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Free cybersecurity toolkit for schools launched

LGfL’s Elevate Cybersecurity Toolkit for schools. 

 

Hacking, phishing, malicious software and distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks are on the increase according to the National Crime Agency. With more and more schools falling victim to cybercrime and pressure mounting on governors and school leaders to implement appropriate controls, edtech charity LGfL-The National Grid for Learning  has launched a new, free resource called the Elevate Cybersecurity Toolkit for Schools to help steer them in the right direction.

 

The new toolkit comprises a collection of key documents that schools can use to improve their cybersecurity and also use as a foundation for attaining Cyber Essentials Certification – a foundation level certification designed to provide a statement of the basic controls they should have in place to mitigate the risk from common cyber threats.

 

The following key documents can be downloaded for free:

 

A CyberSecurity Policy Template  – designed to complement the schools existing social media and acceptable use policies – which outlines the school’s guidelines and security provisions that are there to protect its systems, services, and data in the event of a cyberattack.

 

An Incident Response Plan which can be used as a starting point for planning recovery from a ransomware attack, or any other kind of unforeseen outage.

 

An Example Risk Register that can be used to assess, evaluate, prioritise and manage cybersecurity risks. This can also be used by the school’s senior leadership team to report to governors on how they are proactively managing risks and improving cybersecurity.

 

An Example Asset Register that can be used as a starting point to inventory the equipment used in the school. It sounds obvious, but it’s impossible to be secure if you don’t know what you have.

 

An Example Software Register used to record which software/systems schools have and whether they hold confidential information. This can be used to complement the Incident Response Plan for prioritising the recovery of services.

 

Commenting on the new resource, Dinesh Seegobin, Head of ICT at STEP Academy Trust, said, “We all know that being aware of cybersecurity is critical but how many of us can claim to be experts? In addition, there is so much information out there to digest, where do you begin? This is where, yet again, LGfL has come to our rescue. The Elevate Cybersecurity Toolkit is an absolute game changer. A one-stop shop to help get you on track backed up with all the weight of industry experts.”

 

To download your free copy please visit http://www.elevate.lgfl.net

Game-changing recruitment and training supplies a solution to England’s teacher shortage crisis

James Lowe, MD of Moxi Education Recruitment

Schools up and down the country are still dealing with the fallout of pandemic-prompted-disruption, with many children lagging behind due to months of missed education. Throw into the mix austerity, ever decreasing budgets and a teaching shortage, and there’s a perfect storm brewing.

Teaching shortages are particularly worrying. Recent Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) research revealed that teacher shortages have reached crisis point in England, with 95% of schools experiencing difficulty in recruiting teachers. This is having a dramatic impact on the quality of education received by children.

James Lowe, Director of Grolife – a group of organisations all designed to support the education sector -is a former headteacher who has first-hand experience of teaching shortages and the impacts it has on a school and teaching delivery. With over 16 years’ experience in the education sector, James has first-hand experience of teaching shortages and the impacts it has on a school and teaching delivery.

EdStart specialist schools, part of the Grolife Group, span five sites across North West England. Recruiting quality teams was proving ever more difficult and eventually, frustration and disillusionment with both the process and the quality of candidates prompted James to launch Moxi and shake up education recruitment.

Moxi matches schools with candidates who are well trained and primed to hit the ground running in a range of education settings, so they are ready to serve the varying needs of pupils. 

James explains, “Over the years in my various management roles in schools, I’ve faced the situation of either having no support when short staffed or accepting support that is very much below par. This isn’t fair on the pupils, whose education suffers, or the existing staff who are already working incredibly hard to ensure every child receives the education and pastoral care they deserve.

IT’S TIME TO STEM TEACHER BRAIN-DRAIN

“The current teaching shortage is chronic and one underacknowledged reason for this is the many teachers moving out of mainstream education and into private education providers. Many teachers are moving into tuition companies, alternative provision, and special educational needs settings.

“I have worked with dozens of teachers and still do, who switch to the private education sector because of the perks it brings and the better work life balance that it can provide. Another factor is the opportunity relatively new and young teachers have in front of them. They’re receiving lucrative offers to teach abroad and the rise of international schools in regions such as the Middle East is seeing a brain drain from the UK.

