Innovate My School

Innovate My School

Innovate My School empowers educators to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead proactively and, most importantly, feel inspired. It now entertains an audience of 50,000 educators through its weekly content, with 1,300 guest bloggers and over 2,500 articles published to date.

If you teach at a school in or around London, this is a great initiative to give your students aged 13-16 an invaluable insight into the world of filmmaking. London Film School (LFS) has joined the National Saturday Club to create the new LFS Film & Media Saturday Club, which will launch on 8th October and will run for a total of 18 weeks at LFS in the heart of Covent Garden.

Following last year’s hugely successful series of free Virtual Fulfilment Centre tours, Amazon has announced new tour dates aimed to educate students on the opportunities available to them in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. The tours are part of Amazon Future Engineer, a purpose-led childhood-to-career programme built to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science.

Team GB and ParalympicsGB’s youth engagement programme Get Set has engaged with over 93% of UK schools since its launch prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

On Friday 14 October (England) and Friday 30 September (Scotland), hundreds of schools will again take part in ‘JUST ONE Tree Day’ – an international non-uniform day where children are encouraged to bring in £1 to plant a tree and help reforest the planet.

Organised by JUST ONE Tree – a British non-profit dedicated to removing CO2 from the atmosphere through global reforestation – the fundraising day has been established to show children and young people how individual actions can make a difference against the climate and biodiversity crises. For every £1 raised, a tree is planted.

The event is open to both primary and secondary schools, who can sign up here. Those taking part can access free lesson resources that fit in with the national curriculum - as part of their fundraising activities, children learn about photosynthesis, the benefits of trees for both people and wildlife and the vital role they play in reducing the impacts of climate change.

To date, over 500 schools and 200,000 pupils have taken part, raising money to fund tree planting in Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal and Zambia, via the organisation’s global network of planting partners.

JUST ONE Tree founder, Amanda Bronkhorst: “JUST ONE Tree Day was born out of my commitment to make a difference – not only for my young daughter, but for the future of all children.

“Climate anxiety is a very real issue with many of today’s youth hit by the reality of the climate crisis, but the message I want to convey is we can all make a difference, and one way of doing that is by involving our young people.”

About JUST ONE Tree Day

The day inspires, educates and empowers the next generations. It’s a fun and educational global event which unites children, parents and teachers around the world on a day to reforest the planet. It is the flagship event of JUST ONE Tree, a multi-award winning British not-for-profit dedicated to restoring life on land, in the oceans and shaping the next generation of planet-conscious thinkers. They plant their trees in countries close to the equator where they can have the greatest positive effect on limiting global warming and creating a greener world for us all.

The rule of thumb "the more you know, the easier it is to learn", is good news for teachers… mostly. Of course low attaining and underachieving learners get stuck in the trap: "the less you know the harder it is to learn" and then go on to develop further barriers to learning.

Bishop Cornish CofE VA Primary School pupils become Ripple Energy’s youngest group of shareholders as they purchase part-ownership in new wind farm, protecting their school from the shock of soaring energy bills and saving 802 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of planning an estimate 66 hectares of forest, or 33,000 trees.[1]

This Global Wind Day – the annual international celebration of clean wind power on 15 June – pupils at Bishop Cornish CofE Primary School in Saltash, Cornwall, brought a breath of fresh air to net zero, sharing a new way in which schools, businesses and individuals can stabilise their electricity bills by owning part of a large-scale wind farm.

The school and pre-school, which has 242 pupils aged 2-11, will be benefitting from shares in an 18.8MW wind farm nearly 500 miles away at Kirk Hill in Ayrshire, Scotland, in a project enabled by Ripple Energy. The Kirk Hill wind farm is thought to be the world’s largest consumer-owned wind farm and the second of Ripple’s revolutionary people-powered projects. The power generated by the wind farm will cover 100% of Bishop Cornish’s electricity needs, and in return the school will benefit from total electricity bill reductions of an estimated £235,000 and total carbon savings of 804 tonnes over the 25 years of the wind farm’s lifetime.

