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Hands up class! Who’s got a question about mortgages?

Sjaene Higgins Mortgage Operations Manager at Wesleyan, the specialist financial services mutual for teachers.

 

When I speak with teachers across the country, it’s clear they’ve got a lot on their plates. They love their work and want the best for their pupils, but many feel overworked, underpaid and unappreciated.

 

Outside of work, there are struggles too. We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, prices are rising and wages aren’t keeping pace.

 

What’s more, interest rates continue to climb. For almost two years, they languished at record lows, bringing relief to mortgage holders and offering hope to those with ambitions to get on the housing ladder for the first time. But

 

This should be good news for savers, but so far banks have dragged their feet when it comes to passing the Bank rate on to consumers, though we’ve seen variable rate mortgages go up almost instantly. And we can confidently imagine rates will rise further before the end of the year, with the Bank of England signalling they will hit 5% during 2023.

 

For many people, their mortgage is their biggest monthly outgoing, so that’s understandably causing concern. So, at a time like this, what are the key questions teachers should be asking about their mortgages

 

What is happening with interest rates and what does it mean for the short and long-term?

 

At the moment, interest rates are on the up. Even the best economic brains can’t predict exactly what will happen next with complete certainty, especially over the longer term. But at the time of writing, the prevailing view seems to be that the Bank of England base rate – which high street banks use to calculate their own lending interest rates – will keep rising into 2023.

 

Markets currently expect the Bank to set interest rates at slightly less than 5% next year, before falling back a bit during 2024, possibly to around 3.5% to 4%. But this should be taken with a pinch of salt; opinions vary and, as we’ve all seen, events like a change of government can have unforeseen implications.

 

Should I fix my mortgage deal and how long for?

 

With a fixed rate mortgage, the amount of interest you pay is set for a certain period, which may be fixed for up to ten years. That means that, whatever the Bank of England does to base rates, the amount of interest you pay doesn’t change during that period.

 

The idea is that fixing a mortgage can protect you against rates going up. Of course, the opposite is also true; if the Bank of England rate goes down, you could be stuck in a situation where you are paying over the odds.

 

A fixed rate mortgage will generally have a higher interest rate than a tracker or variable rate mortgage, where interest rates rise and fall with the Bank of England base rate, though not always by the same amount. Lenders tend to set their variable rates a little higher than the bank of England base rate, and this can vary a lot, so it’s worth shopping around.

 

A difference of 1% might not sound a lot, but over the lifetime of a mortgage, it can add up to many thousands of pounds.

 

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, looking to re-mortgage or investigating switching your mortgage to another lender, it’s a good idea to run through the numbers over the lifetime of the mortgage. Often this can be done with advice from experts who can help make sure you’re getting the best deal for your circumstances.

 

How do I get ready to remortgage?

 

There are a few reasons why you might want to remortgage. Maybe you want to try and get a lower interest rate. Or maybe you’ve already paid for your property and now want to borrow some cash, using your home as security. Perhaps your circumstances have changed and you can now afford to make overpayments, but your current deal doesn’t allow it.

 

Either way, lenders want to be confident you can pay back your mortgage loan and they can reject your remortgage application if they have any concerns. But there are things you can do to make yourself as attractive as possible to mortgage providers.

 

Generally, the more equity you have built up, the better deal you can demand. Currently, lenders are unlikely to take you on unless you have at least 5% equity, but if you’ve already paid for 40% of your home or more, you should be able to secure a better rate. If you’re getting ready to remortgage it may be worth considering putting a lumpsum into the mortgage to help secure a better rate, and reduce your overall debt. This can help to bring down monthly payments and reduce the length of your mortgage.

 

Lenders will also want to check your credit score too, so it’s worth looking at this well in advance. There are things you can do to improve your credit score – such as building up credit with small loans and credit cards and paying it off each month – but it can take time to demonstrate that you can manage debt. And lenders are also obliged to check that you can afford the remortgage repayments, not just now, but also if interest rates were to go up in the future.

 

Be aware that changing your mortgage provider may come with fees; there could be an exit fee or early repayment charge to end your current deal, and your new lender might have product or application fees, so include these in your calculations.

 

And before you make your mind up, it may well be worth giving your current lender an opportunity to offer you a better deal before you jump ship. Many will offer existing customers more preferable rates than new customers and there are deals to be had.

