Primary schools ease overcrowding with outdoor classrooms and canopies

  • One in eight primary school pupils is now in a ‘supersize’ classroom of 31+.
  • Many schools are tackling the problem with an easy and convenient solution –outdoor canopy classrooms and covered play areas.

Lack of space in primary schools is a growing problem, with class sizes seeing a steady increase over the past decade. 

Schools need solutions that are easy and affordable, leading to many looking for creative ways to  provide more room. School space experts Canopies UK have found that schools are tackling their overcrowding problems and boosting children’s well-being with an outdoor canopy – a fast and practical way to make more sheltered space.

A growing number of ‘supersize classrooms’

A 2021 study conducted by the Labour Party showed that the number of primary school pupils in class sizes of 31 or more has increased by nearly 20,000 in five years. One in eight primary school pupils is now in a ‘supersize’ classroom of 31+.

Growing class sizes cause a host of issues in schools, from staffing to budget challenges. One key problem is physical space. Primary schools must find space to cater for students during lessons, playtimes and breaktimes, in all weather.

The benefits of outdoor learning and play

One solution to overcrowded classrooms is to take learning outside. Many schools are noting a positive connection between outdoor learning and play, and well-being in primary school children. In fact, studies show that spending time outdoors can help improve children’s:

  • Language and communication skills
  • Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Concentration
  • Creativity

As a result of spending time outside, children are more likely to have improved focus and concentration during their indoor lessons. But, outdoor lessons or play can be hampered by poor weather, so schools need practical and accommodating space to make sure children are getting the most out of their learning.

Primary schools creating multipurpose space

Schools need to expand in a versatile way, and many have found that outdoor canopies offer the additional space they need. Canopies can be used for many purposes – including as covered, year-round play areas or outdoor classrooms.

Some canopies can even be fully enclosed and fitted with lighting, heating and electrics, meaning they can be used as additional interior space all year round.

Ian Hargreaves, Director at Canopies UK says: “Class sizes in schools are on the rise, and we know many primary schools are struggling to tackle the challenges that arise due to lack of space. Many schools are realising that an outdoor classroom canopy is a great alternative to an extension, as it can provide much-needed covered space at a fraction of the cost.”

Commenting further on the versatility of an outdoor canopy, Ian adds: “Schools are using their canopies for a wide range of space-saving purposes. From extra dining and learning space to a place for after school clubs and meetings, or simply a sheltered space for children to play, the room created by a canopy is invaluable.”

A covered play area for Dedworth Green First School

Dedworth Green First School wanted children to be able to make the most of their time outside during break and lunchtimes. They teamed up with Canopies UK who produced a colourful Connekt back to back canopy for the outdoor play area.

The school now has a long-lasting and maintenance-free sheltered place where children can play throughout the year without worrying about the weather. From outdoor lessons to staying dry on the playground, the canopy offers Dedworth Green First School the additional space they need.  

New Nordic Schools releases Kwizie to help teachers instantly create engaging and inspiring quizzes with AI

Kwizie instantly creates and grades quizzes from any text-based resource, giving insights into each student’s level of understanding and saving teachers endless hours.

ESPOO, Finland (April 21st, 2022) Finnish education company New Nordic Schools launches Kwizie – an online tool that helps teachers engage with their students and save endless hours by instantly creating and grading quizzes with cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

Research on the state of global education by the OECD has shown teachers have been stressed and overburdened with increasing responsibilities causing many to consider leaving the profession. Kwizie helps to decrease teachers’ burden by saving time spent on selecting quality resources and creating interactive quizzes. At the same time, students are empowered to explore their excitement to learn and test their own learning, both independently as well as together with their classmates.

“Kwizie is a great way to create a formative assessment for educators. An educator can give students a quick entrance ticket at the beginning of class to see what students already know and an exit ticket to see what knowledge students have acquired during the class. I liked that I could see how each of my students did on the Kwizie in real time. It was very easy to create questions! You can quickly add a true/false or multiple check question. My students enjoyed it, they said it was very easy to use and a great way to show what they know,” says Maureen Lamb, Grade 9-12 Teacher from Connecticut, USA.

