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WICKED LAUNCHES NEW WEB-HOSTED EDUCATION RESOURCE

Free lesson plans include ‘Anti-Bullying’, ‘Diversity, Inclusion + Wellbeing’,

‘Secondary English’, ‘Secondary Drama’, andIntermediate ESOL/EFL English’.

 More than 60% savings on Wicked tickets with free teacher ratios and

free school trip planning guide including risk assessment supporting materials.

 

WICKED, the award-winning stage musical that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, today announces the official launch of Wicked Active Learning, the production’s new web-hosted teaching/learning resource. Created with teachers, free lesson plans are designed to inspire creativity in the classroom whilst over 60% savings on Wicked tickets (with free teacher ratios) provide opportunities for learning outside the classroom, in support of delivering a broad and rich curriculum.

Wicked Active Learning assets and experiences will also enhance students’ levels of cultural capital and personal development as well as contributing ideas and resources that support SMSC and the PSHE and Citizenship curriculum. Additional free assets include theatre-maker career videos, a 20-page resource guide to assist in the planning of education trips (including information to support the completion of risk assessments), lesson plans (currently including Secondary English, Secondary Drama and Intermediate ESOL/EFL English), together with Anti-Bullying resources developed in partnership with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, and Diversity, Inclusion + Wellbeing resources developed in partnership with Twinkl.

“With themes of self-esteem, discrimination, and identity,

Wicked delivers an enriching live theatre experience that supports

both the quality of education and personal development elements of the

Ofsted framework and enhances our students’ level of cultural capital.”

 Head Teacher, All Saint’s School, Sheffield

The acclaimed production, which has been proudly supporting the work of the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Mousetrap Theatre Projects since 2007 and the National Literacy Trust since 2010, has twice been voted ‘Best Theatre Production for Schools’ at the annual School Travel Awards and delivers an outstanding live London theatre experience, with a story that explores themes of self-esteem, identity, prejudice, victimisation, propaganda and fake news, peer pressure, ambition, and friendship.

Michael McCabe, UK Executive Producer of Wicked said: 

We recognise and value the benefits of creative education and do all we can to encourage participation in creative arts subjects, artistic expression, and cultural attendance. Alongside our ongoing charitable endeavours, we are pleased to provide free classroom resources and lesson plans for all schools, as well offering over 60% savings on class and year group tickets and free teacher ratios in support of learning outside the classroom, personal development, and the delivery of cultural capital. Our story of identity, prejudice, propaganda, and friendship continues to resonate strongly with schools, and we are grateful to the many teachers whose invaluable contributions and guidance have helped shape these lesson plans and resources, as well as for their shared vision and passion to deliver quality arts education and engagement for all.”

 One of the most successful musicals of all time” (BBC News), the London production of Wicked is now in its 17th year at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where it has already been seen by more than 11 million people.

 R SMSC   R PSHE   R Citizenship   R Personal Development   R Anti-Bullying   R Wellbeing

  • School Class + Year Groups save over 60% on Wicked tickets
  • Free teacher ratios + extra tickets purchasable
  • Book now/pay later flexibility + free exchanges
  • Free 20-page ‘Planning Your Education Visit’ Guide
  • Free risk assessment supporting resources
  • Free classroom resources + lesson plans
  • Option to include an official workshop or Q&A
  • Coach/minibus drop-off/pick-up point directly outside the theatre
  • 1 minute from London Victoria Mainline and Underground stations

School Class and Year Groups + Youth Groups

 Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 7.30pm + Wed 2.30pm term time performances:

 10-99 Tickets

Band A/B seats reduced to £25.00

Band C/D seats reduced to £19.50

 100+ Tickets

Band A/B seats reduced to £22.50

Band C/D seats reduced to £17.50

 For requests outside of the above parameters, please submit an enquiry to Hello@WickedActiveLearning.co.uk

Rates applicable to Primary (Year 3+), Secondary, HE, FE, EFL, ESOL, youth and performing arts groups.

 Free Teacher ratios

1 free secondary teacher ticket with every 10 tickets purchased (11th ticket is free)

1 free primary teacher with every 5 tickets purchased (6th ticket is free)

1 free Youth Group Leadership/Volunteer Team ticket with every 10 tickets purchased (11th ticket is free)

Extra tickets

Extra teacher/staff/Leader/Volunteer Team tickets can be purchased at the applicable group ticket price.

