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SafeToNet and the Anti Bullying Alliance stand united against bullying

SafeToNet are proud to announce their support for Anti-Bullying Week 2020, which will take place from Monday 16 – Friday 20 November. This year’s themeis United Against Bullying, which urges the nation to come together and play their part inpreventing and responding appropriately to bullying both face to face and online.  

New statistics from the Anti-Bullying Alliance show that a third of children in the UK have been bullied in the last six months, with one in five children on the receiving end of bullying behaviour once per week or more. Heartbreakingly, the number of children reporting they have more than one close friend dropped following the outbreak, going from 91% in 2019 to 86.5% in October 2020. 

As a leading safeguarding company, SafeToNet understand the long-term impact and consequences bullying can have on children and young people and are passionate aboutplaying their part in the fight against these threats. Their mission is simple; to safeguard as many children as possible against online risks such as bullying and to educate them and their parents on becoming safe, responsible digital citizens. By joining forces andchannelling their collective ambitions, efforts, and platforms, SafeToNet and the Anti Bullying Alliance are working to beat bullying together. They believe that everyone – from parents and carers, to teachers and politicians, to children and young people – all have a part to play in coming together to make a real difference.  

The app, which is downloaded onto both the parent and child’s devices, uses an AI-driven smart keyboard to detect and filter risks and harmful content in real time, before any harm is caused. The pioneering technology has been designed specifically to pick up on a user’s psychological wellbeing, recognising signs of doubt, low self-esteem and dark thoughts, and offering support and guidance in the moment. The privacy of the children is paramount; what they are looking at, who they are talking to and what they are typing is never seen or read by the parents or by SafeToNet. 

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, children have spent more time than ever online this year,doing everything from socialising to schoolwork online with less adult supervision than normal, creating an even greater opportunity for online bullying. In this sense, there is an even greater need for SafeToNet as a real time safeguarding solution to ensure that children have the necessary tools to navigate the digital world safely and feel comfortable havinginformed, constructive conversations with parents or guardians about online behaviour.  

Anti-Bullying Week 2020 includes a number of events and activities in order to raise awareness and highlight the issues surrounding bullying; Odd Socks Day on Monday 16 November asks workplaces and schools to encourage everyone to turn up wearing odd socks to embrace their individuality and celebrate difference, whilst the School Staff Award  

allows pupils to nominate their favourite anti-bullying member of school staff for a prize, to celebrate the adults who are standing up to bullying and making a difference. There will also be a range of online activities with resources and ideas on how parents and schools can get involved and play their part,  

Co-founder of SafeToNet Sharon Pursey says ‘We are honoured to be supporting Anti-Bullying Week again and stand united against bullying; we are all a piece of the puzzle and have our responsibility to ensure children’s safety and wellbeing. As a safeguarding tech company, our vision is to create a world where all children are automatically safe online and are protected from digital threats such as bullying, so by supporting this initiative we hope to raise some awareness and start the conversation about digital safety and wellbeing in schools and households across the UK.”  

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance says ‘It’s clear that bullying remains a significant problem for many children across the country, and we know that these experiences can have a lasting impact well into adulthood. But this year we have witnessed the power that people can have when they unite to tackle a common challenge. If we are serious about reducing bullying, we have to harness that energy and work together. Itsespecially important that the digital world is a safe place for children and young people to enjoy, and we are delighted to team up with SafeToNet again this year, who have been at the forefront in developing software to support families. But whether it is online, in the community or in school, we all have a part to play and its time we came together, friends and family, classmates and colleagues, and unite against bullying.’ 

Standing desks: School children choose to stand in class when given the opportunity, new study finds

  • Providing a standing desk to every primary school child in a UK classroom can reduce sitting time
  • Children who had access to a standing desk reduced their sitting by around 20% over eight months
  • Behaviour-related mental health scores deteriorated after desk exposure, according to teachers’ questionnaires

Providing a standing desk to every primary school child in a UK classroom can reduce sitting time throughout most of the academic year, according to a new study.

Researchers at Loughborough University installed standing desks at a school in Bradford for eight-months to measure the impact they had on children’s sitting habits and classroom behaviour.

The children, aged nine-to-10, were in control of whether they sat or stood, and were asked to wear monitors for two weeks before the new desks were in place, and again at four months and eight months after the desks had been installed.