 

Should I add other debts to my mortgage?

 

Mortgages can have among the lowest interest rates of any debt, so it can be tempting to consolidate other debts into your mortgage. But this should only be done with much caution. After all, a mortgage is secured against a property, so if things go wrong, you could even lose your home.

 

And mortgages are long-term loans, typically repaid over 25 years or more. So, although the rate is low, it builds up over a longer time and ultimately can mean that debts end up costing more, despite being on a lower interest rate. In some cases it can actually be cheaper to borrow at a higher rate of interest and pay it off more quickly.

 

If you are able to keep up the same level of repayments, it can pay to shift an expensive credit card debt, for example, onto your mortgage. But it’s worth exploring all the options, like personal loans or balance transfers, too. And make sure you do your sums carefully.

 

I’m a first-time buyer, how do I get on the housing ladder?

 

The most common way to buy a house is to save up a deposit, then borrow the remainder of the cost in the form of a mortgage from a bank or building society. You’ll usually need at least a 10% deposit in order to buy your first home.

 

In most cases, the bigger your deposit, the better deal you can get on your mortgage, so you’ll pay less back to your lender in interest payments over the course of the mortgage term. If you borrow less, your monthly repayments can be lower too.

 

But we know that teachers can sometimes struggle to save, especially at times like this when the cost of living is so high, and there is the challenge of affordability too with properties closest to schools often costing more. But there are schemes to help. For example, there are shared ownership schemes, where you buy a share of a property, typically between 10% and 75%, and pay rent on the rest. This helps bring down the initial deposit required, and some schemes prioritise key workers, including teachers. You can increase your share of the property later, when you can afford it.

 

First time buyers in England may also qualify for the First Homes scheme, where they can get 30% to 50% discount on a new build home. You can look for new homes in your area that are advertised by developers as part of the First Homes scheme. Other government schemes come and go, like the Help to Buy scheme, which just ended on October 31. So, it’s worth keeping an eye out for any new help that becomes available.

 

How do I get the best deal I can?

 

The difference between a good mortgage deal and a bad one can cost you hundreds of pounds a month. But, as a busy teacher, you’re unlikely to have the time to trawl through the market.

 

Working with an adviser can help, but make sure they are fully qualified and regulated. This should mean you are getting quality advice and if you don’t, you can turn to the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate if things go wrong. They should also be able to search the whole market to find you the best deal, but some advisers only work with a small selection of mortgage providers, so make sure you ask first.

 

Check how they get paid too. Some advisers will charge you a fee for their advice, but others will earn a commission from the mortgage provider that they recommend, which won’t cost you anything. Either way, they should be transparent. And don’t be tempted to pay any fees upfront; a mortgage adviser should only earn their money once the deal has been completed.

 

The housing market can be difficult to navigate, but you don’t have to go it alone. A specialist adviser can help you save and guide you through the mortgage minefield so you can achieve your long-term financial goals and make the dream of home ownership a reality.

 

For more information visit www.wesleyan.co.uk

 

 

 

Stonyhurst College partners with Dynabook to bolster digital learning experience

Stonyhurst College is a co-educational Roman Catholic independent school in Lancashire, England. It is the largest Catholic boarding school in the UK, with 800 pupils ranging between the ages of 3 and 18 from over 40 countries.

Stonyhurst was looking for a new partner to equip students and teachers with laptops to bolster the everyday learning experience and empower students to work anywhere. Working with reseller AMC, the college was keen to trial high-spec touchscreen devices capable of managing heavy processing apps for in-class learning such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Sibelius. It also needed laptops with long lasting battery power, capable of powering these applications all day long. This was alongside withstanding every-day bumps and drops and being lightweight to carry for extended periods of time. Additionally, teachers found themselves spending large amounts of time marking work and hoped implementing school-wide laptop use would streamline this process and increase overall efficiency. On top of this criteria, the devices needed to be built and ready within just two months in time for the start of term in September.

Sourcing a large-scale order during a period where there were many constraints on components due to ongoing supply chain issues across the industry presented an extra challenge for Stonyhurst. Multiple providers were struggling to secure the required parts for the 750 units required by the desired deadline. Dynabook proved to be the perfect partner for Stonyhurst to appoint as its sole provider of devices through AMC, delivering the large order in time for the new school year thanks to Dynabook’s unique position of having its own factory. It was able to directly fulfil the demand for Stonyhurst on a ‘Build to Order’ (BTO) basis in just six weeks, critical to the success of the initial trial phase.

