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Over a quarter of teachers fear further Covid-19 disruption will be the biggest challenge to the Autumn term

  • Addressing the attainment gap arising from Covid-19 disruption (20%) and the mental health of pupils (14%) were also reported as expected challenges – with 1 in 4 teachers concerned that the maths attainment gap will be hardest to close
  • 71% of teacher’s reported their confidence in using edtech has increased – a 7% increase compared to June 2020

 

New research from Renaissance, a leading provider of edtech solutions to improve outcomes and accelerate learning, has revealed that over a quarter of teachers (27%) believe Covid-19 related disruption will be the biggest challenge this Autumn term. The research asked almost five hundred (472) senior school leaders, department heads, and teachers about their thoughts and concerns as the new school term got underway.  

 

Covid-19 disruption such as closures and children isolating were cited as the largest expected challenges. In addition, addressing the attainment gap arising from Covid-19 disruption (20%) and the mental health of pupils (14%) followed as the next biggest expected challenges; as research revealed 73% of teachers believe pupil attainment levels have fallen because of national lockdowns.

 

The maths attainment gap was of particular concern to teachers with 1 in 4 (25%) reporting they felt it would be the hardest gap of all the core skills to close this Autumn term. Teachers identified maths skills such as fractions, decimals and percentages as causing the most difficulty – with over a third of teachers (34%) saying they think these core skills have been most heavily affected by the Covid disruption to date.

 

But there is a silver-lining to the past 18 months as more of teachers (71%) said their confidence in using edtech had increased. This is a 7% uplift compared to earlier on in the pandemic – when in June 2020, 64% of teachers said their confidence had grown. 

 

With such a variety of online tools available, experts at Renaissance are encouraging schools to take advantage of teachers’ improved edtech confidence and expand their digital offering so they can tackle the attainment gap caused by Covid-19 school closures.

 

Renaissance believes that teachers can use curriculum-aligned Focus Skills, made freely available through dedicated Teacher Workbooks, to plan lessons that support pupils in learning year-appropriate skills. When combined with formative assessment, Focus Skills can save teachers time and support them in creating tailored lesson plans, meaning pupils spend more time learning and are given more specific support for their developmental needs.

 

 

John Moore, Director, Renaissance said We know teachers continue to face a wide range of challenges presented by Covid-19 in their classrooms. However there’s an opportunity too to take some real positives from the pandemic – building on the way in which so many teachers have embraced technology and worked tirelessly to upskill. Clearly the attainment gap continues to be a concern. At Renaissance we’re committed to supporting education professionals – building on the great strides in the use of technology and providing teachers with the right tools to identify and address areas of need, providing a roadmap for closing the gap. As we move forward through the pandemic, it’s time teachers were able to focus on what they are really there for – to educate pupils, guide their learning development and plan tailored programmes.”

 

Michael Tidd, Headteacher, Schoolworks Academy Trust said: “Addressing the gaps caused by Covid-19 shouldn’t be about cramming in every single thing pupils ‘missed’. Tools like Focus Skills have helped us hone in on the most critical building blocks they need at each stage in their development. Combined with formative assessment, we’re able to paint a picture of each child’s growth rate and any core areas they’ve missed out on so we can then group children and deliver targeted interventions to catch up”.  

PICK EVERARD COMPLETES £2.2M SUSTAINABLE EXPANSION PROJECT AT ESSEX SCHOOL

AN ESSEX secondary school has become the first in the county to benefit from a net-zero carbon, modular building, creating hundreds of additional places for youngsters in the area.

The £2.2m project at Sweyne Park School in Rayleigh has been led by independent property, construction, and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard. Work involved the creation of an energy efficient building to house six new classrooms, a new staff room, office and storage space.

The new building has been designed specifically to support the teaching of children who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, using enhanced lighting and acoustic standards.

Energy saving measures include photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof, used to generate the electricity of the building, as well as LED lighting, trace heating on hot water supply pipework and a high-efficiency, fresh air heating system combined with air source heat pumps. This type of heat pump has been proven to be three times more efficient than a gas boiler.