The monitors measured sitting time as well as moving from sitting to standing.

After eight months, the children had reduced their sitting time by an average of 60 min (20%) compared to before the new desks were installed.

A similar class in a nearby school was used as a control and did not receive any standing desks. These children’s class time sitting did not change during the study

Compared to the control class, the children who had access to sit-to-stand desks reduced their sitting by approximately 25% at four months and 20% at eight months.

Researcher Aron Sherry, of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS), said: “The findings suggest providing sit–stand desks to every child within a UK primary school classroom can reduce class time sitting throughout most of an academic year.

“Furthermore, positive changes were observed in standing and sit-to-stand transitions during class time at both follow-ups.

“This study was located within a deprived setting with a high proportion of ethnic minorities, making the findings more important in relation to reducing health inequalities.

“The sit–stand desks did not impact negatively on musculoskeletal discomfort, or cognitive function, and were generally well tolerated by pupils and staff.”

The study also looked at changes in behaviour-related mental health, using a questionnaire, completed by the teacher for each student.

It found that behaviour-related mental health scores deteriorated after four months of desk exposure, and then further again after eight months.

Aron said: “This decline does contrast with an interview with the teacher during the study, who suggested that classroom behaviour had improved because the children stayed at the same desk amongst the same students throughout the school day.

“Behaviour related-mental health scores remained stable in a control class throughout the study in a nearby school.”

Researchers also explored child and teacher attitudes, experiences, and behaviours towards the desks.

They found that the standing desks also had implications for teaching methods; teachers were unable to walk around the class when offering help.

Instead, children were asked to come to the front of the class if they needed assistance

“We concluded that the lack of classroom space, due to the stools and chairs blocking walkways, may have contributed to this observed decline in behaviour scores and challenges to teaching practicalities,” said Aron.

“Future standing desk models that enable the stool to be tucked under the desk may prevent such issues occurring.”

He added: “Larger trials, implemented within similar high-priority settings, and using more in-depth qualitative and quantitative measures are needed to better establish whether standing desks using a full desk allocation system are feasible, or effective in UK primary schools.

“This will however depend on the balance between the desired level of standing desk provision – full versus partial allocation – class size, and available budgets.”

The results have been published in the paper, Impacts of a Standing Desk Intervention within an English Primary School Classroom: A Pilot Controlled Trial.

Ultimate Cloud-Based Hybrid Learning Platform Launched to Support Schools

Impero unites new classroom management tool with safeguarding solutions, all in one platform

School safeguarding leader Impero today launches a cloud-based hybrid learning platform for schools, the Impero back:drop family, built on state-of-the-art technology. This platform brings together Impero class:room and Impero well:being, providing the tools teachers, pastoral staff and leaders need to create safe and productive digital lessons.

The Secretary of State for Education recently placed temporary continuity direction powers on schools to provide immediate access to remote education for pupils if they are absent because of Covid-19. In addition, the Department for Education recently updated its Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance with additional instructions on safeguarding in schools, furthering the need for solutions that combine hybrid learning and safeguarding.

Impero class:room puts teachers in control with powerful, easy-to-use classroom management features so they can confidently deliver online instruction and improve engagement, across every device. It’s the first of its type to fully embed into  Microsoft Teams, beyond chat monitoring. Features include the ability to view learner’s devices, control access to the internet, lock screens to individual pages, send messages securely and block certain websites.

Impero well:being provides a seamless link between on and offline safeguarding, enabling school staff to identify at-risk students and build a full picture for early intervention. Using Impero’s keyword detection software, it captures potentially at-risk online behaviour in real-time. Teachers can analyse the screenshot from the learner’s screen, log the incident and assign it to other relevant staff members.

Justin Reilly, CEO Impero says: “At Impero, we believe that every school’s first responsibility is to keep their learners safe wherever they are, which is why we developed Impero back:drop as a free to use cloud-based service. Once students are safe, schools must educate them. With the newly added Impero class:room and Impero well:being services, teachers can create the ultimate hybrid learning environment. The robust classroom management features help teachers keep children engaged in lessons by creating a slick virtual learning environment. Meanwhile, the safeguarding features help teachers keep a closer eye on their students. It’s the perfect tool for the current moment and the inevitable blended learning environments of the future.”

