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What is next for UK Edtech in the pandemic era?

25 January 2020: Even before the global pandemic, the UK was considered as Europe’s EdTech hub. As the new demands of home learning have accelerated the industry’s product offerings and processes, the full breadth and scope of the UK’s Edtech portfolio have made us pause to celebrate their quality and success. It has also made us think what further support is needed to make sure that those that need the services of EdTech most (parents/carers/teachers) are able to find and access them.
 
In a recent report published by London & Partners, London-based EdTech companies raised a total of $124 million in VC during 2019, positioning it as the largest EdTech ecosystem in Europe. At Downing Ventures, we are proud to work with some of the very best EdTech companies in the world that have had to modify and hasten their business offering to provide much-needed solutions to the challenges that Covid-19 has created for education.
 
Closing the attainment gap
 
One thing that each of our EdTech portfolio can agree on is that Covid-19 and lockdown has caused the attainment gap to widen and resulted in a massive need to help students catch up. Government funding has increased to reflect this.
 
Third Space Learning (TSL) has recruited a global tutor community to provide high quality, affordable online tuition to children in schools across the UK, helping to close the attainment gap.
 
Founder and CEO, Tom Hooper comments:
 
“The government launched a £1 billion catch up fund this year, within which TSL was chosen as one of 33 school tutoring businesses to participate in the National Tutoring Programme. We have been able to put in place tuition for tens of thousands of disadvantaged pupils very quickly given our global tutor model. In addition, we have launched a product in the US in partnership with a large US EdTech company. We integrated our tutor operations with their student community, allowing us to launch quickly and with low risk. This global partnership reflects the strengths of our platform model.”
 
A company supporting three of the tuition providers from the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is EdPlace, who offer industry-leading and curriculum-aligned English, maths and science home learning for years 1 – 9 with all resources written by experienced teachers.
 
As the business has always focused on home learning, they had a great product fit for lockdown. However, prior to Covid-19, they were a premium only product. They recognised the need to quickly open up the platform for free whilst not undermining their business model and so, during the first lockdown, Edplace made their resources on the website accessible without an account.
 
Breaking down barriers to entry were key. As pupils prepared to go back to school in September 2020, they launched free ‘catch-up’ assessments to identify learning gaps following school closures. It was also recently named as number 3 on a list of 100 things that the Mumsnet community swore by in 2020.
 
Empiribox, a science education specialist provider, created an already twice-award-winning product service, Empiribox @ Home, helping to create those ‘wow’ moments for primary school pupils at home, in a safe and engaging way. It provides access to a complete library of curriculum-aligned and engaging interactive science lessons that include interactive videos, supporting resources and adaptable hands-on activities, even if schools aren’t open.
 
For teachers, this means they can assign any lesson to pupils to complete, using readily available materials found around the home. For parents and carers, it means they have access to their very own dedicated science teacher at home.
 
Empiribox’s CEO, Richard McGrath comments:
 
“If Covid has shown us anything, it is just how important science is to the world’s wellbeing. Sadly, the UK has a massive skills shortage in terms of science graduates and this issue needs to be addressed well before pupils arrive in a secondary school setting. At Empiribox, we are committed to the advancement of practical science in primary schools and through our new Empiribox @ Home service, we can now support delivery of this goal using online digital video lessons that can be used in school and at home.”
 
The New Parent TA
 
Helping parents be as fully engaged in their children’s education while also playing the role of teaching assistant is a solution that Firefly had found before the pandemic. The Firefly platform is a school learning tool that gives teachers more time to teach, enables students to learn in ways that work best for them and involves parents with their child’s learning every step of the way. The platform keeps parents up to date with their child’s progress and enables teachers to provide parents with the resources they need to support learning outside the classroom, which all have been vital during lockdown.
 
The Firefly team had a head start in their preparation for the first UK lockdown, as schools that used their platform in Hong Kong needed it to be modified as they began remote learning during the protests in 2019. Firefly identified the best quick-to-adopt practice and the result was an onboarding process that took days rather than weeks.
 
“Building institutional muscle memory is crucial for the future of pedagogy. We need to give parents and teachers the tools to know what to do so they have them at hand for whenever they need them. Self-isolation and teaching bubbles will continue to exist for the foreseeable future so it is our mission to make sure all parents that engage with our community are using it to be set up for success,” says Firefly’s CEO and founder, Simon Hay.
 
