Esri UK provides mapping expertise for Department for Education’s major new climate project

Nature Park project will map grounds of every school, creating one vast nature park roughly twice the size of Birmingham


The Department for Education (DfE) has released further details of its National Education Nature Park, created to teach children of all ages about climate change and improve biodiversity across the country. Esri UK is providing a digital mapping platform and expertise in biodiversity mapping to help underpin this exciting initiative, first announced at COP26 by the Education Secretary. 


The National Education Nature Park will engage young people and teachers with nature, supporting them to play a driving role in mapping and monitoring biodiversity on their grounds using citizen science and, critically, taking action to enhance it. The DfE believe this could play an important part in increasing biodiversity across the education estate and have a real impact on halting the decline of nature in England.


The Nature Park project will map, manage and enhance the grounds in every school, college or nursery in the country, creating one, vast nature park roughly twice the size of Birmingham. Students will have the opportunity to transform their green spaces into their own Nature Park and play leadership roles in studying, managing and enhancing biodiversity and climate resilience.


To deliver the project, DfE has created a partnership led by the Natural History Museum working with Esri UK, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Royal Society, Royal Geographical Society, Learning through Landscapes, Manchester Metropolitan University and other supporting partners. 


The partnership will be working with Esri UK to devise digital tools for use by children and young people, such as mobile apps, enabling them to map the biodiversity of their school grounds and its improvement over time. 


“We are delighted to be working with the Department for Education and partners on the National Education Nature Park initiative,” said Stuart Bonthrone, Managing Director of Esri UK. “Biodiversity and environmental sustainability are at the heart of much of the work that Esri UK and our customers are involved in globally and we have a long-standing commitment to Education, providing our software free to schools in the UK and around the world. We are therefore particularly proud to be part of this initiative which closely reflects the core nature and values of our business.”


In addition to improving biodiversity across the country and engaging young people in nature, the application of biodiversity mapping will help children and young people develop competences in mapping, numeracy and spatial awareness. The Nature Park will therefore help pupils and students to develop skills in data visualisation and analysis, encouraging analytical thinking and problem solving.


The project is a perfect fit for Esri UK. For over 50 years, Esri has been committed to the conservation of the planet, developing geospatial solutions that help to protect it. In the UK Education sector, over 3,000 schools currently use its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software as part of the Esri UK Education programme, which provides free access to its software, teaching resources and teacher training.


The partnership will be creating a wealth of curated and quality assured information and teaching resources easily accessible to teachers to support them in delivering climate education across the curriculum. A new climate action award scheme will also recognise the work being undertaken in all education settings to protect green spaces and promote biodiversity.


To find out more about the National Education Nature Park, schools and students can read the Department for Education’s blog and register for updates on the Natural History Museum’s website.

“Made for Mentors”: NASBTT Curriculum Designer champions new teacher development programmes

A former School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) tutor and Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning is making her mark as the newly-appointed Curriculum Designer at the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT).


Clare Haly, who previously spent three-and-a-half years at The Buckinghamshire Partnership SCITT, joined NASBTT in the summer to lead on curriculum design, ensuring that NASBTT’s resources and practices are evidence-informed and fully up-to-date for members and mentors.


With the 2024-25 mentoring requirements signalling a clear need for greater flexibility in the design and delivery of mentor development programmes, Clare is leading the creation of NASBTT’s new Mentor Development Modules. This will give all mentors in schools access to 60 modules to support their “ongoing development, refinement and expansion” – and help them to manage the number of hours of development required.


The first five modules are set to be available in January. A small-scale pilot of both taught and self-study materials, which will be hosted on NASBTT Learn, will then be undertaken in spring and summer 2023 building up to a wider pilot of 20-30 modules during the 2023-24 academic year. The final rubber-stamped Mentor Development Modules will then be made available to NASBTT members ahead of September 2024, and for licensing to other institutions including MATs, Teaching School Hubs and universities.


As part of her remit, Clare is also teaching on a new National Professional Qualification in Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD), delivered in partnership with the Teacher Development Trust, which started in September.


The NPQLTD is a recommended qualification for lead mentors working within ITT partnerships, as set out in the Department for Education’s quality requirements for 2024. Over 70 individuals are undertaking this qualification through NASBTT which allows them to work alongside a cohort of ITT professionals, contextualise the learning to the ITT sector, and share and build upon the extensive ITT expertise that exists within NASBTT membership. Applications are now open for the programme beginning next autumn.