Kwizie can be used as a stand-alone tool where no login information is required – students only need a code to start an assessment, like in Kahoot. However, unlike Kahoot, Kwizie generates the quiz automatically based on the chosen learning material, saving the teacher hours of manual work.

“We are super excited to launch Kwizie, as we truly believe in its capabilities to ease the workload for teachers around the world, improve active recall for students, and most importantly, make learning fun and engaging. Teachers save a lot of time on preparatory work by instantaneously creating quizzes for their students from any text-based resource in English. Kwizie brings excitement and interactivity to learning and assessment, with the help of cutting-edge AI,” says Janne Jormalainen, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of New Nordic Schools.

One of the major benefits of Kwizie is that users can easily access a vast library of quality resources from third-party providers. For example, Britannica School articles are integrated within the resource library and provide instant access to millions of fact-checked materials– a service that would normally need to be paid for separately.

“Research has shown that active recall testing is far more effective at building strong memories than passive study. Kwizie enables students to strengthen their understanding of passive learning material. For example, if a teacher sees that their class is struggling to understand the content they assign, Kwizie makes it easy for the teacher to plan future lessons,” says Christopher Petrie, Director of Digital Learning at New Nordic Schools. 

Future releases of Kwizie will feature personalized quizzes based on each student’s ability and recommend next steps for a mastery style of learning.

Kwizie is also integrated with New Nordic Schools’ own Nordic Learning Platform, a complete hybrid learning solution for students, teachers, and schools. This platform combined with New Nordic Schools’ educational system and consulting services offers a complete Finnish-based K12 system that can be used independently in a modular way or together as a whole.

“Finland’s education system has been awarded as the best in the world on several occasions. With New Nordic Schools’ technology and know-how, we can bring the best practices of the system to any corner of the world.​​ We continue to empower teachers and schools worldwide to transform outdated systems of education,”  Jormalainen concludes.


  • Win money for your school by helping us identify Britain’s best personal finance teachers
  • £25,000 prize pot to be shared amongst winning schools
  • £50 vouchers for the first 250 teachers who enter
  • To nominate a teacher, email
  • Teachers can also nominate themselves: email with lesson plan and supporting statement


With a cost-of-living crisis hitting many hard, the importance of good money management skills has been brought into sharp focus. 


Debt management, and in particular ‘buy now, pay later’, has become a key classroom talking point for Britain’s top teachers over the past year, interactive investor reports.


The investment platform, Britain’s second largest for private investors, is hearing real concern from teachers around ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) products, whose glossy advertising is very tempting – and perhaps even more so during tough times.


The time has come to recognise a new crop of inspirational teachers, as interactive investor launches the Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards 2022, one of the most prestigious awards recognising creative money education.


Interactive investor is calling for help to find Britain’s best money teachers: topics might include budgeting, investment, cash savings, interest rates, credit, and much more, from reception right the way up to sixth form.


The main prize pot is £25,000, shared out amongst the winning teachers’ schools. The first 250 teachers who submit an entry will receive a £50 Amazon voucher.


How to enter

To nominate a teacher, parents, carers, or pupils should email with the teacher’s name along with the name and address of the school, by Monday 25th July 2022. We will then approach the teacher and ask them to submit their lesson plan and brief supporting statement.


Teachers can also nominate themselves, by emailing with a lesson plan and supporting statement by Monday 8th August 2022.


Richard Wilson, Chief Executive, interactive investor says: “In a world that defies prediction, and young people are seemingly confronted with life lessons earlier and earlier, the one investment that has infinite returns is education, and a constant within is the need for good money lessons. We owe so much to our teachers and it’s hugely important to find ways to recognise and celebrate their contribution.


“We have been blown away by the dedication and creativity of the UK’s best personal finance teachers. Entering the award is a brilliant chance to showcase these skills, and for teachers to not only be recognised by their peers, but also the local community, and – as we have seen – sometimes even local and national media.


