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The most innovative and ultra safe digital school board launched today

Prowise’s newest product brings digital schooling to another level. Today, they have launched their best touchscreen yet. With outstanding writing experience, high privacy and security standards, and other smart solutions, it’s offering top performance in the classroom and during remote learning. This new product is already nominated for a coveted BETT Award and a iF Design Award. Meet the brand new Prowise Touchscreen Ten. 

 

Over the years, traditional chalkboards had to make room for their digital successors.

Today, the most complete and state of the art solution has been launched: the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. This all-in-one screen is everything one needs to teach and follow digital classes. 

 

The best writing experience yet

Several technologies are used for the Prowise Touchscreen Ten, in order to create the best writing experience. The powerful ProWrite Touch Technology is directly integrated within the glass panel. This results in the ultimate pen-on-paper experience, with blazing fast writing speed and optimal writing accuracy. The screen has 40 touch points, which makes it possible to write, erase and use tools all at the same time. The so-called display bonding technology sticks the glass panel to the LCD panel, removing the space in between. This way, the user is able to write more accurately, smoothly and quicker than ever before on a Prowise screen. Moreover, display bonding reduces the glare on the screen, since external lighting is not reflected. In order to limit glare, reflection, and fingerprints, nano-texture was applied directly on the glass panel. Apple is offering this technology, at an additional price, on their iMacs. All these technologies work seamlessly together with ProNote, the company’s own developed software, offering the best writing experience on a digital board. 

 

Security

The Prowise Touchscreen Ten is the pinnacle of security. The user is in total control of their data. Only they can access their own data and grant other users permission to see or use their information. Everything is hosted from their own dedicated server, which can only be reached by its user. Both hardware and software are developed in-house by Prowise and have been tested by a team of independent professional hackers. Prowise is the only digital school screen supplier with an ISO 27001-certificate and a pending BSI-certification. Certification from these leading independent authorities confirms the incredible safety of the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. To avoid inappropriate apps and content from being visible and downloaded, Prowise created their own Appstore. All apps have been screened by a test team, ensuring that only school-proof applications make the cut.

 

Erik Neeskens, Chief Sales Officer at Prowise: “11 years of experience come together in our latest product. I am extremely proud of the result and everybody who worked on this major project. The Prowise Touchscreen Ten is outstanding and distinct from its competitors by design and technology. Digital schooling has never been so easy and fun. For us, it’s a perfect ten!”

 

For teachers

This new digital school solution was developed from a teacher’s point of view, using their feedback in order to make a product that fulfils their needs and wishes. Most of their desires are now integrated in the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. This educational game changer comes with a Prowise MOVE-camera, 6 microphones, a 2.1 soundbar that provides perfect sound to every corner of the room, and gives direct access to Teams, Meet, Skype and Zoom. No other devices are needed, which makes it the perfect all-in-one product for interactive (home)schooling.

 

Learning through motion

Some children learn better when they are actively and physically engaged. Learning through motion aligns with the way children experience the world around them. Furthermore, it is healthy and improves the learning abilities. Previous Prowise Touch Screens were already the only ones worldwide that offered a fully integrated solution for learning through motion and video calling (remote learning). The Touchscreen Ten takes it one step further by offering even more possibilities and improved functions. The Prowise MOVE camera allows you to play educational games on the Prowise Touchscreen without physically touching it. The combination of the camera with Intel® RealSense™ and the technology in the screen register motion, and connects this to the movements on the screen. Prowise has developed its own range of educational games for MOVE. These games trigger pupils to get in motion while they are completing cognitive learning activities. The games are suitable for children of various ages and available in different subject areas.

 

Sustainability

Children deserve both great education and a carefree future in a climate neutral environment. To fulfil both of these goals, Prowise aims to minimise its ecological footprint as much as possible. The company continuously strives for the best sustainable performance during the production process, making powerful devices that consume less energy, good working conditions in the factory and use the best disposal procedure. To compensate for their CO2 emission, the company plants one tree for every sold screen. One tree absorbs 20 kg CO2 per year, which equals the footprint of actively using a Prowise touchscreen for half-a-year.

 

For more information or demo request: www.prowise.com/touchscreen

Teenagers’ only lifeline in lockdown comes via a mental health app

With mental health concerns for young people increasing and normal full-time schooling for every child unlikely to return for some time, some schools have turned to a new phone app in an effort to support their students’ wellbeing.  

 

The EduKit app, created by a social enterprise of the same name, enables students to send an alert to their school if they are feeling unhappy or unsafe at home so teachers can step in and help if needed.