Together with AMC and Dynabook’s BTO service, Stonyhurst ordered 750 Portégé X30W-J units which were customised to meet each of its desired specifications. This differed for both students and staff, right down to the disc size, memory, and processor. On arrival, AMC oversaw the setup of the units ensuring all the devices were ready for use with the correct applications and security software straight out of the box.

One of the biggest priorities for the college was long lasting devices to support students constantly on the move with no charger in sight. The Portégé X30W-J has proved unbeatable in this area, with the battery life identified by students as a key benefit of the devices. Students can comfortably run heavy-duty applications all day without worrying about where the next charge point is. When they do need to charge-up, the ultra-fast charging capability means it’s back and ready for another day within one hour of plugging it in.

Dynabook’s hands-on approach alongside AMC throughout the entire process, including visits to the college, ensured that Stonyhurst was kept up to date with the progress of the devices and its requirements were perfectly met and implemented into everyday school life seamlessly. From specification, it took just six weeks for all units to be successfully delivered, each of which was set-up and ready for students to simply switch on and use. Every student that required a laptop had a device ready to go, right in time for the beginning of term. AMC also supplied suitable laptop lockers within the college, providing additional peace-of-mind around the security of the devices.

Following the success of the Portégé X30W-J, Stonyhurst has placed a further order for 300 additional Portégé and Tecra laptops to ensure the rest of its staff are using the very best devices and are empowered in their everyday work. Now every pupil and employee at Stonyhurst is using a Dynabook laptop across the college.

Gareth Entwhistle, Director of IT Operations at Stonyhurst, said “Technology has revolutionised the education sector, making it increasingly clear that we needed to empower students with their own devices. However, ensuring these delivered on our specific requirements in the time needed was critical. Dynabook was great from the off, able to balance all our specifications while also providing quick and considered customer service. A year since its implementation, the 1:1 device scheme has delivered impressive improvements to the in-class learning experience for both students and teachers. For example, teachers are now able to provide verbal feedback to every pupil via voice notes on the devices – a personalised and streamlined experience that would never have been possible before. With the strength and reliability of the technology we’ve seen first-hand, we can trust it to deliver for whatever our students and staff require.”

Dawn Henderson, Education Sales Lead at Dynabook Europe, said, “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the success of Dynabook’s partnership with Stonyhurst College. Our BTO service gave us the flexibility and timelines we needed to provide Stonyhurst with the exact devices they needed and ensure both students and teacher had the right features to support and thrive day-to-day. We are delighted that Stonyhurst is extending its partnership with Dynabook and are looking forward to helping the college continue to benefit from technology in education in the future.”

Nick Bonnett, Technical Director at AMC, said, “The execution of this project with Dynabook and Stonyhurst College has exemplified the outstanding outcomes we can deliver when faced with close deadlines and supply chain issues. It’s been great to bring together our partnerships with both organisations to help Stonyhurst deliver a successful school-wide implementation of Dynabook’s market-leading devices.”

 

Over 3,000 West Midlands children receive financial education and other key life lessons

Funding of almost £80,000 from the Wesleyan Foundation enabled the Little Chicks Life Lessons programme to be delivered to 10 primary schools across the West Midlands. It provided 9,450 books and reached around 3,150 primary school children.

Created by Midlands businesswoman Alison Delaney, Little Chicks Life Lessons is a unique education programme focused on developing the dreams and aspirations of primary school children and equipping them with key life skills.  

Wesleyan, the Birmingham-based financial services mutual, also supported the publication and distribution of two new books by Little Chicks Life Lessons including ‘Little Chicks Nest Egg’ which was specifically created in partnership to introduce early awareness and increase children’s understanding about the importance of savings and forming healthy financial habits.

As part of the support, Wesleyan financial advisors also delivered financial wellbeing workshops and webinars to every teacher within the funded schools.

Nadeem Bashir, Principal at Shirestone Academy, one of the participating schools added: ”The Little Chicks Life Lessons programme has had a such a positive impact on our children and teachers, inspiring them to explore their dreams and aspirations in a creative and structured way, as well as developing their financial awareness at an early age. We are thankful to Little Chicks Life Lessons and to Wesleyan for the dedicated resources provided to our school and the wider support for our teachers.”    

