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Elastik launches to help schools tackle critical learning gaps across the UK

 

  • Elastik will launch with over 100 UK schools and Multi Academy Trusts to address learning gaps created by the pandemic and inequalities in learning
  • Insight from Elastik could be used to directly support teachers in the UK’s 55 educational ‘cold spots’ and the National Tutoring Programme as part of Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda
  • Schools working with Elastik can complete a comprehensive analysis of student learning gaps in under two weeks

 

London, 9 March, 2022: Elastik, the pioneering analytics and assessment platform for schools, is launching in the UK to help schools and teachers urgently address gaps in learning that have been created or exacerbated by the pandemic.  Designed by teachers, for teachers, Elastik maps student performance data against the national curriculum, so that teachers can quickly and easily pinpoint individual and class-wide learning needs.  Elastik initially launched to help schools identify learning gaps in Western Australia in late 2020 and will now start working with over 100 schools and Multi Academy Trusts including the Astrea Academy Trust which has schools in South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire.

 

Between March 2020 and April 2021, students across the UK missed on average over half a year of normal, in-person schooling. Ofsted reports significant delays in educational development as a result of remote learning, with Year 1 and Year 2 pupils falling behind in topics such as phonics knowledge, number and symbol recognition, and number bonds. The Department for Education has identified 55 ‘cold spots’ where education outcome is the weakest to target intensive investment. Bridging the learning gap in areas like these will be one of the key focuses of the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ policy. Teachers know that subjects missed, particularly at early stages, can fundamentally undermine teaching in later years where those topics need to be built upon.  However, identifying precise gaps can be difficult and extremely time consuming to address accurately. With more than a quarter of teachers in England working more than 59 hours per week, record stress levels are being recorded.  

Elastik is a custom-built, software platform for schools, which uses the school’s historic data or data from new assessments to provide accurate student learning insights as well as automating time-consuming administration for teachers.  Its proprietary analytics technology can identify student learning gaps from assessment data in under two weeks and map this to curriculum requirements at a granular level.  From these insights, Elastik can develop detailed individual and class lesson plans for teachers to use as appropriate, delivering focus on areas that need addressing and saving essential time for teachers.

 

Jeremy Waters, Founder of Elastik, says: “As a former teacher, I understand all too well the simultaneous pressures and privileges of teaching. My priority when establishing Elastik was to give teachers easy access to the insights across their pupil cohorts, take away as much admin as possible and in turn support them to pursue their passion for teaching.  Inequalities in learning are unfortunately not new, but as many in the sector will agree, gaps that were already there have been exacerbated by the pandemic and we are now at a crisis point across the vast majority of schools in the UK as teacher and pupil absences persist. To effectively address the government stated ‘expected standards’ in reading, writing and maths and to support children of all abilities to achieve their best, we must first establish where the specific learning gaps are so that teachers know where to focus their attention.”

 

Hywel Jones, from Astrea Academy Trust said:  “Our mission is to deliver the best possible education to every child. While the pandemic has caused significant challenges for education, we are pleased to be participating in a pilot with Elastik, to help the children who have struggled with remote learning or had reduced levels of concentration and ensure they are supported. Having the insight as to what our children have either missed or not understood properly at any stage of their schooling plays a fundamental part in our ability as teachers to lay the right educational foundations for them.”

 

Paul Kinsella, Headteacher of St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Liverpool said:“What I rate about Elastik is its ability to inform and empower our teaching. It pinpoints problem areas quickly and offers a real range of support, which teachers can use as they need to. The platform itself is extremely visual and easy to use, which means it has been rolled out quickly for staff to use without onerous IT or training requirements.”

 

 

 

 

How to look after children’s mental health as they go back to school

Following disruption caused by the pandemic, school children are more anxious than ever

 

Children returning to school after the summer holidays, or starting new schools, are likely to feel more anxious than ever following disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

 

They may feel nervous about how their daily school lives will now run or be starting new schools without experiencing the usual introductory tours or knowing fellow pupils.

 

Indeed, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say that without proper plans and support in place, the effects of the pandemic will limit the chances of children and young people for years to come.[i]

 

A shocking recent report by iSpace Wellbeing’s Children’s Advisory Board, a working group of 8-13 year olds from both independent and state schools, found 1 in 20 children considered suicide and the same number self-harmed in the past year. The survey of 1,000 children revealed nearly half (44%) have been feeling anxious over the past year and more than a quarter (28%) have felt increasingly lonely throughout the pandemic. One in ten (11%) said they have been bullied and more than one in five children (22%) have felt that their parents were too busy for them.