Tickets + resources: www.WickedActiveLearning.co.uk

Lesson Plans currently include ‘Anti-Bullying’, ‘Diversity, Inclusion + Wellbeing’,

Secondary English’, ‘Secondary Drama’, and ‘Intermediate ESOL/EFL English’.

Anti-Bullying resources developed in partnership with: Anti-Bullying Alliance

Diversity, Inclusion + Wellbeing resources developed in partnership with Twinkl

Benefits and resources presented may not apply when booking through third party agents.

Recommended for Primary Year 3+. Workshops & Q&As not included in ticket price. All sales subject to availability and T&Cs

NEW SCIENTIST LIVE IS BACK WITH A DEDICATED SCHOOLS’ DAY

7th October 2022 at ExCeL London

New Scientist Live, the world’s greatest festival of ideas and discoveries, returns to ExCeL London next month and will be hosting a dedicated day for schools, for the first time, with an incredible line-up of speakers, interactive demonstrations and more!

The presentations, features and experiences are specifically tailored for Key Stages 2 (upper), 3 & 4, giving students a unique opportunity to extend their learning beyond the classroom and bring the world of STEM to life.  The show will connect students with leading-edge researchers and give them the knowledge to engage with the scientific, social and ethical challenges that will shape the world of the future.

 

Highlights include:

  • World-class science presenter Stefan Gates whose presentation will be packed with explosions and will explore combustion, pressure, sound, elasticity, energy storage, pressure and sound. Expect mini-motorbikes, massive balloons, fireballs and flamethrowing on the Universe Stage!
  • Filmmaker Simon Clark on the Mind & Body Stage discussing how he became a YouTube scientist starting from his A level choices to submitting his PhD thesis, as well as the lessons he learned along the way
  • Palaeontologist David Hone featuring on the Planet Stage and discussing why the Tyrannosaurs rex is the most dangerous terrestrial predator of all time.
  • Tech wiz Rob Sedgebeer and Steve McNeil who will be presenting an interactive history of some of the earliest advances in videogames so make sure you bring a charged smartphone to play along on the Future Stage
  • J Spooner on the Engage Stage with a special guest in the space shed for interactive, intergalactic, mind-blowing fun!

Students can immerse themselves in the latest tech developments, from surgical robots to augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence to VR, and see how the latest medical innovations are being used by world-class clinicians to improve diagnosis and treatment. One feature not to be missed is the immersive pop-up planetarium where you can see what it takes to become an astronaut and let the inspiration take you to new places that you could never have imagined.

With VR rollercoaster rides to piloting a virtual drone, seeing inside an artificial star to smelling space, New Scientist Live features an unbelievable experience for everyone.

A proportion of the Schools’ Day tickets will be made available for free to schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged students and schools with lower science capital ensuring that science is accessible to the widest possible audience and to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and leaders.

TICKETS

SCHOOLS’S DAY TICKET PRICES

Schools day tickets prices: £12 per student, with one free chaperone ticket available for each group of ten students.

 GENERAL PUBLIC TICKET PRICES

Early booking ticket prices: Children £16 | Adults: £40 | Family ticket: £100 (ends 11thSeptember)

Tickets available for either Saturday 8th or Sunday 9th October, or you can save more by booking for the whole weekend.

For more information and ticket options click here

MORE INFORMATION

newscientist.com/schoolsday – https://newscientist.com/schools 
For the Schools’ Day programme visit – https://newscientist.com/schoolstalks

OPENING TIMES

Friday 7 October (Schools only) – 09.30-15.00

Saturday 8 October – 10:00-17:00

Sunday 9 October – 10:00-17:00

VENUE

ExCeL London

Royal Victoria Dock

One Western Gateway

London E16 1XL

Surfers Against Sewage are launching free Teacher Training to help you get the most out of the Plastic Free Schools Programme.

 

This is a call to action. Primary School Teachers – sign up to our new training and gain the skills and confidence to lead change-making environmental education in your classroom. Let’s inspire a new generation of Ocean Activists.

How? Simply make sure you are signed up to our Plastic Free Schools Programme where you will receive the link to save your place.

