaders believe their school is unprepared for the climate emergency


Nine in 10 school leaders are concerned about how climate change may impact their school

·         95% of schools are concerned about their energy consumption

·         Seven in 10 feel the pressure on schools is growing to be more sustainable


In the lead up to COP26, new research1 commissioned by specialist education insurer Ecclesiastical has revealed three quarters (76%) of UK school leaders believe their school is unprepared for the climate emergency.


Extreme weather


The UN’s IPCC 2021 report2 has warned that human-influenced global warming is already affecting many weather and climate extremes such as heatwaves, flash flooding and droughts.


The survey revealed nine in 10 (89%) school leaders are concerned about how climate change may impact their school.


Of those concerned, the impact of extreme weather to school grounds (33%) was cited as the biggest concern, followed by managing heatwaves within the school environment (31%), impact on staff safety (30%) and school closures due to extreme weather conditions (30%). The impact of extreme weather to school property (29%) and coastal erosion impacting school grounds (28%) are also key concerns.


Extreme weather is already affecting many schools in the UK. Most recently, in September, schools in Wirral were forced to close due to the impacts of torrential rain, thunderstorms and flooding3.


Aiming for Net Zero


Seven in 10 (70%) school leaders surveyed believe the pressure on schools is growing to be more sustainable and the majority of schools (95%) are concerned about their energy consumption.


Many schools are responding to the climate crisis by reducing their carbon footprint. In fact most schools are either setting targets to be Net Zero (47%) or are currently Net Zero (44%). Just 9% of UK schools are not setting targets to achieve Net Zero.


Of those who are setting targets, on average schools plan to be Net Zero by 2024.


Preparing for the climate emergency  


The majority (96%) of schools are taking steps to prepare for climate change and the climate emergency.


Adopting cycle to work schemes, (41%), encouraging people to share transport where possible (39%), investing in greener building solutions (38%) and reducing single use waste (38%) are the top four ways schools are preparing. This is closely followed by analysing their greenhouse gas emissions (36%) and buying from sustainable suppliers (36%).


Despite many schools taking steps to prepare for the climate emergency, most school leaders feel they need support with adaptation to climate change (72%).


Understanding the school’s direct carbon footprint Scope 1&2 (30%) and indirect footprint Scope 3 (27%) is the support needed most by school leaders. Followed by support understanding sustainable energy sources (23%) and how to engage staff and pupils in the changes (23%).  


Faith Kitchen, Customer Segment Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As one of the leading insurers of schools in the UK, Ecclesiastical is passionate about supporting the education sector. Our latest research has found the majority of school leaders are concerned about how climate change may impact their school and three quarters feel their school is unprepared for the climate emergency. The climate emergency presents serious risks to schools and the impact of extreme weather on school properties and grounds are key concerns for school leaders.”


Ecclesiastical Insurance offers a range of risk management support and guidance to help schools manage the risks they face. For more information, visit the Hub for Education.


Ecclesiastical recently launched a new proposition, Ecclesiastical Smart Properties, which uses cutting-edge technology to discreetly monitor for escape of water and electrical fire risks in real-time. Schools piloting the technology will also have the option to expand the system to monitor other types of risks and solve a range of problems including improving energy consumption and carbon footprint reduction at an additional cost.


Nearly 90% of children are eating a school meal every day, according to a new survey of parents in England

One of the largest studies ever undertaken on the subject reveals the popularity of school meals and the extent of the cashless revolution in education


A new ground-breaking survey of almost 140,000 parents conducted by ParentPay, the UK’s largest edtech and provider of cashless payments for schools, in partnership with LACA – The School Food People – has shown that nearly 90% of children who choose a school meal are eating a school meal every day.  97.7% of parents, meanwhile, believe that cooking should be on the school curriculum.


The survey of ParentPay users revealed strong agreement with the conclusions of the National Food Strategy and the School Food Plan, which state that schools should “instill a love of cooking in pupils”, while teaching them the kitchen skills necessary “to feed themselves and others affordably and well, now and in later life”.


The continued growth of cashless payments in schools was also revealed by the survey, with 82% of parents reporting that their school no longer accepts physical currency for school meals or activities. What’s more, almost 99% of parents plan to pay for school-related costs online post pandemic.