Sarah Adkins Chair of Trustees for Bishop Cornish Education Centre Charity: “100% renewable energy generation was a pipe dream when we set up our school charity in 2004. Since then, we have raised £400,000 to build our multi-award winning eco-education centre, become the first ‘Zero to Landfill’ school in Cornwall and begun investing in amazing creative and sustainable learning environments and skills for our children. With over 30 years’ experience in wind energy on our charity board and after due diligence we are thrilled to have achieved, through Ripple Energy, our net zero goal – we could not have achieved this alone.

In addition, once the difference between wholesale electricity prices and the low wind farm operating costs are rebated on a monthly basis, our charity and the school will be able to focus on what matters most – nurturing in our children a lifelong love of learning and caring for each other and our environment.”

Tracey Fletcher, Headteacher at Primary School, said“For us as a school we are absolutely delighted that Bishop Cornish Education Centre Charity has invested in the Kirk Hill Wind Farm. For us, it is much more than the welcome savings on our ever-increasing energy bills; we will be able to provide our children with the understanding and knowledge that they too can make a difference to a global climate crisis that we can no longer ignore.”

The purchase comes as energy prices in the UK are set for a continued period of instability. The energy regulator Ofgem has already announced that the annual energy price cap will increase to £2,800 in October[2] – a £1,573 increase from the beginning of the year.[3] And headteachers across the UK have warned that their schools are facing a 100% increase in energy costs over the next year, with many schools forced to cut budgets and redistribute their spending from classroom time and equipment for pupils to energy bills – making a choice between lighting and learning.[4] 

The Kirk Hill project will help Ripple members like Bishop Cornish School stabilise their electricity bills, as they benefit from direct savings to their bills based on the electricity their share of the wind farm generates. Ripple’s model enables members of the public and businesses to buy into low-cost renewable energy projects no matter where they live in the country – a way for all people to generate their own energy and save money off their electricity bills, protecting them from price spikes.

Bishop Cornish School is one of 18 businesses and 5,603 individuals that have bought into the Kirk Hill wind farm co-op, raising a total of £13.2m and making it the largest amount raised by any UK Co-op Society in a single offer, according to the trade association Co-operatives UK. Kirk Hill will also create total carbon savings of 12,750 tonnes CO2 per annum – that’s the same as the weight of 140,000 baby elephants – or over 2.2 tonnes on average per owner.

Sarah Merrick, CEO of Ripple Energy, said: "Owning part of a wind farm is the easiest way to protect yourself from future energy price spikes. Wind delivers clean, stable-priced power for the long term. We want as many people as possible to benefit, while also reducing their carbon footprint.

"It’s fantastic to see the breadth of people joining Ripple’s consumer-led energy movement, with Bishop Cornish leading the way in demonstrating how schools and other businesses can support clean energy and take control of their electricity costs, creating a greener future at the same time."

Ownership in the Kirk Hill wind farm is six times that of Ripple's first wind farm Graig Fatha in Coedely, South Wales, which began operating in March 2022. Owners get savings applied to their electricity bill that reflect the difference between the market price for electricity and the wind farm's low and stable operating costs. When market prices are high, like at present, savings are high. When the market price is lower, savings fall too. The net effect is to help stabilise bills.

Graig Fatha’s 907 owners have already seen collective bill savings of over £57,000 between March and May.      

Ripple is designed to be accessible to all: even if you can’t put solar on your roof or don’t have the opportunities to make energy efficiency improvements to your home because you rent, you can still have your own source of low-cost, clean energy.

And Ripple’s innovative people-forward approach is gaining momentum: reservations for its third, as yet unnamed, project opened on 4 May 2022 and more than 1,000 people have already reserved their spot. All households can sign up to Ripple, join the co-operative and buy shares in the wind farm in a few minutes. Ownership is flexible, starting at just £25. People can even generate more clean power than they use, as the cap on ownership is the equivalent of 120% of their consumption. The more they own, the more green power they get, the more they save.

In addition to passing savings to Ripple's members, the Kirk Hill wind farm will provide a community benefit fund of £94,000 per year. The co-op will work with the local community to determine the best approach to manage the community benefit fund. Ripple intends to focus the fund on fuel poverty actions or environmental projects, and will be conscious of other local needs when directing exactly how the fund is to be used.