Who is Surfers Against Sewage?

Surfers Against Sewage is a charity of water lovers campaigning to protect the ocean and all it makes possible, by taking action on the ground that triggers change from the top.  

Find out more about Surfers Against Sewage here.

 

What is Plastic Free Schools?

Plastic Free Schools is a system shaking, change making, pupil-led education programme. This ground-breaking programme equips and empowers young activists with the tools to create positive, lasting environmental change and teaches pupils that they should never underestimate the power of their voice.

Pupils will learn how to run their own campaign in the fight against single-use plastic; from challenging government and industry to creating tangible change in their schools and forming sustainable habits that will continue into adulthood.

Most importantly, Plastic Free Schools is free and easy to sign up to. Simply click here.

Want to find out more? Click here.

 

Why is this programme so important?

We know that in order to thrive as people, we need a thriving ocean. By signing up to this programme, you are taking direct action to address the ocean and climate crisis. With millions of young activists on board, we can end plastic pollution on our beaches by 2030.

When and where is the Teacher Training?

Wednesday 12th October – 16:30-18:00

Tuesday 1st November – 16:30-18:00

The sessions will take place online.

Why sign up to our new Teacher Training?

In these sessions, you will deep dive into what Plastic Free Schools is all about. You will further your knowledge, understanding and skill set needed to successfully deliver the programme and continue to fuel environmental action in your primary school and beyond.

What will the two sessions involve?

Session One: Wednesday 12th October 16:30-18:00

  • How to become accredited – the five objectives of PFS Primary.
  • From the classroom – talks from teachers on their PFS journey.
  • What are the challenges to accreditation? How do we overcome these? Small group discussion to generate and share new ideas to take back to your school.

 

Session Two: Tuesday 1st November 16:30-18:00

  • How to get your school onboard – tips and tricks from the teachers who have succeeded at this.
  • The PFS resource library – a digital scavenger hunt to explore the resources that have been created to help you on your PFS journey.
  • Launching the PFS online community – VIP access to the new online community – connecting teachers across the Plastic Free Schools network to each other, and to the SAS team.

 

 

How to save your place:

This training is exclusively for primary school teachers who are signed up to our Plastic Free Schools programme. If you’re not already set up, don’t panic! You can easily and quickly register your school here. (Did we mention it’s completely free?).

If you’re already onboard, you’ll find a notice with the link and event password at the top of your dashboard. Log in here.

 

Any questions? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at education@sas.org.uk

What Every Teacher Needs To Know – Jade Pearce

 

What Every Teacher Needs to Know is a must-have guide for both primary and secondary teachers that summarises key research papers, offers evidence-informed teaching and learning strategies, and explains how to disseminate this information across departments and schools.

There is a growing thirst for evidence-informed teaching in the UK and beyond, in order to help ensure that schools have the biggest impact on student learning. In a concise, accessible manner, this book distils key educational research into clear, precise guidance that can be used immediately. It is ideal for any busy teacher or school leader looking to transform student outcomes through a research-informed approach.

What Every Teacher Needs to Know is essential reading for research leads, heads of department, and teaching and learning leads. It offers:

– summaries of 20 prominent research papers on effective teaching and learning
– key takeaways for classroom practice
– evidence-informed teaching and learning strategies
– examples across a variety of phases and subjects
– insightful case studies from practising teachers 

READ AN EXTRACT

‘What Every Teacher Needs to Know is a stunning book, oozing rich research, that will provide you with the knowledge to support your teaching and leadership. Highly recommended!’

Michael Chiles, Assistant Principal and author of The Feedback Pendulum, @m_chiles

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jade Pearce is an assistant headteacher for teaching and learning in a secondary school in Staffordshire. She is an evidence lead in education for the Research Schools Network and a member of the EEF ‘Expert Voices Group’. She is also a member of the ‘Raising the Attainment of Disadvantaged Youngsters’ (RADY) group. Jade participates in conferences and discussions on podcasts and has featured in case studies in numerous publications, including Michael Chiles’s book The Feedback Pendulum. As an Evidence Lead in Education (ELE) for Staffordshire Research School. She regularly writes articles for the journal of the Economics, Business and Enterprise Association. Follow Jade on Twitter @PearceMrs

 

 

HTC VIVE Introduces VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker and Eye Tracker

       

 

HTC VIVE expands rich VIVE Focus 3 ecosystem with Eye and Face Tracking

Lightweight and user-friendly, with low latency and high-precision, fitting into VIVE Focus 3 seamlessly

VIVE’s new trackers suit a wide range of use cases, from helping to create realistic avatars, through to medical assessments

 

HTC VIVE announces VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker, expanding the VIVE Focus 3 ecosystem to deliver more natural and immersive professional VR experiences.