“We also must consider the impact of the pandemic on the training of new teachers and the huge number of teachers who ended up staying in roles when the world slowed down, so we are currently seeing an apparent spike in numbers of teachers moving on, and even out of the profession, now that they can.

 

 

THINK LIKE A BUSINESS AND SUPPLY CAN MEET DEMAND

“Schools need to be thinking more like businesses in other industries to attract and retain staff by making teaching a sought-after profession again. Supply teachers have never been more in demand and many assignments are leading to permanent roles in outstanding schools because of the opportunities available. Teacher shortages are that severe that supply staff are cherry picking their roles and the hourly or daily earnings are creeping up as schools compete to secure the best staff.

“Supply teachers often have experience across different year groups, subjects, exam boards and standards and therefore can offer good insight to the schools they find themselves in by sharing the knowledge they have picked up from the various postings. Inevitably, this knowledge can lead to middle and senior leadership positions being achieved.”

Moxi offers a nationwide service to fill schools’ recruitment needs at all levels, from support staff and teaching assistants to classroom teachers and senior management leadership professionals.

HIRING SUPPLY, THE RIGHT WAY

“Finding the right staff is essential for your school’s success, even for more temporary roles. I really value a positive attitude and character, but I also look for professional presentation and standards. I think adaptability is a useful skill because it means they’ll be quick to learn new ways of working and take initiative when necessary.’’

BRIEF TO BRING OUT THE BEST

‘’Supply staff should always be made to feel part of the team. To ensure a smooth transition, their induction into the school should never be overlooked. This doesn’t have to be extensive, just a good initial greeting and briefing. They need access to policies, systems, and processes so they have something to refer back to when necessary. They should be made aware of expected standards and values and be assigned a contact or mentor than they can check in with. We all need that support, especially when we’re new to a team.

‘’Recruitment agencies also have a responsibility to support their candidates. We are consistently and regularly working with candidates who have been let down by other agencies and thrown in the deep end in schools with very little or no training. We’re thrilled that our candidates finally feel supported by an agency that cares about their wellbeing and career development.”

DON’T DISMISS TALENT FROM BEYOND EDUCATION – THEY SIMPLY NEED MOXI

Moxi also specialises in supplying qualified professionals to support special educational needs.  Like James, the whole Moxi team has worked at the coalface of education, meaning they understand the sector’s unique challenges.

Moxi’s answer is to harness, and – importantly – train, talent from both inside and outside of the sector. As part of its recruitment service, Moxi offers a unique training provision which benefits schools seeking high-quality candidates as well as people looking for a role in the education sector who are keen to build their employability skills and boost their confidence. 

James continues, ‘’We called the business Moxi, taking inspiration from the word ‘moxie’ which means confidence and determination. From my years at the frontline in schools, I know that skills can be taught, but natural energy and attitude are everything. That’s why we’re excited to help unlock the potential of people from outside the sector, or those just starting out in their career, who can bring invaluable transferable skills to a rewarding profession.

‘’From recent graduates who hadn’t considered teaching as a career option, to people returning to work after a career break, and even former professional sports people, there’s a wealth of talent just waiting to be accessed. We’re seeing lots of students, who are about to graduate in subjects like geography, sports science or sociology.  They’re not sure what to do with their degrees, and you can see that lightbulb moment when they realise teaching could be for them. Our training course opens this door, it’s free to candidates and sets them up to feel confident and ready for an exciting new challenge.’’ 

TRAIN TO GAIN

Thanks to its close partnership with EdStart specialist schools, Moxi is in the unique position to train candidates at its own education facilities. With a range of training available, its free, entry level course is already proving popular with candidates – and with schools who hire confident, classroom ready staff.

To book supply cover or talk to Moxi about longer term recruitment needs:

www.moxi-recruitment.co.uk

Call 0300 303 4414 (option 2)

 

New Adobe Express Innovations Make Content Creation Easy, Fun and More Productive

 

  • Decades of Adobe’s creative technology, AI innovations and unparalleled assets power Adobe Express to let anyone create, edit, customise, schedule and share standout content 
  • Workflows across Adobe Express and Creative Cloud apps deliver professional-looking content 
  • Adobe Express now reaches 43 million primary and secondary school teachers and students globally
  • Adobe Express for Nonprofits now offers global nonprofits free access to the tools and resources they need to create impactful content 

 

Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) shared at Adobe MAX – the world’s largest creativity conference – the latest innovations for Adobe Express, the template-based web and mobile tool, that allows creators to easily make, edit and share standout content anywhere, anytime. 