The cloud-based platform builds on Impero’s freemium safeguarding product, Impero back:drop, which provides the core features needed to record and manage safeguarding concerns. When paired with Impero class:room and Impero well:being, the functionality is enhanced to deliver classroom management and a holistic chronology of student’s wellbeing.

The Impero back:drop family works on all of the major operating systems, Windows, Chrome, Mac, iOS and Android.

Friendships help, say children – as one in three report being bullied since Covid outbreak

  • Bullying is still a serious problem for children in spite of pandemic, with a third saying they have been bullied in the last six months. Regional data is available on request.
  • Covid may have changed the way bullying is happening this year, with children reporting rising incidences online and in their community compared to a pre-pandemic poll.
  • Friendships protect children from the lasting effects of bullying, yet the number of children reporting they have more than one close friend dropped following the outbreak.
  • Anti-Bullying Week, coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, is celebrated from 16 to 20 Nov with the theme ‘United Against Bullying’.
  • Odd Socks Day takes place on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week, with CBeebies and CBBC star Andy Day and his band Andy and the Odd Socks launching the charity single ‘The Kids Are United’.

Bullying is still a significant problem in children’s lives, with a third (33.5%) of children in England saying they’ve been victims during the last six months. A poll of 2,000 11 to 16-year-olds, published to mark Anti-Bullying Week, found that one in five children said they were on the receiving end of bullying behaviour once per week or more.

However, the poll, commissioned by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, suggests that Covid-19 has affected how bullying takes place, with rising numbers of children reporting incidents online or in their communities compared to a similar survey last year, and fewer children saying they had been bullied in school.

Of those who reported being bullied recently, 38% said it had taken place online, a rise from 29% in a pre-Covid survey conducted in 2019. There was a similar rise in reports of bullying in the community: with 16% of children who experienced bullying saying it had happened in their community, compared to 9% last year.

At the same time, the lengthy closure of schools for most children seems likely to account for a drop in bullying in school settings, with 74% of young people who reported being bullied in 2020 saying it took place in school, a fall from 83% in 2019.

The majority of children (65%) stressed that having lots of good friends helped protect them from being bullied. However, the number of children reporting they had more than one good friend fell by 4 percentage points, from 91% before coronavirus to 86.5% in October 2020.

Many children (38%) were anxious about returning to school in September because they feared suffering bullying behaviour. Of those who had been bullied recently, alongside the three-quarters who said it took place within school, 26% said the journey to and from school was a flashpoint.

On a positive note, an overwhelming majority (80%) said that if we work together, we can unite to reduce bullying. This message will be highlighted in the three quarters of schools in England expected to celebrate Anti-Bullying Week this year – reaching over 7 million children and drawing on teaching resources made possible with support from SafeToNet.

Odd Socks Day for Anti-Bullying Week takes place on the Monday 16th Nov, when CBeebies and CBBC star Andy Day and his band Andy and the Odd Socks will be launching their new charity single ‘The Kids Are United’.

The song’s video, made by hundreds of pupils in their ‘bubbles’ in schools across the country, encourages young and old alike to wear odd socks to school or work and celebrate what makes us all unique.  The video features 11-year-old dance sensation, Princess K, sharing fresh dance moves in support of Anti-Bullying Week, as well as Libera boys choir, a hugely popular and internationally renowned choir from South London. Andy and the band will be sharing their song and discussing bullying in an online assembly to schools across the country on the morning of Odd Socks Day, which also features messages of support from Mo Farah, McFly and Anne-Marie.

Quotes from young people taking part in the poll:

  • “I enjoyed being at home so no one could bully me.”
  •  “Some children might not have been able to see their friends for a lot of months while the coronavirus lockdown was going on.”
  • “The more isolated kids risk to be bullied more now.”
  • “Think lots of friendships have been lost”
  • “People cough and they say ‘you have the rona’”
  • “Seen my Chinese friend being bullied because of the virus”

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said:
“It’s clear that bullying remains a significant problem for many children across the country, and we know that these experiences can have a lasting impact well into adulthood. But this year we have witnessed the power that people can have when they unite to tackle a common challenge. If we are serious about reducing bullying, we have to harness that energy and work together. Be it online, in the community or in school, we all have a part to play and its time we came together, friends and family, classmates and colleagues, and unite against bullying.”