“Throughout my career I have always been passionate about teacher development and CPD,” Clare said. “My view is children are front and centre of education – they need good teachers, and good mentors. I love challenge, I love research, and I have always listened out for valuable insight to feed into my trainees as a SCITT tutor, and colleagues as Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning. In my later years working in a SCITT it became clear that there was not a lot around in terms of personal development for mentors. When I heard about the opportunity to join NASBTT in this capacity I knew this was a great opportunity to make a difference to teacher development and training that has real impact.”


Clare, who formerly taught English, RE and Philosophy in both primary and secondary settings, said that NASBTT’s overarching ethos and commitment to investing in the sector also attracted her to the role. “With the Mentor Development Modules, the NPQLTD and other CPD provision, NASBTT has shown that it is at the forefront of teacher development. Its main advantage is its reputation – it is trusted – and proven to be invaluable to school-led ITT providers for knowledge and insight. My own love of ITT, and desire to instil good practice in the teachers of tomorrow so they go into their classes and bring about change for the benefit of children, means this is the perfect match. I have learned a lot about mentor support and engagement and am bringing that into the role.”


Additionally, Clare is a qualified mental health first aider, with related knowledge of the importance of coaching and mentoring in schools. Always keen to learn and continue her own professional development, she has sat on working parties for curriculum development and whole school improvement planning. Clare is also completing research on inclusion and how children learn, particularly during mixed-ability teaching. 


NASBTT Executive Director Emma Hollis said: “We are delighted to welcome Clare to the team. Her sector knowledge, passion for teacher development, and strong work ethic are already making a significant difference to our work. Both the Mentor Development Modules and NPQLTD are key strategic developments for our sector, and we look forward to working with Clare on other new training innovations over time.”


Schools and environmental impact.


Since the Industrial Revolution, human polluting activity has caused 1.0°C of global warming and an increase to 1.5°C is expected between 2030 and 2052 if emissions continue to increase at the current rate. Despite the UK government’s Net Zero commitments and the Department for Education’s vision to be “the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030” only 38% of the responding organizations had so far committed to Net Zero as a target.


IT’s environmental impact.


Scientists and governments agree on the need to re-evaluate all aspects of human activity that cause pollution, education included. Low-carbon alternatives must be implemented if energy efficiency improvements are to grow by 4% annually; three times their current rate. EUC devices are responsible for 34% of IT-related pollution across the UK, with up to 80% of general pollution caused by their daily use. This creates 3m tonnes of CO2e equivalent to 650,000 cars driving on UK roads annually.


Green digital transformation.


Many are the signs that the IT industry is beginning to respond to environmental concerns pushing organizations and institution towards a greener digital transformation. To achieve this in a world influenced by the effects of climate change, Acer supports the education sector levelling up within a context of sustainability, giving all children, young people and adults the technological tools to thrive in a green economy and to help restore nature.


Start your green journey, with Acer.


As part of their wider sustainability strategy, Acer have designed the complete Vero range with eco-friendly PCR plastics, prioritizing ease of repair and optimum efficiency thanks to the inclusion of the custom eco mode. The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 and Chromebook Spin 311 allow for exceptionally low energy consumption; up to nearly 70% per annum when compared to a typical Windows device estate, as validated by the PX3 independent benchmarking.


Institutions can also benefit from the Acer Green Rewards programme for the sustainable, secure and affordable support of eco-friendly technological transformation. IT users are encouraged to register for instant valuations of their legacy devices, which can be sent to Acer for re-use. Green rewards may then be exchanged for new Acer devices, boosting energy efficiency by up to 84%.




Educational institutions have an important environmental impact that could be improved by implementing a green digital transformation with the support of Acer and not only its products, but also programs. Acer commissioned independent specialists PX3 to carry out benchmarking of devices to accurately quantify their use phase energy consumption. This data, available in technical reports and white-papers, provides with accurate information for CSR / ESG reporting as well as playing an important role in carbon reduction plans and “Net Zero” initiatives.


Would you like to read more? Download now the full research report ‘Sustainable IT in education – issues, trends & attitudes among decision makers’ on the Acer gated website:




[1] PX3, (2022). ‘Sustainable IT in education – issues, trends & attitudes among decision makers’. Warwick, UK.