 

With Adobe Express, everyone from students and small business owners to marketers and creative professionals, can create a logo, build a social media campaign, refresh their resume, design a flyer or banner and make a standout school project. Through Adobe’s unparalleled content collection, Adobe Express provides creators with over 22,000 licensed Adobe Fonts and 193 million assets including templates and royalty-free Adobe Stock images. 

 

Many Adobe Express customers also use Creative Cloud applications or work with designers who do. Now, Adobe Express streamlines these workflows with Adobe Creative Cloud applications through Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries. Creative Cloud users can access their documents, assets and more across Creative Cloud apps, to make edits and create new content in several different sizes and formats. After creating across apps, Adobe Express enables users to publish and schedule their content across social platforms.

 

“Adobe Express leverages decades of Adobe innovation to empower users to build content that stands out with high-quality, curated assets and templates, workflows with Creative Cloud apps and an incredible feature set powered by Adobe Sensei,” said Scott Belsky, chief product officer and executive vice president, Creative Cloud at Adobe. “When you need speed and ease to edit an image, trim a video and craft or publish a social media post, Adobe Express is the perfect tool for any creator.”

 

With new features frequently being rolled out, Adobe Express creators will soon enjoy expanded video editing powers with a new mixed-media editor, Generative AI capabilities to help generate unique fonts, images and new backgrounds, and new opportunities to collaborate with other creators across other Adobe Creative Cloud apps, delivering greater productivity. Recently added innovations in Adobe Express include: 

 

  • Quick Actions, making it easy for users to quickly remove background features from photos, refine cutouts, trim and merge videos, turn videos into GIFs, create QR codes and convert/export PDFs in a few clicks.
  • AI-Driven Template Recommendations, delivering customised collections of relevant templates based on the project already being worked on. 
  • Content Scheduler, giving users the ability to collaborate, plan, schedule, preview and publish social media content across platforms – all from one place. 
  • Multi-Page Capabilities, providing the ability to create multiple social media assets, logos, banners, flyers and more, easily adding consistent branding to each page. 
  • Advanced Search Discovery and Recommendations, enabling users to search and receive guidance on fonts, colour palettes and themes based on the projects they are working on. 

 

New Partnerships

Adobe Express is teaming up with Wix, a global leader in helping creators and businesses create, manage and grow their business, to explore opportunities to bring the best of Adobe Express and the Wix platform to both user bases. Users will be able to use the Wix Media Manager to polish images for their web pages and then seamlessly enhance the editing process through a seamless integration with Adobe Express to add effects, animation, text, shape, icons and more, right where they are already working.

 

To help small business owners easily and confidently grow their businesses online, Adobe also teamed up with Meta on Express Your Brand, enabling small businesses to grow their online presence using Adobe Express. The training program provides free resources, tools and community support for a diverse community of small businesses. 

 

Adobe Express is also partnering with leading learning platforms, to accelerate creative and digital literacy skills for students of all ages. Student-first connected educational platform Chegg is now making Adobe Express premium available to eight million online students, supporting them in their journeys from high school to college and careers. 

 

Adobe Express for Education

For students and teachers in the classroom, the latest version of Adobe Express for Education with new AI-powered features makes it easy to design stunning presentations, create attention-grabbing web pages, make captivating video presentations, flyers, flashcards and more. Specially designed learning programs and partnerships give students free access to the latest Adobe technologies and resources, fostering new collaboration, communication and creative skills.

Free for primary and secondary school students and teachers, Adobe Express for Education now reaches 43 million students and teachers across thousands of educational organisations globally. To facilitate use of Adobe tools within classrooms, Adobe now also supports Adobe Express add-ons for Google Classroom, Canvas, Clever and ClassLink. Adobe Express also integrates with popular EdTech solutions and can be easily accessed by entire classrooms through Google and Microsoft Teams single sign-on (SSO).

