CRB Cunninghams introduces Chip & Pin payments for flexible school transactions

CRB Cunninghams, cashless catering, online payment and ID management software provider, has launched Chip & Pin transactions to enable UK schools to accept popular payment methods, including credit and debit cards, Google/Apple Play and contactless payments at the point of sale. Integrated into CRB Cunningham’s Fusion cashless catering solution, Chip & Pin is designed to offer pupils, staff, and visitors an additional contactless payment method in all areas of the school.


With multiple payment methods typically used for everyday purchases, such as debit/credit cards or smartwatches, Chip & Pin software is designed to enable pupils, staff, parents, and visitors to authorise school purchases using their chosen contactless payment method.


To use Chip & Pin for school transactions, users present their debit/credit card or mobile device for Google or Apple Pay. Chip & Pin automatically processes payments, with no manual input required from school staff at the point of sale. By enabling users to pay for school items with their chosen method, including in the dining hall, school shop, at events and more, school users can benefit from flexible payment choices without pre-registration or sign-up required. This flexibility means that schools can accept all major forms of payment for users and increase uptake in all areas of the school.

Stuart Brown, Head of Sales at CRB Cunninghams, adds:

“Offering flexible payment methods is crucial when looking at sustainable ways to increase school uptake and encourage pupils to continue using the dining hall.

We developed our Chip & Pin integration to enable all school users to benefit from an increased choice of transaction methods at the point of sale and to eliminate time spent by school staff counting manual transactions at the end of each day. So far, we’ve seen significant interest from schools looking to set up Chip & Pin, and I look forward to seeing the positive effects this will have on their transaction processes.”

Integrated with CRB Cunningham’s Fusion cashless catering system, the new Chip & Pin functionality combines cashless catering and contactless payments into one solution. For existing customers, by incorporating Chip & Pin into their cashless system, schools will benefit from a fully integrated cashless package from one provider.


Find out more or request a quote for Chip & Pin for your school.

Stonyhurst College partners with Dynabook to bolster digital learning experience

Stonyhurst College is a co-educational Roman Catholic independent school in Lancashire, England. It is the largest Catholic boarding school in the UK, with 800 pupils ranging between the ages of 3 and 18 from over 40 countries.

Stonyhurst was looking for a new partner to equip students and teachers with laptops to bolster the everyday learning experience and empower students to work anywhere. Working with reseller AMC, the college was keen to trial high-spec touchscreen devices capable of managing heavy processing apps for in-class learning such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Sibelius. It also needed laptops with long lasting battery power, capable of powering these applications all day long. This was alongside withstanding every-day bumps and drops and being lightweight to carry for extended periods of time. Additionally, teachers found themselves spending large amounts of time marking work and hoped implementing school-wide laptop use would streamline this process and increase overall efficiency. On top of this criteria, the devices needed to be built and ready within just two months in time for the start of term in September.

Sourcing a large-scale order during a period where there were many constraints on components due to ongoing supply chain issues across the industry presented an extra challenge for Stonyhurst. Multiple providers were struggling to secure the required parts for the 750 units required by the desired deadline. Dynabook proved to be the perfect partner for Stonyhurst to appoint as its sole provider of devices through AMC, delivering the large order in time for the new school year thanks to Dynabook’s unique position of having its own factory. It was able to directly fulfil the demand for Stonyhurst on a ‘Build to Order’ (BTO) basis in just six weeks, critical to the success of the initial trial phase.

Together with AMC and Dynabook’s BTO service, Stonyhurst ordered 750 Portégé X30W-J units which were customised to meet each of its desired specifications. This differed for both students and staff, right down to the disc size, memory, and processor. On arrival, AMC oversaw the setup of the units ensuring all the devices were ready for use with the correct applications and security software straight out of the box.

One of the biggest priorities for the college was long lasting devices to support students constantly on the move with no charger in sight. The Portégé X30W-J has proved unbeatable in this area, with the battery life identified by students as a key benefit of the devices. Students can comfortably run heavy-duty applications all day without worrying about where the next charge point is. When they do need to charge-up, the ultra-fast charging capability means it’s back and ready for another day within one hour of plugging it in.

Dynabook’s hands-on approach alongside AMC throughout the entire process, including visits to the college, ensured that Stonyhurst was kept up to date with the progress of the devices and its requirements were perfectly met and implemented into everyday school life seamlessly. From specification, it took just six weeks for all units to be successfully delivered, each of which was set-up and ready for students to simply switch on and use. Every student that required a laptop had a device ready to go, right in time for the beginning of term. AMC also supplied suitable laptop lockers within the college, providing additional peace-of-mind around the security of the devices.