“So, whether you are a teacher yourself, or would like to nominate one, please spread the word. It’s time we demonstrate how our teachers are getting children engaged about personal finance. And ultimately, winning the award is a tremendous accolade for teachers, and a prize for schools which can make a huge difference.”


Debt dominates


Nicola Butler, a maths and Finance teacher at Ysgol Eirias, a state secondary school in Colwyn Bay, Wales, was one of last year’s winners. She used the medium of hair extensions (on credit – they can cost upwards of £400), to engage teens about interest rates and the real cost of borrowing. Nicola says: “It is easy to see how the rise in this ‘BNPL’ culture could drive impulse purchases and put people in debt and severe financial difficulties. Indeed, my concern is not just how young people, once they turn 18, might start using these services, but also how they can impact parents and families.

“When you look at the world from this perspective, you see not just why we teach personal finance, but also why we are so passionate about it and its wider relevance.”


Buy now, pay later is also something that troubles Danny Topping, a teacher at Blackpool Sixth Form College and winner of ii’s ‘Ambassador’ award 2021: “In a county like Lancashire, where there are areas of real poverty even in working families [buy now, pay later] can turn a hard situation into a terrible one.”


Likewise, Nick Redfern, a teacher from Powers Hall Academy in Essex and last year’s primary school winner, says: “The environment of the schools that I teach in… I felt that it was only right that pupils got the opportunity, particularly to look at the pitfalls and perils of debt and how debt accumulates and how you can find yourself in a debt spiral before you know it.”


Levelling up

interactive investor, the UK’s second largest DIY investment platform, believes it is paramount that our younger generations are learning about money early, to help build a healthy relationship with their finances which will see them through to adulthood.

In December 2021, together with the judges of the interactive investor Personal Finance Teacher of the Year awards 2021, ii published an open letter to the Department of Education, asking for a series of crucial measures to help address the impact of a clear lack of financial capability in the UK. With the levelling-up agenda a long-term commitment, ii continues to call on the government to give personal finance lessons the priority they deserve.


Personal finance is still a relatively small part of curriculums across the UK, but the skills taught are vital. Through this award, ii is on the lookout for teachers who are designing lessons with imagination and skill.


Tackling the Digital Divide: How UK schools are dealing with digital poverty.

Paul Finnis, CEO of Learning Foundation and Digital Poverty Alliance


As we learn to live with the virus and establish a new way of life that allows children to continue their education, the true impact of the pandemic is only just emerging.


At the height of the pandemic in 2019, only 65% of children managed to reach expected standard of Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths levels. With many children being forced to adjust to remote learning, admirable efforts to help children boost their academic circumstances saw many schools prioritise their students’ access to digital resources. These vital efforts to equip children struggling to adapt to a challenging new learning environment nevertheless left one important group neglected – teachers.


A Digital Poverty Alliance report last year showed that only 53% of teachers working at schools with high numbers of children from low-income backgrounds had adequate access to digital equipment and would be suitably prepared for home working. These forgotten teachers were living in digital poverty.


Digital poverty has affected families across the UK long before the COVID-19 outbreak. A previous Cambridge University study found that 22% of the UK’s population did not have basic digital skills and internet access even before the pandemic. The sudden shift to home working and online school exposed the severity of digital poverty across the UK.


Many schemes were set up during the pandemic to help provide children with essential digital access, but there was little focus on ensuring that teachers had the fundamental skills and digital access they needed to help the children make academic progress.


Children living in poverty are already significantly disadvantaged academically, this combined with a lack of digital resources has built up even more pressure for teachers trying to support them when they themselves may lack not just equipment, but also connectivity and skills to pass on to their pupils.


With the help of Currys and the Learning Foundation, the Digital Poverty Alliance launched the Tech4Teachers scheme last year, and 1,000 more teachers throughout the UK now have access to new digital equipment and support. Now just 6 months later, we are hearing back from some of the participating schools, who have shared just how much of a difference these contributions can make for both teachers and children.