Alison Delaney, founder of the programme said “On behalf of all the children, teachers and schools that participated in the programme and benefitted from the funding provided by Wesleyan, I want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you. Your support will have a positive impact on the confidence, skills and prospects of the young children in our region and help them to develop their aspirations and dreams as they go through life.”  

Nathan Wallis, Chief of Staff at Wesleyan, said:  “ We’re committed to supporting the customers of tomorrow understand the importance of personal finance today. That’s why we were delighted to support the Little Chicks Life Lessons education programme, a ground-breaking initiative focused on building confidence, self-belief and financial awareness in children”

Micro:bit Educational Foundation partners with Code.org to Bring Power of Physical Computing to Educators Teaching the CS Fundamentals Curriculum  

The two non-profit organisations have joined forces to empower teachers using Code.org with free micro:bit physical computing resources, helping bring code lessons to life   

 

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, the education non-profit on a mission to inspire all children to achieve their best digital future, today announces a partnership with Code.org, a US-based education innovation non-profit, to offer teachers computing resources to complement use of the handheld micro:bit physical computing device as an extension to the Code.org CS Fundamentals curriculum.   

 

With over 70 million students and two million teachers subscribed to Code.org, this partnership will expand the reach of micro:bit’s physical computing resources to students around the world, helping both organisations achieve their shared goal of improving digital literacy and delivering richer teacher materials and tailored support to empower computer science educators in schools.   

 

Elementary school students using Code.org curriculum will now have access to new lessons which will show them how to bring code to life with a partner handheld computing device, the BBC micro:bit. Bringing a physical element to computing education is proven to greatly enhance how children – especially girls - learn how to program. Using the micro:bit helps make connections between the code entered on screen to real life, improving motivation to learn and building confidence with tech as their conceptual understanding grows.   

 

Micro:bit Educational Foundation works closely with schools, educators and some of the world’s biggest tech companies like Arm and Microsoft to help implement computing education at a young age and improve diversity in computer science. Its micro:bit programmable device is already used in over a third of UK schools and there are over 7 million in use internationally, supporting both block-based beginner coding and more advanced text-based skills.   

“Physical computing is a great way to engage students in computer science, and I’m excited that Code.org is expanding its offerings in this maker education space. We’re delighted to partner with to provide physical computing extensions to our existing courses, says Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi of the partnership.  

 

Growing a diverse pipeline of tech talent who contribute to the creation of better technology in the world begins in the classroom. We are invested in excellence in computer science education for younger students and are excited by the size of the impact we can create together with Code.org to bring the benefits of physical computing to young learners.Commented Gareth Stockdale, CEO at the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.  

 

Interested educators can learn more about the Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Code.org on their respective websites. The new micro:bit physical computing resources for CS Fundamentals are now live.  

 

 

About Micro:bit Educational Foundation   

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.  

 

We do this by:  

  • Developing hardware and software that inspires young people to get excited about technology and the opportunities it presents for them  
  • Creating free, user-friendly educational resources to support teachers in delivering engaging and creative lessons  
  • Working with like-minded partners to deliver high-impact educational programmes across the globe.  

 

 

About Code.org  

 

Code.org® is an education innovation nonprofit dedicated to the vision that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of their core K-12 education.  

 

The leading provider of K-12 computer science curriculum in the largest school districts in the United States, Code.org also organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign, which has engaged more than 15% of all students in the world.  

Education strikes: concerns grow for skills availability

Following the news that teachers will go on strike in February and March, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), comments:

 

“The general unrest we’ve seen spread across the public sector meant that this news wasn’t a surprise for many. While there will, of course, be concerns around the impact strikes will have on pupils across the country, the more pressing issue is the skills shortages that the sector has been facing.

 

“The education sector has struggled with resources for some time and the pandemic only exacerbated the issues. Professionals have faced mental health difficulties and burnout since Covid-19, juggling already significant workloads alongside the move to virtual teaching. Issues around supply teachers have only added to the problems the sector is contending with. Staff illnesses – which have become a more prevalent challenge in the post-Covid era- have put further pressures on temporary resources which were already in short supply across the education arena. This has led to an increase in staffing costs at a time when schools can ill-afford the additional expense.