1 . CO2/tree equivalence based on Encon calculations https://www.encon.be/en/calculation-co2-offsetting-trees
2 . bbc.co.uk/news/business-61562657
3 . ofgem.gov.uk/publications/price-cap-increase-ps693-april
4 . independent.co.uk/news/education/school-energy-bill-price-increase-b2066807.html

 

New research has today highlighted significant concern amongst both businesses and teachers about how prepared young people are for the world of work – particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The polling is released by education charity Teach First as it launches a new report, Rethinking Careers Education: Investing in Our Country’s Future. The report makes a series of recommendations on how improving careers education – and increasing business engagement with schools – can help level up opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The new research reveals that eight in 10 teachers (79%) believe their pupils are less ready for the world of work when compared to previous years, while more than half of teachers in schools with the most disadvantaged pupils (55%) believe the pandemic has negatively affected pupils’ perceptions of their career prospects.

Teach First also conducted a survey of over 500 HR decision makers from British businesses and found they share this concern, with over half (56%) saying they are concerned that ‘lost learning’ from the pandemic will exacerbate the skills shortage amongst pupils and students.

While grades are hugely important, the research suggests that other skills are also highly valued by employers. When asked to select the top three skills that they would consider most if recruiting young people, they were most likely to choose broader soft skills (69%), literacy and numeracy (54%), and digital and IT skills (48%). However, when asked to give their assessment of the preparedness of current school, college and university leavers, 72% of businesses said that they were concerned about their level of soft skills. They also reported concerns about the level of literacy and numeracy (68%) and digital and IT skills (52%).

In their new report Teach First argues in favour of a series of recommendations which they believe could make a tangible impact on young people’s employability. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) of teachers agreed that improved careers education would decrease the number of young people that end up classified as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

Children on free school meals are currently twice as likely to be NEET at age 18-24 compared to those not (26% compared to 13%)[i].

Solutions

To help tackle this, Teach First believe careers education needs to start at primary school level. Teachers agree, with seven in 10 (71%) primary schools teachers believing career-related learning for their pupils will raise their pupils’ awareness of different career pathways, and two-thirds (66%) said it will raise their aspiration.

The DfE recently made a welcome commitment for a new careers programme for primary schools in disadvantaged areas in the recent Schools White Paper. In order to be as effective as possible, Teach First wants the DfE to work with sector leaders and publish a framework for effective careers learning in primary schools based on the Gatsby benchmarks and pair this with a new fund that trains and supports primary teachers working in disadvantaged areas.

Based on their own experience of successfully training Career Leaders in secondary schools, Teach First estimate this would cost £8.5m to support the top 10% most disadvantaged primary schools by pupils’ free school meal eligibility – which is approximately 2,000 primary schools.

The report also calls for a series of other key recommendations, including:

  • Large employers to offer blended work experience programmes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Whilst in-person work experience will continue to be crucial, online options offer employers a chance to diversify their recruitment and widen participation – particularly to regions outside of London.
  • Large employers should collect and publish socioeconomic background data to inform their outreach work with schools and recruitment policies. This will ensure disadvantaged pupils, who are far less likely to access work placements through their family networks, are helped to secure the same opportunities to vital careers knowledge and experience.
  • The Department for Education should use destinations data to target additional transitional support at schools and colleges that serve disadvantaged communities.

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:

“Our country’s long-term prosperity depends on the next generation of young people. Careers education is an essential part of that – making a significant impact on a young person’s development at school, as well as their future employment opportunities. Schools do their best to prepare pupils for the world of work, but that is not their core purpose. That is why we believe it is essential that employers are involved in shaping the future of careers education. 

“For too long, securing high quality careers advice and work experience has been a postcode lottery – that must change. With concerns over the cost-of-living crisis, and a potential recession later in the year, it’s vital that we do everything we can to give our young people the best possible chance to succeed and thrive in the world of work”.  