The Head of School at All Saint’s Primary school in Barnet, Holly Skinner, shared the importance of helping schools with low budgets provide their teachers with essential digital equipment. She said, “We have now been able to give each class teacher a laptop to support them with their role. This would not have been possible without this programme- we simply would not have been able to afford it.” 


The scheme was also able to help replace 10 laptops for the teachers at Lever Park Academy, SEMH (Social, Emotional Mental Health) special school. The school helps students that have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), OOD (Oppositional defiant disorder), mental health issues, attachment disorders as well as learning and physical issues. Head Teacher, Matthew Taylor, explained that their teachers often relocate to accommodate to students who may need to be taught from home. He said, “Being a teacher is a challenge, to enable staff to produce the high quality of work that is expected we need to equip them with the best, your laptops will balance out these inequalities.”


The digital divide is not new, but its consequences were magnified during the pandemic. For many children in the UK, having access to a high-quality device and a stable internet connection has made all the difference to their academic achievements.


We can combat digital poverty and help supply devices for teachers across the UK using a combination of government and independent schemes. Teachers will hopefully be relieved of some of the pressure they are under as a result of the pandemic’s impact on children’s academic performance if they have access to updated digital technology.


With no certain end in sight to COVID-19, we must prepare and equip teachers so that they can continue to provide a sustainable education to children no matter the circumstances. Equipping teachers with the correct digital devices and ensuring that they are able to teach no matter what is thrown their way is just the beginning of what will hopefully be the end of digital poverty in the UK.


National Traineeship and Apprenticeship organisation is named Highly Commended Partner of the Year

Qube Learning, one of England’s leading independent recruitment and training providers who directly contracts with the government’s Education & Skills Funding Agency to deliver high quality interventions to economically inactive young people aged 16–24, has been given great praise with the Highly Commended Partner of the Year label at the inspiring Movement to Work awards.


The credible recognition was generated by Qube Learning’s commitment to driving employment through Traineeships, with the business making it their mission to tackle youth unemployment and create lasting change. At the core of this support for young people is Qube Learning’s Traineeship programme, which includes a work experience placement lasting seven to eight weeks, hosted by one of Qube Learning’s Employer partners. As part of this programme, they also deliver embedded employability skills, English and maths tuition, and the attainment of relevant licences to practice other accredited qualifications. The training provider set themselves apart from other institutions by only partnering with Employers who commit to offering job vacancies to achieving Trainees that lead to employment or an Apprenticeship.


Joe Crossley, CEO of Qube Learning, says ‘Our educational hubs provide young people with hope and are a touchstone of Information, Advice and Guidance on career options. The economically inactive demographic in Bradford is the furthest from the labour market, yet year on year, we have exhibited some of the highest positive progression rates for all providers in England against the Traineeship programme. We are so thrilled to play such a huge part in the rise of employment for so many people, and believe this is why we have been given the accolade of Highly Commended Partner of the Year’.


In 2018, Qube Learning launched their first ever satellite centre in the heart of Bradford, West Yorkshire, to support young people who live in an area that has demonstrated continued decline in social mobility into work. A recent study showed that Bradford is the 13th most deprived local authority in England out of 317, and its position has worsened between the 2015 and 2019 recorded Indices of Multiple Deprivation. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021 Qube Learning launched a second satellite centre in Bolton, Greater Manchester, a city exhibiting many of the same challenges as Bradford. Within each region, the business also works closely with independent partner organisations, such as nurseries, solicitors, veterinary practices, healthcare settings and small retailers.


The result is that local people are being placed in local jobs, which is a mission the provider will enthusiastically continue. Qube Learning believe that everyone deserves a chance, no matter where they are from. It is at the core of their business and the Employers they work with.

Qube Learning is a proud to be an OFSTED grade 2 (Good) Recruitment and Training Solutions Provider, delivering a range of training and qualifications to hundreds of Employers and Students across the country. If you are interested in finding out more about the positive opportunities an Apprenticeship, Traineeship or Qube Vision eLearning can bring, then speak with the experts at Qube Learning.