Notably, the survey found:

  • The vast majority of parents surveyed said that their children are eating school lunches. 88.8% of primary school children are choosing a school meal at least one day a week; this increases in secondary school with 91.8% of children opting for a school lunch at least once a week.
  • 87.9% of pupils choosing a school meal are eating one every day of the week.
  • 80% of parents feel that school meals are priced correctly.
  • Key initiatives such as ‘Eat and Learn’ outlined in the recommendations of the National Food Strategy report should be prioritised and would be well received by parents.

When asked what factors would make parents more likely to choose school meals more frequently or to switch from packed lunches to school meals, respondents stated they would like to see more options for pupils to be able to choose their meals, more variation on hot and cold options and lower costs for hot school meals.


Sustainability is also important to parents and carers: almost 30% of parents responding said that sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients is a factor they consider when choosing to select school meals. Allergen management is also key: the survey found that 6.8% of respondents reported that they have a child with at least one food allergy. The top 5 allergies were peanuts (1.8%), milk (1.6%), eggs (0.9%), nuts (0.54%) and fish (0.53%).


While vast strides have been made in improving school meals, some topics raised by parents shows there is more work to be done by schools in terms of communicating on key issues that include:


    • Allergen management
    • Special dietary options
    • Nutritional information – 25% of parents highlighted this as an area they would like to hear more about from their schools
    • Sustainable sourcing and its impacts
    • Healthy and nutritious menu choices
    • Clear visibility on the week’s menu options
    • The ability to order meals in advance.

Following the survey, LACA and ParentPay recommend the following for caterers and schools:


  1. Teachers and senior leadership teams need to engage with caterers for a whole school approach (including parents and pupils) to promote the benefits of healthy choices.
  2. Develop wrap-around provisions, providing meals or snacks during breakfast and at after-school clubs.
  3. Engage with parents and pupils to provide relevant tools and information that reassure parents, including special diets and allergens.
  4. Invest in technology that will improve parent and pupil experience of school meals. Taking meal management online and reducing paper processes also saves schools and caterers time and money.
  5. Support the recommendation to enable cooking and food education on the school curriculum.
  6. Communicate to parents and children the importance of food sourcing and sustainability, particularly the impact this can have on health and the environment.


Commenting on the survey’s findings, Chair of LACA Jacquie Blake said:  “This ground-breaking survey demonstrates the value that parents and carers place on their children’s school meal. Almost 90% of children who choose a school meal are eating one every day, highlighting the impressive strides our industry has taken over the last few years to make school meals appealing to children and their parents. We agree with parents’ views that cooking should be on the school curriculum so that children are provided with the skills they need to cook healthy, nutritious meals for themselves and others later in life. LACA hope that caterers and schools agree with our recommendations, and we would like to offer our support to members in helping make parents’ and children’s vision for school food a reality.”


Head of Sales at Cypad (part of ParentPay Group) Merica Wilsher said: “We are delighted with the response and enthusiasm from parents for this survey – demonstrating how engaged parents across the UK are in their children’s school mealtimes. The fact that the results show a quarter of parents feel that allergies aren’t managed correctly highlights the ongoing need for accurate and efficient digital allergy management, especially in the wake of Natasha’s Law. It’s great to know that Cypad and ParentPay offer services that give parents the confidence in their child’s school meal provision, and this survey gives us a base to build on in the future to track the changing views of school meals from parents.”


GoHenry Launches Money Missions, In-App Gamified Education, to lead New Era in Financial Literacy

Company aims to tackle the financial education gap by engaging kids with motivating, fun, and rewarding interactive learning


NEW YORK and LONDON (October 18, 2021) – GoHenry, a pioneer in kids’ debit cards, money management, and financial education, today introduced Money Missions, accelerating the company’s ambitions to close the gap in early financial literacy for Gen Z and Gen Alpha with a gamified educational experience integrated into the GoHenry app.


Money Missions are fun, interactive lessons designed to build confidence, literacy, and curiosity in 6-18-year-olds: 


·       Money Missions cover a full curriculum including money basics, earning, saving, investing, responsible spending, credit, money safety, and more.  

·       Kids watch animated videos, take quizzes, and earn points and badges while gaining real-world experience with money.

·       The missions are developed with teachers and financial experts and mapped to age-appropriate education guidelines in the US and UK.  