Exact specifications, prices, and availability will vary by region. To learn more about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, please contact your nearest Acer office via

Schools stand to get a potential bill reduction of up to 61% this month…

Schools stand to get a potential bill reduction of up to 61% this month compared to if they had to pay expected wholesale energy prices, according to new analysis following the rollout of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. 

The energy bills insight, conducted by AI and analytics leader SAS, analysed ONS data from more than 1.6 million business-used buildings to understand how much gas and electricity each sector consumes.  

Following the new scheme, the education industry is currently expected to see an average annual bill per building of £50,750 compared to a forecasted £133,500 if prices had remained at expected winter wholesale costs. 

As businesses anticipate their first bill of the six-month scheme, SAS compared average business energy use and the previously expected wholesale price for winter 2022 with the government’s current non-domestic price cap, to understand how the help will affect different industries. 

The government has stated that wholesale prices could have risen to as much as £600 MWh for electricity and £180 MWh for gas this winter. The new scheme has seen fixed base rate prices of £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas. 

The research highlighted that businesses that are public-sector focused – healthcare, emergency services and education – will benefit most from the scheme. 

While all industries look set to receive bills that are, on average, more than half of what would otherwise be expected, the retail sector had one of the lowest potential bill reductions, amid calls for support for the high street to help keep product costs down. 

Under the new scheme, emergency services are likely to be spending the most per building on energy – at an average of £90,250. This is perhaps not surprising given a reliable power supply can be key to saving lives for disaster response companies, the police force and the fire & rescue service. 

The industries with the biggest potential reduction in their energy bills: 

Industry Energy cost per building with new price cap (£) Energy cost per building with estimated wholesale price (£) Potential bill reduction per building (£) Potential bill reduction  %
Health 53,190 138,460 85,270 62%
Education and schools 50,750 133,500 82,750 61%
Emergency Services 90,250 240,000 149,750 60%
Arts and Leisure 19,490 52,110 32,610 60%
Hospitality 10,060 27,050 16,990 59%
Factories 54,650 147,620 92,960 59%
Offices 13,710 37,880 24,160 57%
Retail 7,730 21,370 13,640 57%
Warehousing 17,270 47,890 30,620 56%

Government data reveals that more than half of UK businesses with 10 or more employees have reported rising energy costs as the main reason that they’re considering increasing their prices in October 2022.  

David Ferguson, a risk management specialist at SAS UK & Ireland, said: 

“The energy crisis has dominated the news agenda in recent months, and for good reason as consumers and businesses alike are concerned about how to tackle rising costs. It’s understandable that some businesses were – and potentially still are – worrying, as they could be paying over £100,000 extra a year for energy at a time where budgets are already tight. 

“In a constantly changing environment, applying AI to achieve energy-saving tactics can help businesses to see and deliver cost-saving results quickly. Smart meters, for example, can help businesses and homeowners alike across the UK to better understand their real-time energy consumption, and lead to more accurate billing.   

“Equally energy providers can use these techniques to run multiple what-if scenarios and forecast revenues, given inputs of variability in bad debt, customer attrition, government support and a volatile economic climate. This type of decision support is vital for CFOs and COOs in deciding how to develop and execute on strategies to manage financial and operational components of the business.

“The level of price reductions will vary across businesses, depending on their contract type and their circumstances. Our research highlights just how much businesses could be spending on energy – and the importance of all companies using technology to reduce unnecessary energy consumption where possible.”

For the full research on the energy bills scheme, see here.


Research from Nationwide Building Society and The Diana Award has revealed that a third of children (32%) have never written a letter, with a similar amount (35%) having never received one either. However, the same survey concluded that 4 in 5 (84%) children of all ages would be excited to receive a letter in the post! This includes older children (75% of 15-year-olds) as well as younger children (93% of 7-year-olds)! 


Nationwide and The Diana Award, with the help of a number of familiar faces like Will Poulter, Molly Rainford, Steph Houghton and many more, want to change this shocking statistic by launching The Positive Post Box campaign. Not only is the campaign an attempt to bring back the joys of letter writing and tap into children’s excitement for the dying art, it also has an underlying motive to tackle bullying in schools through spreading positivity and mutual respect. 