Pick Everard was appointed by Essex County Council (ECC) in January this year to deliver project management and quantity surveying for the development. It produced multi-disciplinary designs for the council prior to planning, later fostering a collaboration with project partners Morgan Sindall to see the development through from April until completion.

Sweyne Park is one of three secondary schools in Essex that Pick Everard is working on for the council’s modular innovation project, with completion also due at Clacton County High School in Clacton-on-Sea, and Colne Community College in Brightlingsea in the near future.

Keith Prendergast, national director at Pick Everard, said: “We are really pleased to have completed this project with Essex County Council to improve the school facilities and increase the number of pupil places in the county. This marks the first of three projects to be delivered by Pick Everard for the council, continuing a longstanding relationship.

“We have worked closely with the client and a modular supplier to ensure the brief was achieved, to provide the high-quality education facilities the next generation of students deserve.”

Modular buildings are constructed off-site using the same materials and designed to the same codes and standards as conventional buildings – but in about half the time and with minimal disruption to the school. The build process is more environmentally-friendly as it reduces embodied carbon emissions. Build waste is also reduced by around 75 per cent.

The units also do not rely on refined fossil fuels like gas, and therefore avoid around 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere annually.

Pick Everard quantity surveying associate, Tom Wint, said: “Modular builds are still a relatively new concept for schools but offer a greater level of flexibility and innovation. When compared to traditional on-site methods, Essex County Council has reduced the overall project time by six months by opting for modular builds, providing an efficient solution and allowing Sweyne Park School to open its new building at the start of the new academic year in September.”

Property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Perfect Circle – a company jointly owned by Pick Everard, Gleeds and AECOM – was appointed by Essex County Council to deliver project management and quantity surveying services, which have been procured via SCAPE Consultancy, a direct award framework that drives collaboration, efficiency, time, and cost savings.

Cllr Tony Ball, cabinet member for education, skills and training at Essex County Council, said: “The modular innovation project is successfully delivering essential new teaching space for schools to meet the needs of the local community. At the same time, we are delivering our ambitions to tackle climate change and working towards making Essex carbon neutral, as announced in the recent Essex Climate Action Commission report.

“We know that buildings are currently responsible for 39% of global energy related carbon emissions. This project plays a part in reducing those carbon emissions, while providing a high-quality, bright, fresh, and comfortable learning environment for children.

“Building this way also leaves schools with more money to spend on educating children rather than paying bills and maintenance.”

Pick Everard employs more than 600 staff across its 13 offices, providing a range of project, cost, and design consultancy services. For more information, please visit www.pickeverard.co.uk.

Three Covid-safe School Trips for Winter

Knowsley Safari launches accessible Autumn/Winter schools programme

 

The North West’s Knowsley Safari is aiming to make school trips accessible for all this winter, as well as help teachers with resources, with a new range of Covid-safe outdoor and online learning sessions which promise to connect children with nature.

 

The range of interactive and educational activities is aimed at years one to six and is delivered by experts from the Safari. Sessions aim to bring learning about conservation, animals and the planet, to life and highlights include:

 

Planet Protectors (starting October 2021) – years one to six, online, FREE

A series of six interactive Live Stream Safari sessions, which aim to inspire children to help protect the planet. Delivered in real-time by on-site conservation educators, each event focuses on a challenge being faced in the natural world, using the Safari’s animals to illustrate. Attendees will discover how they can help sea lions in the battle against single use plastics and how the rainforest can be protected by shopping carefully. 

 

There’s a reward for schools who continue to explore the subject. By submitting proof of a piece of work related to the session, schools will go into a draw to win one of five free class visits to Knowsley Safari. Schools will need to register, by emailing learning@knowsley.com or using the form on the Knowsley Safari website, to access the sessions, which can also be used after the event – a great resource for teaching about climate change, habitat loss and the natural world.