·       Tailored to the age of the child, as kids go through the missions, levels are unlocked and adjusted to their age, skills, and confidence. 


“We’ve always had a simple mission which is to help kids be smart with money. With 60 million kids and teens in the US and UK alone that have not been adequately served with financial education, Money Missions is one of the ways we are bridging this gap with a hands-on app experience to turn financial education into a motivating, fun, and rewarding way for kids to build confidence with money. It’s a really strong complement to our innovative debit card, banking, and payment functionality. With Money Missions, GoHenry will continue to be the place kids and teens learn the foundational blocks of personal finance and gain real-world money skills necessary for their future.” said Alex Zivoder, CEO of GoHenry. 


Research from the University of Cambridge shows that children form their attitudes and habits towards money by age 7, and 87% of teens have trouble making everyday spending decisions. A recent GoHenry survey found that even among parents, 89% said they would have made better financial decisions if they received financial education before the age of 18. 


Dani, a parent who has been using Money Missions with her 11-year-old daughter as part of beta testing, says: “My daughter Ellie-Rose has already been using GoHenry for over a year and in that time she has learnt how to budget and save. She’s loved using the new Money Missions and particularly enjoys the way it’s like a game with the videos and animations. She wants to get the questions right, so it makes her listen more and concentrate – she gets a great sense of achievement after completing each mission.”


Money Missions represents the latest investment in GoHenry’s category-leading fintech products and services for families, including Teen Account, Eco Cards, instant peer-to-peer payments, and Giftlinks (which allows GoHenry members to receive money as gifts from parent-approved relatives and friends).


A short explainer video for Money Missions can be viewed here


Backed by Edison Partners, Revaia (formerly Gaia Capital Partners), Citi Ventures, and Muse Capital, GoHenry has raised $70 million from institutional and individual shareholders. 


To learn more about Money Missions and sign up for GoHenry, visit GoHenry.com.

Ensuring efficient emergency evacuations in education


Fire drills are a vital part of fire safety. Procedures must be put in place and meticulously followed, in order to keep everyone safe in the event of an emergency. Most people have experienced the familiar fire drill in education environments, which typically interrupts the school day at least once a term, herding students out of the nearest fire exit and towards the designated meeting point in an orderly fashion. Amidst the organised chaos, fire marshals are eager to know – is everyone safe and accounted for, in record time? 

Considered an inconvenience and an unwelcome interruption by many, alarm testing and evacuation practices can often be met with reluctant sighs, with many students and staff members dreading the thought of standing outside in all weathers, waiting for lengthy manual counting procedures to be completed. In today’s digitally advanced world, technology must hold the key to a better, modernised approach, providing peace of mind that everyone has been accounted for in a more timely and efficient manner.

Logistical challenges 

Whether it’s a practice run or a real life emergency, evacuation roll calls should be an orderly and well organised operation. However, if met with widespread apathy, fire marshals may struggle to ensure compliance. Hesitation and confusion surrounding the process can also cause significant delays if an effective registration system for staff and visitors is not in place, with no dependable structure implemented to ascertain exactly who needs to be accounted for.

Schools and institutions with a large cohort of students across age groups, a long list of staff members and visitors that change on a daily, or even hourly basis can be faced with various logistical challenges that make efficient roll calls exceptionally difficult to carry out in the absence of automation. The risk of miscounting, missing a visitor or simply taking too long to evacuate the building ultimately risks a potential disaster that could have otherwise been avoided. 

An efficient and reliable student, staff and visitor management system is crucial in order to avoid inevitable human errors and mitigate disastrous consequences that put lives at risk. With a responsibility to protect the lives of everyone on site, it is vital that institutions implement an updated strategy, saving time and significantly reducing the margin for error in the event of an actual emergency. 

Streamlined solutions   

Even with huge advances in the technology available to schools, businesses and organisations to assist them in streamlining their evacuation processes, the notoriously unreliable method of physical sign-in books remains popular in both workplaces and education. This method is undisputedly risky and often inaccurate, so how can fire marshals locate the necessary numbers and confidently account for everyone in a panic? 