As the campaign kicks off, over 120,000 children from 300 schools have received their very own Positive Post Box and are about to take part in one of the biggest pen pal schemes the UK has ever seen! 


Research by Nationwide Building Society has showed the devastating impact bullying can have on young people with a number of shocking statistics coming to light. 


  • 8 in 10 (83%) children have experienced bullying, with the vast majority (84%) stating that the bullying took place within the school grounds. 
  • Half of the children surveyed (50%) said the reason for the bullying was because of their appearance
  • Over a third (36%) stating it was due to social factors
  • A quarter (25%) of the children surveyed stating the bullying took place online


The data shows that school children are acutely aware of the scale of bullying in the UK as well, three quarters (75%) were aware that their friend(s) had been bullied.  


It’s not just children that feel the impact of bullying as well. 


  • Almost 7 in 10 (68%) parents surveyed said bullying at school has negatively impacted their mental health
  • The statistics show that bullying in school can have long-term effects: parents reported a negative impact on confidence levels in both social situations (71%) and at work (54%)
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (67%) parents surveyed said they still hold insecurities in adult life about what they were bullied about in school, mainly relating to appearance (69%). This is particularly so with females, with three quarters (75%) of female parents surveyed said they still hold on to appearance / weight related insecurities, whilst just under 2 in 5 (39%) male parents surveyed said the same. 
  • Over half (55%) of parents surveyed, who are nervous about their child being bullied because they know what an impact it can have on their whole life.


The research is difficult to read but highlights just how important campaigns like this are to tackle bullying as early as possible. The aim for the campaign is to do it in a positive way, focusing on positive behaviour, words of affirmation and encouraging actions. During The Positive Post Box campaign hundreds of thousands of letters filled with kind messages will be delivered to children around the UK helping to raise awareness and make a major impact on children’s mental health. 


CBBC star and Positive Post Box Ambassador, Molly Rainford, spoke about the campaign:  


“I’m delighted to take part in a campaign like this and I wish when I was in school there was a project like this to spread positivity. Getting the chance to write my own letter was really rewarding, it’s been years since I wrote a letter but I will be definitely picking up a pen more often and getting creative. I think it’s really important that these campaigns exist to encourage children to speak up, write down their feelings and also show their creativity. I hope the Positive Post Box is going to help loads of children across the country.”  


Rhys Stephenson, presenter and The Diana Award ambassador spoke about the campaign:  


“I’m so proud to be taking part in such a positive project. As somebody who has spoken publicly about bullying before, I will also support initiatives that spread positivity and respect. I can’t wait to see all of the children reading and writing their letters.”  


Director of Advertising & Marketing at Nationwide Building Society, Paul Hibbs commented:  


“Working with The Diana Award to promote mutual respect to tackle bullying head on by spreading messages of hope and positivity is an honour. 


“The on-bullying stats are pretty scary, so anything we can do to combat the root of the problem is vital, and that’s what we hope to do with this partnership. We want to show children who may be suffering they’re not alone, too. At Nationwide, mutual respect has always been a core value to us, so we are incredibly proud to be able to drive such a positive message and promote equality, respect and inclusivity in society.” 


Deputy CEO of The Diana Awards, Alex Holmes added: “On the back of our annual Big Anti-Bullying Assembly with Nationwide Building Society we’re delighted to be part of this brand-new campaign which encourages kindness through the revival of letter writing. We’ve received an overwhelming response from the launch with over 120,000 children set to be involved across the whole of the UK. 


“Simple written messages of kindness can have a positive impact on both the sender and receiver. At The Diana Award we’re passionate about tackling bullying behaviour by empowering young people to make change. We’re looking forward to seeing young people across the county putting pen to paper and sending their messages when the post boxes start to be delivered on October 31st.” 


Alongside this campaign, Nationwide Building Society is working with The Diana Award to train an extra 10,000 Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in over 660 primary schools across the UK over the next three years. Through this initiative, school children can develop key skills around tackling bullying, celebrating difference and supporting their peers, online and offline.  


The find out more about the initiative and download your very own digital pack here:  

Connecting children to the ocean

Primary school children take part in UK’s first Ocean curriculum, written by teachers in Devon with help from world’s leading scientists 


As world leaders grapple with climate catastrophe at COP27, the UK’s first Ocean Curriculum is giving Devon primary school children opportunities to learn how the ocean is instrumental in supporting life on our planet, and what they can do to help preserve it.    