 

Adobe Express for Nonprofits

Adobe is harnessing its creative and technological strengths with a new global offering, Adobe Express for Nonprofits. Adobe Express for Nonprofits gives up to 10 users Adobe Express premium for free and includes access to purpose-focused templates and multiple tutorial videos, enabling the world’s 10 million+ nonprofits to accelerate their mission, engage donors, reach more people and ultimately drive great impact. 

 

About Adobe 

Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

 

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 Kooth.com (aged 10+) and Qwell.io (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. 

 

How technology is transforming teaching and learning

Lockdown accelerated the rollout of technology in the classroom as teachers had no choice but to embrace the use of online platforms in learning. But has that technology had a positive impact on education? 

The way in which schools have embraced digital learning and technology is one of the few positives to have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Priya Lakhani, Founder CEO of award-winning artificial intelligence (AI) company CENTURY Tech. 

“It has been so exciting to see how institutions have augmented teaching and learning with technology,” she says. “We are already beginning to see the positive impact technology can have on outcomes and reducing teacher workload.” 

Benefits of technology for pupils 

UKTN, the home of UK Tech, agrees. It says one of the benefits of technology is the power to transform dull subjects into interactive and fun activities. The good thing about that, is that knowledge that is acquired with entertainment helps students retain knowledge for longer. The use of technological platforms often means pupils can take the initiative and learn when they want to – with or without a teacher’s assistance. 

At its best, technology can be used to create experiences for students rather than them simply imbibing information, something that Lakhani claims teachers are increasingly asking for. 

Lakhani is also a board member of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, which has a learning programme for young people, aged 4 to 19, to inspire them with its awe-inspiring projects across science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). 

Many of the UNBOXED projects have used technology in innovative ways, making it possible for students to learn through playful experience.  

Examples of technology being used to create learning experiences 

  • Minecraft is used to enable pupils to travel through the solar system and learn about the challenges facing Planet Earth. This Minecraft experience is created by Our Place in Space, a project designed by children’s author Oliver Jeffers in collaboration with astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt. Visit Our Place in Space Minecraft World
  • Immerse 360º video is used to make is possible to see what it’s like on board SEE MONSTER, a retired offshore platform that’s been transformed into an art installation featuring a garden, waterfall and design-led renewable energies. Pupils can go on a journey through the platform learning through interactions at various points along the way. Visit SEE MONSTER virtual tour
  • Live dashboards are used to an engaging effect by Dreamachine. Dreamachine helps children to understand perception through a series of videos hosted by Newsround presenter Martin Dougan. Through a specially developed online platform, pupils can consider such questions as ‘Can I believe everything I see?’, ‘How do I know time is passing?’, and ‘Are people the same all over the world?’ and see how their answers compare with those of pupils in other schools. See Life’s Big Questions

 

Benefits of technology for teachers 

Meanwhile, UKTN recognises that for teachers, the ability to digitally distribute details in a few taps means they can quickly identify weaknesses and provide targeted support. 

Lakhani also points to the positive impacts that technology has had on teachers’ continued professional development (CPD), enabling them to attend symposiums and webinars. This supports opportunities for sharing knowledge easily at the end of a school day. And there are other important benefits, too, including sustainability and economics – teachers don’t have to drive to venues, and schools don’t need to find cover. 

Considerations 

We know that the introduction of technology will continue to have a significant impact on teaching and learning. However, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has identified several issues should be considered before technology is rolled out across classrooms. 

Firstly, schools need to consider how technology will improve teaching and learning. Technology has the potential to help teachers explain and model new concepts and ideas, but how explanations and models are conveyed is less important than their clarity and accessibility to pupils. The EEF warns that there is a risk technology will widen the gap between successful learners and their peers. 

Technology also has the potential to improve assessment and feedback. But how teachers use the information they gather from assessments, and how pupils act on feedback, matters far more than the way in which it is collected and delivered. Technology is likely to be most beneficial if it is provided in addition to other forms of feedback. 

Lakhani also urges us to think about two further barriers: affordability and confidence. Schools need to ensure all their pupils have access to the necessary devices and technology. 