Importance of agility
 
Being agile in these unpredictable times is key to enabling the most successful and efficient service. Kinderly’s award-winning early years software provides digital reporting, child-development tracking tools, training and resources to enable early years childcare professionals to be at their best so they can give the children in their care the best start in life, regardless of their background or economic circumstances. 
 
With the early years community heavily impacted, Kinderly wanted to find a way to support early years professionals (EYPs), help them stay in touch with the children they normally care for and support the parents with the huge and daunting task of home learning. Thanks to their rapid agility, Kinderly has transformed and grown their business by almost 300% during the pandemic and launched in new markets.
 
Kinderly’s digital platforms created a unique opportunity to access their free support package and resources that include a Covid-19 resource bank, much-loved and celebrated weekly expert webinars that reaches up to 10,000 EYP’s, continuing professional development with Kinderly Learn, a Facebook community group, weekly activity bulletins (with a list of age-appropriate activities) and yoga for children.
 
While Kinderly haven’t received support from the UK government, its founder and CEO, Geraint Barton suggests that the ever-growing EdTech community could be a source of new employment opportunities for those who have been made or face unemployment during the pandemic:
 
“We would love government support to employ more staff, whether that is for internships or people looking to retrain or make a move from other sectors. We have met so many people who have lost their job, because of Covid, who need new opportunities in different industries that are calling out for employment.”
 
Opportunities for the industry to continue thriving
 
When schools received government relief funding in 2020, they were told by the Department for Education that it had to go towards either Microsoft or Google software. A more efficient procurement process that celebrates indigenous, independent innovation is encouraged by the UK’s EdTech community.
 
Firefly’s Simon Hay comments:
 
“We would like to see more open communication channels between the government and our sector that is made up of small, homegrown EdTech companies who are driving innovation in this country while also giving real time solutions. Pushing for schools to use international exports is actively harmful to British business and the EdTech sector should continue to be a source of national pride and appropriately supported.”
 
Will Paterson, CEO at EdPlace adds:
 
“Lockdown has highlighted the disconnect between the EdTech industry and the DfE, with for example, initially recommending loosely screened resources, followed by a drive to create their own, despite strong, proven alternatives already existing in the market. In order to deliver educational support where it’s needed most, the DfE should invest in understanding what the industry has to offer, support its development through targeted funding and build a better procurement process. This will ensure all students get the targeted support they need and gives the EdTech industry the backing it needs to compete and win on the global stage.”
 
Looking to the future
 
With the outlook for education looking uncertain, preparing for the year ahead and beyond as best as possible is crucial.
 
“The National Tutor Programme is planned for at least four years. With the massive social impact from the two lockdowns, a huge impact on poorer children’s learning, it will take years to catch up, if we even can. We need significant and consistent government support for innovation to drive our businesses to be able to support as many people as we can,” concludes Tom Hooper of TSL.
 
While the growth and innovation of the UK EdTech sector has been supported by government initiatives that encourage investments in the industry, a call to consult the industry experts is hugely encouraged by our EdTech portfolio. As the education sector continues to navigate the best processes during the ongoing pandemic, the EdTech community offers lifeline solutions in addition to employment opportunities.
 
Across the pond in the USA, the growth of education SPACs* make a sharp increase in global mergers and acquisitions in the EdTech space likely, as well as opening up opportunities for UK businesses.
 
By 2025, the EdTech market is set to reach a total value of $341 billion and with the ongoing innovation borne out of the UK, the future looks bright for the UK to still carry the torch as global leaders in this market.
 

https://thirdspacelearning.com/
https://www.edplace.com/
https://www.empiribox.com/
https://fireflylearning.com/
https://kinderly.co.uk/
 

*What is a SPAC? Read more info here.

Maths and English lessons get the Joe Wicks treatment as free active lesson plans are given to teachers

25th January 2021: Every primary teacher in the country will have the chance to put a little more ‘Joe’ into their home school lessons with the release today of free active lesson plans from Teach Active.  

 

Designed to be taught via Zoom, Google Classroom or Teams these lesson plans provide teachers with ideas they can use to teach children maths or English while keeping them active and are a perfect anecdote to screen fatigue. 

 

Jon Smedley, a former teacher and founder of Teach Active, said: “Children are going from a Zoom lesson straight to watching YouTube or a stint on their PlayStation before logging on to their next lesson.  