 

The app also delivers targeted support to the student so if anxiety or online bullying is the problem, the student can be directed to a school-recommended counselling service or guides and video resources that will support them.

 

Emilie Darabasz, joint head of school and pastoral lead at Frances Bardsley Academy in Essex, who is using the app with their 1,476 students said: “The cumulative impact of this lockdown on young people can not be underestimated. They are not only dealing with their own issues but absorbing the emotions of their parents and carers too, many of whom are facing financial hardship and job losses.

 

“There is a sense of hopelessness in some children and with no end date in sight, they need support. The app means we can send help right into their hands at the point they need it. They can be directed to resources to help or they can message a teacher trained to deal with their concerns.”

 

The app has been developed by EduKit’s co-founder, Nathalie Richards, who was inspired by her own experience of being bullied at school: “I wanted no child to feel alone in dealing with a problem at home or school.

 

“The first lockdown made me very concerned for those who did not have someone they felt they could talk to. I had to make sure that would not be the case this time around and so we made sure the app was available for schools soon after this lockdown was announced. It’s important that teenagers know they can get help no matter what they are going through.”

 

The development of the EduKit app has been part funded by the Inclusive Recovery Fund from Comic Relief and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

 

Kaligo, the AI digital handwriting app, shortlisted for two BETT Awards

The technology awards for education, The BETT Awards, finalists were announced on Friday, with Kaligo being shortlisted in two categories for their AI digital handwriting app, Early Years and Digital Apps.

 

The BETT Awards are usually hosted at the BETT Show in London on in January each year but delayed due to the pandemic and the winners will be announced in June. 

 

Faisal Hamid, Director at Kaligo explains: “It’s wonderful for the Kaligo team to be recognised as a global leader in technology for schools.  To reach the finals in two categories, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, just shows the hard work and dedication from our team this year.  For the many schools now using Kaligo, they are already seeing the benefits, witnessing the improvements in outcomes, as well as the joy Kaligo brings to the pupils, particularly through remote learning, it’s really helping.”

 

Kaligo combines years of neuroscientific research with the latest AI technology and is a new tool that will help teachers highlight handwriting difficulties in a few minutes.  Teachers choose their preferred handwriting scheme and either a pre-set lesson or set their own lesson for their pupils. 

 

This new development is set to revolutionise how younger children learn the fundamentals of handwriting.  Through Kaligo teachers can deliver the lesson, provide instant and individual interventions, as well as actively monitor the progress for every child in the class. All without adding to their workload.

 

Talking about Kaligo, the Kent ICT Champion of the Year, Matthew Tragheim said: “Kaligo provides instant feedback and children can hone their handwriting through their own choice – we can see progress as children have a passion for it.  The instant feedback given through Kaligo has a huge impact on handwriting improvement.  We’ve recently launched our impact trial which will help teachers see for the first time, concrete evidence of the positive impact of edTech in the classroom”

 

With Kaligo, pupils find handwriting more fun as the colourful and intuitive screens on tablets most pupils are already familiar with, making the task of handwriting more exciting.  Kaligo then stores the data so teachers can easily monitor progress and provides teachers with the deep dive knowledge they need through its constant classroom assessment.

 

Approved by the DfE Hungry Little Minds campaign, Kaligo has also been recognised by many awards organisations, including the GESS Education Awards.  Kaligo is a member of the National Handwriting Association and a member of the latest cohort of the UCL Educate programme.

 

If you would like you find out more about our free impact trial or Kaligo, please visit

www.kaligo-apps.com for more information.

 

What is next for UK Edtech in the pandemic era?

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

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

*What is a SPAC? Read more info here.

Canva for Education empowers teachers during lockdown with free, easy to use resources to keep learning alive remotely.

 

Carly Daff, Canva for Education’s Director of Product, explained it’s important to equip teachers with free, easy-to-use and intuitive tools to ensure they can keep students engaged in their learnings and looking forward to every class.

 

“Even before schools moved to an online environment, one of the biggest challenges facing educators was maintaining students’ engagement and shifting their attention away from everyday distractions like their phones and computers. With many schools still online around the world, and students in the comfort of their own homes with computers and phones at the ready, it’s now more important than ever to find ways to keep students proactively engaged virtually, paying attention and keeping them on track with their education.

With thousands of education-focused templates to work with, from online whiteboards, worksheets suitable for a range of subjects, group work activities, infographics, to posters, presentations, classroom decor kits, educational videos, flashcards plus many others, Canva for Education is a free one-stop-shop for creating and collaborating in an online classroom.