 

School Discovery Day (from now and all year round) – ages three to fifteen, from £8.50 per child, minimum 20 children

Bring a class to the Safari and have an animal expert guide you around the UK’s longest Safari Drive. Children will be awestruck with the array of animals to see, including African lions, white rhino, European bison and Bactrian camels, while learning important facts about each species. Safari educators are also available to take children around the Foot Safari, which includes the Amur Tigers’ Russian-inspired habitat. Enquiries can be made via the Knowsley Safari website.

 

Live Stream Safari School (from now and all year round) – year one to year eleven, £75 per session

If a class can’t physically visit the Safari, a live interactive session can be broadcast directly into the classroom. Multi-location technology means that children can see many different species in these 45-minute sessions. They can even explore behind-the-scenes in places the general public wouldn’t usually see, such as animal food preparation areas. Live Q&A sections with the animal experts make these sessions fully interactive and pre-recorded footage, for example of veterinary procedures, can be included to ensure every topic is as engaging as possible. Subjects include Africa, Habitats, Food & Feeding, Keeper Life, Conservation Champions and Safari Careers. Enquiries can be made through the Knowsley Safari website.

 

Nikki Mallott, Head of Learning and Discovery at Knowsley Safari, says: “Children need to connect with the natural world and our aim is to bring back the school trip so we can help make this happen. We’ve designed an enjoyable and accessible programme of events to make it easy for schools to provide an exciting, educational experience for their classes. The sessions complement the curriculum and include resources for teachers so the learning can continue.”

 

For further information visit knowsleysafariexperience.co.uk.

GCSEPod becomes an official sponsor of the APPG on Race Equality in Education

++ Leading EdTech company supports All Party Parliamentary Group in aim to diversify the curriculum ++

EdTech company GCSEPod has become an official sponsor of the APPG on Race Equality in Education.  The APPG’s aim is to support children and students from ethnic minority backgrounds, to enhance educational environments, and to increase racial diversity in teaching across the UK.

 

GCSEPod is a leading EdTech provider, and the firm has played a central role during the pandemic in helping learning continue throughout the last year, with record numbers of students accessing content.  GCSEPod offers 28 different subjects to students. The ‘pods’ are short sharp video downloads (between 3-5 minutes long) which students can access from any device at any hour of the day.

 

GCSEPod have already launched their CAACH project, which celebrates British and Irish Authors of African and Caribbean Heritage, to help try and diversify the curriculum.  It is first in a series of planned special projects that aims to shine a light on subjects that have historically been overlooked in education; these Pods explore the literary contributions of the African diaspora in the UK and Ireland.

 

Anthony Coxon, co-founder and director of GCSEPod said:

GCSEPod is delighted to become an official sponsor of the APPG on Race Equality in Education.  The work we have already done with the APPG has shaped our company’s values and commitment to developing and diversifying our network of contributors.”

Lord Woolley of Woodford, Vice Chair of the APPG on Race Equality in Education said:

“We’re very excited to have GCSEPod on board with the APPG for Race Equality in Education, of which I am Vice-Chair. It’s crucial that policymakers and EdTech providers work more closely together to better support the next generation of children, particularly pupils who are racialised – and, having the right educational resources are fundamental if we are to advance race equality”

WEST MIDLANDS ACTIVITY EDUCATION PROVIDER LANDS NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARD FOR KEEPING KIDS MOVING

A Birmingham-based activity education and training provider has won a national business award from Lloyds Bank and expert mentoring after navigating one of the toughest periods in its history.

Founded in 2005, Aspire Active Education Group now works with almost 200 schools across the country, providing PE, sport and physical activity support to primary schools to get more children moving. It also delivers apprenticeships through its training arm and supports around 40 children’s physical activity providers with Aspire Active Partnerships, a network of organisations that came to the fore supporting its members during lockdown.

Director Paul Griffiths said: “We exist to combat inactivity among children and predominantly work with primary schools. When the pandemic hit and schools closed, we pivoted operations to offer more business support to our Aspire Active Partnerships network. This involved webinars, resources, peer support group sessions and weekly huddles, and creating an online forum where the owners of these like-minded organisations could share challenges and good practice.