 

“They are simply not getting enough physical activity, and this has an impact on their ability to learn. By adding activity into lessons, we can reverse that trend and give children more opportunities to have fun so they take more of their lessons onboard.” 

 

During the first lockdown only 1 in 5 children participated in the recommended daily hour of sport and activity. The free lesson plans aim to get children moving more by encouraging them to learn to add and subtract whole numbers while bouncing a tennis ball or learning to measure by running around the house or flat to find out the size of items of furniture.   

 

The plans are available for pupils from foundation stage through to year 6. They have been carefully selected so that they can be delivered to children studying at home or used with keyworker and vulnerable children attending school.  

 

The free remote learning lesson plans are available for all teachers and can be downloaded from https://www.teachactive.org/remote-learning-resources/ 

COVID Eliminator: World’s first antimicrobial spray that eradicates COVID-19 on surfaces for more than six weeks launches in UK

A biotech cleaning company has released a domestic version of its antimicrobial treatment, which provides continuous protection against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pathogens on surfaces for up to six weeks after one spray application. Independently verified by the Global Virus Network, laboratory testing showed pre-coated surfaces achieved a 99.9% kill rate against the COVID-19 virus within 10 minutes of contact, even after six weeks! Traditional disinfectants would need to be continually applied to a surface every five minutes to achieve the same level of protection of just one application of Zonitise Surface Antimicrobial, making it a world first. The company has also launched an alcohol-free hand sanitiser which actively protects against coronavirus for up to eight hours.

A biotech company has brought to market a new antimicrobial protectant spray which can kill and protect against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) for up to six weeks, and an alcohol-free hand sanitiser which actively protects for up to eight hours.

The products, marketed and distributed by Zonitise, are being launched to the public after laboratory tests revealed just one spray kept surfaces still able to eliminate 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 more than six weeks later.

Laboratory Tests of the Zonitise Surface antimicrobial spray have been independently verified by the Global Virus Network, a coalition of the world’s preeminent human and animal virologists from 53 Centers of Excellence and ten Affiliates in 32 countries. The results mean it’s the first product in the world to offer this proven level of protection against SARS-CoV-2. Traditional products would need to be continually applied to a surface every five minutes to achieve the same level of protection of just one application of Zonitise Surface.

Members of the public and businesses can now buy Zonitise Surface antimicrobial spray here: zonitise.com/product/zonitise-surface/ 

Zonitise Surface Antimicrobial Spray differs from competitor products by offering continuous protection from multiple harmful pathogens, mould and fungi for up to 60 days after just one application. Other products may kill pathogens, but are only effective for a moment in time, and once a surface has dried there are no residual properties to stop those surfaces harbouring and transmitting harmful disease again. Surfaces sprayed with Zonitise antimicrobial have been laboratory tested to reveal the coating kills 99.9% of SARS COV 2 and many other harmful pathogens such as E-coli and MRSA, for more than six weeks after initial application.

The coating is non-toxic, non-mutagenic and non-leaching, and is suitable for all surfaces, whether in the home or in a public space, including carpets and furniture. The long lasting nature of the spray makes it ideal for busy areas with high footfalls, but particularly shops, schools, and nurseries, where multiple children can interact with each other at any time, coming into contact with the same surfaces and touchpoints.

Zonitise Surface antimicrobial spray is available to the public online from £10.79 for 250ml, £17.99 for 500ml or £119.99 for a 5L supply.

Alongside its groundbreaking antimicrobial protectant spray, Zonitise’s hand sanitiser is also certified to kill 99.99% of Coronavirus tested to EN14476 standards, and has proven efficacy of up to 8 hours on hands, whereas traditional sanitisers are only effective for a matter of minutes. It’s alcohol-free and keeps hands moisturised rather than drying them out as alcohol-based sanitisers can do.

Zonitise Skin antimicrobial hand sanitiser is available from £4.40 for 50ml, £9.25 for 250ml or £96.25 for a 5L supply.

Zonitise is a biotech and microbial control company, specializing in antimicrobial protection against bacteria, viruses, mould, mildew, and odours. Zonitise’s mission is to reduce cross contamination risk on surfaces and touch points to keep people healthy. Zonitise antimicrobial coatings are used across the UK and have been professionally applied in many locations since the pandemic started last year. Zonitise protected surfaces can be found in many places including London City Airport, Gatwick Airport, schools, hotels, NHS health centres and even public transport. The coating has a proven efficacy to inactivate SARS COV 2 virus that comes into contact with any treated surface or touchpoint.