Enhanced eye and facial tracking boosts engagement with peers for enhanced virtual collaboration and human interaction in VIVE Focus 3, ideal for virtual events, training, chat groups, VIVE Sync remote meetings, animation and motion capture, and more.

Express yourself in VR

VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker makes it easy to naturally convey your emotions and read intentions in real time. Its mono tracking camera captures expressions through 38 blend shapes across the lips, jaw, cheeks, chin, teeth, and tongue to precisely capture true-to-life facial expressions and mouth movements on avatars.

With a 60Hz tracking rate and optimised runtime for facial tracking, users can synchronise lips to voice with minimal latency and enjoy lifelike interactions in high fidelity. VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker set up is made easy as the module seamlessly connects to VIVE Focus 3 headsets through the built-in USB Type-C port with no need for add-ons or adaptors.

The benefits of facial tracking are vast, improving soft skills in presentation coaching, customer service management, training, and more. Users can track and improve their emotional preparedness, helping to achieve better real-life outcomes across many applications, from education and healthcare to human resources and creative industries.

Unlock the benefits of eye tracking

Gain access to insightful data with VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and reach a heightened level of VR immersion. Bringing realistic eye movements and blinks to virtual avatars delivers true-to-life virtual collaboration and improves human connections in VR through expressive, non-verbal interactions. By tracking and analysing eye movement, attention, and focus, businesses can open the door to deeper user behaviour analysis.

The dual camera setup with supporting IR illuminators is capable of capturing data for gaze origin and direction, pupil size and position, and eye openness. The lightweight module easily attaches magnetically to the headset without impacting the balanced ergonomics and the adjustable IPD works perfectly with the VIVE Focus 3 headset to help users find their viewing sweet spot.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker allows you to see what users see to understand intentions and improve feedback, perfect for training and education scenarios. Measure duration and locate direction with heat mapping and gaze tracking to gain insights about performance and interaction to improve outcomes. VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker also helps to understand how users naturally interact with a product and improve the experience by uncovering actionable insights about user intent.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker also makes gaze control possible, opening new avenues for how people experience immersive content, as well as new accessibility options. Eye Tracking also helps with GPU workloads, as foveated rendering prioritises areas where the user is actually focused.

Both VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker support Unity, Unreal Game Engine, and Native. Developing is easy with VIVE’s WaveSDK and upcoming OpenXR support and it’s also seamless to stream content from a PC via VIVE Business Streaming.

A rich ecosystem for professional VR

VIVE Focus 3 has a rich ecosystem of both hardware and software for professional-grade VR. Since launch, HTC VIVE has released five accessories, including VIVE Wrist Tracker, multi-battery dock and carry case giving businesses the features and flexibility to create their ideal VR set-up.

Hand-tracking, OpenXR, extensive Wave SDK, Location-Based Software Suite and MDM support open the possibilities for developers. Devices also come with VIVE Business Warranty and Services which includes a two-year commercial warranty, and expedited return/replacement if needed.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker are available to order today for £216 and £83 respectively.

Back-to-school internet safety advice as children return to the classroom

  • New research from connectivity provider TalkTalk reveals that 99% of children aged 7 to 13 will have access to internet enabled tech when they go back to school*
  • Half of parents are concerned about the content their child could access when using internet-enabled technology for school related tasks at home*
  • TalkTalk and Internet Matters share advice on how parents can keep children safe online

6th September, 2022: As we start the new school year, TalkTalk and Internet Matters have issued safety advice to parents whose children may be having access to internet enabled devices for the first time.

 

Research from TalkTalk reveals that almost every (99%)* child heading back to school this week will have access to internet enabled tech either at home or in school. Parents overwhelmingly see the internet as a force for good, and the advice is aimed to help those who may be unsure how to approach the topic with their young children.