 

Paula Talman, iSpace Wellbeing founder, says: Going back to school or starting a new school can create a wide range of feelings and responses for children.

“I make sure I ask my daughter what will help her transition from holiday mode to school mode calmly a couple of weeks before to make sure we are ready.

“Returning to school can be challenging in different ways but remember a child’s role is to explore, push boundaries and express emotions. Our role is to validate their emotions, be empathic and set boundaries so that they feel safe and secure.”

 

Jo Charlton Educational Psychologist believes being on the lookout for behavioural changes is key:

For many children, although going back to school and reconnecting with friends is enjoyable – there is a lot of readjusting back to the routine, organisational and curriculum demands and long days away from parents and home.

“Children often cope for the first few days or week but then we frequently see some tiredness and associated behaviour emerge as they adjust.

“It can be really helpful to try to recognise this and be empathetic to your child as they adjust. Giving your child some help organising themselves, some focused, dedicated enjoyable time after school, favourite meals and make sure they get plenty of sleep for the first few weeks can really support this transition.”

 

Paula’s tips whether your child is starting school, moving to a new school, or returning after the holidays:

  • Encourage your children to start going to bed on time a week before school starts. This helps their body clock get back into school mode and to sleep better. A good sleep routine will also help avoid rushing in the morning and skipping breakfast. 
  • Label everything for younger children – you don’t want them to worry about losing things. 
  • Make sure that your child meets up with some friends who will be in their class/school before the start of term, to ease any apprehension and so they have someone to look out for on day one. 
  • It’s not just the children that can find this time stressful – asking your child about their thoughts or worries about going back to school or starting school can help you too. 
  • If you know what your child is thinking about you can help to prepare and support them.  Addressing things in advance can help ensure a positive start to the term.
  • Start a conversation with your child about how they are feeling about going back to school? Ask if there is anything you can do to help? Our iSpace Wellbeing resources can help you with this. The story book Have you ever had a Stressor (available at ispacewellbeing.com) is ideal for small ones starting school and encourages children to identify small niggles and bigger worries and advises how to deal with them.

 

For more information or to request interviews contact iSpaceWellbeing@Four.Health.

 

[i] https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-06/open_letter_re_schools_reopening_2020-06-17.pdf

 

 

 

More than a third of schools have been targeted by criminals during the pandemic

Schools across the UK have been targeted by criminals during the Covid-19 pandemic, as more than a third (35%) have experienced crime, according to new research from specialist insurer Ecclesiastical.

 

The survey of 500 teachers found schools had suffered anti-social behaviour (16%), trespassing (13%), graffiti (11%), criminal damage (8%) and cyber-crime (7%) since the start of the pandemic. 

 

A fifth of teachers (22%) felt their school was more vulnerable to crime during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing fewer staff on site during the national lockdowns and entrances being left open more frequently to increase air ventilation when schools were closed.

 

Nearly half (47%) of the schools surveyed had introduced new measures to protect the school and deter criminals since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than a quarter (28%) of schools introduced CCTV, one in five (19%) fitted alarms, and 15% built more security fencing.

 

Independent schools surveyed reported much higher levels of crime in comparison to other types of schools. Three in five (58%) experienced some form of crime over the last 12 months.

 

The survey revealed more than a quarter (26%) of independent schools suffered anti-social behaviour since the pandemic. Graffiti (17%) and trespassing (15%) on school property were also cited as the top crimes experienced by independent schools.

 

Despite that three quarters (75%) of independent schools have introduced new security measures since the start of the pandemic, over a third of independent school teachers (37%) believe their school is more vulnerable to crime since Covid-19.

 

Faith Kitchen, Education Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Schools have been far more vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and other forms of crime over the last year. School properties were often left largely unoccupied or even empty when schools were closed to the majority of pupils, tempting opportunists. For schools, crime experienced within school property can be a stressful event for teachers, as it is they who are left to deal with the implications of teaching without laptops or equipment, while leadership has to tackle the expenses incurred.

 

“There are a number of measures schools can take to better secure school property and assets, which would ideally be a combination of both physical and electronic protection. Fencing around the perimeter can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera.”