Edward Tennent, a director at Zonitise, said,

“The launch of these products, particularly Zonitise Surface Antimicrobial, means we’re able to give every industry, household, school, and workplace in the country more protection against COVID-19 than ever before. The recent rise in cases and hospitalisations in the UK and the closing of schools while we wait for the vaccine roll out shows just how important a product like this is to help make the environments we spend time in safer.

“We’ve worked hard to bring products to market that go above and beyond just eradicating COVID-19 at point of use, by offering independently proven residual protection from harmful pathogens long after you have applied them.  We’ve seen the success of our professionally applied surface treatments in the last year in many different environments, so it’s excellent that we can now make that same proven treatment widely available to help keep people safe in their homes and environments too.”

Record number of kids turn to the BBC for education and entertainment

– Record-breaking 40.8m requests for Children’s shows on BBC iPlayer
– 5.8m unique visitors to BBC Bitesize website for home schooling help
– 971k requests for Bitesize Daily on BBC iPlayer
– 800k visitors for CBeebies apps

Last week (11-17 January), children’s programming on BBC iPlayer was requested a record breaking 40.8m times as children turn to the BBC for education and entertainment during lockdown. The figures are the highest BBC Children’s has ever achieved on iPlayer, beating last year’s record of 40.2m requests.

 

The BBC’s education offer, Lockdown Learning, which rolled out across more platforms last week, attracted 5.8m users to the Bitesize website, an increase of 12% from the first week of Bitesize Daily on 20 April 2020.

 

On BBC iPlayer, Bitesize Daily was requested 971k times with lessons for 5-7 year olds proving the most popular, accounting for 439k requests.

 

Lockdown Learning on BBC Two and CBBC also saw a big increase in audience numbers, with CBBC’s average audience for the slot increasing by 355% across the week. The overnight average audience for BBC Two was 290k, a 5% increase vs the slot average over the previous 52 weeks.

 

CBeebies programming performed particularly strongly on BBC iPlayer, breaking its own record for number of BBC iPlayer requests in a single week. In total there were 32.3m requests for CBeebies programming.

 

The four CBeebies apps had more than 800,000 unique visitors last week, proving Playtime Island, Go Explore, Get Creative and Storytime continue to attract pre-schoolers in their droves.

 

Patricia Hidalgo, Director of BBC Children’s and Education, says: “As with the last lockdown, BBC Children’s and Education continues to provide vital support, entertainment and educational resources for parents and children across the UK. We are thrilled that millions of households are making use of these services for home-schooling help and some much needed entertainment.”

BettFest 2021: Engaging all learners, anytime and anywhere

Words by Barbara Holzapfel

The past year has been a time of unprecedented change, complexity and ambiguity, and educators, students and parents had to embrace new ways of teaching and learning. But through it all, it’s been inspiring to see the incredible work the education community has done to keep students engaged.  

Schools and systems had to respond to the crisis quickly, transition to the new school year, and are  reimagining education for the future – all with a focus  on student-centered learning, critical skills, social learning, safety & security, and scalability, to bring pedagogy and technology together.  

Today more than ever, powerful devices, collaborative environments, analytical tools, and immersive experiences are critical, and we’re excited to announce new devices and features for collaboration and social-emotional learning.

New for the next school year: keeping students engaged with affordable, connected, secure Windows 10 Devices and new Classroom Pen 2   

One of the key lessons of the past year has been that learning can happen anywhere. Affordable, easy-to-use devices are key to empowering all students . 

In a recent survey, 61% of teachers selected “Better devices and internet access” as a primary way to improve remote learning for students. @MicrosoftEdu

 

 

 

 

 

 

At BettFest, we’re unveiling an expanded portfolio of new Windows 10 devices for the upcoming school year, many with LTE connectivity. These are our most affordable LTE connected devices yet, with the ability to power engaging, collaborative learning experiences anytime and anywhere.  

The new LTE capable devices are:

  • Acer TravelMate Spin B3, starting at $329
  • AcerTravelMate B3, starting at $239
  • Asus ExpertBook BR1100, starting at $279
  • JP-IK Leap Connect T304, starting at $229
  • JK-IP Leap T304, starting at $185

To stay connected and engaged in remote and hybrid learning environments, students need a device with all day battery life, an HD camera, and a high-quality mic, as well as the speed, power, and storage to keep up with their inquisitive minds. One of the most unique models in our portfolio is the new Dell Latitude 3120 2-in-1, which puts the power of learning in students’ hands with the latest Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.