 

8 in 10 parents say their child has developed new skills as a result of spending time online**. Parents cited the ability to access educational websites i.e. BBC Bitesize (65%) as a key benefit, as well as conducting research (52%) and playing online games that help to develop creative skills (51%)**. Despite this, a third do admit that they have no idea what their children get up to online **.

 

Over half (54%)* of 7 to 13-year-olds are now spending up to two hours of their after-school time online, with the top three most common school tasks being online homework (79%), reading (40%) and talking to classmates (29%)*.

 

However, this access to new tech has led to concern among parents about other content their child could access while using internet enabled technology for their schoolwork (50%)*. Network data from TalkTalk shows that the use of smart plugs, typically used to connect voice assistants to a power source, has increased by 47% over the past year***. Suggesting that the range of internet enabled technology available to young people at home is growing.

 

Earlier this year, TalkTalk’s research around the Online Safety Bill found that 65% of parents see unregulated online spaces such as chatrooms and the metaverse as a huge risk to their children***. Other concerns include talking to other online users (68%), social media (63%) and online gaming (45%)***.

 

In fact, 74% of parents say they use internet safety tools, such as blocking certain websites or filtering tools to limit their child’s access to certain content and 64% of parents say they are trying to reduce the amount of time their child spends online***.

 

Matthew, parent of two (aged 7 and 9) said, “From an early age my children have used mobile devices, tablets, and computers as part of their learning, at home and school. As they grow older, and begin to use internet enabled tech more, I have concerns around online safety on open platforms (i.e. social media) or socially interactive games. Both of my kids play with their friends on Minecraft for example, but they’ve been instructed not to talk to or “friend” strangers, and we monitor this on an ad hoc basis.”

 

“Having access to the right information when it comes to online safety – whether that’s tangible resources like home security tech or expert tips – is invaluable while navigating the transitional period as children begin to spend more time online.”

 

TalkTalk has partnered with Internet Matters, an organisation set up to help parents keep their children safe online. Internet Matters’ website holds an abundance of practical information about how to talk to children about their online presence, including a back to school online safety guide that parents may benefit from this week.

 

They advise a collaborative approach to back-to-school online safety: They advise a collaborative approach to back-to-school online safety:

 

  1. Practise open and honest conversations with your child, as it will mean they are more likely to approach you if they feel unsafe online.
  2. Ensure you are aware of the school’s online learning policy. Schools have now developed these for children’s safety, and you should be able to find it on your child’s school website.

 

  1. Set boundaries around when and for how long your child is allowed to use tech, which apps and websites they can access, who they can contact and how they should behave online. Agree this together so they feel part of the decision-making process.

 

  1. Make sure that they know what to do if they come across unpleasant content – depending on their age it may be more appropriate for them to tell you rather than try and deal with it themselves.

 

  1. Consider adding a web filter, such as TalkTalk’s HomeSafe feature, to your home Wi-Fi to block inappropriate content and set time limits for gaming and social media websites. You should also ensure that your security features are up to scratch.

 

TalkTalk’s Head of Customer Security, Mark Johnson, says: “As a parent I know how worrying it could be not knowing what your child is getting up to online. Online security is key to us at TalkTalk, which is why we work with Internet Matters to offer advice for parents who may not know how to approach the topic of online safety with their children or where to find resources and tools to help keep their children safe.”

 

HALF OF TEACHERS FACE PENSION FUNDING SHORTFALL

  • Nearly half (48%) of teachers expect not to have enough money to fund their retirement
  • Three quarters (75%) of teachers plan on leaving the profession before retirement age
  • 37% of teachers will need to keep working in some form to fund retirement after they start drawing their pension benefits

As teachers are heading back to the classrooms this term, almost half (48%) say they will not have enough money to fund their retirement – highlighting a potential retirement ‘funding gap’ within the profession according to new research from Wesleyan, the specialist financial services mutual for teachers. 

 

Three out of four (75%) UK teachers say they are looking to leave the profession before the normal retirement age for their pension savings, even though many haven’t saved enough to fund their retirement. 