Our top tips for teachers includes:

  1. Focus on tools that offer real time collaboration– it is important students and teachers can continue to work and collaborate together, regardless of where they are located
  2. Use interesting tools, elements and content to keep students engaged – with remote and hybrid learning here to stay, we know the tools and elements educators use in the classroom not only need to contribute to a student’s learning experience, the output needs to be interesting, impressive and memorable to ensure full engagement.
  3. Make the technology easier and accessible to all – instead of using multiple platforms and softwares to teach, focus on using tools that offer the most value, all in one place, that are also useful across multiple platforms and devices. Less worries about technology and difficulties accessing certain platforms means more time to focus on remote learning, class collaboration and engagement

The Canva for Education platform is driven by one simple belief, technology should break down barriers, not build them, and this has been more essential than ever during lockdown. We’re proud of the way we have been able to keep learning alive and well during this unprecedented time, helping educators and students work together, even when they’re apart, and we will continue to evolve our product to ensure it truly supports the education sector in moving forward.

Canva for Education is entirely free for teachers and their students globally. Sign up today at: www.canva.com/education

New technology is driving standards in school sport

Filming sport in schools has forever been a frustrating experience. Teachers, heads of sport, examiners, students, and parents have all felt the pain of watching back footage from an inexperienced, volunteer camera operator, shaking and shuddering through 90 minutes of unappealing, eye-level action. The lack of video footage available to learners has consistently hindered the sporting development of talented athletes, looking for scholarships abroad or even professional opportunities after education.

 

This annoyance was felt by none more so than the Independent School Football Association’s head coach, Jono Santry. In recent years, the likes of Tyrone Mings, Calum Hudson-Odoi and Fraser Forster have passed through the programme and gone on to play international football. Always looking to raise the standards of his set-ups, Santry struggled to find a solution not only at ISFA, but at his own school, City of London. A new Danish product, Veo, became available in the UK in 2019 and changed everything. Veo’s solution comprised a mounted AI camera, which captures the game unmanned by intelligently tracking the ball, before its accompanying software platform turns around quick footage for analysis after a session.

 

“Veo has literally transformed our football programme,” said Santry. “For years we have been searching for a solution to video matches, tag events, analyse the footage, and share with the staff and players. I had given up on finding a one-fits-all solution that was both affordable and not reliant upon having staff to film, edit and produce the footage.”

 

Over the past year, Veo have seen a remarkable increase of popularity within the scholastic market. Over 200 schools in the UK have taken on the solution, battling age-old budget limitations that have frequently challenged sports departments all over the country. The ability to record and analyse invasion sports automatically has given both teachers, students, and parents refreshing new access to learner development. Teachers are now able to share footage with pupils and expose them to a level of self-assessment more common in higher education, while parents can now be engaged as the recordings can be shared.

 

Chris Hogg, Director of Sport for Torquay Academy talks about the ease and benefits of using the system in and out of the learning environment:

 

“It has benefited our players and coaches by allowing our games to be filmed in all weathers, without the need for a camera operator. The set-up is so simple and you can easily do two games back to back on one charge. Once the video has been clipped by the Veo robots, you can share the game or highlights with all parents and players. This has been an amazing option for at-home analysis for players on their phones or laptops which is a huge help with everyone’s busy schedules.” 

 

The COVID-19 climate has posed complications across the curriculum. With sport, this year has been particularly challenging to keep pupils engaged in their physical endeavours during a time when they weren’t allowed on the pitch. The technology has provided something of a lifeline for this quandary, enabling students to digitally engage with themselves, self-assess and develop using the online capabilities of the analysis platform. 

 

Jamie Harrison at Gordon’s School in Surrey, one of the earliest adopters of Veo, has developed four defined use-cases for the systems. 

 

“We use Veo in four key ways: performance analysis, academically for exam moderators and self- analysis, coaching CPD, and community moments. It’s easy to assemble, and when the students see it go up, they know straight away that they are being filmed which drives them to strive to perform better.”

 

The opportunity video gives students beyond school and college is another prime reason for the heavy adoption across the market. Park View Academy in County Durham is arguably one of the strongest further education academies in England, having consistently produced footballers that go on to sign professionally and semi-professionally at clubs, providing a much-needed pathway for talented athletes to develop and thrive. This is highlighted in the story of Trey Wade, a U.S.-born footballer who recently signed with Italian club A.C. Chievo Verona. He and Park View used Veo to highlight aspects of his game and send out to potential scouts. Trey was subsequently signed by the Serie B outfit in January 2020. 