To learn more about all of our Windows 10 devices, take a look at our Windows Device Finder.

Students have become used to keyboards and touchscreens, but for tasks like working out a math problem, jotting notes, or drawing a diagram, a pen can be the best tool f. In fact, research shows that student performance improved as much as 36 percent when using a pen interface, compared to only using a keyboard.

We’re excited to announce an updated Microsoft Classroom Pen: the Microsoft Classroom Pen 2 has a longer enclosure and the same great experiences you are used to, at the more affordable price of $19.99 US MSRP. Now, more students can have the option to type, touch, or write – whichever works best for them, and for their specific learning situation.

Prioritizing student well-being and inclusive learning environments

Today, more than 200 million students, faculty, institutional leaders, and teachers are actively using Microsoft Education products—with Teams for Education as the hub—to engage students in remote and hybrid learning.

Recently, we completed a survey with YouGov that asked more than 1,500 students and 1,500 teachers in the US, the UK, and India to share their perspective about remote and hybrid learning. Teachers said that the most important information they need to support students during remote learning is to understand what motivates them, what complexities they face in their lives, and their emotional state.

With Reflect, an app that is available directly in Microsoft Teams, educators can deepen the critical student/teacher relationship and help develop social emotional skills by checking in with individual students and inviting them to share how they are feeling in general, or about specific topics, such as learning from home, an assignment, current events, or a change within their community. Starting this Spring, Reflect will have it’s own app in Teams, and will integrate with Education Insights.  

Last year proved that everything can change without warning. In education, the importance of personal connection was highlighted, the integration of technology was accelerated, and the role of teachers was amplified.

It’s encouraging to see the dedication to moving learning forward, to a future where all students have the opportunity, the support, and the tools to be creative, confident and optimistic learners, realizing their full potential.

As always, we love hearing from you and value your feedback. To join the conversation, follow us on Twitter at @MicrosoftEDU. And, register for Bettfest, a free, three-day virtual event packed full of inspiring keynotes, professional development, and solution discovery with education leaders and industry experts.

Thank you for being on this journey with us!

 

 

 

Action must be taken to reduce airborne risk of COVID-19

Schools and colleges are being urged to take new measures to improve air quality in the fight against COVID-19.

Air-care experts at facilities services provider phs Group warn that as awareness grows about how COVID-19 spreads through the air, action needs to be taken to enable schools and colleges to reopen safely.

Working with Cambridge University Fluid Mechanics Professor Paul Linden, phs reports that evidence is exponentially growing about the risk of COVID-19 transmission through aerosols which are not contained by masks and linger in the air for up to hours at a time. And, worryingly, this risk is not being effectively addressed by the current ‘Hands, Face and Space’ infection control measures.

In the new phs Index report on air quality, Prof Linden explained: “The longer you spend in an indoor environment, the greater the risk. If, for instance, you have one child infected with COVID-19 entering a classroom, the risk to the 30 other children in the class increases throughout the school day as more infected aerosols enter the environment and are spread around the room. These infected aerosols are entirely invisible to the human eye meaning you could be breathing them in without even realising it. Unfortunately, this all means that by only focusing on the ‘Hands, Face and Space’ message, we risk of leaving a gap in our defences – despite best efforts. Improving indoor air quality must be at the forefront if we truly want to create COVID-19-safe environments.”

In response to growing concerns about indoor air quality, phs has seen a significant rise in demand for its range of air purifiers which clean the air by physically removing impurities such as viruses, germs, allergens, dust, mould and VOCs. phs’ AERAMAX air purifiers remove 99.7% of airborne pollutants from the air, emitting cleaner and fresher air back into the indoor environment and can change the air within a room up to five times per hour.

While it’s too soon for research to guarantee air purifiers eliminate COVID-19, the evidence so far is promising; AERAMAX air purifiers are proven to be effective on viruses from flu and colds to the norovirus and also capture particles of TB, measles, mumps, whooping cough and chicken pox. Meanwhile, genetic similarities have been found by researchers between COVID-19 and the SARS virus, which AERAMAX is able to capture.

phs air-care expert Astley Shields said: “The airborne risk of contamination urgently needs addressing to enable people to spend time in indoor settings more safely. Keeping schools and colleges closed is not sustainable; but neither is bringing together a classroom of students and teachers in a confined space in the midst of a pandemic. Comprehensive infection control is absolutely critical to the safe reopening of the education sector. Used in partnership with hygiene measures including regular hand washing, sanitisation, cleaning and social distancing, air cleaning creates a robust line of defence as we all battle against the risks of COVID-19 and work towards the safe reopening of the education sector.”