Email: Telephone:  01235 833838 / Website:

How to use Pupil Premium Funding for Social and Emotional Support

Exploring the growing need for social and emotional support as part of educational recovery in the wake of the pandemic is crucial. Here we examine the kind of interventions that will help deliver such support to children, helping build resilience, by making the most of pupil premium funding.

The pupil premium is a grant given by the government to schools in England to decrease the attainment gap for the most disadvantaged children. For many primary schools, the pupil premium forms a sizeable amount of the school budget.

Schools now face significant challenges to ensure its continuing success. The pandemic has disrupted education like never before and the road to recovery will require robust strategies. The pressure is intensified as pupil premium spending must cover social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, as well as supporting disadvantaged children by contributing to catch-up opportunities.

Changes to the conditions of the pupil premium funding/grant mean schools will have to justify their spending through additional checks, and there will now be greater focus on evidence-based interventions.

What kinds of interventions and activities can support social and emotional learning and development?

The SEL curriculum should be sequential, active, focused and explicit (SAFE), and ensure continuity through all year groups and stages of development.

Strategies for SEL in primary schools should target skills that have been underdeveloped in children due to the Covid-19 lockdown. In addition, teachers and support staff should be offered training to take a trauma-informed approach to education as part of recovery from Covid-19.

An example of an SEL intervention is focusing on the ways in which students work with (and alongside) their peers, teachers, family or community. While teacher-led activities are very important, they should be combined with other forms of learning and interventions. These can include peer-to-peer collaborations and schemes that are away from the classroom.

There are three broad categories of SEL interventions identified by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). These are:

  • Universal programmes generally taking place in the classroom
  • Specialised programmes that are targeted at students with particular social or emotional needs
  • School-level approaches to developing a positive school ethos, which also aim to support greater engagement in learning


Activities to support mental health and wellbeing could include:

  • Coaching children to recognise how they feel or how someone else might be feeling
  • Conflict-resolution and guiding students through the steps to help them apply a skill in a new situation
  • Enabling students to practice group decision-making by setting classroom rules together
  • Teaching reflective listening to pupils

Schools should carry out an assessment of social and emotional capabilities and evaluate the impact of SEL interventions.

The EEF has found that SEL interventions have an identifiable and valuable impact on attitudes to learning and social relationships in school, with an average overall impact of four months’ additional progress on attainment.

Examples of best practice and positive outcomes

Case studies shown in the EEF Guide to The Pupil Premium demonstrate examples of pupil premium in action. These include:

Springfield Junior School: With a third of pupils eligible for the pupil premium funding at this school, additional resources were dedicated to teachers’ development and pupils were provided with extra enrichment PSHE sessions. The interventions were adapted to suit the context of the school. Last year 90% of the school’s Year 6 Pupil Premium children achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

The Aspire Educational Trust: This trust of 10 primary schools adopted an evidence-based approach to improving the oral language skills of disadvantaged pupils. They used the EEF’s Guidance Reports (Improving Literacy in KS1, Improving Literacy in KS2 and Preparing for Literacy) to address barriers relating to vocabulary. The EEF Toolkit’s Oral Language Interventions section showed an average impact of +5 months with an extensive evidence base. The Trust found that disadvantaged students were able to access the curriculum more effectively and confidently, in contrast to previous years.

Implementing a pupil premium strategy

pupil premium strategy only works effectively when a holistic approach is taken.

This is the conclusion that Sir John Dunford found when he spent two years examining what works best, acting as a channel of communication between the Department for Education and schools. He found that the most successful schools used a range of strategies that were also targeted to meet individual needs.

The 15 strategies recommended by Sir Dunford include:

  • Collecting, analysing and monitoring data on groups and individual pupils
  • Focusing on teaching quality
  • Identifying key barriers to learning for disadvantaged children
  • Engaging with parents and carers
  • Referring to existing evidence about the effectiveness of different strategies


Keen to learn more?