The new curriculum was the idea of Stuart Bellworthy, CEO of Connect Academy Trust in Devon, which has 3,500 children across eight primary schools, all very close to the coast.   


With rising concern amongst children and adults about climate change, over-fishing, and the abundance of plastics in our seas, Mr Bellworthy was keen to find a way to connect children with the ocean.   


Based in Plymouth, with access to some of the world’s leading marine research institutions on his doorstep, Mr Bellworthy’s  initial idea in 2019 was just to create links with local scientists. However, with several marine biologists on the trust’s staff, this soon turned into plans to develop a full-blown Ocean Curriculum, covering the seven principles of ocean literacy*, with age-appropriate modules for all pupils from ages four to 11.   


“We wanted to help the children in our schools to have a deeper appreciation of the ocean and for them to understand how looking after our ocean will drive the future of our planet, as well as what they can do to make a difference”.  explained Mr Bellworthy.   


Fast forward three years, and the trust has just celebrated the launch of its curriculum with a staff training day at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.  Elaine Hayes, CEO of the new National Marine Park in Plymouth, welcomed the teachers and spoke about the importance of inspiring youngsters to embrace ocean conservation:  


“We need to think longer and harder about how we can embed ocean literacy into all aspects of school life”, Ms Hayes said. “Education can help people make better choices about how they co-exist with nature now and in the future. Through this new curriculum, over 3,500 children will grow up knowing more about the ocean than previous generations. We need a paradigm shift in thinking as we move forward.”  

The curriculum was developed by teachers and leaders working at Connect Academy Trust in collaboration with scientists at the Ocean Conservation Trust, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Marine Biological Association.  It offers a hands-on introduction to all aspects of ocean science through a carefully structured and progressive work programme that runs alongside each school’s existing curriculum.  The vision is for each child to cover, over their time in Primary school, 12 units of work, which look at different aspects of the Ocean. 


There are two types of unit or work – some are deep dives, to be covered intensively over a few days, and some cross-curricular for over a half term. Each two-year cycle covers agreed focuses, such as a particular ocean basin – the Mediterranean, for example, a creature study – from Molluscs to Mammals, a comparison study – for example looking at fishing in two different localities, and ocean themes such as climate and the water cycle . Careful mapping and progression of complexity ensures that, over time, the curriculum will build upon what has been previously covered.   


Claire Hardisty, Head Teacher at Thornbury Primary School in Plymouth, who was closely involved in developing the curriculum, said: “It is absolutely our purpose as educators to ignite a passion for the ocean, and to foster a love for learning. We need to understand how our oceans work so that we can protect our future on the planet.  Our children develop their sense of responsibility for the world they live in, through this innovative and inspiring curriculum.” 


Several of the modules have already been piloted in the classroom and feedback so far is positive, according to Mr Bellworthy: “All the units of work we have trialled have been really popular”, he said. “The children love learning about the ocean – they have insatiable questions and opinions, and studying the ocean gives them a fascinating introduction to so many aspects of science, in a way that they can really relate to. Thanks to the expert input of all of our science partners, we have an amazing new curriculum that is already inspiring the next generation.”   


It’s rare for schools to write their own new curriculum like this. While they do have some flexibility around how and what they teach, in practice many focus solely on the national curriculum and lack the resources to develop larger units of work outside of that.   


“It’s one of the advantages of being a multi-academy Trust”, explained Mr Bellworthy. “We have been able to pool resources and expertise across the schools in our Trust. Several teachers in our schools have a background in marine biology so that has helped enormously. Each of our schools has a nominated Ocean Champion amongst its staff who is responsible for developing material and introducing the units of work into their own school.”  


As a result of this innovative work, Connect has been awarded the prestigious European Blue School status, an EU initiative to bring the ocean into the classroom, the only UK education provider to hold this accolade.  


For Mr Bellworthy, the journey continues as he plans to share Connect’s Ocean Curriculum with other schools in the area and across the country.  

V&A East launch schools engagement programme, taking museum objects into schools for the first time in V&A’s history


  • Your Collection: V&A East in Schools is a major new school’s engagement programme from V&A East.
  • For the very first time in V&A history, objects from the national collection are heading into schools in east London.