For more information, visit phs’ coronavirus support pages. You can also visit the phs website and follow @phsGroup on Twitter and phs Group on LinkedIn 

PASTA KING DEVELOPS INDIVIDUAL PORTION PRODUCT FOR SCHOOL MEAL BOXES

 

Recognising the need to provide diverse, nutritious options for school meal boxes, school catering stalwart Pasta King has developed single and two-portion pouches of pasta sauces in 300g and 500g portion sizes, suitable for home use. The sauces are nutritionally balanced and are vegetarian and can be used with pasta or rice or to make soups or pizza toppings. 

 

Commenting on the development, Pasta King CEO Mark Stone said, “We have been working for some time on a smaller portion option to suit those who want to use our freshly-prepared, chilled sauces to provide a nutritious solution when trying to feed children at home during lockdown and holidays.”

 

With more than 25 years’ experience of supplying top quality, award-winning school meals, Pasta King is a trusted supplier to schools and contract caterers. For further information and details of how to order, please email howard.porteous@pastaking.co.uk or tel 07792 645515.

Celebrating National Handwriting Day

Let’s be honest, this year we need things to celebrate, and nothing can be better for your mental health than putting pen to paper or stylus to tablet and getting those thoughts down. So, we must teach children the skill of handwriting. 

We spoke to Andrew Clark, Apple Teacher and Deputy Head at Chorley St James C.E. Primary School, who gave us his seven simple steps for achieving handwriting mastery in the classroom.

 

 

Seven simple steps to achieve handwriting mastery

  • Start at the very beginning it’s a perfect place to start

Can the pupil hold a pencil correctly? Do they have control of the pencil? Start by assessing them to see if they can write necessary lowercase letters.  Making it fun for pupils is the key to keeping then engages.

 

  • Letter formation

Ensure that letters are being formed in the right way.  Bad habits picked up now can carry on into secondary school, so it’s essential to get this right.  EdTech can help you track letter formation for every child and see who needs extra support.

  • Short sentences

Look at short sentences about the world around you, for example, in the classroom this could be ‘I sat on the mat’ if working at home this could be ‘My cat is good’.  Get the pupil to come up with some of their own short sentences and try those.

  • Moving to cursive

As the pupil masters individual letters, it’s then time to move onto cursive.  With cursive writing, repetition is key.  Firstly, trace each letter one by one.  Then start with short words to get the formation right, such as bat, cat, may, boy, girl etc.  With cursive, it’s all about practising to get the flow right.

  • Write your own story

Nothing gives me more joy than writing their own stories and at this stage, pupils should be able to start writing their own short stories, which is, after all, where all the great authors such as David Walliams and JK Rowling started their writing journey.

  • Look to technology

One tricky thing with handwriting is monitoring letter formation and writing progress when you have a class of 30 pupils.  Technology has been a lifeline through COVID, as our pupils and we took to home learning like ducks to water.  But now as we head back to the classroom, edTech can help teachers gain something that will be desperately needed, more time.  We use technology to helps us with handwriting, and we’ve seen some fantastic progress, the children are more engaged, and we’ve seen a massive improvement in handwriting.

  • Other useful places for resources

There are so many useful places to look for resources, here’s a few I use. 

  • @Twinkl
  • @NHA_News
  • @UKEdChat
  • @Teachhandwriting

So this National Handwriting Day (23rd January), why not help your class celebrate the joy of handwriting by treating your class to some free handwriting lessons on a tablet – they’ll love it, and you’ll see a positive impact on engagement and attainment.

Andrew Clark is a Deputy Head and Apple Teacher from Chorley St James C.E. Primary School who use Kaligo App to help their children master handwriting in the classroom.  You can sign up for your free eight-week trial here. www.kaligo-apps.com

 

Amazon offering free resources to help families with home learning

What is Amazon offering?