She also has a challenge for suppliers. In many cases, developing the use of technology in the classroom, will mean teachers have to change the way they do some things. Suppliers therefore need to provide evidence that the technology has a positive impact, supporting educators with models of practice so that it can be effectively adopted and embedded. 

The use of technology in the classroom is here to stay. Make no mistake, it will never replace a teacher. But used creatively, it can transform a list of facts into a memorable, learning experience. 

For more information about UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, please visit www.unboxed2022.uk

Benefact Group and Ecclesiastical Insurance invest more than £90,000 to support education and skills causes

As part of the Movement for Good Awards Benefact Group and Ecclesiastical Insurance have donated £90,000 to eight charities working in the education and skills sector.

The eight charities which include Breaking Barriers, Read Easy UK, Black Swimming Association, and Happy Space have each been awarded amounts ranging from £10,000 – £50,000.

From running a network of volunteers who teach adults to read, through to helping refugees acquire skills and enter stable employment – the grants will fund essential projects and initiatives that will benefit many thousands of people across the UK.

The awards are designed to help charities make a real difference in their communities. More than 500 charities applied for the funding with the winning projects being selected against four criteria: impact and effectiveness, sustainability, innovation, and care and compassion.

Mark Hews, Group Chief Executive of Benefact Group, said: “At Benefact Group we believe business should be a force for good. More than ever, charitable causes need sustained support and a sense of financial stability. Through our Movement for Good larger-grant awards, we are championing a more imaginative way of supporting charities so that they can have some certainty in these challenging times. We know our funding can be a lifeline to those who are struggling with cost-of-living increases and a grant of this scale can make a huge difference to the incredible work that charities do. 

“Benefact Group is the fourth largest corporate donor in the UK and has an ambition to be the biggest. Owned by a charity, all our available profits go to good causes, and the more the Group grows, the more the Group can give. As a company whose purpose is to contribute to the greater good of society, charitable giving is at the heart of what we do.”

Matt Powell, CEO and Founder of Breaking Barriers, said: “We are beyond thrilled to receive this award from Benefact Group’s Movement for Good. This is a critical time for refugee communities, and the grant will make a huge difference to our Futures Programme, which is tailored towards young refugees. Thank you so much for believing in our work – from myself, my colleagues, our volunteers and of course our refugee clients themselves.” 

Movement for Good is funded by EIO plc, part of the Benefact Group.

Welsh GCSE reforms don’t go far enough – time to remove them

Words by Barry Mansfield – Director at Halcyon London International School in Marylebone

In light of the Welsh government’s changes to GCSEs – which include a slightly lower emphasis on exams, and a nod to the importance of digital skills – it is surely worth asking whether we could be braver. Can we finally admit that everything about this qualification is wrong? Or are our leaders too attached to the idea of a ‘Great British Education’ to accept the need for change? And what alternatives are there?

Over my career, I have had the privilege of working in many places around the world, and of learning with educators from many different cultures. For all the rich differences, there are some startling similarities woven into almost every educational system.

It is very rare, for example, to find any advanced, wealthy, nation openly admitting that its educational system might be unfit for purpose. Usually, the most humility one could hope for would be an admission that A.N. Other System may have benefits one could learn from. Consequently, it is vanishingly rare to find nimble, responsive, educational systems welcoming of change. I cannot recall even a chance of a moment when underlying philosophies about how we learn, and their resultant design principles, have changed in the U.K.

There is also a slightly awkward nativism about this, which leads many in this country to harbour the delusion that everyone else is envious of a Great British Education, whatever that might be. But we’re not alone: most developed nations feel the same way about their systems (ask your French friends), and so the understandings that underpin our various educational systems are often defended in a most unquestioning, incurious, way.

Fortunately, we all seem to err in the same direction, meaning that those of us who advocate for change have a reasonably homogeneous target to aim for. Even if you had never previously thought of schools as being industrial, Taylorist, production lines, everyone in the sector saw that Ken Robinson Ted talk, when he eviscerated our current approaches. No-one can say they were not warned, but that was 16 years ago and there’s still no real sign of substantive change.

This brings me to a second similarity between many school systems. Most tend to look on schools as they would traditional trades or cultural monuments – that there’s something so vital and essential about what we do (maybe to national identity, or cultural memory?) that all of it must be preserved. No-one thinks of school practice as having anything in common with the agility or imagination or the willingness to change of, say, a digital start-up, despite the obvious fact that many students aspire to be in just this kind of dynamic environment. 