Following the success of the Portégé X30W-J, Stonyhurst has placed a further order for 300 additional Portégé and Tecra laptops to ensure the rest of its staff are using the very best devices and are empowered in their everyday work. Now every pupil and employee at Stonyhurst is using a Dynabook laptop across the college.

Gareth Entwhistle, Director of IT Operations at Stonyhurst, said “Technology has revolutionised the education sector, making it increasingly clear that we needed to empower students with their own devices. However, ensuring these delivered on our specific requirements in the time needed was critical. Dynabook was great from the off, able to balance all our specifications while also providing quick and considered customer service. A year since its implementation, the 1:1 device scheme has delivered impressive improvements to the in-class learning experience for both students and teachers. For example, teachers are now able to provide verbal feedback to every pupil via voice notes on the devices – a personalised and streamlined experience that would never have been possible before. With the strength and reliability of the technology we’ve seen first-hand, we can trust it to deliver for whatever our students and staff require.”

Dawn Henderson, Education Sales Lead at Dynabook Europe, said, “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the success of Dynabook’s partnership with Stonyhurst College. Our BTO service gave us the flexibility and timelines we needed to provide Stonyhurst with the exact devices they needed and ensure both students and teacher had the right features to support and thrive day-to-day. We are delighted that Stonyhurst is extending its partnership with Dynabook and are looking forward to helping the college continue to benefit from technology in education in the future.”

Nick Bonnett, Technical Director at AMC, said, “The execution of this project with Dynabook and Stonyhurst College has exemplified the outstanding outcomes we can deliver when faced with close deadlines and supply chain issues. It’s been great to bring together our partnerships with both organisations to help Stonyhurst deliver a successful school-wide implementation of Dynabook’s market-leading devices.”



Primary school kids standing in a row on a walkway outside their school, smiling to camera, low angle

Digital resources will help teachers to support students’ mental health & wellbeing


Discovery Education – the worldwide edtech leader whose state-of-the-art digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place – is proud to support Children’s Mental Health Week (6th to 12th February 2023), by providing UK primary schools with dynamic digital resources to support students’ mental health and wellbeing.


Available via the award-winning digital learning service Discovery Education Espresso and the digital RSHE programme Discovery Education Health and Relationships, the carefully curated content – which features videos, interactives, games and lesson plans – gives schools a complete set of resources to support and engage young people during Children’s Mental Health Week and beyond.


  • In Discovery Education Espresso,teachers can access a special channel called  ‘All About Me’, which is especially suitable for younger learners. ‘All About Me’ includes lots of engaging resources to encourage children to talk about themselves and understand others. Special videos, books and printable resources can be used to support and facilitate important classroom discussions around families, friendships, emotions and feelings.


  • In Discovery Education Health and Relationships, teachers will find a whole raft of dynamic digital resources to confidently engage students and support their mental health and wellbeing. Health and Relationships explores child mental health through a number of different topics, including Coping with Change, Happy Friendships and Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds. Child-led videos feature children talking about key topics while role play activities help students to explore issues that affect their lives.


Howard Lewis, Discovery Education’s UK and International Managing Director said:


“Discovery Education is proud to support Children’s Mental Health Week – which shines a light on the mental health of young people everywhere. Schools have an increasingly vital role to play in supporting student wellbeing and we’re glad to give teachers the resources they need to engage young people on this important topic.”


Now in its 9th year, Children’s Mental Health Week is a nationwide event, organised by children’s charity Place2Be.  With a theme of ‘Let’s Connect’, this year’s event will encourage young people to connect with friends and family, in a bid to counter isolation and loneliness, which can have a negative impact on child mental health.


Discovery Education’s Children’s Mental Health Week resources are available to Discovery Education subscriber schools via Discovery Education Espresso and Discovery Education Health and Relationships.


Explore Discovery Education’s award-winning digital learning services at


Find out more about Children’s Mental Health Week at

Softcat reveals cyber security is top IT priority for education sector in 2023


60% of education sector prioritising Cyber Security over the next year –

25% say sustainability is an important factor in their IT investments –

A new report by leading providers of IT infrastructure, Softcat, offers an exclusive look at the tech investments the education sector is prioritising in the year ahead. 


The findings form part of a report based on the views of more than 1,800 customers in the UK and Ireland – across 27 corporate and public sectors. 