 

The research also showed a trend in ‘flexi-retirement’ – teachers continuing to work after they have ‘retired’. Nearly two fifths (37%) of respondents to Wesleyan’s survey said they will need to keep working in some form after they start drawing their pension benefits.

 

The main reasons for doing so were to generate income for luxuries (27%) and one in six (14%) said they would need to work to ensure they could meet their basic needs.

 

The results found that many teachers are confused by the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). Just a third (34%) of teachers said they fully understand the TPS rules around ‘phased retirement’.

 

Phased retirement options give teachers the choice to access up to 75% of their pension benefits while still working and contributing to the scheme – but what they are finding confusing are the rules and regulations around working patterns and salary to access this option. Many teachers do not realise this is an option for them.

 

Additional research with members of the teachers’ union the NASUWT found that 22% teachers planned to take early retirement because of stress/workload pressures. A further 21% stated that they were retiring early to have a better work/life balance (21%)*.

 

Glen Roberts, Area Manager at Wesleyan, said: “September is a natural time to reflect on career ambitions and the new school year ahead, and it’s traditionally a month when we get a surge in enquiries about retirement planning. It is concerning to see that so many teachers are worried or confused about their retirement.

 

“The traditional concept of retirement as a time when people fully leave the world of work behind is becoming more and more outdated. As our findings show, teachers are increasingly choosing to work in retirement. For a small but nonetheless significant proportion, it will be a necessity so they can meet basic needs – a worrying finding.

 

“A financial adviser really can help make the planning process easier to manage – including helping to determine whether teachers have enough to afford the retirement they want, and how to make early or flexi-retirement possible.”

 

The Retirement Living Standards guideline is that an individual will need £33,600pa in retirement to live comfortably**. This means they will be able to cover everyday cost plus pay for some luxuries such as holidays and beauty treatments. However, the average pension for a male teacher is £16,034pa and £11,581pa for a female teacher.*** This would mean a shortfall in income of up to £22,019 in retirement. This shortfall will reduce to approx. £12,392 if the full flat rate state pension is paid from state pension age.***

 

askOLA & YPO: a future for EdTech

Schools are, by and large, back to functioning in a way that is similar to before the pandemic. In-person teaching, and the use of physical resources are once again the basis of how teachers educate children, as opposed to a reliance on online technologies and digital learning methods.

However, during the pandemic, YPO, one of the UK’s largest public sector buying organisations in the UK, surveyed educators and found that 79% believed the crisis would have a lasting impact on teaching. Respondents outlined their belief that the result of this would be a hybrid approach that combined traditional ways of teaching with educational technologies and online resources.

Digital technology served teachers well during the pandemic – they were an absolute necessity and successfully allowed for education to continue whilst many other sectors were brought to a halt. It’s no surprise that teachers continue to find these tools useful, as professionals in schools continue to face a myriad of challenges ; be that to overcome teacher shortages or assist students with their mental health.

As a key support to the sector, YPO is always focused on finding new ways to alleviate pressures felt by education professionals. Recently, this has led to a partnership with edtech tutoring platform, askOLA.

askOLA

askOLA is an online, on-demand platform developed by GLUU, which acts as an alternative to private tutoring. Young people can access professional academic support from online learning assistants(OLAs) via the platform – qualified and vetted professionals who deliver personalised academic coaching across English, maths and science – whenever pupils feel that they need it.

YPO has always been a helping hand for schools, identifying and providing high-quality resources to assist with learning. askOLA is a tool that provides appropriate out-of-school support to children, whilst relieving pressure on teachers, who can then focus on in-classroom teaching. This is a particularly important benefit given the current teacher shortages that the country is facing.

Teacher shortages

According to a recent survey from the Association of School and College Leaders, 95% of schools are currently experiencing difficulties recruiting staff. Teacher shortages, which result from a culmination of factors including a lack of national recruitment and low retention rates, are having a real impact on the education system and the students within it. For example, 69% of schools are using non-subject specialists to teach classes. askOLA and YPO’s partnership can help to alleviate some of this pressure.

In a term-length pilot at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, the askOLA platform extended student’s learning time by 1,500 hours. Previously, this would have made up for lost learning time resulting from Covid-19, but going forward, schools can rely on askOLA to provide additional support that teachers are currently too stretched to give themselves.