Your Collection: V&A East in Schools is a new programme spearheaded by Director of V&A East, Gus Casely-Hayford which brings objects from the collection into schools, hosting talks and workshops designed to empower young people and open pathways into the creative industries.

Gus Casely-Hayford, V&A East Director, says: “Objects are glorious. I have spent my life dedicated to promoting and protecting them, but they are always made richer when animated by peoples love and passion. That is the driver of our V&A East schools programme, to take small numbers of truly special objects out to the schools of east London. Students will have the unique experience to engage with museum objects up close and have their voices heard as we discuss the rich global stories behind the objects. We want to share our love for what we do, and for what is coming in our two new sites, so that local young people feel a part of V&A East and be among some of our first ever visitors when we open in 2024.”

The objects chosen to be taken into schools all have unique and complex stories from around the world and from different moments in history. These include: a West African cast gold badge dating from 370-1874, a ‘Free Zulu’ pendant designed by Kenny Zulu Whitmore and made by inmates in Louisiana State Penitentiary in 2014, and a 17th Century Silver Scent Pomander, historically worn during times a pandemic to protect wearers from disease.

This new schools project is part of the wider ongoing community engagement programme from V&A East, which is dedicated to connecting with, and creating opportunities for, young people in the community leading up to the opening of the two new sites. V&A East Storehouse will open at Here East in 2024, and offers a new museum experience, taking visitors behind the scenes and providing unprecedented public access to V&A collections. Also, in 2025 V&A East Museum is opening on Stratford Waterfront, celebrating global creativity and making.

Your Collection: V&A East in Schools has been closely informed and shaped with teachers through an advisory group and a series of pilot sessions to make each workshop relevant and inspiring for their students. Participating schools can choose from a programme of assembly talks, classroom handling sessions, careers and skills workshops and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers. The sessions will resonate with subjects across the curriculum from art, design and humanities, and align with The Gatsby benchmarks for Good Career Guidance.

Sarah Green, V&A East Community Engagement and Outreach Lead says: “Empowering young people and opening pathways into the creative industries is fundamental to our vision for V&A East. East London is one of the most vibrant and creative areas of the UK, with around 45,000 of 1.2 million residents work in the areas’ thriving creative industries, however the boroughs’ diversity is not reflected in the workforce.  We are working with our communities to address this inequity. We want to use the collection to spark change, innovation, and creativity for the future.”

Your Collection: V&A East in Schools is set to reach as many schools as possible in the next few years, initially focusing on schools within the four Olympic boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.  Upcoming visits include Leyton Sixth Form College and Little Ilford School.

Schools interested in participating or hearing more about the V&A East Schools Programme can get in touch here:


Bow School: “Our year 9 students who have chosen to study a humanities and an arts subject for GCSE were given the opportunity to attend a pioneering 2-hour workshop with the V&A East Museum team. Director Gus Casely-Hayford and his colleagues brought three highly valuable and fascinating objects in for students to see. Students were also given the opportunity to consider what careers are available in the museums sector, and to learn how to record, photograph and pack museum items. Our students were completely blown away by the West African gold. Thank you for bringing that, a real treasure!”

Mossbourne Riverside Academy: “It was very insightful and engaging. The students really responded to not only seeing the artifacts up close, but the stories behind them which were diverse and fascinating. The workshop was a nice extension of the talk. Students learnt what it meant to be a curator and drew objects that mean something to them that they would want to add to a museum.”  

Amazon launches the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge to help young people bridge the skills gap, as research shows demand for jobs that require computer science, AI or machine learning skills are expected to increase by 40% over the next five years


Amori, Hannah, Maya, Deborah and Erika,l all in Year 8, from Prendergast Ladywell School pictured at Amazon’s Jobs Fair of the Future event, marking the launch of the ‘Alexa Young Innovator Challenge’, an AI-inspired educational programme for secondary school pupils, at their offices in London. New research reveals that computer science and AI related roles could contribute £71 billion a year to the UK economy. Photo credit: Matt Crossick/PA Wire.