The annual report reveals the education sector is prioritising Cyber Security above all other technology areas, with 60% of respondents saying it is their top focus over the next 12 months. 


Maintaining robust cyber security is a major challenge for the education sector, as demonstrated by the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022. According to the data, 92% of higher education colleges identified at least one breach or attack in the past 12 months – much higher than the average for UK businesses (39%).  


Universities have become lucrative targets for cybercriminals in recent years, mainly due to the huge amounts of non-public research information they hold. A report published by the National Cyber Security Centre shows that the university sector was the third most vulnerable to cyberattacks.  


Breaches or attacks identified within primary schools stayed at similar levels to 2021 (41% vs 36%), but within secondary schools, there was a significant increase in breaches and attacks (70% up from 58% in 2021). 


As the education sector becomes more digitalised and reliant on technology, cyber resilience has become a top priority. This involves taking a proactive approach to securing networks, devices and data, rather than responding ad-hoc to incidents. 


After Cyber Security, Devices is the second most cited technology investment area for the next year as organisations continue to invest in the digital workspace (58% of respondents). 


Covid-19 and its associated disruption has emphasised the need for educational institutions to have an agile method to onboard, secure, manage and monitor the devices used. This is particularly true for increasingly popular hybrid working and bring-your-own-device models. 


This is also reflected in the third top priority for education organisations – End Point Management (41%). 


Effective end-point management can support organisations from a security standpoint, allowing administrators to geofence features, track devices and assign policies and restrictions based on location. It can also help organisations limit accessibility on devices on-premises and at home, as well as speed up configuration, assignment and updates on a large scale. 


It’s clear from the survey findings that sustainability is moving higher up the agenda in the education sector when considering technology investments, with 25% of respondents citing it as a priority this year. 


Richard Wyn Griffith, Chief Commercial Officer, commented on the findings:  


“The past year has been one of transition and adjustment for our customers after the disruption and uncertainty of recent years.   


“Today, organisations are focused on switching off ‘emergency’ digital transformation mode and turning on smarter digital transformation, setting a clear and concise roadmap for the deployment of new technologies.  


“This will help them to remain agile in the face of new headwinds, as well as taking positive action towards our shared sustainability goals.   


“One thing is certain; it will be the digitally mature who prosper in the future.”  


The full findings from the 2022 Softcat Business Tech Priorities Report, including expert analysis, can be downloaded here.  

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

Kooth partners with GLUU to help support the mental health of whole school communities


Kooth has partnered with GLUU to provide schools with askOLA, the online tutoring and support platform, with invaluable digital mental health support. 


Kooth will ensure students aged 10+, all teachers, teaching support staff and on-site staff have a safe, confidential and welcoming place to seek non-judgemental mental health support. The collaboration is the first of its kind, enabling education establishments to purchase online learning resources and wellbeing together in one accessible and flexible package. 


askOLA is a responsive, online tutoring and support platform that provides homework help, writing feedback, and study support on-demand, during and beyond school hours. It selected Kooth for its holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing, and its ability to look after the whole school community.


Kooth’s innovative digital mental health and wellbeing platform has been designed to offer choice and encourage users to engage and seek help on their own terms. As such, it offers access to a variety of support options including online counselling and wellbeing, via its (aged 10+) and (aged 18+) services 


Services are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week – this includes one-to-one text based sessions with experienced counsellors and wellbeing practitioners. Running from midday to 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm to 10pm on the weekend, appointments can be booked in advance or accessed via a drop-in text-based chat. They are available without waiting lists or thresholds to meet, and a referral from a medical professional is not needed. In addition, Kooth provides an easily accessible, fully safeguarded and pre-moderated community with a library of peer and professional created content.  


It doesn’t end there, Kooth’s Flourish Mental Health Check runs alongside the award-winning anonymous digital mental health platform. A benchmark tool, unlike others, the Flourish Mental Health Check is based on the ‘whole self’. As such it recognises that home life and past experiences play an important part in people’s wellbeing at work. 


The anonymous insights are garnered from the teachers, teaching support staff and on-site staff only, not the students. The Kooth Work Flourish Mental Health Check will help the schools signed up to the askOLA platform to identify priority issues when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of all those working at the school – both teaching and support roles.


This will help them to invest in the right initiatives, as well as developing and implementing new policies, practices and support programmes, that meet the needs of the school as an employer. This will aid in the creation of a mentally healthy workplace where everyone can flourish and no one is left behind. 


Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Office at Kooth, commented: 


“We’re thrilled to be partnering with GLUU and its askOLA platform to help ensure that anonymous, safe and accessible positive mental health and emotional wellbeing is available to whole school communities. Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure that both students, teachers and the onsite support teams have a choice of safe and confidential options that match with their individual needs, as well as being accessible in a way they feel comfortable with. Digital mental health services such as Kooth do that, and can help to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health.  However big or small a student or teacher believes a mental health concern or issue is, Kooth Work is onhand to help them, when and where needed.”


Christine Major, CEO at GLUU explained:


“askOLA was developed to add capacity to schools to reduce teacher workload and support the wellbeing and attainment of the whole school community. Teachers need more time to help pupils to thrive, and askOLA gives them another pair of hands by helping to support learning and wellbeing in and outside of the classroom. It means that students can access subject-specialist coaches on-demand to help overcome issues with their learning, or they can be connected to Kooth for support with their mental health. We also provide all school staff with access to mental health support through Qwell.


She added: “Partnering with Kooth was a logical choice as our values are closely aligned, as like us they believe that mental health support should be accessible to everyone”


Kooth is the only digital mental health provider to hold a UK-wide accreditation from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). It is available to school’s with the askOLA platform immediately, once registered, they can access support via any internet-connected device such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet. 


A message from Louisa Hunter -Bett Director


I am excited to announce the most significant change to Bett in our 37-year history. Starting with Bett 2023, we are transforming the way you and everyone in the Bett community connects and collaborates by launching a groundbreaking new programme called Connect @ Bett.

Connect @ Bett is a tech-enabled meetings programme that will drive more meaningful conversations between education buyers and EdTech solution providers than ever before. This new programme will be at heart of your entire Bett experience. You’re going to love it.

Connect @ Bett empowers education buyers to discover the right solutions for their learners, in a fraction of the time. And it allows technology providers to find the people within institutions that can unlock the potential of their tech. All meetings are double opt-in and just 15 minutes, so you can tackle your strategic, pedagogical, and operational challenges in the most time-efficient way.

Here are some important updates and changes to the show:

  1. Bett will be held on Wednesday 29 to Friday 31 March 2023 at the ExCeL, London
  2. Bett registration will open on Monday 3 October 2022
  3. Unlike previous Bett shows, there is now a deadline to register that ensures you get to fully participate in Connect @ Bett. Anyone can attend Bett for free if they register on-time. On-time registration ends on 3rd March 2023. Late registration tickets (4th March 2023 onwards) will incur a fee.

Find out more about Connect @ Bett

OrCam Technologies launches learning companion solution


OrCam Learn empowers students with learning challenges to read and learn with confidence


22-09-22: OrCam Technologies, innovator of life-changing, personal “AI as a companion” solutions, has today launched the OrCam Learn, an innovative, powerful new solution that supports teachers and schools, enabling every student to explore their full potential – by offering vital, practical reading support, and feedback, analysis and reporting.


An evolution of the 2021 TIME Magazine 100 Best Inventions Winner OrCam Read, the interactive OrCam Learn empowers students with learning challenges – including dyslexia – to effectively read and learn, resulting in enhanced comprehension, reading fluency, and improvement of overall confidence in an education setting.


The OrCam Learn is a wireless, compact handheld solution with an intuitive point-and-click operation that “captures” and immediately reads out loud a full page, paragraph, or single word of text – of the student’s choosing – from books, digital screens, or classroom handouts The learning companion will listen to and provide feedback on the student’s reading, and test reading comprehension.


“Reading is crucial to access the school curriculum and we know that children who find reading difficult will struggle across all subjects. In fact, students with dyslexia or another specific learning difficulty (SpLD) are twice as likely to fail to achieve a grade 4 or above in English and maths at GCSE”, said Irie Meltzer, UK regional director at OrCam Technologies.

“The OrCam Learn solution has been designed to help teachers to support their students as they read and study. Integrated into day-to-day school life, it empowers students with learning challenges to develop and maintain reading and learning skills, gain confidence, and thrive – both inside and outside of the classroom. We are driven to level the educational playing field for a wide spectrum of students who can benefit from OrCam Learn.”


Moon Hall School in Reigate is one of 50 schools in the UK currently collaborating with OrCam Technologies in offering the OrCam Learn for use to their students with learning challenges.


“The OrCam Learn solution enables our students to be as independent as possible with their learning experience, and as headteacher I absolutely recommend it,” said Michelle Catterson, Executive Headteacher at Moon Hall School and Chair of the British Dyslexia Association.


Makes reading and learning flow for every student


Researchers have observed the benefits of reading out loud to improve reading comprehension and literacy. OrCam Learn’s innovative “Reading Pal” feature harnesses interactive AI to support students in improving reading fluency by allowing them to read any text to the OrCam Learn, and then receiving immediate, conversational, and encouraging feedback about their reading.


OrCam Learn listens to the student’s reading, provides positive feedback to elevate confidence and positive feelings about reading, and then generates reports through a web and mobile app that provides teachers and support staff with a comprehensive analysis of the student’s progress.

Enables teachers to focus on teaching


“Every teacher’s priority is the development of their students, and those with learning challenges typically require more time and attention to succeed. We developed the OrCam Learn to partner with teachers, providing access to the insight and support they need to guide students with learning challenges more effectively. Allowing schools to direct resources where they are needed the most, and enabling students to work independently which can free up teaching assistants and alleviate logistical pressures like finding extra classrooms or scheduling separate times for exams”, said Irie Meltzer.


Every OrCam Learn reading session generates an automatic analytics report identifying areas of challenge. Listening to the student’s reading, it captures a variety of metrics that help evaluate their performance, including those that are commonly used by reading specialists:

  • Text difficulty level
  • Fluency (measured by Words Correct Per Minute)
  • Accuracy (% of accurately read words)
  • Reading rate (Words Per Minute)
  • Total reading time


OrCam Learn also has an ‘Exam Mode’ that teachers can select by scanning a QR code before the student enters an examination. This offline setting ensures there is no possibility of any WiFi or cloud connectivity and that the solution complies with general school exam requirements. It also guarantees that students can complete examinations without the need for a human reader.


In June 2022, OrCam Learn was awarded the 2022 EdTech Breakthrough Award for Remote Learning Solution of the Year, joining winning submissions in other categories from companies including Discovery Education, LEGO Education, Logitech, Spotify and Verizon.

HTC VIVE Introduces VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker and Eye Tracker



HTC VIVE expands rich VIVE Focus 3 ecosystem with Eye and Face Tracking

Lightweight and user-friendly, with low latency and high-precision, fitting into VIVE Focus 3 seamlessly

VIVE’s new trackers suit a wide range of use cases, from helping to create realistic avatars, through to medical assessments


HTC VIVE announces VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker, expanding the VIVE Focus 3 ecosystem to deliver more natural and immersive professional VR experiences.

Enhanced eye and facial tracking boosts engagement with peers for enhanced virtual collaboration and human interaction in VIVE Focus 3, ideal for virtual events, training, chat groups, VIVE Sync remote meetings, animation and motion capture, and more.

Express yourself in VR

VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker makes it easy to naturally convey your emotions and read intentions in real time. Its mono tracking camera captures expressions through 38 blend shapes across the lips, jaw, cheeks, chin, teeth, and tongue to precisely capture true-to-life facial expressions and mouth movements on avatars.

With a 60Hz tracking rate and optimised runtime for facial tracking, users can synchronise lips to voice with minimal latency and enjoy lifelike interactions in high fidelity. VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker set up is made easy as the module seamlessly connects to VIVE Focus 3 headsets through the built-in USB Type-C port with no need for add-ons or adaptors.

The benefits of facial tracking are vast, improving soft skills in presentation coaching, customer service management, training, and more. Users can track and improve their emotional preparedness, helping to achieve better real-life outcomes across many applications, from education and healthcare to human resources and creative industries.

Unlock the benefits of eye tracking

Gain access to insightful data with VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and reach a heightened level of VR immersion. Bringing realistic eye movements and blinks to virtual avatars delivers true-to-life virtual collaboration and improves human connections in VR through expressive, non-verbal interactions. By tracking and analysing eye movement, attention, and focus, businesses can open the door to deeper user behaviour analysis.

The dual camera setup with supporting IR illuminators is capable of capturing data for gaze origin and direction, pupil size and position, and eye openness. The lightweight module easily attaches magnetically to the headset without impacting the balanced ergonomics and the adjustable IPD works perfectly with the VIVE Focus 3 headset to help users find their viewing sweet spot.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker allows you to see what users see to understand intentions and improve feedback, perfect for training and education scenarios. Measure duration and locate direction with heat mapping and gaze tracking to gain insights about performance and interaction to improve outcomes. VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker also helps to understand how users naturally interact with a product and improve the experience by uncovering actionable insights about user intent.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker also makes gaze control possible, opening new avenues for how people experience immersive content, as well as new accessibility options. Eye Tracking also helps with GPU workloads, as foveated rendering prioritises areas where the user is actually focused.

Both VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker support Unity, Unreal Game Engine, and Native. Developing is easy with VIVE’s WaveSDK and upcoming OpenXR support and it’s also seamless to stream content from a PC via VIVE Business Streaming.

A rich ecosystem for professional VR

VIVE Focus 3 has a rich ecosystem of both hardware and software for professional-grade VR. Since launch, HTC VIVE has released five accessories, including VIVE Wrist Tracker, multi-battery dock and carry case giving businesses the features and flexibility to create their ideal VR set-up.

Hand-tracking, OpenXR, extensive Wave SDK, Location-Based Software Suite and MDM support open the possibilities for developers. Devices also come with VIVE Business Warranty and Services which includes a two-year commercial warranty, and expedited return/replacement if needed.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker are available to order today for £216 and £83 respectively.

askOLA & YPO: a future for EdTech

Schools are, by and large, back to functioning in a way that is similar to before the pandemic. In-person teaching, and the use of physical resources are once again the basis of how teachers educate children, as opposed to a reliance on online technologies and digital learning methods.

However, during the pandemic, YPO, one of the UK’s largest public sector buying organisations in the UK, surveyed educators and found that 79% believed the crisis would have a lasting impact on teaching. Respondents outlined their belief that the result of this would be a hybrid approach that combined traditional ways of teaching with educational technologies and online resources.

Digital technology served teachers well during the pandemic – they were an absolute necessity and successfully allowed for education to continue whilst many other sectors were brought to a halt. It’s no surprise that teachers continue to find these tools useful, as professionals in schools continue to face a myriad of challenges ; be that to overcome teacher shortages or assist students with their mental health.

As a key support to the sector, YPO is always focused on finding new ways to alleviate pressures felt by education professionals. Recently, this has led to a partnership with edtech tutoring platform, askOLA.


askOLA is an online, on-demand platform developed by GLUU, which acts as an alternative to private tutoring. Young people can access professional academic support from online learning assistants(OLAs) via the platform – qualified and vetted professionals who deliver personalised academic coaching across English, maths and science – whenever pupils feel that they need it.

YPO has always been a helping hand for schools, identifying and providing high-quality resources to assist with learning. askOLA is a tool that provides appropriate out-of-school support to children, whilst relieving pressure on teachers, who can then focus on in-classroom teaching. This is a particularly important benefit given the current teacher shortages that the country is facing.

Teacher shortages

According to a recent survey from the Association of School and College Leaders, 95% of schools are currently experiencing difficulties recruiting staff. Teacher shortages, which result from a culmination of factors including a lack of national recruitment and low retention rates, are having a real impact on the education system and the students within it. For example, 69% of schools are using non-subject specialists to teach classes. askOLA and YPO’s partnership can help to alleviate some of this pressure.

In a term-length pilot at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, the askOLA platform extended student’s learning time by 1,500 hours. Previously, this would have made up for lost learning time resulting from Covid-19, but going forward, schools can rely on askOLA to provide additional support that teachers are currently too stretched to give themselves.

With new research from the National Foundation for Educational Research estimating that shortages will continue until 2025, its important that schools consider this type of alternative support to ease the pressure on teachers in the long-term.


askOLA’s point of differentiation from other, similar platforms is that OLA’s are trained to check in on young people’s wellbeing alongside their provision of academic support. YPO’s research on education during the pandemic found that 64% of parents were concerned about their children’s mental health and wellbeing, and NHS figures show that the likelihood of a child experiencing a mental health disorder has increased following COVID-19, so it is imperative that the support extended to children covers this ground too.

In its pilot, students reported feeling that askOLA had helped them with their wellbeing, including stress felt over homework, anxiety about not knowing the answers to questions and general mental health. If students show signs of needing more serious mental health support, OLA’s are also able to point students in the direction of wellbeing resources or to a professional mental health support platform, Kooth.

Looking ahead

Investment in resources such as askOLA is absolutely key to the functioning and continued modernisation of the UKs education system, but it’s important to acknowledge that this must come alongside a consideration of how many young people can feasibly access these digital platforms when they are at home. YPO’s research found that ensuring digital inclusion was the biggest challenge that schools faced during the pandemic, so it must be a continued focus for young people to have access to basic digital services and technology.

It’s clear that digital learning methods have a place in the future of education; teachers and students alike value them strongly, and they can be developed in a way that pinpoints what the education system needs. Having education professionals fully embrace these technologies, and ensuring access to them for all pupils, is the next step.