“Running a small business can be a lonely place at times and that was especially true during the first lockdown. But the network has become a close-knit community and we have now evolved that side of the business into an ongoing support system, all with the aim of getting more children engaged in activity.”

An increase in screen time and more pressure in schools on academic subjects like English and maths has led to less physical activity and education among children, something that was highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic. A survey by Sport England found that the number of children and young people in the country who were physically active fell during the 2019/20 academic year.

Paul and the rest of Aspire’s 44-strong team have relished being able to operate again in recent months, with delivery including running the government-funded cycle training programme, Bikeability, and, most recently, working with 16 schools and more than 10,000 children throughout the summer as part of the Marcus Rashford-backed Holiday Activities and Food initiative.

Now, Aspire Active Education Group has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards, which celebrate businesses across the UK. The prize is a mentoring session with Dominic Cools-Lartigue, founder of pop-up food market Street Feast. Dominic will provide insight and support to help Aspire to continue to grow the business in the year ahead.

Paul said: “This kind of recognition is very much welcomed. I’m really proud of every member of the team for their constant hard work and dedication, especially during such unprecedented times. It’s been a busy summer and we can’t wait to get back into schools properly at the start of the new academic year.”

Gareth Oakley, managing director of business banking at Lloyds Bank, added: “Aspire provides a vital service to schools and children in the West Midlands, and to similar organisations further afield. It has shown great determination and adaptability during a challenging time and is a worthy recipient of this award.”

 

Time to celebrate the achievements of Multi-Academy Trust finance professionals: The MAT-Finance Awards launched by IMP Software

A new awards scheme to recognise the achievements of Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) finance leaders, teams and wider Trust champions has been launched by IMP Software, specialists in MAT budgeting and financial management.

 

The inaugural MAT-Finance Awards is a unique platform for MAT finance professionals to celebrate their hard work, share best practice and showcase their impact. Nominations for The MAT-Finance Awards 2021 are now open and there are six categories available to enter before the 26th November 2021 closing date.

 

An expert judging panel – comprising Confederation of School Trusts CEO Leora Cruddas, Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) CEO Stephen Morales, Dartmoor MAT CEO Dan Morrow, L.E.A.D Academy Trust Deputy CEO Bobby Thandi, Bishop Fleming Audit Partner and Head of Education Pam Tuckett, and IMP Software Co-Founder Will Jordan – will draw up a shortlist for each award. The winners will be announced on 15th December 2021.

 

The categories are:

 

MAT-Finance Leader of the Year

To recognise outstanding CFOs, or equivalent, in a MAT for their leadership and management of MAT finances. To be nominated by MAT CEOs, Trustees/governors with strategic oversight/responsibility for finance, or MAT finance team members.

 

MAT-Finance Team of the Year

To recognise exceptional MAT finance teams, large or small, who go above and beyond in ensuring the smooth running and effective operations of MAT finance. Teams to be nominated by MAT CFOs or equivalent, CEOs, or Trustees/governors with strategic oversight/responsibility for finance.

 

MAT-Finance Champion of the Year

To recognise inspirational MAT leaders – CEOs and Trustees/governors – who at a strategic level champion innovative practice around MAT finance and/or who motivate and inspire the core team to achieve success through effective leadership. To be nominated by MAT CFOs or equivalent, or MAT finance team members.

 

MAT-Finance Rising Star of the Year

To recognise younger MAT finance team members, aged 30 or under (as of 31/8/21), who have demonstrated excellence in their role. To be nominated by MAT CFOs or equivalent, MAT finance team members, CEOs or Trustees/governors with strategic oversight/responsibility for finance.

 

MAT-Finance Project of the Year

To recognise innovative MAT finance projects which have had a direct impact on the financial operations of the Trust. To be nominated by MAT CFOs or equivalent, MAT finance team members, CEOs or Trustees/governors with strategic oversight/responsibility for finance.

 

MAT-Finance Education or Community Impact of the Year

To recognise innovative MAT finance projects which have had a wider impact on education or the wider community. This could be a Covid-19 project or something they did that went above and beyond expectations. To be nominated by MAT CFOs or equivalent, MAT finance team members, CEOs or Trustees/governors with strategic oversight/responsibility for finance.