Join the EEF, NFER, Inclusion Expert and more, at the Pupil Premium Conference 2022 on 13th July in Central London!


Learn more and register:

Play Action International launches nationwide appeal to deliver toys for 50,000 Ukrainian refugees


Award-winning children’s charity, Play Action International, has today announced the launch of its ‘Play Box Appeal’. With the UK expected to host up to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees, the appeal aims to support at least 50,000 Ukrainian children with the toys and play items they need to begin to recover from the conflict and trauma they have suffered.


Play Action International is accepting donations from the public to provide shoe boxes full of toys for primary school-aged Ukrainian children seeking refuge in the UK and in Eastern Europe. The appeal has been created to support trauma affected children to process their experiences, express their thoughts and feelings and reduce stress through play.


To support the appeal, Play Action International is partnering with independent parcel carrier Yodel to support the delivery of donations to the charity, where they can then be distributed to those children most in need. Play Action is also receiving support from The Creation Station and Landmark Property Solutions who have been integral to the appeal launch.


To make a shoebox donation, visit Play Action International’s website where you will be directed to print off a label via Yodel’s website. Donors will be able to choose any of Yodel’s 6,000 convenient drop off points that are within the Collect+ delivered by Yodel network. They will then be manually checked by volunteers and delivered to Play Action International’s partner organisations, who will distribute donations to those in need.


Murielle Maupoint, CEO at Play Action International added: Ukraine’s children are going through incredibly traumatic experiences. By supporting them with toys, we hope to give them space to begin to process and recover from the experience. We’re excited that Yodel has agreed to support our appeal and with the support of the business’ network we will be able to ensure that children affected by the conflict are comforted by the generosity of children and families across the UK and know they have not been forgotten.”


Mike Hancox, CEO at Yodel said: “We’re very proud to be partnering with Play Action International to launch the Play Box Appeal and to be able to support Ukrainian children and families at such a difficult time. Our network will help much needed toys and play items to be collected across the UK. Our Collect+ delivered by Yodel service offers collection points across the country giving people an easy way to donate.”


The Play Box Appeal aims to provide these boxes to Ukrainian children arriving in the UK over the coming weeks, as well as to Ukrainian children seeking refuge in Eastern Europe. To find out more about this new partnership or for more information on how to donate, visit

It is time to inspire a generation of financially capable future employees

Sharon Davies, CEO of Young Enterprise

Financial education has the ability not just to transform the lives of young people across the UK but the economy more broadly. As we begin to emerge from the economic and social consequences of widespread restrictions and uncertainty, unlocking the capabilities of the next generation of employees and entrepreneurs will play a vital role in ensuring the country is ready to thrive post-pandemic and work towards a better future. At present, the level of financial literacy in the UK is not where it should be. A recent survey of 2,000 UK adults[1] showed that almost half of adults cannot pass a basic financial knowledge test around key areas including savings, investments, and retirement.

As young people are growing up in a complex and ever-shifting financial landscape, with pressures and uncertainty around products, methods of investing and ways of earning money, financial education has never before been as crucial, with educators, policymakers, parents and young people awakening to the necessity of ensuring that the next generation feel comfortable discussing money. The scale of the issues cannot be underestimated, with the Money and Pensions Service revealing that 55% of people don’t feel comfortable discussing their financial situation[2], whilst 67% of young people do not feel confident planning their financial future.[3]

It is time to reframe the notion that financial education is just about adding up and instead, that is has the potential to help young people thrive and open up opportunities for them. This starts by educating children whilst at primary school when they are forming their mindset with money, shaping their financial capability into young adulthood and beyond.

Despite being on the secondary curriculum, financial education has not in the main, taught  young people the intricacies of how to unlock their financial capabilities and opportunities and it is vital that this is addressed head on. Young people should be able to understand how to make the most of their money whilst balancing the world of financial risk and reward. They must be taught the different ways of budgeting, of saving money, and how to analyse and assess the successes of their saving habits whilst on the other hand gaining a deep insight into best practice of borrowing and how to leverage personal debt.