 

“There needs to be a fundamental rethink around how the education sector’s staffing challenges are addressed, including more sustainable and cost-effective access to supply teachers which will only help improve the financial situation across the sector and, in turn, help solve some of the salary concerns that the TUC has raised.

 

“On a longer-term basis, though, the education arena needs a well-overdue boost of talent to help remove the work burden that is driving so many professionals to not only strike, but also exit the sector altogether.”

 

Cambridge University Press launches international celebration of teaching with fifth Dedicated Teacher Awards

Following more than two years of disruption to education caused by the pandemic, Cambridge University Press is asking people around the world to submit their stories about inspiring teachers, as the publisher opens its Cambridge Dedicated Teacher Awards for 2023.

 

The global competition provides the chance for students, parents and colleagues to say ‘thank-you’ to a special teacher, and to share examples of inspiring education across the world. Nominations are open between 16 January and 16 March 2023.

 

Now in their fifth year, the awards were established by Cambridge University Press to showcase the resourcefulness and positive impact of inspiring teachers across the globe. In 2022, the Cambridge Dedicated Teacher Awards received a staggering 7,000 nominations from 112 different countries.

 

While there are six regional winners announced every year, overall winners of the accolade have come from Pakistan, Colombia, and the United Arab Emirates. Last year’s inspirational winner, Khalifa Affnan, continues to teach at Keningau Vocational College in Malaysia.

 

Nominations can be made by going to dedicatedteacher.cambridge.org/nominate and submitting a written entry (in English) of less than 150 words or a video no longer than two minutes.

  

Publishing Director for Education at Cambridge University Press, Matthew Walker, commented: “Over the last year, we have seen students across the world return to classrooms and in-person learning. As a result, teachers have had to effectively support students at varying levels of attainment and be constantly aware of the social and academic impact of ‘lost learning’ caused by the pandemic.

 

“Teachers have never been more important, and their role in shaping young minds more vital. These awards are designed to celebrate everything they do around the world to support the next generation.”

 

Once nominations close on 16 March 2023, a panel of educational experts will choose six regional winners who have made a difference to the lives of their students. These teachers will receive a trophy and feature on a ‘thank you’ page at the front of new Cambridge University Press Education textbooks for one year from September 2023. They will also win class sets of books or digital resources.

 

The public will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite story when the regional winners are announced via social media on 24 April 2023. Cambridge University Press will announce the overall winner on 22 May 2023.   

 

The Cambridge Dedicated Teacher Awards stipulate that for an entry to be valid, nominators should only nominate one teacher. Furthermore, nominations may not be for family members, relatives or partners.  For more information, or for full terms and conditions, please go to dedicatedteacher.cambridge.org

 

British teachers turn to their own technology to do their job

87% of those working in the UK education sector say it’s essential teachers have access to a printer, but 67% admit they use their home printer for teaching needs

 

Nine in 10 (87%) education workers say it’s essential that teachers have access to a printer, yet only half (52%) of teachers use printers in the classroom, according to new research from Epson. Many are driven to using their own with three quarters (67%) saying they use their home printer for teaching needs.  

 

The survey of 3,460 people working in the education sector across Europe, the Middle East and Africa shows pressure is mounting for better technology provision in schools. Six in ten UK respondents (60%) say students expect higher levels of technology use now compared to before, and the majority (55%) are looking at greater ways to collaborate and generate student engagement.

 

But improving solutions comes at a price, so it is unsurprising that in the context of economic crisis in the UK, nearly two-thirds of those working in the sector (63%) are prioritising managing rising costs right now.

 

Considering those questioned say nearly four tenths (38.5%) of the average school day is spent using digital technology, it’s worrying that the current economic climate may be impacting the transition to better technology. The sector needs to look at how it can best support students and teachers in the wake of hybrid and digital learning. And at a basic level, provide easy and official access to tools such as printers – particularly as 57% expect an increase in print volumes over the next 12 months. 

 

Commenting on the findings, Richard Wells, head of office print sales UK&I at Epson, said, “Teachers appear to lack the basic technology needed – such as printers in the classroom. While using their own technology to deliver provision or produce materials fills a gap, it’s unfair to shift the cost burden to them and raises the question of education equality – as many students will have teachers that are unable or unwilling to support this.  