Simon Wareham, Teach First Careers Leader & Assistant Principal at Southmoor Academy, said:

“To accommodate all our work, our careers education team has doubled in size. As school budgets are always limited, I work with our headteacher to adapt existing roles and school funding. We also rely on business partners to support with free resources, travel support and activities. Thankfully, many employers are invested in supporting our pupils and helping them to consider career options.

 “Ultimately, all schools need to be equipped to provide their pupils with a complete education. We are passionate about making sure all of our pupils have the skills they need to be well prepared to go out and excel in the wider world.”

Lauren Wallace, Physics teacher and STEAM Lead from Bishopbriggs Academy, shares why she sees cross-disciplinary collaboration between Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths as an integral part of her students' development

As a sector, we’ve happily moved beyond the belief that Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts or Maths (STEAM) should sit isolated in a vacuum. It’s self-apparent that the most impressive, important and engaging developments in society are taking place at the convergence of these fields, with new initiatives in business, environmental conservation, healthcare and much else drawing on the knowledge (and talent) of people collaborating across these different areas.  

All the STEAM subjects can creatively complement one another, each offering different tools and perspectives to address an enormous range of challenges and opportunities. Science and Technology might combine to create new diagnostic tools for health issues, while Arts and Maths might enable people to better understand important numeral information through beautiful illustrations. In the real world, these opportunities for creative cross-disciplinary collaboration are truly unlimited (just think of the internet or the aeroplane) but are only possible when we can take step back and use creative thinking to conceive of how they might be successfully combined.

To thrive professionally in a future workforce, students must develop an appreciation of how all the STEAM subjects can interact to produce new innovations – and vitally, must also recognise the fundamental need for creativity in order to make this happen. 

That’s why as a STEAM lead, I’m interested in UNBOXED. Creativity sits at the heart of the UNBOXED Learning Programme, which is designed to support schools in developing these skills within young people in their classroom.

This free programme, for young people aged 4 – 19, is an example of placing creativity centre stage in a STEAM-based learning environment. From a bio-diverse forest in a city centre to an epic scale model of the solar system, schools can experience first-hand these creative successes when engineering and art, scientific research and technological innovation come together.

What drew me to the UNBOXED Learning Programme was how its various projects, and the resources available, showcase what can happen when creativity and STEAM are combined. It is evident both inside and outside the classroom, from digital learning to in-person experiences. As an educator, you’re teaching the same curriculum. The variety of this programme gives teachers the chance to add excitement, real-world learning and innovation into our lessons to inspire students. 

The barriers to teaching STEAM are that teachers don’t have the time or confidence to build and deliver a lesson. As a Physics teacher, my specialism is in the ‘S’ part of STEAM but the range of activities from UNBOXED gives teachers more confidence in broader STEAM teaching whilst not needing to be a specialist in any particular area. The quality of the resources from high profile artists and scientists is also to a very high standard which means that staff feel confident in presenting the material. 

UNBOXED’s Dandelion project has been empowering students in Scotland to learn about growing, share in community harvests and work together for a more sustainable future. We are currently running the project with over 200 students in our school. To date, the feedback has been that it was their favourite part of the year for many students. 

One of the questions I often get asked is how other teachers can build STEAM into lessons. My response? Let young people explore their creativity. With STEAM learning, you’re facilitating this. Using the ready-made activities from the UNBOXED Learning Programme can be used to support those conversations.

Created for young people aged 4 - 19, the UNBOXED Learning Programme is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that brings together digital and in-person learning experiences across STEAM from March to October 2022. Learn more here: https://unboxed2022.uk/learning-programme 

 

According to the ONS, between October and December 2021, 692,000 young people in the UK aged 16-24 were classified as NEET. At Unifrog, we work together with our partner schools across the UK to close the gap and raise aspirations, and this year we predict that we’ll prevent 4,200 students from becoming NEET across our partner schools.

Our mission has always been to level the playing field when it comes to young people finding the best opportunities for them, and our new data-driven approach to supporting schools has had a major impact on students’ next steps. We used the Education Endowment Foundation Family of Schools database to look at matched pairs of schools where one school was a Unifrog partner and one was not, and tracked them over 3 years to assess the impact Unifrog had on the number of NEET students.