Andy Day, CBeebies and CBBC star and lead singer of Andy and the Odd Socks, said:

“Because of the pandemic, kids have missed out on so many of the things that they love. Each and every child will have a story to tell about the different ways it has affected them. Now they are back at school, we are all responsible for equipping children with the simple message that we are all different, and that’s a good thing! To bring the message home, we’ve recorded a brilliant new charity song and video especially for Anti-Bullying Week called ‘The Kids Are United’. We spoke to school children all over the country to help write the rap and we hope it inspires everyone to get involved or at the very least to get up and dance!”

Find out more about Anti-Bullying Week at www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week and get involved on social media via @ABAonline #AntiBullyingWeek #UnitedAgainstBullying #OddSocksDay

LEAF Education leads the way in educating students about careers in farming and food production

In the last academic year, more than 9,000 students learnt about the many exciting career opportunities available to them in the food and farming sector, reveals national education organisation, LEAF Education, in its latest impact report – Our Work in Action 2019-2020.

The report also highlights the wider impact LEAF Education has had on reconnecting young people with food production, farming and the environment, especially given the challenges and disruptions caused by the global pandemic.

Carl Edwards, Director of Education and Public Engagement at LEAF Education, explains: “The education of millions of children was severely disrupted by the health crisis between April and July this year. But, despite the lockdown, the LEAF Education team were able to deliver an imaginative and immersive online programme of activity which ensured that thousands of young people of all ages could continue to learn and be inspired by the journey of their food – from farm to fork. A key part of this activity was to raise their awareness of the many exciting career paths and opportunities in the agricultural industry. As the consumers and decision makers of the future, helping them understand the important role farming plays in their everyday lives, has never been more important.”

Highlights from the report:

  • LEAF Education successfully engaged with and educated 9,238 students about a career in agriculture.
  • LEAF Education worked with 10,586 children and spent a total of 24,589 hours working with them.
  • LEAF Education developed a comprehensive range of online resources on Countryside Classroom, specifically for use in the home-setting in response to the first national lockdown.
  • Countryside Classroom saw a 77% increase in users to the website in 2020 and received over 158,000 unique users (over the past academic year 2019/20).
  • Over 134,000 Countryside Classroom resources were accessed this year.
  • 100% of teachers reported that LEAF Education had increased their confidence in delivering more food and farming work in the classroom.
  • LEAF Education worked with 1,357 teachers for 16,309 hours including 106 trainee teachers.
  • LEAF Education supported farmers to deliver high-quality educational activities working with 3,531 farmers in 2019/20. 100% of farmers said the training offered was ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, 49 farmers received CEVAS (Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme) training.

LEAF Education works across the education, farming and food sectors to inspire and engage teachers and young people about food production, farming and the environment. It manages a number of leading industry and educational initiatives, including Farmer Time (live, on-farm virtual education sessions), CEVAS for outdoor learning providers, Countryside Classroom (online information portal), Chef on the Farm and LEAF Open Farm School Days. LEAF Education alsoprovides teachers with curriculum and exam specification – focused training, tools and resources to help them deliver high-quality learning experiences about food production, farming and the environment.

In 2021, LEAF Education will once again be on the search for the Innovation School of the Year in Food, Farming and Environment. As part of a partnership with Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, the national competition enables students to be immersed in practical farm activities such as milking cows, handling sheep, using drone technology, seeing agro-forestry in action and tractor driving.

You can see the full LEAF Education Our Work in Action Report here: https://issuu.com/linking-environment-and-farming/docs/leaf_20education_20work_20in_20action_202019-20?fr=sZWZhMDIwOTQwMDA

Attainment drops across all primary school years in England, with seven-year-olds most impacted

Pupils eligible for pupil premium disproportionately affected by Covid-19 school closures, as attainment gap increases

New data ontest resultsin maths, reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling show that attainment has dropped across all subjects and year groups in 2020. The data on over 250,000 primary school pupils across England is based on widely used tests by RS Assessment from Hodder Education, with insights provided by education data analytics company SchoolDash. The tests show the most significant decreases in maths papers, while Year 3 and 2 pupils faced the steepest drop-off of any cohort.