 

“This is a major concern and technology manufacturers like us must do all we can to help solve the problems faced within the sector. Energy efficient, cost effective and easy-to-use solutions are available both when it comes to staple products like printers and with newer digital and collaborative technologies such as projectors.  Getting this right is imperative if students and teachers are to maximise the benefits that technology can offer and advance the way in which students learn.” 

 

The full findings of the research are available to download in the report IT peripherals are no longer peripheral.

 

HYUNDAI TO OFFER 25,000 CHILDREN SCHOOL TRIPS IN 2023

 

The Great British School Trip is open to all teachers across the UK by registering interest at https://greatbritishschooltrips.co.uk/ 

  • Hyundai is investing £1 million in a programme of school trips   
  • The initiative launches today with Tim Campbell MBE as Hyundai’s Educator in Residence 
  • Research shows that children are missing out on essential and accessible school trips due to the cost of living, lack of funds and staffing issues
  • 61% of teachers admit they are less likely to plan a school trip now, versus 5 years ago  
  • 52% of children have intentionally not told a parent about an upcoming trip, due to money worries 

Tuesday 6th December 2022: Children are missing out on school trips due to the cost of living crisis, lack of funds and staffing issues. 

A study involving 2,000 teachers and parents across the UK and commissioned by Hyundai, has revealed that school trips remain on the decline with the cost of travel, parents not being able to afford to cover additional expenses, entry fees and lack of staff being listed as the key factors.    

 

As part of the study, research of 1,600 parents of school aged children revealed over half (52%) of UK children have intentionally not told a parent about an upcoming trip, with a further 54% of parents admitting it was over their child’s concerns of affordability. Three in 10 parents revealed that finances are the main barrier to sending their children on school trips. 

 

Specific research of 433 teachers revealed that of those who organise school trips, 61% are less likely to plan trips now – compared to five years ago. Over half (56%) of teachers who organise school trips have had outings cancelled or not approved in the last 12 months, and more funding to help cover the costs would benefit in supporting them to run more trips. 

 

As a direct response to the study findings, Hyundai announces its ‘Great British School Trip’ programme. This activity has been designed to inspire school children aged seven to 14 and to help them to shape their future goals.  

 

Through the ambitious initiative, Hyundai is investing £1 million in the programme and is committed to sending 25,000 pupils on school trips across the UK over the next academic year, kicking off from January 2023. The automotive company will offer bursaries to help the schools most in need to fund their school trips, including booking fees and travel costs. 

 

Ashley Andrew, Managing Director, Hyundai Motor UK, said: “School trips should provide some of the most exciting and memorable times for our young people. They help to bring their learning to life, encourage greater engagement and inspire their future ambitions. I know that’s what they did for myself and for my children. 

 

“I firmly believe that they are an essential part of our young people’s development and something that every child should have access to. As a company that strives to support humanity and to foster  

an ambitious next generation, we are delighted to launch this pioneering initiative, which will deliver these life experiences as well as supporting teaching staff and parents.” 

 

The Great British School Trip has been shaped around Hyundai’s vision for the future, Progress for Humanity. This vision focuses on how connections and collaboration can help accelerate progress and innovation. The programme will support the curriculum by covering important subjects such as art, maths and STEM as well as being centred around four themes: Imagination and Curiosity, People and the Planet, Journeys and Adventures and Breakthroughs and Discoveries.  

 

Over 200 venues have shown their support for the initiative by signing up as trip locations already. Children will be able to explore locations including RAF Museum Midlands, PGL, The YHA, Disney Theatrical and Nottingham Playhouse, amongst others. 

 

Tim Campbell MBE has been announced as Hyundai’s Educator in Residence as part of the initiative. Tim sits on the City of London Education board and is Chair of Governors at an outstanding London secondary school. Tim spoke about The Great British School Trip: “School trips are an integral part of a child’s education. Not only are they a fun day out but allow children to properly cement their learning outside of the classroom. I firmly believe in education as a facilitator of social mobility, so it’s shocking that our younger generation are missing out on this opportunity due to circumstances outside of their control. I’m thrilled to be involved with this programme and feel that it is exceptionally timely, not to mention necessary, to put school trips firmly back on the agenda.”  