Maths

  • Amazon Maths4All now offers hundreds of free maths games, apps and challenges on Alexa, worksheets for Kindle and Fire Tablets, and caters for a range of ages across primary and secondary school, learning styles and abilities.
  • Students can tune into a maths lesson from Rachel Riley, Countdown presenter and the nation’s favourite mathematician, who joined our Very Important Breakfast Clubs to play the numbers game and show that maths is ‘easy as Pi’.
  • You can even involve Alexa in learning from home. Get started by saying, “Alexa, ask the Maths Coach to start a test”, or “Alexa, ask the Maths Coach for a hard addition test”.
  • Amazon has injected some fun into times tables lessons with free games available to download on Amazon Fire Tablets. Older students can try out Timestables Rockstars while younger learners can play ‘Meet the Numberblocks!’.

 

Science

  • The Hour of Code Dance Party is the perfect feel-good Friday finish after a long week of remote learning. This interactive dance-themed online coding tutorial gives students the opportunity to build their computer science skills while have some fun coding characters to dance to songs from leading artists.
  • Dr Ranj Singh, the NHS doctor and BAFTA award-winning TV presenter, is providing a short brain-busting lesson in biology. Children in years 1 -7 can learn about the growing brain and how to keep your brain healthy.
  • Amazon Future Engineer is our comprehensive childhood-to-career programme designed to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science. Earlier this year, Amazon Future Engineer launched free virtual coding programmes to help young people build computer science skills while learning at home.
  • Those aged 11-16 can enter the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize, which challenges students to develop technological innovations to help solve some of the world’s biggest issues (entries close 12th February 2021)

English

  • Young people and parents can listen to stories at Stories.Audible.com, with specially curated categories such as ‘Littlest Listeners’ and ‘Elementary’ offering free audio books. Get whisked away to Alice In Wonderland (read by Scarlett Johansson), Jane Eyre (read by Thandie Newton), Anne of Green Gables (Read by Rachel McAdams) and Frankenstein (read by Dan Stevens).

Physical Education

More information can be here: https://blog.aboutamazon.co.uk/in-the-community/home-schooling-resources-for-parents-carers-and-children-during-lockdown

 

93% of education professionals believe they should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine

And over a third say they should be in the same category as over 80s and keyworkers

 

More than 93% of headteachers, teachers and education support staff believe they should be listed in the priority list for a Covid-19 vaccine, with 42% claiming they should be categorised with the over 80s and key workers.

 

Currently, teachers and support staff are not listed on the vaccine priority list, despite them still working in schools for vulnerable children, children of critical workers and learners undertaking essential exams and assessments.

 

New Directions Education, Wales’ largest education recruitment company and one of the leading providers of supply teachers and long-term staff across the UK, surveyed over 1,300* headteachers, teachers, teaching assistants, support, and administrative school staff about their feelings on the vaccine and how education staff should be prioritised. 

 

Of those surveyed, 89% said they would take the vaccine, if offered, and nearly two thirds (58.8%) believe they should be prioritised in the first two tiers of vaccinations.

 

According to the New Directions Education survey, front line teaching staff also appear to have borne the brunt of the infections in school, with 11% of teachers asked saying they had tested positive for Coronavirus compared with 8% for all education staff.

 

Gary Williams, Director of New Directions Education, said: “We have been supporting schools and colleges in Wales, the Midlands and the North West of England during the pandemic and have seen first-hand the difficult conditions and stress that working under the cloud of Covid-19 has had on education staff.

 

“With the wonderful news that three vaccines had been approved for use in the UK, we were disappointed to see that teachers and support staff were not included specifically on the priority list, and so wanted to ask the education professionals themselves what they thought.”

 

“Unsurprisingly, and resoundingly, most felt that education staff should be pushed up the priority list to allow all children back to access classroom-based education.” Gary added.

 

“Working in a school, in any capacity, during a global pandemic is not an easy thing to do. Staff face the prospect of infection every day but have carried on with their important work regardless. Parents who are now home-schooling will no doubt appreciate the work of teachers and education staff even more.”

 

A petition of more than 46,000 signatures prompted a debate with MPs in Parliament this week, and UK Government’s vaccine rollout minister Nadhim Zahawi said that teachers would be prioritised along with other front line workers once the first phase of vaccinations had been carried out.** 

Likewise in Wales, over 16,000 people have signed a petition to prioritise teachers, schools and childcare staff for the vaccine.

Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams has said that teachers will not be pushed up the priority list, as other more vulnerable people would suffer, however evidence will be submitted to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) as they make further decisions on the further rollout of the programme. ***

For more information about New Directions Education visit www.ndteach.co.uk