London, 8 November 2022 – Amazon has launched the inaugural Alexa Young Innovator Challenge, an educational programme for secondary school students aged 13 – 18 to create an Alexa Skill to promote social good in their community. Designed to inspire young people about the potential of AI, teachers and educators will be able to access free curriculum-linked lesson plans and materials to engage students, while supporting the development of AI learning in UK classrooms. By taking part, schools will have the chance to win prizes, including £2,500 worth of tech products for the winner and a £2,500 donation to their school. The 20 runners up will also receive an Amazon gift card to the value of £250, redeemable on and £500 will be donated to their school.


New research – commissioned by Amazon from YouGov – found that currently, 79% of STEM teachers have limited access to AI resources and 64% to computer science resources in general, highlighting the real difficulties schools face when trying to engage students in this vital field. Of the 72% of secondary school teachers surveyed who agree that schools should be making an active effort to increase education and resources around AI and computer science, three quarters (75%) say that without this, there will be long-term skill gaps.


YouGov’s research showed strong support for boosting AI learning in UK schools among secondary school teachers, students and parents, with 65% of secondary school teachers agreeing that AI should be part of their school’s syllabus, and 87% of the UK STEM teachers surveyed believing access to free AI and computer science learning resources linked with the national curriculum would help students better engage in computer science. 69% of all secondary school teachers believe that education in computer science better prepares students for future careers in all sectors.


By taking part in the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge, students will be able to explore the possibilities of using AI to help solve societal issues ranging from climate change and healthcare, to poverty and homelessness. Winners will be selected in two age categories, together with 20 runners-up, by judges including Technology Director at Amazon and UK Ambassador for Amazon Future Engineer, Lauren Kisser; YouTuber and computing graduate Tobi Brown, who is a member of The Sidemen; TV presenter and STEM education advocate, Carol Vorderman MBE; computer scientist and entrepreneur Professor Sue Black; and maths and computing prodigy, and Stemettes founder, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon.


Chris Hillidge, Director of STEM at The Challenge Academy Trust said: “This competition is an amazing opportunity for students to engage with coding in a real-world context and use ‘tech for good’. Coding in a real world context is a valuable learning opportunity for young people and the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge gives young people to influence the world around them in a positive way.”


AI is ‘science fiction’ to one in three secondary school children


Teaching AI in secondary schools will also help the almost half (46%) of secondary school children surveyed who said they would like to know more about careers using computer science and AI. One third (33%) of secondary school children surveyed said they have only heard of AI in science fiction movies and literature.


To help remedy this, Amazon is also offering virtual Class Chats with schools across the UK, where Amazon leaders and current apprentices will share insights from their education, career journey, and discuss the future potential of AI with teachers and students. This comes as research reveals that 82% of secondary school teachers believe their students would be more interested in AI and computer science if they had the opportunity to speak to industry leaders in these sectors.


Youtuber Tobi Brown and Amazon’s Lauren Kisser pictured with students from Prendergast Ladywell School at Amazon’s Jobs Fair of the Future event, marking the launch of the ‘Alexa Young Innovator Challenge’, an AI-inspired educational programme for secondary school pupils, at their offices in London. New research reveals that computer science and AI related roles could contribute £71 billion a year to the UK economy. Image courtesy of Matt Crossick/PA Wire.


Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon said of her involvement:Supporting women in accessing resources and information to help them consider careers in STEM has always been my number one priority. The tech revolution never stops and we know that AI is going to be a vital part of the future of the industry so it’s great to see an initiative like the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge identifying this and looking to help inspire the kids of today, who will be our future scientists and technologists. I am passionate about the role of creativity and imagination in technology and development, and I think showing kids what tomorrow’s world of work could look like does exactly this.”


The launch of the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge reinforces Amazon’s commitment to support the education and skills development of learners from all backgrounds. It forms part of Amazon Future Engineer – Amazon’s comprehensive childhood-to-career programme that inspires, educates and enables children and young adults to realise their potential in computer science through bursary schemes, teacher training, and online tutorials. Since launching in 2019, Amazon Future Engineer has reached over 280,000 students across the UK.


AI is the world’s fastest growing technology[i] and the UK is striving to be among the world’s leaders in this field, with 56% of businesses planning to increase investment in AI technologies within the next three years,[ii]” said Lauren Kisser, Technology Director at Amazon and UK Ambassador for Amazon Future Engineer. “Through the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge, we hope to not only build confidence in students’ ability to understand and control this incredible technology but also inspire young minds, regardless of their background, to realise their potential as creators, thinkers and builders of the future; using AI to create innovative solutions to real world problems.”