 

The research of 1,600 parents of school-aged children revealed 60% agreed more needs to be done to ensure all children have an equal opportunity to go on school trips. Furthermore, its drawn attention to the benefits of school outings, according to teachers, with the opportunity to visit places outside of the classroom cited as the main advantage, as well as being able to link topics and subjects in a more meaningful way and allowing children to contextualise their classroom learnings.   

 

Parents also acknowledge the pros of educating children outside of the classroom, with 38% saying the new experiences it gives them beyond the classroom is a huge plus. As well as this, they also listed that creating fond memories (34%), building confidence (34%) and it simply being more fun for their children (31%) were other advantages.  

  

However, 39% recognise there is a chance their youngster won’t be offered the opportunity to go on school trips during the 2022 to 2023 academic year because of a lack of school funding and volunteers. As many as 70% of the parents polled said their children enjoy the visits they go on, with science museums, the zoo and adventure activities, like kayaking or climbing, among the favourites.  

 

Teachers can now register their interest in the programme at https://greatbritishschooltrips.co.uk/ to be among the first to access the full programme when bookings open in January 2023.  

 

 

Free tool accurately assesses pupils’ online competencies and resilience for a digital life

Teachers can now accurately assess pupils’ online competencies and resilience for a digital life using SafeSkills – a valuable free resource for all schools featuring an online quiz for pupils in higher primary and lower secondary, and an inbuilt online safety diagnostic tool for staff.  Easy to set up, teachers simply register their school at safeskillsinfo.lgfl.net to receive their login details with instructions for importing their classes.

 

Created by edtech charity LGfL-The National Grid for Learning, this important resource covers the digital knowledge and skills outlined in the Government’s Education for a Connected World framework, and as recommended in Keeping Children Safe in Education and statutory RSHE guidance.

 

Designed to promote the development of safe and appropriate long-term behaviours, and support educators in shaping a culture of safeguarding at school and beyond, the quiz covers:

 

  1. Self-image and Identity – which explores the difference between online and offline identity and the impact of technology on self-image and behaviour
  2. Online relationships – which looks at behaviours that may lead to harm and explores strategies for positive relationships online e.g. respect and giving and denying consent
  3. Online reputation – which covers how others can use digital content to form judgements and strategies to manage content effectively
  4. Online bullying – which explores the impact of technology on bullying and online aggression, legislation and strategies for effective reporting and intervention
  5. Managing online information – which looks at strategies for effective searching, critically evaluating data and managing online risks, threats and challenges
  6. Health, wellbeing and lifestyle – which reviews the impact technology can have on health, wellbeing and lifestyle – e.g. mood, sleep, relationships, and strategies for managing any challenges
  7. Privacy and security – which covers how personal information can be used, stored and shared, and strategies to protect data and systems from being compromised
  8. Copyright and ownership – which explores the concept of ownership of online content, legal implications and strategies for protecting content.

 

After using their pupil log in to access SafeSkills, children can select any quiz from the eight themes available. Once the quiz has been completed, they can download a certificate and view a summary of areas of achievement and areas for development. They can also download an overview of their overall progress. Pupil results data can also be exported easily for use in teacher markbooks.

 

As well as completing the quiz in school as part of a classroom activity, teachers can allocate questions for homework, which pupils can access from anywhere.

 

Because SafeSkills is intended as a diagnostic tool for both summative and formative assessment, teachers can monitor progress easily throughout the year – at school, class or pupil level – to identify areas for development. By viewing aggregate scores for each of the themes, teachers can revisit topics that had a low score and dedicate more time across the curriculum. Whilst some schools may concentrate on the high-level eight themes across the whole class, others can drill down to single competencies or individual pupils, so the approach is entirely flexible and needs driven.

 

Commenting on the tool, Mark Bentley, Safeguarding and Cybersecurity Manager, LGfL-The National Grid for Learning, said, “Schools know all too well the importance of teaching their students how to navigate the online world, but with limited curriculum time and a fast-changing threat landscape, it is all the more important to understand where pupils’ needs are and focus time on the most relevant topics. That’s where SafeSkills comes into its own.”