Schools were matched based on:

  • similar numbers of students eligible for FSM,
  • a similar number of SEND and EAL students, and
  • levels of prior attainment of students.

Our findings:

  • 74% of the time, Unifrog schools saw a reduction in students becoming NEET vs their paired non-Unifrog school.
  • Across the sample, using Unifrog led to 2 fewer students becoming NEET per school every year.

Using this information, we can predict that 4,200 fewer students will become NEET this year, thanks to Unifrog.

What is Unifrog?

Unifrog is a one-stop careers platform designed for all students from KS3 to KS5. With over 650 career profiles and 100 subject profiles, students can explore different jobs, learn about the pathways that can get them there, and explore how their skills and interests might play into their future choices.

We also help students compare every opportunity - including colleges, sixth forms, apprenticeships, and universities in the UK and overseas - and support them in creating world class applications for those opportunities. Our aim isn’t just to close the gap, but to help every student find the best next step for them, whatever that might be.

Finally, we provide support for school and college staff to run a well-planned and well-executed careers strategy across all year groups with a dedicated series of lesson plans and activities to help them meet all Gatsby Benchmarks, with a focus on embedding careers in the curriculum (Gatsby Benchmark 4).

How does Unifrog help close the gap?

Because Unifrog supports students from Year 7, all students will have a clear and defined CEIAG journey meaning staff can check in on them and support them in finding their best next step even if it changes. We provide live reporting on CEIAG strategies allowing staff to tailor their CEIAG programme throughout the year to best provide for their students, and to target support for students who are not on track to meet their goals. Plus, we’re there every step of the way to suggest solutions and ideas to support staff with this.

We also use student and teacher feedback to ensure students are getting everything they need to make decisions about their futures and to build the skills and experiences they need to get there. For example, in a survey of over 6,000 of our users, students identified skills development as a key challenge during the pandemic. We used this to draw up recommendations for both partner and non-partner schools to share in our Insights report to make sure no student gets left behind.

Similarly, in a survey of 5,500 UK students in Y11-13, we found that when it comes to considering an apprenticeship, students identified ‘lack of encounters with employers’ as one of the main obstacles. Naturally we rose to the challenge, creating live, interactive webinars and Careers Fairs to provide students with encounters with employers wherever they are in the world. Teachers are able to use Unifrog to plan and track engagement with these types of encounters too, meaning they can spot where students are missing key careers education or target students for particular encounters, based on their intentions and career interests.

If you’re already a Unifrog partner, get in touch with your Area or Account Manager for support on embedding a careers curriculum that works for all your students and helps you achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks. If you’re not a partner yet and want more information, we’d love to hear from you; you can request a demo here.

Students aged 7 - 11 across the UK are invited to participate in an interactive survey titled Life’s Big Questions. Created by Dreamachine, a one-of-a-kind programme setting the minds of the UK public alight with its magical journey to explore the extraordinary potential of your mind, the online survey is hosted by Martin Dougan (CBBC Newsround), together with globally renowned neuroscientist and author Anil Seth and philosopher Fiona Macpherson. The survey is an interactive exploration of the amazing power of the human brain and how we each experience the world that places young people’s perceptions at its core.

Life's Big Questions connects children’s voices across the four nations, celebrates their unique differences, and gives a student voice perspective on what matters to them most. Involve your students in the unique opportunity and let their thoughts and perceptions on the human mind be heard.

Rooted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Life’s Big Questions invites children to explore big scientific and philosophical questions about how we experience the world and why our senses aren’t as simple as they seem. Centred around five ‘big questions’ such as ‘Can I believe everything I see?’ or ‘ Are colours only in my mind?’ the survey gives voice to how young people experience the world around us and their connection with others.

Created for flexible learning and easy for teachers to build into their lessons or enrichment sessions, the pupil facing website will host a short video introducing each question. There will then be several fun examples illustrating the question, and a simple question that pupils can answer. Pupils that take part will then be able to see how their answers compare with children across the UK – encouraging them to consider the ways we are similar - and what makes us unique.

Each question includes Q&As with world-leading experts in science and philosophy, explaining why we experience the world the way we do. Simple step by step activities, including audio clips and optical illusions, will guide a whole class or individual pupil through the survey. The survey can be completed as a whole class or individually.