The data shows an average standardised score decline of 8 points in maths, 6.3 in reading and 7.2 in grammar, punctuation and spelling across all pupils compared to 2019 data, with greater reductions seen for pupil premium eligible pupils. This is a stark contrast to the average annual gains of 0.5 points since the current curriculum began in 2016. The tests were scheduled to take place during the summer term; however, pupils sat them four months later, at the beginning of this autumn term, due to the school closures.

Students eligible for the pupil premium face steepest attainment drop

The attainment gap between pupils eligible for pupil premium and those who are not has widened significantly. Across all three standardised subject papers offered by RS Assessment and all six year-groups, those eligible for pupil premium experienced a steeper decline in standardised scores than other pupils. There are also considerable differences by school type. Those with higher levels of deprivation, situated in urban areas or located in the north or midlands, tended to show more significant declines.

Among Year 2 pupils – who are between six and seven years old – those eligible for pupil premium dropped by an additional 2.4 points compared with their peers in maths, and an additional 2.3 points in reading. Pupil premium eligible pupils in Year 6 were most affected in grammar, punctuation and spelling, dropping an additional 1.4 points beyond their classmates.

The least difference between pupils eligible for pupil premium and others were seen in Year 3 maths, a difference of 0.8 points; Year 5 reading at 0.5 points; and Year 4 grammar, punctuation and spelling, where pupil premium eligible pupils were just 0.6 points behind their peers.

Biggest attainment drops across all pupils

Beyond the significant overall drops in subjects, notable differences were also seen between topics within subjects. For example, attainment in fractions was affected more than number, while punctuation fared worse than spelling.

In maths, fractions and geometry topics were the most affected, with attainment dropping by 14 percent across all year groups. Meanwhile, operations and statistics dropped by 12 percent, measures by 9 percent, and number by 8 percent.

In the grammar, punctuation and spelling tests, punctuation was hardest hit with an average 14 percent drop in attainment. Grammar followed closely behind, dropping 13 percent, followed by vocabulary at 11 percent and spelling at 10 percent.

For the reading tests, comprehension dropped by 10 percent across all years, while inference decreased by 9 percent and Language, Structure and Presentation (LSP) by 10 percent. The Year 1s taking the Reception paper also showed concerning drops in attainment. Comprehension scores decreased an average of 15 percent, phonics attainment dropped by 16 percent and Reading for Meaning (RFM) lost 14 percent.

Katie Blainey, Publishing Director at RS Assessment, says: “This year, more than ever, it is important we use every resource we have to quickly understand what impact school closures may have had on attainment across the country. By providing this detailed analysis of primary test results from the first six weeks of the autumn term, we hope to provide evidence to help focus support to help those children most affected by the closures. There have clearly been significant impacts on learning, but not all children have been affected equally, so we hope this analysis will help to work towards a fairer start in life for all pupils, regardless of background. That’s a fundamental and guiding principle of the work we do at RS Assessment from Hodder Education, and of each primary school in the country.”

Download the full report here.

NEW STUDY REVEALS SHORTAGE IN MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS SKILLS WITHIN EDUCATION SECTOR

  • Mental health awareness is one of the most sought-after skills in the education and early years sector due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to new skills and employment trends report
  • Mental Health awareness was listed within 15,000 education and early learning job postings since the start of COVID-19 lockdown
  • Online learning provider, The Skills Network, is now calling for schools to add mental health learning onto the curriculum following rise in skills-gap

A skills and employment trends report* published today (11 November) by The Skills Network, in partnership with Emsi, has highlighted a mental health awareness skills gap in the education and early learning sector, due to COVID-19 pandemic.

With 71% of early years staff furloughed between March and August 2020, and 11% made redundant, online learning provider, The Skills Network, has issued a report to highlight the top 10 skills*** in demand across the sector.

By analysing 1.5 million job adverts between March and September 2020, The Skills Network report published, in partnership with Emsi, has highlighted welfare, autism, child protection, mental health and auditing, amongst the top 10 most in demand skills in the education and early years sector.

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive from The Skills Network, is now calling for schools across the country to add mental health learning onto the curriculum to help close this growing skills gap. He said: “Being able to identify and address mental health is a growing requirement for staff in the education and early learning sector. With half of mental health problems beginning by age 14, it is clear why understanding mental health is currently the seventh most demanded skill for early years and educational roles.