More fundamentally, we need to focus on making sure that young people feel not just in control of their money but are able to use it to the best of their ability, starting with ensuring that young people feel prepared for the workplace and are able to earn and look after their money.

Whilst it is incredibly important to focus on the capabilities of young people and instill a sense of an enterprising mindset, it is also vital to help them navigate the potential pitfalls that exist in the 21st century. The world is becoming increasingly cashless, with investment opportunities such as stocks and shares and cryptocurrencies available to young people at the push of a button. With this comes exposure to financial misinformation on social media and scam advertising, something that didn’t exist ten years ago. Alongside promoting positive financial education and promoting the capabilities of young people, it is equally important to help young people recognise and navigate these challenges.

At Young Enterprise we are passionate about developing the financial capability of the next generation of young people. That’s why we launched “My Money Matters”, a digital programme designed to help young people thrive in today’s society and develop a positive mindset with money.

Considering the impact of financial education on boosting social mobility will be key to our work. A recent study[4] found that poorer children were “years behind” their peers when it comes to managing money, with the financial skills of 15-year-olds from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds similar to those of 11-year-olds from advantaged backgrounds.

If we are to truly reframe the way young people view the role of financial education in in helping them build their futures, it is crucial that we enable them to build a healthy relationship with money, alongside addressing the root causes of inequality. An ever-shifting world presents young people with an incredible opportunity, and with collaboration between schools, the third sector, governments and employers, we can ensure that we inspire a generation of financial capable young people to turbocharge a recovering economy.





Talent is across all the UK, but actual job opportunities are still far and few between, especially for those in poorer areas

Joe Crossley, CEO of Qube Learning, a national training and recruitment solutions provider, works to increase the employment prospects for those furthest down the socioeconomic ladder, and who may traditionally fall through the cracks of the UK’s employment and education system. He says: “As upward social mobility appears harder than ever for many members of society, we are unfortunately still seeing the quality of an individual’s education vary depending on the social class that they are born into. More often than not, the higher the family income, the better the educational opportunities.”

As a country who prides itself on diversity, our geographical equality remains biased, and education and professional poverty is a daily reality for many people. Although the space between the classes is vast, an increasing number of organisations are beginning to seek out the wide and diverse range of talents on offer from every sector within society. However, this is still not enough, as unemployment rates in some localities remains high and sees several demographic groups unable to secure work.


Joe continues: “With two educational Kick Start Centres in Bradford and Bolton, we have seen first-hand what professional deficiency looks like. We work closely with residents to help them gain basic skills, training them and then placing them in an occupation of interest. For academic year 2019/2020, we saw 116 people embark on Traineeships with 80% of those achieving, and for the 2020/21 academic year we enrolled 196 Trainees with 90% completing. We intend to keep growing this provision year on year, with the aim being to see many more people find a viable path to a safe and secure future. We see the desire for people to survive and care for themselves and their families; these are talented individuals who have often gone unseen or are stuck in habitual employment cycles in sectors not for them. We hope to inspire change with our hands-on approach and programmes like Traineeships, which provide a comprehensive package of employability support.


A core objective of the government’s recent Levelling Up White Paper report is to release the potential of every person and region within the UK, which closely aligns with our own company ethos. The report muses that through successful programmes like Apprenticeships and Traineeships, there is a real chance to improve the social mobility of poorer areas – predicted skills increase, economic boost, improved transport, and more factors, will see regional locations transformed into cultural hubs and drive up the number of professional vacancies.


According to the report, by 2030 the number of people successfully completing high quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK. In England, this will lead to 200,000 more people successfully completing high quality skills training annually, bolstered by a further 80,000 people annually completing courses in the lowest skilled areas. As a provider who aims to see fairer recruitment and skills development options available to everyone, this prediction is music to our ears. It’s an encouraging paper to read with a lot of promise and we remain optimistic that the government’s wheels are now in motion, escalating a rapid movement of equality across industries and education.