This stasis is also underwritten by years of experience; the people who have the power to change education are products of it themselves, often being hugely successful at school before travelling, with relative ease, through the best universities and successful careers. Where is their incentive to say it doesn’t work? Outsiders – those let down by our education system – are without a serious voice, and their ‘failure’ can be conveniently ascribed to some lack of personal responsibility. It is a form of privilege not to have to question one’s own education.

It feels to me that GCSEs are almost the apotheosis of this failure of imagination. It would be hard to think of a less relevant or less useful qualification, or one that has failed so comprehensively to adapt to changing needs. It is also a testament to, and defender of, two particularly obvious untruths: firstly, that cramming knowledge, often presented entirely inauthentically and abstracted from real life, into one’s head and then repeating this data in an examination, is a meaningful preparation for the workplace and citizenship; and, secondly, that individuals own knowledge – to believe, falsely, that teachers can decant information into individual children and that because a child can then repeat this data, that they ‘own’ this knowledge or can make good use of it. 

The reality is that GCSEs are no more than a transaction. All that students will learn is a) how to take a test in order to access the next test, at 18; and b) how to be most efficient at gaming this system. The latter might be a useful skill in the real world, but let’s not kid ourselves that these examinations are worth more than that. They started life as a hybrid between two systems with different purposes – Grammar school GCEs, and Secondary Modern CSE’s – and their bureaucratic birth is forgotten, so long ago that most of us would struggle to find any rationale for them now. 

GCSEs are there because we lack the courage to admit we’ve lost our way, and that a system that maybe served a good purpose thirty years ago, is no longer useful. They are there because we still cannot find the will to change our A level system into something more modern, flexible, creative and relevant, and so we need the ‘backstop’ of GCSEs to fill-in the missing data of students’ experience at 18+. Maybe they are also still there because of a lingering chauvinism: that a solid ‘English’ education is better than something found elsewhere in the world. Certainly, we are encouraged in this erroneous view by the popularity of British universities, and the numbers of non-British families who send their children to English public schools. But this is to draw wrong conclusions from disconnected data.

It might also be true that our lack of courage in making change sits much deeper, beyond the rational. After all, if it were just about intellectual debate, surely we would have joined the dots by now.  Maybe, to make effective change we also need some emotional courage, too; to understand our unspoken biases and unfiltered constructions. For many of us, our sublimated understandings about, and emotional ties to, English school systems are very deeply embedded. 

Let’s take an obvious example; Hogwarts. It is one reason why Harry Potter works so well, because it functions as an instantly recognisable character, modelled on the kind of boarding school that upper-middle class parents aspire to. It has quintessentially English values that connect all the characters together, and the reader is drawn into this; we are not-so-subtly invited to indulge in incoherent imaginings of some idealised, romantic, traditional schooling, where it was so much better in the past. This is a fantasy, of course, but it is alive and well in our imaginations and is not a rational place. 

The past is tricky, and we tend to remove the blemishes and anxieties and mistakes we have made. School is sanitised in the same way, and as adults we quietly forget its inefficiencies and inequalities, and send our children back for more of the same, except that maybe we hope our experience will help us to game the system and get our children ahead.  We have to confront this communal, collective, amnesia and try to do better for our children. Abandoning GCSEs, and looking toward a broader, authentic, baccalaureate experience, founded on conceptual learning and prioritising skills’ development, would be a big step in the right direction.

 

EU Code Week: Hillingdon Pupils Crack The Code

 

Pupils from a Hillingdon primary school have been showcasing their coding skills during EU Code Week – a global event which celebrates computer programming. 

 

Launched in 2013, Code Week aims to shine a light on the importance of coding while helping young people build skills for the future. The annual event is growing in popularity and last year over 4 million people in 80 different countries took part. 

 

Children at St Swithun Wells School in Ruislip celebrated Code Week by designing their own computer games and apps using Discovery Education Coding, the award-winning coding service for primary schools created by global edtech leader Discovery Education.