“Both teachers and support staff play a significant role in tackling mental health issues within the classroom, and mental health training can equip today’s candidates with the right tools to help children experiencing personal problems.

“With many employers across all industries now looking for employees to have mental health awareness, we’d urge schools and learning providers to look to improve the current curriculum, and to ensure that education around mental health is being offered.”

To assist those looking to discover the most in-demand skills in their local area, The Skills Network has also developed an online app, which will provide a personalised list of the top 15 sought-after skills and roles available in your postcode area.

Mark Dawe continues: “At The Skills Network, we offer distance learning, as a way of learning remotely without attending lessons in a classroom or having regular face to face contact with a Tutor. We’d urge any employers looking to upskill their current team to consider online training.”

Andy Durman, Managing Director of EMSI UK, added: “The huge disruption to the economy this year has revealed a number of new labour market challenges, such as the widening skills gap and increased automation. We need to better understand exactly what skills employers are demanding, and how this is changing over the period of economic upheaval and beyond.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with The Skills Network to bring some of our data and insight to these issues, helping to shine a light on changing employer demand for occupations, job roles and skills in various critical sectors throughout the country.”

To access the full skills and employment trends report, or to review the online courses available – please visit www.theskillsnetwork.com.

Young inventors challenged to change the world for the better with Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize

  • 64% of secondary teachers concerned that students have fallen behind in STEM with more than half (51%) worried that their year 7 students will not make up the lost ground of 2020 before they leave secondary school.
  • The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize, delivered by Nesta Challenges, pairs science, technology, engineering and maths curriculum with entrepreneurial life skills to encourage young people from all backgrounds to compete and turn great ideas into reality, from healthcare to sustainable transport.
  • The winning team will win £20,000 for its school or youth group, with three runner-up teams awarded £5,000 each for their school or youth groups.
  • Last year’s winners, a team of teenagers from Greenford High School in London, developed, designed and coded a smartwatch app to help people with dementia live more independently.

Embargoed until 00.01, Wednesday 11 November 2020 (London) – Nearly two-thirds (64%) of secondary school teachers in the UK are concerned that their students have fallen behind in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) as a result of Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns and teaching restrictions. Research conducted on behalf of the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize found that more than half of secondary teachers (51%) are worried that their Year 7 students will not be able to make up the lost ground caused by this year’s disruption to their education by the time they leave secondary school.[1]

Two-thirds (66%) of secondary teachers say that Covid-19 restrictions are hampering their students’ ability to learn more practical subjects, like science and technology. A similar proportion (67%) say that practical lessons are more rewarding for their students over theory lessons, yet 57% have had to rely on theory and not practical lessons in science teaching so far this school year due to restrictions. More than half of teachers (54%) now believe the gap in understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths is beginning to grow.

The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize (longitudeexplorer.challenges.org), delivered by Nesta Challenges, calls on young bright minds to put their passion for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to the test, to create and develop technological innovations to help solve some of the biggest issues of our time. Young people aged 11-16 are encouraged to apply their creativity and ingenuity in four key areas: supporting people living independently in old age, helping people lead healthier lives, tackling climate change and pollution, and helping people stay better connected.

Now in its fourth year, and supported by Amazon for the first time, the Longitude Explorer Prize pairs classroom STEM learning with valuable entrepreneurial skills to help young innovators make their great ideas a reality. The Prize helps teachers easily incorporate the programme into lesson plans by providing an array of free online resources aligned with the school STEM and citizenship curriculum – adapted to the Covid-19 classroom restrictions schools currently face, including bubble teaching and remote digital learning.

Teams are asked to create solutions based on one of four prize themes:

  • Living Longer – technological solutions to support an ageing population
  • Living Healthier – technological solutions that help people live happier and healthier lives
  • Living Greener – technological solutions that tackle pollution and climate change; and
  • Living Together – technological solutions that help people stay better connected in a way that is easy, safe and environmentally friendly as well as solutions to deliver more sustainable transport.

Applications open today and will close at 5pm on 12 February 2021. Entry is free and is open to teams of between two and five young people from schools and youth groups across the UK. The top 40 teams will be selected for the final round early next summer (2021), where Amazon will provide expert mentoring on topics ranging from data analytics, software engineering, robotics, and app development to create prototypes of their concepts to determine the winner in July 2021. The winners will be awarded £20,000 for their school or youth group, and three teams of runners up will be awarded £5,000 each for their school or youth group.