With new research from the National Foundation for Educational Research estimating that shortages will continue until 2025, its important that schools consider this type of alternative support to ease the pressure on teachers in the long-term.

Wellbeing

askOLA’s point of differentiation from other, similar platforms is that OLA’s are trained to check in on young people’s wellbeing alongside their provision of academic support. YPO’s research on education during the pandemic found that 64% of parents were concerned about their children’s mental health and wellbeing, and NHS figures show that the likelihood of a child experiencing a mental health disorder has increased following COVID-19, so it is imperative that the support extended to children covers this ground too.

In its pilot, students reported feeling that askOLA had helped them with their wellbeing, including stress felt over homework, anxiety about not knowing the answers to questions and general mental health. If students show signs of needing more serious mental health support, OLA’s are also able to point students in the direction of wellbeing resources or to a professional mental health support platform, Kooth.

Looking ahead

Investment in resources such as askOLA is absolutely key to the functioning and continued modernisation of the UKs education system, but it’s important to acknowledge that this must come alongside a consideration of how many young people can feasibly access these digital platforms when they are at home. YPO’s research found that ensuring digital inclusion was the biggest challenge that schools faced during the pandemic, so it must be a continued focus for young people to have access to basic digital services and technology.

It’s clear that digital learning methods have a place in the future of education; teachers and students alike value them strongly, and they can be developed in a way that pinpoints what the education system needs. Having education professionals fully embrace these technologies, and ensuring access to them for all pupils, is the next step.

 

 

Unlocking a new level of learning: Enhancing the connection between parents and their school community

 

By Giancarlo Brotto, Global Education Advisor at SMART Technologies

 

As we look towards the start of a new term, educators as well as parents, will be contemplating what more they can do to supercharge the learning of their children and students. Students have had to contend with a lot over the past few years which in turn, distanced them from their teachers, and it’s safe to say that there is a lot of catching up to do.

 

With this in mind, it’s crucial that strong connections within the students’ support network – whether that’s between student and teacher, or teacher and parent – are taken to new levels with enhanced collaboration. This way teachers and schools can make up for the lost time in the classroom over the pandemic, by providing comprehensive support for their students both in school and at home.

 

We know, from data collected by SMART’s very own Edtech Assessment Tool, that schools can achieve better performance outcomes by creating a more symbiotic relationship between teacher and parent. Feedback from the assessment tool shows a clear connection between improved learning for students when the full school community is involved, resulting in greater efficiency in how learning is delivered.

 

With school set to return for the 2022-23 year, what do the key priorities look like for educators to enhance their connection with parents and ultimately benefit the student throughout the year?

Knowing who your pupils and parents are

 

The impact on learning brought by the pandemic has been widespread. Enforced social-distancing took students out of the classroom and siloed them and their parents away from the school. In some extreme cases, new students wouldn’t go on to meet their teachers and classmates in person for over six months.

 

Now normality has resumed, parents and teachers can refamiliarise themselves with one another and form a bond that helps preserve student wellbeing for the foreseeable future and like every connection, it takes effort to nurture.

 

What does this look like in practice for teachers? It means taking the opportunity to talk to your pupils and their parents, not just in the classroom or when an issue arises, but in a wide array of times like at pick-up times and during regular check-ins around performance and wellbeing. This active effort to connect with pupils and their parents on a one-to-one basis brings a multitude of benefits, like building increased trust and keeping parents up to date with the ongoing activity in the classroom.

 

To this point, remember to share the positive news! Parents are always open-eared about their children’s work and progress, so make sure to share their strengths – whether that’s a new skill they’re learning, academic improvements or their positive attitude in the classroom.  Sharing these anecdotes with parents will only help to reinforce positive behaviours outside of the classroom.

 

How EdTech is breaking down the barrier between school and home

Necessary steps were taken during the Covid pandemic to ensure learning continued and one of the steps was a seismic shift towards online learning and technology-based teaching, which enabled the ability to remotely teach and learn. Now with an increased presence of edtech in schools, what can educators do to take advantage of it?