 

School sport across the state and private sectors is fast becoming an equipment arms race, and victory is vital for recruitment and the retention of students. Gone are the days of misshapen cones, sloping mud-bath pitches and ill-fitting sports kits. Turn up to a school football match now and you are likely to see a UEFA-licensed coach leading a professionally structured warm-up, the outline of a GPS-tracking sports vest underneath each perfectly fitted football shirt, and an AI camera towering above the pitch to capture every moment. Times have changed, and solutions like Veo are making these developments available to sports departments around the country.

 

Oli Perkins is UK market manager at Veo, a global leader in AI-powered sports recording and analysis

 

Accelerating Digital Transformation to Reimagine Education

LONDON, 16 December 2020 – Rene Buhay, VP of Sales and Marketing at AVer Europe, the award-winning provider of video collaboration systems, advices that schools need to keep on top of the new technology available to them in a post pandemic world.

When COVID-19 struck and we moved into a pandemic, the lack of digital capability of some schools was exposed. Many of these schools were likely planning for slow digitalisation before the pandemic. But their long-term plans suddenly became very short-term actions, and many administrators adapted admirably by accelerating digital transformation to reimagine education.

ICT directors  moved quickly to reconfigure everything from basic lesson plans to graduation ceremonies for online access. The contingency plans worked well enough in the short term, but what happens next? Should schools return to the traditional methods they relied on before the pandemic?

Post COVID-19 education is already being reimagined

It is likely that institutions that were on the fence about digitally transforming their curriculums and facilities, now have a little experience with technology solutions, so are more likely to embrace them going forward. Teachers are likely to feel they are better at using technology after going through the pandemic, which forced changes to their teaching processes.

Many teachers who were once passive about their education technology—simply using the few devices that the school forced upon them—will now actively seek more advanced solutions to help them teach, whether they’re doing so in hybrid classrooms or fully online.

Additionally, schools will be afraid of being caught off guard by unplanned disruptions again. This is especially true in the competitive, often profit-driven world of higher education. Digital transformation is now becoming a necessary means of survival as this new digital world requires educators to adapt and adopt digital technologies, methodologies and mindsets.

Many experts and leaders are pushing for what has been termed “reimagining education,” by developing an agile, innovative and future focused hybrid deep learning system.

What accelerating digital transformation means for you

Even if there were no COVID-19 pandemic to shake things up, your school would have eventually had to transform. Digital transformation revolves around agility. It doesn’t mean you need to bulldoze your school building and move your entire operation to the cloud. It does mean that you should be able to do so at a moment’s notice, while also capitalising on digital resources in traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms and homework assignments.

Investment will be required in technology solutions that are easy to install and implement. A good visualiser (document camera) is perfect for teaching from home or enhancing classroom interaction, showing incredible details and capturing step-by-step processes. Interactive Control Boxes instantly upgrade outdated equipment, enabling wireless connection of student and teacher devices for collaboration and sharing. AI Auto Tracking Cameras let you livestream or record content for full-fledged distance learning and online programs.

Buhay sums up that there is “No way” schools should revert back to old ways of teaching. “Digital transformation is here to stay and AVer can offer educational institutions  the flexibility to create customised teaching and learning solutions. By mixing and matching from a wide range of first-rate classroom technology, AVer can provide the latest and best in classroom solutions to enrich learning.”

Disadvantaged pupils have no less enthusiasm for science than their more affluent counterparts

UCLan researchers share first-stage findings of Blackpool-focused research project to improve engagement with science and technology

 

Primary school children from low socio-economic areas are just as interested in science as their more affluent counterparts, according to new research from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). However, a lack of knowledge about possible science careers means their aspirations for scientific roles later in life could be lost.

 

These findings, published in the Journal of Science Communication (JCOM), come from the ongoing four-year Blackpool PIER (Physics: Inspire, Engage, Research) project conducted by Professor Robert Walsh and Dr Cherry Canovan from UCLan. The research is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as part of a Fellowship in Public Engagement held by Walsh.

 

It involves pupils from three primary and two secondary schools in Blackpool, one of the most socio-economically deprived areas of the UK, and aims to improve engagement with science and technology, especially space science, amongst a very low participation group.

 

The project is following the same cohort of pupils as they progress from Year 6 to Year 9. Initial findings, drawn from surveys, interviews and other assessments with Year 6 pupils at the beginning of the study, found that as a group the children are as interested in science as their peers from more affluent backgrounds.

 

This study suggests that attempts to increase science participation among these groups should not simply promote the subject as ‘fun’ or ‘interesting’ but could have a greater impact by demonstrating clearly how science can open up possible future career opportunities.