After research reported by the Fire Protection Association revealed that 66% of schools in England lacked adequate fixed fire protection measures, efficient emergency evacuations in education are more important than ever, with the fire brigade called to 2,300 school fires in England between April 2015 and April 2020. Statistics revealing the alarming regularity of fire related emergencies within schools alone should urge all institutions to evaluate their existing procedures and introduce new and improved systems that do not unnecessarily rely on human memory or pen and paper. 

Ensuring safety 

In a digitally advanced society, there is no need to depend on the unreliable pen and paper sign-in books to keep everyone safe in the event of an emergency. The implementation of digital solutions, such as an app available to all nominated individuals, can provide an instant, real-time account of all personnel on site at any given time as integration with an existing Management Information System (MIS) can also be enabled. Immediate access to such information, including registration data from an MIS, ultimately enables the fire marshals to instantaneously view a full list that details every student, staff member and visitor via a mobile device, with no need to locate and collect physical records from another location. 

Fire drills are a vital part of safety in all schools, universities and colleges, and staff members have a duty of care that means safety must be prioritised over convenience. However, this responsibility does not need to be viewed at a waste of time or an unimportant interruption. With smart, affordable and dependable technology, streamlined solutions can be put in place to ensure that everyone can be easily accounted for, which in turn speeds up the process of the undeniably essential fire drill and ensures that everyone is as safe as possible in the event of a real-life emergency. 

Dan Harding, CEO, Sign In App 

Top EMEIA partner accreditation for Jigsaw24’s education team

Leading IT solutions provider Jigsaw24 has been named a Showbie Platinum Reseller Partner – one of only two companies in the whole of the EMEIA region to gain the accreditation.


This is a fantastic accolade for Jigsaw24, who have a close working partnership with Showbie. Both companies are passionate about the product and their values on digital learning align. When it comes to IT for education Jigsaw24 realise it’s much more than just about selling products. Understanding the need for professional guidance on a school’s technology journey, Jigsaw24’s empathetic team of ex teachers and education experts know how to make schools technology work with the curriculum and provide phenomenal results in both teaching and learning.


When speaking about the accreditation Richard Aylott, Showbie EMEIA Channel Manager, said: “We’re excited to announce Jigsaw24 as one of our Platinum Partners in the UK! We look forward to developing our long-standing relationship with the Jigsaw24 team, as we continue to empower millions of educators in managing their classroom workflow and delivering personalised feedback.”


Teachers across the country are looking for ways to reduce their workload, and Jigsaw24 has long been an advocate for Showbie, an iOS-based assessment app that has received fantastic feedback from teachers across all age ranges and subjects.


Showbie lets teachers create virtual classrooms to share and receive student work, allowing them to give instant text and audio feedback to pupils – shaving hours off the time spent marking every week. The app works for schools using Apple, Microsoft and Google Documents, has a simple design which is helpful to those with lower tech confidence and can be used in or out of class, allowing parents to access the app so families can become part of their child’s learning.


Jigsaw24 are keen to help their education customers use Showbie to go paperless, which takes ink, paper, and maintenance out of the school’s budget while also helping the environment. “We encourage all our customers to operate as sustainably as possible, and with education budgets being so tight, anything that can help schools reduce costs and redirect money to the classroom helps,” said Megan Brown, Jigsaw24’s Education Professional Development Consultant.


Megan, a former teacher before joining Jigsaw24’s education team, added: “Having used Showbie throughout my teaching career, I’ve always had the confidence to recommend the app to schools I work with. For teachers, parents and students the platform is extremely easy to use, with clear folders and assignments. The cross platform nature of the app allows teachers to upload documents of any sort from any device, saving time and reducing workload. With so many features to support personalisation, it is a great tool to adapt teaching and learning for all children in the classroom; teachers can send learning or comments to individuals, groups or the whole class and children can receive feedback in the way that best supports them: visually or audibly.”


Jigsaw24’s education team are well versed in the app, having received direct training from Showbie and taken that training out to schools across the country. All the Apple Professional Learning Specialists on the education training team are Showbie Certified Trainers – Showbie’s highest accreditation. Jigsaw24, which has worked with schools, colleges, and universities to deliver classroom technology and improve teachers’ digital skills for over 25 years, is also an Apple Authorised Education Specialist and Apple Authorised Enterprise Reseller – the only company in the UK to hold both accreditations.


For more information about Jigsaw24 and its technology solutions for education, visit https://www.jigsaw24.com/customers/education/apple-teacher.