 

To put into context just how quickly the adoption of education technology was, our research shows that almost two thirds (64%) of schools in the UK are now embedding technology in everyday teaching and learning practices, using it to transform teaching approaches and learning outcomes with 84% of schools in the UK reporting positive outcomes for students, and 76% reporting to have met their teaching and learning goals as a result of this adoption,

 

One of the greatest attributes of modern edtech is its deployment in a variety of settings. Whether in-class or at home, educational portals brimming with content provide teachers and students alike with a variety of methods to teach & learn. It is this accessibility that meant that in a matter of days, kitchen tables and living rooms became the classroom for thousands of students during the pandemic. This presented a new and exciting opportunity for parents to engage with their child’s education like never before.

 

Technology is able to break down the barriers between parents, teachers and staff, allowing a free flow of communication, which we all know to be vital in a child’s education. Finding that blend between school life and home life is pivotal to guarantee that both are areas where children feel comfortable to learn, to ask questions and to engage with the material. 

 

For an example of this integration between schools and parents that utilises technology, we can look at Shireland Technology Primary. Shireland actioned a plan that transformed the ways in which communication with parents was handled by integrating SMART technology throughout their education programme, both through interactive displays or the SMART online portal ‘Lumio’. This means that all content and resources that were being taught throughout the school were readily available to parents and students at home.

 

Going forward into term

With this information, teachers can go into the new term with the goal of building out  students’ wider support network by setting out goals for the year early on, so that parents know exactly where the focus of their child’s learning is headed and can contribute.

 

Parents know, just as well as teachers, that students need increased support following the disruptions of the past few years. To place this responsibility solely at the feet of teachers means that a student’s learning is put on pause at the end of every school day. Through an increased relationship and connection between teacher and parents, students can be guaranteed a consistent support system, home and in-school, that helps them engage with the curriculum through enjoyable educational technology. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early trials of automarking software for maths papers indicate 99% accuracy

Automarking software developed by Cambridge AI company, Blutick, achieves 99% accuracy across marks in two GCSE papers when checked by a human marker.

Ofqual research suggests that, in maths, 30,000 students (4%) receive a mark which does not align with the ‘definitive grade’ given by the principal examiners. However, following a successful trial, an automated marking tool developed by Blutick was found to be 99% accurate when assessing scripts across two GCSE exam papers. This is an important step in helping to significantly reduce any margin of error, and ensure students receive the grades they deserve. 

Blutick is a Cambridge AI software company focused on teaching, learning and assessment in maths. The organisation is currently working with exam boards to improve marking consistency by augmenting and supporting the work done by examiners, and ultimately, champion a fair system for all students.

Once the automated marking was conducted across the exam papers, an examiner reviewed the students’ responses and the Blutick mark, correcting any marks where necessary and returning an accuracy rate of 98.6% to 98.75% by the AI software.

Currently, a sample of only 1.2% of questions are double marked (Ofqual 2018, p. 9). However, a 2013 review of literature on marking reliability research by Ofqual indicates the value of multiple marking for exam scripts. Despite this, it raises the recruitment of examiners, cost implications, time constraints and logistical issues as barriers to its introduction across the board. With other experts also disputing the accuracy of the current examination and grading system, this new automated marking software would help remove these barriers and challenges, increasing the feasibility of multiple marking.

Rob Percival, Blutick’s CEO and a former maths teacher, said:

“With so few questions double marked, there is a lot of scope for error. A system like this can review 100% of marked papers and flag potentially erroneous responses for further checking.

“It in no way replaces the work done by examiners, but instead acts as a safety net in ensuring more students get the grade they deserve with almost no extra cost or increased workload for examiners.”

Beyond eradicating errors, more automation in marking processes is a growing focus for exam boards and for Ofqual. With barriers to recruiting suitable examiners exacerbated by Covid, automarking software provides a solution to these problems that benefits students, teacher–examiners and exam boards.

Simon Armitage, Deputy Head at The Perse School, Cambridge, said:

“Whilst examination grades should never be the sole measure of ‘output’ from a school or the nature of any student’s achievements, it is self-evident that any grades must be fair.

“Anything that helps exam boards to deliver accurate results more reliably is good news for everyone – students, schools, universities and employers. It is one of the reasons why The Perse School has been pleased to be involved in the Blutick Maths project.

“If an Artificial Intelligence system is part of this improvement, then it also helps reduce inevitable human error and could help exam boards to circumnavigate the difficulties of finding well-qualified markers.”