 

Research Associate Dr Cherry Canovan, lead author on the paper, said: “It is heartening to speak to these young people and find that they are enthusiastic about science, yet we often don’t see this interest translates into an expectation of future job opportunities involving science.

 

“There are likely a number of factors involved here. The pupils we spoke to know it is useful to study science, but don’t really know why, and have a limited understanding of the breadth of science-related careers. Many just can’t see themselves ‘being scientists’ despite saying they enjoyed the subject, with some fearing it would be incompatible with how they like to be perceived, for example being sporty, ‘girly’, or the class joker.

 

“In addition, the pupils we interviewed didn’t have science role models to emulate and while many said their parents had an interest in science, the proportion among the PIER cohort who said their parents would expect them to go to university was around ten percent lower than among the same demographic nationally*.”

 

Professor Walsh and Dr Canovan have used these results to plan a series of engagement activities with the pupils over the following three years to see if they can influence decisions to study science to GCSE level and possibly beyond.

 

Professor Walsh said: “Much government policy towards boosting science in higher education in particular focuses on an assumed lack of interest and desire in low-socioeconomic groups. However, the enthusiasm is already there and this ‘hidden science identity’ needs to be revealed and translated into real-life prospects for these young people.

 

“It is concerning that while pupils stated that science was useful, they did not have the understanding to back this up; this suggests that often methods used to disseminate this message could be lacking in practical effectiveness, information that may provide some cause for reflection among the wider science communication community.

 

“We’re recommending that programmes instead allow young people to explore their science identity more fully and provide innovative ways for them to discover the kinds of jobs that studying science may lead to.”

 

The PIER project has been conducting four different types of activities each year for the PIER participants, which translates to around 36 hours of science contact for each pupil overall. This includes ‘meet the scientists’ events, trips to UCLan’s Alston Observatory and Young Scientist Centre as well as family science events at school. All pupils will be reassessed at the end of the process to see if their attitudes, understanding and relationship to science has changed.

 

Dr Canovan is also conducting an ongoing research project into the impact of Covid-related school closures on primary science learning and said the pandemic could exacerbate scientific inequalities.

 

“We are beginning to see evidence that science learning loss due to lockdown is a much greater problem in traditionally low-participation communities. Teachers felt less able to set science work due to concerns about internet access and asking parents to provide resources for activities. For many of these children, school is their only opportunity to access science; ongoing Covid restrictions could further widen the gap between the science ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.”

 

She added: “Blackpool is just one example of a community where young people are being left behind. It is not just in the interest of the pupils themselves to see working in science as a realistic prospect, but as the government looks to increase jobs in areas such as the space industry, cybersecurity and clean energy, then the UK needs a much larger pool to draw this future workforce from.”

 

The paper, A space to study: expectations and aspirations toward science among a low-participation cohort, is available to download on the JCOM website.

 

Teachers, parents and students must work together as Greenwich schools move back online

 

From Monday evening, all schools in Greenwich will be moving their classes online to reduce coronavirus transmissions between children in education in an effort to control the London borough’s infection rate, which is currently at its highest since March.

 

The move back to online learning follows council leader, Danny Thorpe, underlining that Greenwich is showing signs of a period of exponential growth which need immediate addressing, despite the government threatening legal action to keep schools open until the start of the Christmas holidays on Friday.

 

Following the news, Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma, a user experience (UX) design agency, has offered some insight into how to make the transition online as successful as possible and why schools should be working to optimise their use of technology in teaching.

 

Hilary said: “Schools must update their approach to remote teaching based on previous lockdowns, as it moves back to online learning, while children are kept at home as Greenwich seeks to get the virus back under control.

 

“The transition between face-to-face and virtual education needs to be as seamless as possible to minimise the disruption of a child’s education. For the best outcomes, teaching staff, parents and children are going to have to work together to iron out any creases which were apparent earlier in the year, and any new issues that may arise as learning becomes remote again. Schools and local authorities shouldn’t lose sight of the need to make remote learning inclusive, with the same opportunities given to all pupils regardless of their home situation, accessibility or learning needs.

 

“Looking ahead, a blended approach to learning is the future of education as digital becomes more and more integrated in teaching. While the coming weeks will be challenging for all involved, schools in London should view the short-term closure of classrooms as a chance to assess which blending learning approaches work best for their teachers and pupils. Schools who do well to use this time to optimise their use of technology and will place themselves in an ideal position as we move to more remote, digitally-enabled ways of learning.”

 

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.