 

Will Jordan, IMP Software Co-Founder, said: “We are absolutely delighted to launch The MAT-Finance Awards which we hope will go on to become a much-anticipated permanent fixture in the education events calendar. There is a gap for MAT finance professionals to be recognised and rewarded through such an awards scheme. We are looking for the unsung heroes, as well as leading lights, to come forward with their nominations for our six award categories. IMP Software will also present an Outstanding Contribution to MAT-Finance award, with the individual recipient to be decided by our panel of expert judges.”

 

Key points to note:

  • The MAT-Finance Awards 2021 relate to achievements made during the 2020-21 academic year. Entries based on projects or initiatives that began earlier are acceptable as long as the key achievements took place during 2020-21.
  • All you need to do is select the award you wish to enter on www.matfa.co.uk (you can enter more than more award) and submit the online form with a 500-word response.
  • Our judges are especially looking for measurable evidence of benefits/impact and nominations which will be an inspiration for others in the MAT finance profession.
  • Winners will receive a commemorative trophy and there will also be recognition for Highly Commended runners-up.
  • Winners will also have the opportunity to have their successes promoted through the IMP Software website, social media feeds and wider MAT finance community, as well as dedicated press releases targeting coverage in local, regional and education media.

 

LITERACYPLANET CELEBRATES 12 YEARS

 

Today marks 12 years since the brainchild of LiteracyPlanet’s Founder, Shane Davis, became a reality.

 

2009 was the year of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, Barack Obama’s inauguration and the release of Box Office hit Avatar. And in September of the same year, LiteracyPlanet was launched. In the 12 years since then, the online English literacy platform has supported more than two million students around the world in achieving literacy learning success. 

 

“There have been vast advancements in technology since we first created LiteracyPlanet. But what hasn’t changed is that teachers have been, and always will be, drivers of learning in the classroom. You can’t replace the human touch and their intuitive understanding of students’ needs,” said Mr Davis.

 

“We developed the program to support teachers and students in literacy development and importantly, it continues to do that and inspire a lifetime of learning.”

The LiteracyPlanet platform is curriculum-aligned to help teachers deliver literacy outcomes for students aged 5 to 15. It is intuitively built to monitor individual student engagement and serve personalised content appropriate to students’ learning levels through its Learn, Practise, Test philosophy. The program also provides important support for teachers through time-saving mission assignment tools and insightful reporting.

In the past year alone, the platform has had a major redevelopment, launching with the same curriculum-aligned content in an all-new format. Enhancements include the introduction of an online magazine, Intrepizine, with new articles released weekly; My Words, a tool for students to create custom spelling lists that saw more than 11,000 lists created in its first month; and expanding teachers’ usability of the program for reporting, searching for content, and saving time in assigning tasks.

 

“It’s been a huge year for everyone – customers and staff – and we’re so proud of how we’ve been able to bring to life our vision for a platform that doesn’t just teach literacy, it makes learning fun! And that’s something to celebrate” added Tom Richardson, CEO of LiteracyPlanet. 

“Our mission of inspiring a lifetime of learning is not just a throwaway line. We have more than 150 years of combined staff experience within the company, which is testament to the purpose we are working towards and how much our people want to be a part of that.”

“And importantly, it’s thanks to our valued customers who have been along with us for the journey. It is their support, generous feedback and continued use of the program that has made LiteracyPlanet what it is today.”

Staff around the globe celebrated the 12-year milestone this week with plenty of cake, coffee and a surprise visit from the program’s most loved character, Word Monster.

 

Making the world a more sustainable place one resource at a time

The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science, and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

 

The popular resources include a range of interactive activities including; posters, presentations, and activity sheets to teach pupils about the importance of community and about how working together can create a sustainable future for all – a great way to engage pupils on the topic during Recycle Week 2021.