I see people from all corners of the UK overcoming challenges and reaping their rewards; we want all demographics to succeed and that should be the outlook for all those who play a part in recruiting. Many businesses are missing out on a huge pool of talent by sticking to their conventional social class when recruiting. No matter where in the country, it’s about developing all talents, and looking at vocational and creative skills rather than just academic status.”

Qube Learning is proud to be an OFSTED grade 2 (Good) recruitment and training solutions provider, that works with hundreds of Employers across the country, delivering a range of training and qualifications to a multitude of Students. If you are interested in finding out more about the positive opportunities an Apprenticeship or Traineeship can bring, then speak with our experts at Qube Learning.

If you are interested in finding out more about the positive opportunities a Traineeship or Apprenticeship bring, speak with the experts at Qube Learning. Email: Telephone:  01235 833838. Website:



Recently appointed CEO Sue Hayes will also host an exclusive ‘A Day in The Life of a CEO’ Q&A session for one winning school

This National Careers Week sees Nottingham Building Society launch its flagship employability programme, Career Academy, to support 16 to 18-year-olds as they build key life skills through meaningful interventions that will help to prepare them for the world of work.

Supported by community engagement specialists EVERFI, the brand-new resources further develop The Nottingham’s existing employability activity with the aim of helping young people fulfil their potential by igniting their future career ambitions. EVERFI is an international technology company driving social impact through education. 

As a result of the societal challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers, teachers, and other educators had to quickly adapt and incorporate new and flexible styles of careers learning and delivery to minimise disruption to their educational experience. Against this challenging backdrop The Nottingham sharpened their focus on providing young people with meaningful educational interventions to enhance their knowledge of the world of work.

With Career Academy, the Nottingham Building Society has developed a catalogue of online, downloadable resources for educators which follow the Gatsby benchmarks and are linked to the PSHE Association’s programme of study. They include a video shot entirely on location in Nottingham charting the journey from education to employment of 17-year-old Sabina, who wants to work in IT.

Following a successful project pilot from mid-September 2021, the full resource suite is now available for free to schools across England in time for National Careers Week. The materials, which contain lessons aligned to the curriculum that teachers can choose from to suit student needs, are based on the following five areas: 

  1. Navigation: “I know how to find out about work” 
  2. Practice: “I can experience what being at work is like” 
  3. Skills: “I have the skills employers want” 
  4. Networking: “I can get ideas from different people” 
  5. Reflecting: “I understand why an employer might value me” 

Teachers who have taken part in the pilot to date have shared that: “Students learnt a lot about themselves in the content. It allowed them to think about how their own personality and skills align with different employers and what employability skills different industries are looking for.”

Another teacher praised the resources adding that: “The worksheets provided are an excellent resource to get students thinking about their futures and reflect on the industry which would best suit them,” with a further teacher highlighting that “where students had a career but no plan to it, they have now investigated a route and had the inspiration to research this further.”

As part of The Nottingham’s ongoing focus in driving awareness and developing students’ skills into future careers, May 2022 will see recently appointed CEO Sue Hayes host an exclusive ‘A Day in The Life of a CEO’ Q&A session for one winning school. The winning educational establishment will be selected at random from those who have registered for the Career Academy online.

Sue Hayes, most recently chief executive of GB Bank, says: “We’re delighted to mark this year’s National Careers Week with the launch of Career Academy, our flagship employability programme.

“It’s our aim to help prepare young people for the world of work and, looking at the positive feedback we’ve received from educators to date from our pilot, we’re well placed to continue supporting employability and financial capability during these challenging times – with the hope of building brighter futures for youngsters.

“Young people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic so our current focus on supporting them to fulfil their potential by igniting their future career ambitions is something close to my heart. Through my upcoming student Q&A session I’m excited about the opportunity to share practical insights to inspire the next generation of brilliant young minds.”

Teachers can register to the Career Academy here for the chance to win an exclusive Q&A class session and discover the range of free curriculum-linked resources for their school.