Maddy Kavanagh, Programme Manager, Nesta Challenges said:
“2020 has been one of the most difficult periods for teachers and young people alike. Schools are working hard to ensure students are not left at a disadvantage because of lockdown, and youth groups continue to provide vital extra-curricular services and support. Teachers are worried that the events of this year will have a lasting impact for the education of their students, with two-thirds concerned that science and technology education is falling behind, particularly because of the limits on practical lessons. Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize teaches young people entrepreneurial life skills and supports their development and confidence. Participants get to experience first-hand what it takes to create bright ideas and turn them into products and solutions that overcome great societal challenges. The prize supports teachers and youth leaders in bringing the STEM curriculum to life, particularly when classroom conditions are challenging, while giving young people ownership over their learning and personal development.”

Lauren Kisser, Director at Amazon’s Development Centre in Cambridge, said:

“There is a greater need for STEM skills than ever before as technology continues to transform careers, industries and every sector of our economy. We’ve teamed up with Nesta Challenges for the Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize to motivate the next generation to consider these types of careers and create a challenge for them to test their skills, ideas and ingenuity by addressing real-world challenges. The prize forms part of Amazon Future Engineer, our comprehensive childhood-to-career programme to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science and engineering. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative, exciting projects the teams develop and supporting the finalists with mentoring from colleagues at Amazon.” 

Supritha Rao, Computer Science Teacher, Greenford High School – supervising teacher of the 2020 winners – said:
“The prize is a real eye-opener for students. It takes them beyond text books, beyond the classroom, to get a taste for life outside school and in industry. It encourages them to push themselves and take responsibility for their learning. The team developed such resilience, overcoming the obstacles they faced developing their app, solving problems and of course contending with remote digital working through lockdown. Our industry mentor was an excellent coach who brought the very best out of the girls, guiding them to make decisions for themselves – something so valuable for teenagers to learn.”

The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize aims to reach students across the UK and address the lack of diversity in STEM industries by providing young people from all backgrounds with an introduction to the possibilities of entrepreneurship in STEM and becoming the disruptors of the future. According to a report from EngineeringUK earlier this year, only 12% of engineers in the UK are women and, according to the Intellectual Property Office, fewer than 13% of patents are made by women. More than half (55%) of entrants to the 2020 Longitude Explorer Prize were girls.

Last year’s prize saw more than 800 young people compete in teams from across the UK. Ideas ranged from robotic fish that remove plastic from the ocean, drones that enable Wi-Fi access in disaster zones, secure AI-enabled rovers that deliver medicines to people who are unable to leave their homes, and map apps to help wheelchair users navigate level routes. The winners, a team of five teenagers from Greenford High School in West London, developed, designed and coded a smartwatch app called ‘Tomadachi’, to support people with dementia to live more independently. The app included features to help people find their way home if lost, an activity reminder tool and an easy-to-use interactive mood tracker – all linked to a secure accompanying app on their carer’s device.

This year, supporting STEM learning is vital, with structured and inspiring experiences that can be delivered in the classroom and online. Following the 2020 prize, which concluded in July, 93% of the finalists said they would now like to pursue a career in STEM. 98% of 2020 finalists were inspired to pursue entrepreneurialism. 91% of young people taking part in the 2020 prize said they learned new remote working skills as a result. 100% of teachers and youth leaders who entered a team in 2020 said they would enter a team in the future.

The 2020 prize moved online with remote mentoring and workshops as the country entered lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Teachers and youth leaders continued to engage and excite the young teams with all of the resources and support they needed, including access to technology for digitally excluded students and offline resources for all participants. That same support will continue for the 2021 prize.

Similarly, with many schools closed due to Covid-19 earlier this year, Amazon launched a free virtual coding programme to help build computer science skills for students learning at home. The company also partnered with universities and educational resource developers to launch Maths4All, an online storefront providing free, curriculum-linked primary maths resources.

The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize is free to enter and take part in. Nesta Challenges provides resources, guidance and – for the 40 finalist teams – mentoring, hardware and tailored workshops all aligned to school curriculums. Teams must comprise 2-5 young people aged 11-16. Schools and youth groups are encouraged to enter multiple teams in the prize.