 

Talking about recycling in the classroom can be fun. The Action Pack has a dedicated bank of resources that enable teachers to discuss the topic in a language that their pupils can understand. Using behaviour change theory as the base of the resources, The Action Pack has been accessed by over 4,000 teachers.

 

Research from Recycle Now1 outlines that it can be hard to visualise just how much waste is being generated from schools, and even more so the sources of waste creating the issue. The average secondary school produces 22kg of waste per pupil each academic year. This figure is even higher for primary schools where per-pupil the average is 45kg per pupil.

 

Using The Action Pack resources gives educators the opportunity to teach their pupils about ways that they can look to make the world a more sustainable place through a variety of resources that encourage open discussions and teacher to pupil dialogue – all whilst being a little creative.

 

Dennis Hollywood from Charlton Manor, has been using The Action Pack resources in his school explaining “The resources really help students to understand the importance of recycling in a fun and interactive way. Using these types of resources can really help students to be more action-driven and it helps them understand how the small changes they make can have an impact on a global scale.”

 

Hollywood continues to say “Using the WRAP Action Pack, we’ve organised arts and crafts competitions for our pupils and have seen so many inventive entries made from recyclable materials such as bottles and paper cups.”

 

With the emphatic return of pre-pandemic activities such as class school trips now possible, The Action Pack is offering an eco-based school trip, alongside other eco goodies, as part of their latest school competition. To enter, The Action Pack is asking schools to either create a poster that inspires others to recycle OR create a short film to educate others about recycling. The Action Pack has created a dedicated inspiration page to support teachers and their pupils in stimulating ideas.

 

To submit your own inspiration and ideas for our page, head to The Action Pack, tweet us @RecycleNow using #RecycleNowActionPack, or email us at theactionpack@everfi.com

 

Best Education Blogs in 2021 for the UK and Ireland – Words by Laura Millington of Twinkl

The face of education has changed radically over the past year and a half. Luckily, we’ve had education blogs to help us overcome all these new challenges. Whether they’re imparting useful advice, discussing important issues in schools, or advocating for better teacher support, everybody can get something out of reading them. That’s why we thought we would showcase some of the best education blogs in 2021 for the UK and Ireland. Click here to find out our top picks!

‘JUST ONE TREE DAY’ – still time to sign up!

 

There is still time for schools to join hundreds of others and sign-up to the highly popular ‘JUST ONE Tree Day’, taking place on Friday 15 October (England) and Friday 1 October (Scotland).

Schools throughout the UK and around the globe are uniting on this international non-uniform day that encourages children to bring in £1 to plant a tree and help reforest the planet – a tree is planted for every £1 raised. Over 150,000 children from eight countries have already joined together since JUST ONE Tree Day first launched in 2019.

Schools can sign up here.                                                          

About JUST ONE Tree Day

The day highlights to children and young people how their individual actions can make a difference in the fight against climate change and the biodiversity crises. It is the flagship event of JUST ONE Tree, a British not-for-profit dedicated to removing CO2 from the atmosphere through global reforestation.

The event is open to both primary and secondary schools – those taking part can access lesson resources that fit in with the national curriculum. As part of their fundraising activities, children learn about photosynthesis, the benefits of trees for both people and wildlife and the vital role they play in reducing the impacts of climate change.

JUST ONE Tree founder, Amanda Bronkhorst: “JUST ONE Tree Day was born out of my passion to make a difference – not only for my young daughter, but for the future of all children. JUST ONE Tree Day has resulted in over 150,000 trees planted and I know that this year the ‘children’s forest’ can grow even bigger.

“School participation is doubly important because not only do they raise funds, the forest planted on their behalf helps compensate for a school’s environmental impact.

“Many children today struggle with climate anxiety, caused by the reality of our climate crisis. But JUST ONE Tree Day tells them that we can all make a difference with a simple action.  By taking direct action it spreads hope and positivity. It’s important to involve our young, helping them tackle their worries of today while setting them up for a sustainable lifestyle that aids their future.”

The money raised is used to plant the ‘right trees in the right place’ – supporting reforestation projects in Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal and Zambia, including mangrove forests and kelp regeneration.