 

Putting their tech skills to the test, they created imaginative games including Burst The Bubbles, using block coding to make bubbles float across the screen and go POP! Older pupils also mastered a game called Hungry Snake, using special commands to move a snake across a desert in search of hidden eggs.

 

Tiffany Bolton, Computing Co-ordinator at St Swithun Wells School said:

 

“Our pupils have really enjoyed taking part in Code Week. It’s so important that we teach children to code, because coding is the future! Today’s students are already tech savvy, but coding gives them a new dimension. It helps them to understand how apps and games work. It’s like telling them a magic secret! Lots of my students say, “I want to code when I grow up”, and Discovery Education Coding has inspired this. They’re excited by coding and talk about it constantly, which can only be a good thing. It’s opened doors to new possibilities and given them a sense of “I can do this!”

 

Pupils taking part in Code Week were excited to share their thoughts on computer programming.

 

Blake 10 said:

“ I love coding because it is interesting and fun. I also like that there are no limits to what you can code and design and you can use your imagination.”

 

Henry 10 said:

 

“Coding lets me be creative and program different things to make them do what I want them to do.”

 

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

 

“Coding teaches children important skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving and creativity and it opens doors to future careers . Discovery Education is committed to preparing today’s learners for tomorrow and we’re delighted to provide high-quality and engaging digital resources to help pupils at St Swithun Wells celebrate Code Week.”

 

Used by thousands of pupils, Discovery Education Coding is one of the UK’s leading primary computing resources. Supporting teachers to meet the National Computing Curriculum, it helps pupils to gain a thorough understanding of coding concepts and to  develop computational thinking skills. 

 

To celebrate EU Code Week, Discovery Education Coding is offering schools free sample lessons during the Autumn term at: www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/resources/primary/coding/coding-sample-lessons/

 

Code Week takes place between the 8th and 23rd October 2022. Find out more at codeweek.eu

 

 

Parent Zone hosts sixth Digital Families conference

 

Parent Zone is pleased to announce that its annual Digital Families conference will return for 2022 at the Royal Society of Arts on Tuesday 18 October 9.00am to 4.00pm. The free conference is the only annual event to examine the challenges and opportunities of raising and educating children in a digital world. Digital Families 2022 marks a rare opportunity to hear from speakers across the worlds of technology, education, parenting and online safety. The conference also gives space to network with like-minded professionals across the digital landscape. 

 

Vicki Shotbolt, founder and CEO of Parent Zone, said, “We are delighted, after three Covid-affected years, to be hosting the sixth annual event. The timing for Digital Families couldn’t be better. While the long-awaited Online Safety Bill is stalled under a new Prime Minister, the digital landscape becomes more complex. From crypto collapses and marketing in the metaverse to Web 3.0, we need to find new ways to help children and parents respond to the changing online world. That means asking the right questions. Digital Families 2022 provides a space to do just that.”

 

Among the exciting speakers is Faith Rogow, Ph.D., media literacy education leader in the U.S. and the founding president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. Clinical Psychologist and researcher Dr Elly Hanson will also be sharing her insights into pornography and its impacts on young people. Additionally, Dr David Zendle, one of the world’s leading experts on the social impacts  of video game monetisation, will give a talk on children’s gaming and the growing threat of financial exploitation of children online. Further events not to be missed include Callum Hood from the Center for Countering Digital Hate talking about incels; Sam Sharps from the Tony Blair Institute discussing digital opportunity; and Lord Jim Knight in conversation with Vicki Shotbolt.

 

In-person spaces are fully-booked, but it’s still possible to register to participate online and/or join the waiting list for in-person attendance. Please see here for further details: parentzone.org.uk/digitalfamilies

Only 1 in 10 teachers have a good understanding of Dyslexia, new report highlights how Dyslexia has been swept under the carpet for decades

  • New report launched today from Made By Dyslexia, ‘The School Report’ highlights that across the globe only 1 in 10 teachers has a good understanding of dyslexic strengths.  despite them being the most sought-after skills by today’s employers.
  • Life Magazine in 1944 highlighted that dyslexia was responsible for 70% of school failures. Fast forward to 2009 and this number had barely changed at 55% and even today over 80% say their schools don’t understand dyslexic challenges.
  • 1 in 5 people are dyslexic – that is 1.55 billion people.  Made By Dyslexia, is launching the ‘Learn Dyslexia’ campaign and asking every school across the world to allow their teachers to #takeadayfordyslexiaand skill up using their FREE online training in partnership with Microsoft.
  • The New York City Department of Education’s partnership with Made By Dyslexia has resulted in every public school teacher in New York City learning how to spot and support dyslexia and Dyslexic Thinking in the classroom.