Professor Anil Seth says: “I believe that children are intrinsically curious about consciousness and perception - about how we each experience the world, and why we have conscious experiences at all. By engaging with children about these fundamental topics, we’ll be able to cultivate this curiosity, build greater understanding and empathy, and foster greater wellbeing too - because understanding how we’re each different on the inside is an important part of bringing us together and forging connections. And we’ll also hope to discover fascinating new data about how children across the country experience their worlds.”

Fusing science with arts, the Dreamachine themes offer compelling classroom investigation on the power of the human mind, our amazing brains and the big questions of perception and consciousness - our sense of self, how we see the world and how we connect with others. All associated resources are linked to curricula across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Life’s Big Questions is launched as part of the Dreamachine Schools programme, a major programme developed by A New Direction in partnership with the British Science Association, UNICEF UK and We The Curious, commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

Steve Moffitt, CEO of A New Direction, said: “We launch Life’s Big Questions as schools come to the end of yet another challenging academic year; schools need to manage staff capacities, learning loss for students, and the mental health and wellbeing of both pupils and teachers. At A New Direction we have created this suite of high-quality learning assets and resources, a programme of CPD and a set of light touch time bound exercises which all address big conceptual questions that feel relevant and useful for schools at this present time.”

The first 500 schools to take part and register will have the opportunity to win in-school experiences for their students, including an online Q&A with leading scientists or philosophers and a science themed workshop. Sign up today.

Every parent wants to be proud of their children’s early accomplishments: “My child started walking when he was 9 months” or “My child started speaking when he was 1”. Parents are also time-poor, and often reliant on screens to do some of the childminding.

The COCO app is a ready-to-use adaptive learning platform working without Wi-Fi that allows teachers to stimulate the children through fun and attractive games. Plus, with 3 levels of difficulty, each game can be adapted to the children’s level in the different learning areas.

Games to develop essential skills

COCO’s educational games help children work on their vocabulary, language, and mathematical skills, for example. With the COCO app, you will develop the children’s knowledge with our trivia quiz, improve their vocabulary with the Brain Storm game, where they have to put back in order famous sayings, or their language with Syllabus, where they have to make up words from given syllables. You will also work on their logic with Snowball Effect or Tangram.

Physical activities to fight against screen addiction

The COCO app includes a sports break where, every 15 minutes of screentime, children are asked to do at least one physical exercise. It has several positive impacts: it helps children detach from devices, to discourage screen addiction, and also combats sedentary behaviour.

The children will learn to acknowledge their own body and the space around them by following COCO’s movements, for example, by dancing with the little coach or doing some yoga. These exercises are perfect to take an active break from all the learning they are doing in class and clear their minds.

Helping those with special needs

Each child is different which is why a teacher must give different techniques and tips on how to learn and acquire certain skills. In order to include children with learning disabilities, like dyslexia, dyscalculia or ADHD, each game includes audio description and hints to allow everyone to use the COCO program. Moreover, the app only includes encouraging messages to invite the children to keep learning and exercising.

Learning social skills, such as recognising emotions, is really important in a child’s development. It is even more important for children with developmental disorders such as autism or Down Syndrome. Which is why the COCO app includes certain games that have been adapted for special needs children. Recognising emotions is a common game when working with children with autism. However, doing it on a tablet is much more fun and motivating for them. In the game Mime an emotion, the child will learn to recognise emotions such as fear, hunger, pride, and serenity.

ADHD children live in a frenetic world and for them to sit or focus takes a lot of effort. With COCO they can take a break from the world around them and do structured activities at the same time. For example, in the game 1,2,3 red light, the child has to move to the music and stop when the music stops. This requires concentration and adapting to external stimuli.

Note that there are technical sheets for teachers on how to use the COCO app for each cognitive disorder.

The app can be used at home, during therapy or at school, as a group activity or for one-on-one use. Special prices available for 10, 20, 50 or more schools.

To learn more about COCO app and see pricing, visit them on EdTech Impact: https://edtechimpact.com/products/coco-thinks-and-coco-moves.

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