 

To find out more, please visit safeskillsinfo.lgfl.net

 

Learn from anywhere: The future of education and how technology can support it

 

By Neil Bailey, Senior Sales Manager, Education at CDW UK & Matt Eccles, Education Business Development Manager at Lenovo UK & Ireland

In a world of “work from anywhere,” people also want to “learn from anywhere”. As Higher Education institutions establish themselves in a hybrid era, they are faced with a new set of challenges as they navigate increasing cost pressures that have far reaching effects.

During the pandemic many institutions rushed to implement expensive short term hybrid learning solutions to ensure they could continue supporting students’ education. Now as a hybrid approach becomes the new staff and student expectation, many universities and colleges are looking for technology solutions that fit a dual purpose, excellent user experience and security that are fit for purpose for the future context of learning.

The hybrid learning journey so far

The pandemic and consequent work from home experience saw most learners become accustomed to a home learning environment where they not only have multiple devices at their fingertips to switch between but are also equipped with lightning-fast Wi-Fi. Universities are now faced with the challenge of how to recreate this user experience on campus.

The UK has some of the best and most highly-regarded universities in the world and often with that comes best in class equipment at their fingertips – yet far too many are still using this technology in a pre-pandemic way. The way we use technology has fundamentally shifted in the past two years; there is now an urgent need to review security and user experience to keep pace with new expectations.

 

However, cost remains a key challenge for Higher Education Institutions. This is a historic issue for many establishments which has now exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. Not only in terms of how this will affect future learners’ affordability, but also the increasing cost of devices and other technology solutions.

 

Security fundamentals

 

Education Institutions are among the most targeted industries in terms of ransomware, and at a time when the prevalence and sophistication of security threats is increasing, it is incredibly important that they have the right security systems in place.

 

One of the factors that makes university network security so complex is that higher education institutions require open networks to allow for the breadth of resources that staff, and students need to access for specialist research. Many learning organisations now host documents such as theses and doctorates exclusively in the cloud and they require peace of mind for themselves and their learners that this information is protected and accessible at all times.

 

In many institutions, the devices and infrastructure are already in place, the question is: are education institutions implementing measures effectively? In the new hybrid world, there is so much more to consider when it comes to safely and securely accessing the university network. For example, it’s no longer just about protecting on-campus technology and ensuring a seamless user experience, the same level of security and access needs to apply to those working and learning from home.  

 

 

A first in class experience Often Universities have an enormous number of different software applications to fulfil niche requirements, many of which are out of date, and navigating these can be a challenge even for the most tech savvy of people. As user experience (UX) becomes more embedded in our everyday lives, moving forward a simple stocktake of which applications are fit for purpose will help to streamline UX for staff and students alike. Taking stock of apps that are no longer used or fit for purpose is a good exercise for organisations to go through to get rid of technology that is taking up space for no good reason.

 

Student wellbeing and mental health is also a major concern when it comes to ensuring students have a positive university experience. According to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the suicide rate for higher education students in the academic year ending 2020 in England and Wales was 3.0 deaths per 100,000 students. Technology can play an important role in protecting and supporting students, for example safeguarding tools can be used to help identify students at risk of self-injury.

From student wellbeing to accessibility of resources, technology solutions play an integral role in the delivery of a first-class university experience.

 

The future of hybrid education

As we adapt to a hybrid world, navigating and striking the balance between online and in person interaction will likely remain a challenge for universities and higher education institutes moving forward.

 

Universities are increasingly seeing demand for courses and qualifications that provide students with transferrable skills for careers of the future. For instance, the esports and gaming industry has seen huge growth and investment over the past few years. Collaboration, problem solving, and communications skills are all valuable skills for this sector.

Choosing a technology partner that can understand the unique challenges that the sector faces will be instrumental in delivering a seamless and secure user experience. At CDW we call this the art of listening, and it includes understanding every possible user perspective to deliver solutions that are fast, efficient and deliver tailor made solutions that solve for specific client needs.

 

The past two years have seen an enormous amount of change in how we teach and learn, however it is not only the way we learn that has changed – the context of learning is also shifting. Views on the future of hybrid teaching reflect an increased demand for a hybrid approach, in fact many higher education institutions offering this style of learning have seen a boost in enrolment numbers. Not only does it increase the accessibility of higher education but allows it provides students with skills that are now considered mandatory for the future workforce.

 

To support a new generation of learning, education institutions must embrace hybrid technology and choose a knowledgeable technology partner that is able to support them on this journey.