 

’The School Report’, launched today by global charity, Made By Dyslexia, highlights the importance of training all teachers in the Dyslexia, revealing that over half of schools globally fail to understand dyslexic challenges and 80% of dyslexics are leaving schools undiagnosed.

 

​​The report with new research conducted with the global dyslexia community has found that only 1 in 10 say that teachers have a good understanding of dyslexic strengths, with 80% of students left to muddle through with support that is average, poor or non-existent. 85% of people describe the process of identifying dyslexia as difficult or not possible, reporting that only 4% of schools screen for Dyslexia, indicating that there is much more that could and should be done to support and help teachers and dyslexics in the classrooms.

 

Sadly, dyslexia and the lack of support for students and society has been known about since the 40s – but there has been little to no progression in making the classroom environment more inclusive for Dyslexic learners. This has impacted prison numbers, employment rates and society, for example up to 40% of prison inmates in New York are dyslexic, and over half are in the UK.

 

1 in 5 people are dyslexic – that is 1.55 billion people; following the success in New York City, where all 100.000 New York City public school teachers been trained, Made By Dyslexia, is launching the ‘Learn Dyslexia’ campaign. They are calling for every school globally to allow their teachers to take a day for dyslexia Take A Day For Dyslexia and up skill using the FREE online training offered in partnership with Microsoft.

 

Kate Griggs, CEO & Founder of Made By Dyslexia, “We’ve known how to support dyslexia for decades, and we’ve known that without support these children enter a spiral of failure, but nothing has been done. There, however, is a very simple solution to this big problem; we need to train all teachers to spot, support and empower dyslexic students who are in every classroom, around the world. And we need to do it at speed… just like New York City. We’re now encouraging the rest of the world to take a day to Learn Dyslexia”

 

To make this possible, Made By Dyslexia is continuing its partnership with Microsoft to provide free online training featuring experts from world leading dyslexia schools, to make expertise freely available to all teachers, to level the playing field and create school systems where every child with dyslexic can thrive. There are three free training courses, Dyslexia Awareness, Dyslexia Teaching and new Dyslexia and Technology with more coming in 2023.

 

Paige Johnson, VP Educational Marketing at Microsoft, adds, “Understanding and knowing how to spot, support and champion dyslexic thinkers at all ages is vital. By offering accessible, free and informative training focusing on dyslexia in partnership with Made By Dyslexia, we hope to start to see a more inclusive world that embraces those who think differently. We are excited to launch the new training module focused on Dyslexia & Technology, to help people understand the free tools available to support and develop the skills of dyslexic thinkers”.

 

Josh Clark, Head of Landmark School & Chair of International Dyslexia Association, adds, “This training enables every teacher to create an inclusive classroom where dyslexic learners can thrive. It is essential training for EVERY teacher and educator, because whether you’ve recognised them of not, dyslexic learners are 20% of EVERY classroom and have exactly the thinking skills the world of work needs.”

 

WORLD DYSLEXIC ASSEMBLY 2023 – New York City

From Andy Warhol to John Lennon, Nelson Rockefeller to Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese, Dyslexic Thinking has pulsed through New York, pushing the boundaries of art, music, film, fashion, and media. Shaping its past, present, and reinventing its future.

 

Made By Dyslexia is excited to confirm that the next World Dyslexia Assembly will be held on April 3rd at New York’s David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center (both David Geffen and Lincoln are dyslexic thinkers). The Assembly will be a celebration of Dyslexic Thinking with speakers including spies, space scientists, sports stars and special guests.  

 

Kate Griggs, Made By Dyslexia comments, “New York is where creative legacies are made. It’s where big ideas come together and synthesise into something unstoppable. So where better to stage our next World Dyslexia Assembly – our unparalleled social movement and event series, which is building the ultimate alliance of game-changers across the globe.”