For further information about the Alexa Young Innovator Challenge visit



[ii] Amazon Future Engineer, September 2022, Capital Economics


Capital Economics methodology
This research has been commissioned by Amazon from Capital Economics, an independent macroeconomics research consultancy. The views expressed remain those of Capital Economics and are not necessarily shared by Amazon. While every effort has been made to ensure that the data quoted and used for the research behind this document is reliable, there is no guarantee that it is correct, and Capital Economics Limited and its subsidiaries can accept no liability whatsoever in respect of any errors or omissions. This document is a piece of economic research and is not intended to constitute investment advice, nor to solicit dealing in securities or investments.


Based on official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Capital Economics has used a broad definition of ‘computer science related’ jobs to estimate the number of computer science related jobs in the UK economy and their contribution to economic output. A range of data and projections on demographics, the labour market, economic growth and adoption of technology have been used to generate estimates of future demand for computer science roles.


YouGov parents, secondary school teachers and secondary school pupils survey

All UK parent, UK secondary school teachers and UK secondary school pupils figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2031 teachers (1,792 secondary school teachers and 239 headteachers), 1,079 teenagers aged 13-18, and 1,002 parents of children aged 18 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 21st September 2022.  The survey was carried out online.











1 in 10 children now need speech therapy: Language expert stresses its importance

The number of five and six-year-olds who need speech and language support at school has risen by 10% in England over the past year, BBC analysis shows.

Experts claim the increase, which is substantially greater than in previous years, is partly due to the lockdown limiting social interactions.

Danielle Saccardi, a language expert at Preply, says it’s extremely important for optional speech therapy sessions to be offered and encouraged in primary school curriculums.

“Speech is the way language is expressed and received, and without being able to grasp the precise movement of the mouth and the way words should be pronounced, learning a language can prove extremely difficult, and limiting.

“Some pupils may struggle with spoken language, therefore schools should consider how they will identify pupils that need additional support around oral speaking. 

“Identifying and helping a child who has difficulties developing skills such as comprehension, clarity, voice, fluency and sound production at an early age is extremely important.

“Therapy will safeguard and promote the welfare of children with communication and interaction needs, as well as further development of effective public speaking skills which can help with career advancement.

“It is not always easy to identify if a child has a speech impediment or difficulty with language development, especially amongst a large number of pupils. 

“So whilst speech and language therapists can work directly with children, families, and other education professionals, this is an external service which is not included in the normal school curriculum. 

“Therefore therapy would be obtained externally. SLT for Kids provides speech and language therapy services directly to a school or education setting.

“However, to have any sort of consultation, assessment or treatment, it is an external service therefore must be manually reached out to by a parent or school.

“Having a speech therapy service on the main curriculum would help to diagnose children at an earlier stage, ensuring they are receiving the best possible education and support for future development.”

Highcliffe school joins HISP Multi Academy Trust

A Christchurch secondary school and sixth form has joined a multi academy trust (MAT) in a bid to expand facilities, resources and to improve investment in staff training.


Highcliffe School has partnered with HISP Multi Academy Trust to receive access to its extensive school improvement network and to receive funding to improve some of its buildings. 


HISP MAT currently works with schools across wider Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth areas. 


The partnership has brought in funding for staff training and development, as well as new facilities and opportunities for students – for example from the Solent Maths Hub and the Science Learning Partnership. 



Headteacher Patrick Earnshaw said he is excited to be working with HISP MAT and can’t wait to welcome the positive impact it will have on the students, teachers and overall quality of Highcliffe School. 


Acting CEO of HISP MAT Amanda Parry said: “Our partnership with Highcliffe School will uphold their outstanding standards of teaching and will provide students, teachers and staff with even more opportunities to succeed. 


“It is fantastic to see the students and teachers making use of our wider support and resources such as the Solent Maths Hub. 


“I am really excited about the future we are shaping for Highcliffe School.”


Patrick Earnshaw added: “Working with HISP will consistently ensure we are providing our pupils and staff with the resources they need to flourish. HISP is helping us lay the foundations for success.”

HISP MAT also works with Tanners Brook Primary, Portswood Primary and Thornden School, however it has five further schools set to join the trust in the near future. 


To find out more about HISP MAT, visit its website: