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New partnership of Physical Education and sport specialists gives support to primary schools

This autumn, education experts from three renowned organisations are coming together to offer primary schools tailored support to help pupils learn core subjects and develop essential life skills through the power of sport.  

Move.Learn.Grow will see experienced sports teachers, coaches and internationally-acclaimed educators from the Harlequins Foundation, Kingston University and Sport Impact working together to provide schools with unique learning solutions. 

The launch of Move.Learn.Grow comes amid fears that children’s physical exercise has fallen sharply since the pandemic. Sport England found that during lockdown, just 19% of children under 16 were doing one hour or more of physical activity every day – the government’s recommended daily amount. 

Move.Learn.Grow offers bespoke and wide-ranging support packages to primary schools, initially across three London boroughs. This ranges from curriculum development and planning to numeracy,  literacy and Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programmes. It also includes extra-curricular clubs and inter-school sport competitions, as well as training for teachers who are less confident or experienced in delivering PE. 

Marc Leckie, Head of Harlequins Foundation, said the partnership – Move.Learn.Grow – came out of a desire to help pupils recover “mentally, physically and educationally” from six months of school closures. 

Leckie said: “As sports education experts, we know exactly how to use the appeal of sport to help children with their core subjects and to develop in them the inner confidence and resilience that is needed more than ever in these testing times. 

“The value of sport goes well beyond what happens in PE lessons and on the pitch. Our focus is on the whole child and the transformative effect of physical activity to inspire, engage and empower children.”  

Alan Watkinson, Partnership Director of Sport Impact, said his organisation was already well-known to schools in Hounslow and was excited to be working with schools in Richmond and Kingston through the partnership. 

Watkinson said: “Move.Learn.Grow will boost the physical education and sport experience of young people at the very time they need it most.” 

Greg Dryer, Director of Kingston University’s Centre for Physical Education, Sport and Activity, said: “The demands on teachers have changed over recent months and it is more important than ever to provide them with professional support and learning so that they can confidently deliver exceptional experiences for their pupils at school. 

“Move.Learn.Grow will be a leader in its field.” 

Kathryn Harper-Quinn, Headteacher of Hounslow Heath Infant School, said many schools were struggling to deliver school sport and needed outside support. 

“Move.Learn.Grow is invaluable. High-quality enrichment activities, alongside help with curriculum development, are making a big difference to our children’s mental and physical well-being, as well as their learning and development. The fact that Move.Learn.Grow takes a whole child approach makes it an important part of our recovery curriculum and means that we’re getting much more from our Sports Premium than purely physical activity.” 

For more information, visit www.harlequins.foundation/movelearngrow/ 

Leading education insurance specialist rebrands to PIB Insurance Brokers

Education insurance specialist, DE Ford Insurance Brokers, has changed its name to PIB Insurance Brokers.

The move is part of a nationwide programme that saw a number of businesses under the parent company, PIB Group, rebrand to simplify the business offering.

The York based business has over 30 years of experience delivering services in the education sector. 

Craig Walton, Branch Director at D E Ford said: “We’ve experienced over 40 years of success operating as D E Ford Insurance Brokers and we’re delighted to announce the next chapter for the business. The fantastic team has been integral to our success and will continue to provide a high-quality service to our clients who can enjoy working with the same familiar faces.

“By moving under a single brand as PIB Insurance Brokers, we will be able to continue improving the range of services we offer to our valued clients in the education sector, while drawing on the expertise of the wider PIB Group.”

DE Ford Insurance Brokers is one of 11 businesses within the PIB Group Specialty division which will move under a single brand of PIB Insurance Brokers. The move will also complement services provided by the PIB Risk Management and PIB Employee Benefits businesses.

All 500 people employed across 30 branches in the Speciality Division will remain in their roles, and PIB Group hopes to create additional roles in the coming years.

Steve Redgwell, CEO of the Specialty Division said:“The team at D E Ford has been a trusted provider to the education sector over the last 30 years and we are looking forward to seeing this experience strengthen in the coming years under the PIB Insurance Brokers name.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for PIB Group as we continue expanding our range of services and niche sectors we work with. Bringing these specialist commercial lines businesses under one brand will ensure we take even more of a unified approach and develop further strength as a collective for the benefit of our clients.”

Companies now trading as PIB Insurance Brokers include Cooke & Mason, Wilby, DE Ford, Franklands, Lorica, PIB Private Clients, PIB SME Insurance, QPI, WW Group, BKG West and Cobra Insurance Brokers. All employees will remain in their roles and keep the same contact details. 

For more information please visit: www.pib-insurance.com

BookLife Publishing provides exclusive offer to TAP Schools

TAP is a free-to-use social thanking platform designed for parents and carers to thank and praise school staff, as well as raise much-needed funds.

TAP (Thank And Praise) is partnering with BookLife Publishing to offer its award-winning titles to TAP Schools as part of a match funding scheme.

According to BESA, 1 in 4 schools lack basic teaching resources and £136 is spent on classroom materials per year by teachers. This means that match funded donations from parents and carers provide staff and their pupils with additional and much-needed resources.

Now schools registered on TAP’s free thanking platform can also benefit from BookLife Publishing’s beautiful and inspiring books which educate children of all ages and cover all the key subject areas including science, geography, history and STEM.

BookLife Publishing was born from a simple idea: putting children at the heart of their books. Their unique, award-winning style and creative approach means their books are loved by children all over the world.

“BookLife Publishing are excited to be working in partnership with TAP to exclusively offer our titles as part of a Match Funding scheme for the first time. This means that BookLife Publishing will pay 50% of your school’s book order,” said Nick Ison, Managing Director, BookLife Publishing.

To see the books included in the match funding scheme, exclusive to TAP Schools, please go to: www.booklifepublishing.co.uk.

“I’m absolutely delighted that we’re partnering with an award-winning publishing company. Not only does BookLife Publishing provide an extensive range of quality books, they are also a mission-led, socially-driven organisation like TAP,” said Matt Findel-Hawkins, CEO of TAP.

In order for your school to benefit, simply register your school on TAP’s free-to-use thanking platform at www.thankandpraise.com/organisations   and start collecting funds on its digital donation platform.

The TAP thanking platform allows people to send private messages of thanks to members of school staff, praise a school publicly on a digital thanking wall, as well as raise match funding.  

TAP’s underlying mission is to support and improve the well-being and mental health of all those working in education, by encouraging people to show appreciation to them.

If you’d like your school to benefit from TAP, please:

  • Send a message with your full name and organisation name to 07871 064296 on WhatsApp
  • Or visit our Organisation page on our website

Headteacher standards mark an important moment for the English education system

Leora Cruddas, chief executive of CST and vice chair of the Head Teacher Standards Review Group said: “The publication of the new Head Teacher Standards is an important moment for the school system in England.

“The standards define the work of a head teacher or school principal – those leading a school whether a maintained school or a school in a trust.

“The standards have been used to develop a suite of national professional qualification frameworks which are rooted in the best available evidence of leading a school – what head teachers need to know and be able to do.

“It is important that the development of leaders in England is underpinned both by ethical standards and secure knowledge so that leaders can solve persistent or novel challenges and contribute to society’s conversation about schooling. 

“As Malcolm Trobe CBE, chair of the Head Teacher Standards Review group says, ‘both the profession and society rightly have high expectations of those that lead our schools and it is important that the standards accurately reflect those expectations.’ It was a very great privilege to work with Malcolm and the review group to develop these standards.

“Head teachers and school principals play a very important role in our society as they lead the education of our children. It is essential that we invest in their development so that we have the very best leaders and our education system keeps getting better.”

Virtual Reality Tech Provides Socially-Distanced Solution For Schools

This autumn, virtual reality training pioneers Virti are partnering with schools across England to enable powerfully effective remote learning. 

Virti have equipped several secondary schools with VR headsets and cameras which can be used to create personalised immersive video content. These instructional or demonstrative videos can then be uploaded to a cloud-based platform, and accessed remotely by staff and students as often as is needed.  

The VR tech is being used for the following:

  • To train teaching staff at a safe social distance outside of school premises
  • By science students to complete practical experiments without direct teacher instruction, outside of the lab
  • By teenage pupils to explore mindfulness exercises as they readjust to school life and work to catch up on missed teaching 

These collaborations mark the first instance of virtual reality technology being deployed in UK schools to overcome the unique challenges of socially-distanced education. 

With students and teachers contending with strict regulations and localised lockdowns – whilst under immense pressure to catch up on missed learning time – remote and effective solutions such as Virti are in high demand.

Headteacher of Upton Hall School, Mrs Andrea Gaunt, comments: 

“We have been working hard to provide the best education in the safest manner; innovation is essential for this, so Virti’s platform will be an invaluable tool in our school. 

Our students reacted incredibly well to online learning during school closures.  I am sure that when we develop resources in Virtual Reality, using both headsets and their mobile devices to access their learning, they will benefit immensely.

Our staff will value the ability to create and upload their own personalised content to the platform, and shortly will begin using it to help students with preparation for upcoming exams. 

At this moment, young people need to make up a lot of lost ground as they prepare to enter a tightly competitive and highly skilled job market. In my opinion, it’s time for all schools to explore adopting VR technology for socially-distanced learning.”

A solution tailored to 2020 and beyond

The hands-on, fully immersive experience of learning via VR is an effective way for groups of students to access content from the safety of their homes or school ‘bubbles’. Additionally, the mindfulness sessions are designed to build teens’ mental resilience and alleviate any academic or pandemic-related anxiety. 

The technology is also being used across the Atlantic. High schools in Indiana are making use of Virti’s technology to participate in remote work experience and build their employability skills. Teachers have reported a high demand for places on VR work experience courses, and plans are underway to expand the range of opportunities and partner organisations. 

Virti are currently developing the platform’s capabilities, with the goal of making immersive remote learning a central pillar of every student’s education experience. 

Founder of Virti, Dr Alex Young, comments: 

“Schools are facing a raft of new challenges this term, with students and teachers negotiating an uncertain and unpredictable landscape. The Virti team are excited to be putting our immersive reality platform to powerful use at this important moment. 

The challenges and successes of lockdown-era learning have made it clear that education providers must reimagine their pedagogical frameworks to allow for a flexible combination of socially-distanced and face-to-face instruction.

At the same time, there’s growing recognition of the fact that the introduction of VR technology into classrooms has the potential to drive incredibly impactful change in the secondary and higher education sectors.”

A Royal Question for a British Astronaut

The National Space Centre, home to the National Space Academy, yesterday welcomed Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to meet with a small number of students and staff as they begin a very exciting educational year.

The Countess of Wessex joined British astronaut Helen Sharman at the National Space Centre as part of World Space Week to meet a small number of students from the National Space Academy Space Engineering course, which this year has seen a significant growth in applications, leading to a second student group being added for the first time.

The visit included a live Q&A session with Helen, that was transmitted (via space satellites) to a worldwide audience online.

Questions were kicked off by Her Royal Highness, who asked about inspiring the next generation of children.

The National Space Academy

In 2012 the National Space Academy established the UK’s first full-time post-16 course for students in Space Engineering. It is the only course of its kind, unique both in its subject matter and in its combination of BTEC qualifications with traditional A Levels.

More than 80% of its students, the majority having no family history of progression into Higher Education, have gone on to study degree-level University courses in physics or engineering or Higher Apprenticeship programmes with some of Europe’s leading aerospace and engineering companies including Airbus and Rolls Royce.

Several students who have finished their undergraduate and MSc courses have been awarded first-class degrees.

With the success of the course and significant career opportunities within a thriving UK space industry, this year there will be two cohorts of Space Engineering students to meet demand for places.

The Academy is part funded by the National Space Centre, the UK Space Agency and the Lloyds Register Foundation, with additional support from The Ogden Trust and PPG.

Laser targeted reading intervention programme launched to help schools support pupils’ learning recovery

As teachers return to class, the need to identify and address any reading issues will be a priority. With this in mind, Lexplore Analytics has launched a ready-made reading development and intervention programme which provides teachers with proven strategies to target each child’s precise difficulties.

Lexplore Intensive has been developed by experienced teacher,  SENDCO and dyslexia specialists, Pamela Hanigan and Rachel Gelder, who co-founded Lancashire Dyslexia Information Guidance and Support (LDIGS).

With full instruction guides, marking sheets and student workbooks, the reading development and intervention programme for children in years 1 to 10, removes the need for lesson planning around interventions. It can therefore be picked up and used by reading volunteers, and support staff as well as SENDCOs or class teachers.

Dyslexia expert and Lexplore Intensive author, Rachel Gelder, said: “The task facing teachers as they return to school is a significant one. Identifying any learning gaps and supporting pupils as they work through the recovery curriculum is a big ask. With Lexplore Intensive, we have made sure teachers have instant access to a set of proven interventions matched to each child so that progress in the core skill of reading can be made quickly.”

Lexplore Intensive is relevant for all learners with strategies suitable for neurodiverse and EAL learners. Teachers will have access to interventions to develop weaker readers plus ideas to challenge the stronger readers in a class so all children can make progress.

Fellow Lexplore Intensive author, Pamela Hanigan said: “Rachel and I just simply imagined what sort of interventions guide we would want created for ourselves as teachers and that is what we set about making. We have used a range of multisensory learning techniques for each intervention so a full range of learning styles is catered for. It focuses heavily on improving working memory and metacognition so the skills children learn will stay with them beyond the initial intervention.”

The reading development and intervention programme is based on the principles of Letters and Sounds and aligns with the colour coded reading assessment results that are generated when a pupil sits Lexplore Analytics’ unique eye tracking reading assessment. Using both tools together a teacher can have within minutes a full assessment of a child’s reading and a plan of interventions to address any concerns.

Interventions for embedding letter recognition, include revising the alphabet with multisensory techniques, using physical letters (such as plastic letters or letter pebbles), saying and hearing the letters, tracing over these with a finger, tracking the letters and putting them in alphabetical sequence. Using a number of different senses in this way, means the learning is more likely to stay with the child.

An intervention aimed at a group of older children with comprehension difficulties could include cutting up the lines of an unfamiliar poem and asking the children to recreate the poem in what they believe to be the correct order. The aim of the exercise is not to see whether the children manage to recreate the poem exactly, but to explore their discussion around the meaning of the phrases and how they would logically fit together.

Aimee Cave a SENDCO and assistant head at Pocklington Junior School who has used the workbook said:Lexplore Intensive allows me to provide small, targeted interventions most days. Even if I have just five spare minutes, I can pick it up and work with a pupil.  It ensures everyone progresses with their reading.”

Lexplore Intensive is currently available for download as a paper workbook. From October 2020 it will be available digitally from Lexplore Analytics’ new online portal.

Lexplore Intensive is available free of charge to existing Lexplore Analytics assessment users and also available to purchase as a stand-alone reading development and intervention programme. Teachers and school leaders can find out more about Lexplore Intensive at  https://www.lexplore.com/gb/lexplore-intensive/

NURTURING POSITIVE MENTAL WELLBEING IN THE COVID-19 WORLD: TOP TIPS FOR PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Dr Libby Artingstall and Dr Sile McDaid (Team Mental Health) are the medical experts behind Wellbeing Through Sport, a unique programme developing mental and physical wellbeing in primary age children.

After months without the routine, support systems and social benefits provided by the school environment, the negative impact on children’s mental health is another unwanted legacy of the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers in this area are warning of major adverse mental health consequences, presenting yet more difficulties for primary schools who are already facing an incredibly challenging day-to-day environment. The situation is still evolving but we have already seen evidence that COVID-19 has impacted on the mental health of children, and in our opinion, we can’t afford to overlook this. The Co-SPACE study recently undertaken by experts at the University of Oxford provides some insight, with the parents/carers of primary school children taking part reporting an increase in their child’s emotional, behavioural, and restless/attentional difficulties.1

Ahead of COVID-19, we were already seeing alarming signs of child wellbeing in the UK reducing or becoming stagnated, with a 2018 UNICEF report revealing that the UK performed ‘average’ or ‘below average’ compared to other rich countries.2 There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the problem, meaning we are now at a critical point for the mental health and wellbeing of primary age children, which must be prioritised and protected throughout and beyond the pandemic.

As evidence suggests that 50% of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14 years3, we believe it really is important for schools to help with the promotion of good health and the prevention of poor health, and primary schools are uniquely placed to play a pivotal role in supporting children to be mentally and physically healthy, now and into the future.

With the government now requiring that children learn about their mental health and wellbeing, more emphasis is now rightly being placed beyond the traditional academic and educational outcomes. Here are our top tips for primary schools developing their wellbeing programmes:

  1. Ensure a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing

A whole school approach is a key component of the Wellbeing Through Sport programme as we believe that for real and meaningful differences to be made, the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing needs to extend beyond the programme curriculum and be embedded across the whole of a school.

This means prioritising mental health and wellbeing and delivering a systematic approach to support this. We believe that being proactive to drive positive mental and physical health outcomes, in pupils and staff, is just as important as being reactive when problems arise.

  • Recognise the importance of, and take steps to enable organisational confidence and capability

Provide training, as part of continuing professional development, and resources to equip staff members with the understanding and skills they need to drive positive change.

  • Strive to develop and maintain an environment that is safe, affirming, and which creates a sense of belonging

The right school environment can enable pupils and staff to stay safe, keep healthy, and empower self-care. Foster an open culture where mental health and wellbeing is promoted.

  • Ensure an open-door policy for pupils and staff

It’s important to listen to the voices of the children, young people, and staff in your school so they feel safe and able to raise concerns.

  • Make sure there are clear and effective early-help pathways in place

To avoid any delays in accessing professional support, take steps to understand what support might be suitable and how to access local support services. Staff should feel part of a multi-agency working team and understand their role.

  • Work in partnership with families and your local community

Support parents and carers to recognise their role in supporting children and young people to be mentally and physically healthy, and ensure there are clear communication channels in place.

  • Promote wellbeing through physical activity

It goes without saying that activity is good for children physically, but studies also suggest it plays an important role in building resilience and supporting recovery from mental health problems.4 Programmes such as Wellbeing Through Sport have been specially designed to generate positive outcomes for both physical and mental health and we recommend combining wellbeing learning with physical activity for this reason.

Sources

  1. Mahase, 2020 & Pearcey et al, 2020
  2. The Children’s Society, 2018 & UNICEF, 2013
  3. Kessler et al, 2005
  4. Public Health England, 2020

About the Wellbeing Through Sport programme

The Wellbeing Through Sport programme has been developed in partnership between Team Mental Health and primary sports education specialists, EdStart Sports Coaching.

The aim is to deliver a programme focused on promoting good mental health and wellbeing, and therefore reducing the likelihood of a mental health problem occurring.  Covering areas such as emotional awareness, empathy, conflict resolution and assertiveness to build emotional intelligence and resilience, children are not only equipped with the life skills needed to strengthen their wellbeing but also complete at least 30 minutes of physical activity at the same time, highlighting the importance of both mental and physical health – which has been shown to have a strong influence on mental wellbeing. Schools receive a place on the Wellbeing Through Sport Masterclass and participating staff members will learn how to promote good mental health through completing online CPD UK accredited training.

For more information about the Wellbeing Through Sport Programme, please contact enquiries@edstart.org.uk / 0300 303 4414

About Team Mental Health

Team Mental Health is headed up by two medical doctors, Dr Libby Artingstall and Dr Sile McDaid who specialised to become consultant psychiatrists. With significant collective experience of working with children, young people and adults experiencing mental health problems, they became acutely aware of how limitations in the way mental health is perceived and managed could impact on the ability of a person to realise and achieve their potential.

Libby and Sile realised that for real differences to be made, expert led support to inform and empower the frontlines of our communities was essential. They collaboratively reflected on their knowledge, experience, best practice recommendations and the evidence base, and considered carefully how these could best be combined to develop an accessible, meaningful and empowering intervention. For the last four years, Team Mental Health has been successfully working with schools, businesses and the sports sector to promote good mental health, prevent mental ill health and detect signs of mental health problems.

About EdStart Sports Coaching

EdStart provides sports coaching and extracurricular school sports clubs, delivered by a team of highly trained and qualified professional coaches. The organisation helps schools meet government targets for weekly levels of physical exercise for children, whilst lightening the load on teachers with innovative new sports software.

£60M REDEVELOPMENT OF ONE OF UK’S LARGEST INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS COMPLETES

THE multi-million-pound redevelopment of one of the largest independent schools in the UK has completed, delivering state-of-the-art facilities for students in Macclesfield.

The King’s School employs 250 people and provides education for more than 1,200 students from pre-school through to sixth form. This £60m redevelopment scheme unites two previous sites across the town into one central area, with the new campus sitting adjacent to the school’s existing sports pitches at Derby Fields. 

21,000m2 of new academic building has been built, creating 350 rooms, along with a separate sports centre and 75-acres of sporting and outdoor facilities. 

The new sports centre houses a 25m, six-lane swimming pool, a six-court sports hall, an indoor cricket centre, a dance and martial arts studio, a fitness suite and a café. Outside, students will have use of five new rugby football pitches, a rounders field and two floodlit AstroTurf hockey pitches, and netball courts.

National independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard has provided full design and engineering services for the project. Duncan Green, managing partner, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have completed this large-scale scheme for The King’s School, creating a high-quality central site for its students to thrive in – especially important as pupils return to the classroom after months of online learning.”

Natalie Clemson, director and project lead, said: “We worked very closely with VINCI Construction UK, the main contractor for the scheme, from the pre-contract stage. This meant we were able to fully integrate the team into the design process early on, creating a synergy and ensuring that detailed knowledge of the scheme and design intent was retained from start to finish – something extremely important to the headmaster and governors. 

“Completing a significant project like this during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but it was here that our close relationship with VINCI Construction UK benefitted everyone. Like many construction projects across the UK, we felt the impact and we had to change our working methodology completely. We introduced virtual site visits during the fit-out stages to suit social distancing and safety measures and held our site project meetings remotely. Despite the challenges, this had minimal impact on the scheme itself, which is a testament to the working relationships developed throughout the project and the professionalism of all involved.”

It was important to the school that the new facilities provided a reduction in its carbon footprint, while also improving budgets through energy efficiency, so that money saved on fuel bills can be reinvested back into the curriculum for the benefit of the students. 

The new, sustainable facility has been rated as BREEAM ‘very good’, and incorporates eco-features including sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), bat and swift boxes, beehives and outdoor classrooms to further connect pupils to their natural surroundings.

Simon Hyde, who was Headmaster during the design and construction phase, said: “This has been without a doubt the most ambitious project for the school in its 518-year history, and we could not be happier with the finished product. 

“A connection to nature has been very important to us at the school, and we are incredibly lucky to be set in our rural, woodland location. The new campus will allow us to expand what we offer, for example the new floodlit netball courts will allow us to host netball tournaments, something we simply could not do before. We also have Cheshire’s only indoor cricket centre.”

Dedicated art, music, science and computing rooms for both the infant and junior divisions have been built, as well as a dedicated hall, lecture theatre and library. In the senior division, teaching and learning areas have been organised by faculty, with the science department also benefitting from 15 high-tech laboratories, prep rooms and office space.

Martin Horton, project manager at VINCI Construction UK, the main contractor, added: “The new school site sits perfectly in the landscape, and along with its spacious and naturally-lit spaces is a very impressive facility. We were very pleased to work in close conjunction with Pick Everard to deliver the new school, while ensuring the safety of all those on site.”

Preliminary works started in August 2018, with the aim of the school being ready for the start of the 2020/21 academic year. The school has now welcomed back its pupils in line with the latest government guidance regarding COVID-19. The large indoor and outdoor areas including extremely spacious corridors, are helping the school to operate in a Covid-safe way.

The project has been funded by the school selling its previous two sites in Fence Avenue and Cumberland Street to housing developers, areas which will provide sustainable and affordable homes, along with retirement and assisted living options.

Pick Everard employs more than 500 staff across its 13 offices, providing a range of project, cost and design consultancy services. For more information, please visit www.pickeverard.co.uk

‘Mindful e-learning tech’ rolled out to help pupils close COVID-19 learning gap

  • New AI education platform Shiken launches to offer students mindful learning
  • Focused on STEM content for GCSE students and undergraduate medics, it offers over 50,000 free quizzes and trivia questions to support pupils as they progress through the new academic year 
  • Using teacher-created content, the app helps to address ongoing disruption to education by acting as a remote, on-demand learning tool with integrated mental health support  
  • Designed by a doctor, a headteacher, and a video game specialist, multiple domains of expertise are brought together in one user-friendly platform 
  • It’s already being used by 4,500 pupils, with over 1,000 tutors and 200 schools on the waiting list
  • On average, users are spending 35 minutes per day on the platform, with 8 minutes dedicated to mindfulness practice

London, UK – A new AI education platform has launched, integrating mindfulness techniques with AI-driven learning tools to help students catch up on lost summer-term learning and cope with future disruption. 

The platform, called Shiken (meaning ‘test’ or ‘exam’ in Japanese), offers GCSE Maths and Science support, as well as tailored help for students studying medicine at university. There are over 50,000 teacher-created questions, quizzes and study tools currently available. 

Crucially, Shiken combines AI insights with gamification and tailored exercises to create mindful learning experiences. With academic and covid-related anxiety still at worryingly high levels amongst teens, the platform is designed to positively impact their mental health whilst easing them back into education. 

With one-in-20 school pupils still absent from the classroom, Shiken offers a balanced blend of guided and independent learning. This is designed to foster continued self-directed study – a skill designed to prepare students for A Levels as well as potential future lockdowns. Students can use the Shiken app to study alone, or join ‘groups’ to collaboratively tackle a range of fun challenges.

Animated ‘Study Buddy’ characters guide students on their learning journey, with new Buddies and accessories unlocked when progress is made. AI optimises the content for each individual learner and ensures they’re getting feedback, remaining focused, and staying on track to meet their personalised goals. 

The platform has been designed by a team of industry experts. They include a former Headteacher, an NHS doctor, and a graphic designer with expertise in creating mindful content. 

To further support remote learning, schools and tutors can create their own content to publish on the platform. This means that, should students have to return to remote learning, they will have access to engaging, teacher-tailored study materials from their smartphones. 

Nat Al-Tahhan, Creative Director at Shiken, comments:

“This is an incredibly stressful time for students. With many feeling anxious about being back in school or university and getting their learning back on track, we wanted to create a platform that empowers young people to have a less stressful, more enjoyable learning experience. Everything on Shiken – from the questions to the graphics – has been designed with mindfulness and fun at its core. Mindfulness can improve knowledge retention and recall, as well as help reduce stress. We’ve built the perfect partner for students keen to build back their confidence and find the fun in learning once more!”

Patricia Young, a former Headteacher adds:

“Young people are highly adaptable, but this year has been, and continues to be,  incredibly challenging. Many teens are worried about catching up on the learning time lost and achieving the grades they need to fulfil their ambitions. It’s important that they are handed back the control over their learning, and allowed to have some fun while they study. As a former headteacher, I’m convinced that platforms like Shiken will play an important role in tailoring educational support to each student’s needs.”