The deadline for entries is Friday 12 February, 5pm. To find out more and apply, visit http://longitudeexplorer.challenges.org


[1] Opinium surveyed a sample of 500 secondary school teachers in the United Kingdom across all regions, 22 – 28October 2020.

National competition underway to improve maths skills during Maths Week England

Prizes to be awarded to winners in each category

To celebrate Maths Week England, from 9th to the 14th November, students from across the country are taking part in a national maths competition, the M-Fluencer Maths Week Quest.

Open for schools with students from any year group, this competition will help boost student engagement, improve attainment and help maintain maths performance in schools during Covid-19 bubble closures, as well as winning prizes for their school.

Participants will be tasked with completing a series of online maths challenges, with each challenge adding to the school’s total score. Amazon vouchers will be awarded to the top 10 schools and digital certificates will be awarded to students who achieve over 150 points.

All learning activities included in the competition are aligned to the national curriculum, supporting a national commitment to raising standards.

The competition, run by maths resource provider Mangahigh, is open to all schools across England, both existing users and non-users. Once registered for the competition, schools can also access Mangahigh’s maths resource free of charge.

Mohit Midha, CEO and co-founder of Mangahigh, said:

“Each student from early years to upper secondary school age can take part free of charge. The maths activities on Mangahigh are designed in a fun ‘game’ format to really engage the students and encourage them to return for more, while developing their conceptual knowledge of key maths topics.”

For full prize details and to register for entry free of charge, teachers and schools should visit:

https://www.mangahigh.com/en-gb/competitions/maths-week-quest-england

Teach Active launches nationwide campaign to get pupils moving during Maths Week

Teach Active is inviting primary schools to deliver active maths lessons during Maths Week 2020 (9th to 14th November 2020), in a national drive to increase primary school pupils’ activity levels while they are learning. 

As part of the scheme, every primary school teacher can download five free maths lesson plans for their class, one for every day of Maths Week.

The lessons, which combine the learning of maths with movement, are designed to make maths fun and get children moving again after many months of reduced activity as a result of lockdown and other restrictions on activities.

The free resources include a lesson plan for a treasure hunt around the school to find clues, which are maths problems that need to be solved.

There is also a ‘Shark Attack’ lesson, where pupils can only save themselves from a shark attack in the playground by jumping on an island marked out by skipping ropes and displaying a prime number. If they mistakenly jump on an island with an incorrect number, they can only stay in the game if they can correctly explain why the number they stood on is not a prime number.

Ali Oliver MBE, chief executive of children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust which works in partnership with Teach Active, said: “Prioritising physical activity and wellbeing in our schools has never been more important as the nation again experiences localised lockdowns and partial school closures enforced by Coronavirus. We also know there is considerable evidence of the impact of daily physical activity on learning in the classroom and congratulate Teach Active on raising awareness of embedding movement across the curriculum through Maths Week.”  

Jon Smedley, a former teacher and founder of Teach Active said: “Teachers are facing a huge challenge at the moment. Their main priority is to address the learning gap created by school closures, but they are also aware of how important physical activity is to children’s mental wellbeing and their ability to concentrate and learn.

“Active lessons are a great way to target both issues. The lesson plans also make learning a lot more fun which means the knowledge gained sticks with the child.”

The Holy Family Catholic School in Addlestone, Surrey is a user of Teach Active and has found that active lessons change the psychology of learning. Children forget that it’s maths they are learning as they are simply enjoying the lesson. “I love the fact children are proactively channelling their natural competitiveness into maths challenges. They are often learning so many maths concepts without realising they’re doing maths. It’s fabulous to see so many smiling faces as we increase in achievement in the subject,” says Steve Tindall, the headteacher.

Teach Active has been developed by Jon Smedley, a former teacher with over 21 years’ experience in education.  The site offers almost 3500 maths and English active lesson plans and resources for teachers from foundation stage through to year 6 that are closely mapped to the national curriculum.

Teachers wanting to get involved in Maths Week can visit https://www.teachactive.org/maths-week/ and download the free lesson plans.  Resources are available for each year group from reception to year 6.

Participants can also share images or videos of their active maths lessons on Twitter with the handle @TeachActive using #TeachActiveMathsWeek with a chance to win a six month licence to the Teach Active site.