News

Pupils win space challenge with NASA module design

Generation Beyond

Five UK primary school pupils are reaching for the stars after winning a competition to design a spacecraft for NASA, for the Generation Beyond Challenge.

The young scientists, from London and Surrey, are the winners of this year’s Generation Beyond Challenge - organised by Lockheed Martin and Discovery Education.

The challenge - a UK first - was launched to schools last year as part of a new STEM education programme to inspire the next generation of astronauts. Children were asked to stretch their imagination by designing a habitation module for Orion, the NASA spacecraft which will take the first crew to Mars in the 2030s.

New Compass office opens to guide families through fostering

Compass Fostering

Compass Fostering were delighted to announce the opening of their new Regional Office in Felsted Essex recently. The new office allows Compass Fostering to enhance its local delivery across the East of England. 

As a well-established Independent Fostering Agency, Compass Fostering is a national provider of both Fostering and Residential provision.

Paul Kent is the Head of Fostering for the East at the new Felsted Office. Paul brings a wealth of experience to the role with 28 years’ service working within children’s services for Local Authorities (including 14 years in Norfolk) and seven years working within the private fostering sector in the East of England.

1600s church refurbished for SEN pupils

TCES

East London Independent School in Stratford Marsh, which is part of the TCES Group, has extended its site by redeveloping a church that dates back to 1662. The refurbished church now boasts six new classrooms, as well as a double art room and state-of-the-art classrooms for science, ICT and food technology.

There is also a new school hall, two sensory rooms, and an excellent outside space.

To accommodate it all, the single storey church building has been converted to two storeys, retaining all the existing windows that now cast light both upstairs and downstairs.

The group prides itself on uniquely integrating pupils from 7-19 years with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and autism spectrum conditions (ASC).

‘Garden school’ by architecture initiative opens in the heart of East London

Olga Primary School

Architecture Initiative’s new school, Olga Primary School, in east London has opened its doors to over 700 primary school pupils. Designed for Tower Hamlets School Ltd and London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Olga Primary School envisions a ‘garden oasis’ in the heart of the capital city.

The school’s vertical design consolidates 25 classrooms around a naturally-lit atrium with the age of pupils increasing as the building rises. The three-storey, glazed atrium creates a circulation core that separates the structure into two distinct volumes: one accommodates the teaching centre; the other contains the administrative and communal spaces, delivering the added benefit of opening the facility to the wider community outside of generic schooling hours.

Scotts of Thrapston - UK Construction Excellence

Scotts of Thrapston - UK Construction Excellence

A learning environment, or the physical, psychological and instructional atmosphere, can critically affect a pupil’s morale and learning, in the same way that a clean, bright, organised space can positively influence the learning experience.

Therefore, pupils should be encouraged to feel comfortable and confident as learners which is why the design of a classroom is so vitally important.

Scotts of Thrapston, specialists in the manufacture and installation of bespoke timber-framed buildings,has a dedicated design manager who studied classroom attainment and the effect of educational environments on children's behaviour. Everything from light levels to atmosphere and the amount of CO2 present comes under the spotlight. 

How music and technology can increase engagement and social communication in SEN school settings

SEN

A pioneering new research article, on SEN subjects, published in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities explores the impact of an intervention combining music and technology on children with a dual diagnosis of autism and intellectual disabilities (ID), and excitingly reports positive outcomes, especially regarding social communication (i.e. behaviour regulation and joint attention). Although there has been much academic research conducted on the benefits of music on children with autism, this is the first study to explore the impact of a technology-mediated music-making intervention on the engagement levels and social communication skills of children with autism and ID at school.

Could a mastery approach help pupils with SEND make progress in Maths?

SEND

by Katie Hiatt

When it comes to teaching maths, ‘mastery’ is the current buzzword, with more and more UK schools choosing to adopt this approach to drive a deeper understanding of maths and SEND subjects for all children. 

Could mastery, which in recent years has become almost synonymous with South-East Asian approaches, help our children with SEND too? 

While the needs of your pupils with SEND may be varied and not all aspects of the mastery approach will be suitable for every child, drawing on elements of mastery teaching could help them make progress in maths and equip them with vital life skills. 

Here are five things you could try if you think they may benefit your pupils:

1. Use a CPA approach 

'At Orbis we're passionate about creating great homes and an exceptional learning experience'

Orbis HR manager Simon Drinkwater

Simon Drinkwater recently joined Cardiff-based Orbis Education and Care as its new HR Director. Here, he talks to Education For Everybody about Orbis specialist schools and residential services for people with autism…

Tell us about Orbis and the service it provides.

Orbis Education and Care provides specialist day schools, as well as residential services for children and adults who have a formal diagnosis of autism. Orbis currently encompasses four residential schools for children and young people and nine adult homes.

How do you feel about joining Orbis and what are your plans in terms of HR?

How tech is bringing school trip experiences into the classroom

School trips

School trips are a highly valuable tool in a teacher’s arsenal. They can act as a reward and create applied, varied and collaborative learning experiences for pupils that facilitate greater retention of information. However, it’s not always practical or possible to take students away from the classroom, not least for those with special needs who may find excessive exposure to new environments overwhelming. Technology provides a way to bring trip experiences into the school and facilitate the transition out of the classroom by building on the skills that will be called on during outings.

Technological advancements

Reading is most important life skill

National Literacy Trust

A new poll has revealed that two thirds (74 per cent) of people believe that reading is the most important life skill a child can learn. 

The survey of 2,000 people ranked learning to read as more important than learning basic maths (52 per cent), how to manage finances (43 per cent), playing sport (nine per cent), and using electrical devices (seven per cent). 

However, although learning to read is deemed the most important thing we’ll ever do, thousands of children still do not have any books at home. Recent research conducted by cartridgesave.co.uk revealed that one in 11 children in the UK have never owned a book. 

"Behaviour management starts from understanding the needs of the child"

Aspire Behaviour Management - Gill Bullock

Gill Bullock, Director and one of the founders of Burnley-based Aspire Behaviour Management Ltd, talks to Education For Everybody editor Victoria Galligan about working with children who are at risk of exclusion…

Can you describe what happens during the placements at Aspire, and during the transition period?

Children aged between three and nine can access placements at The Aspire Hub. All those children who come to us have exhibited Social and Emotional Mental Health and are at high risk of exclusion. 

National Autistic Society and Rough Guides team up to encourage more inclusive days out

Accessible Britain

The study by the National Autistic Society was carried out ahead of the publication of the new, seventh edition of The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain and demonstrated some simple things that venues and attractions can do to make days out more accessible for autistic people and their families.

The revamped edition of The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain follows advice from the National Autistic Society and includes information for visitors with more hidden conditions, such as autism or mental illness.

The Parks Trust Education Ranger Achieves National Accreditation

Outdoor Learning

A member of The Parks Trust’s Outdoor Learning Team, which works with around 6,000 adults and school children across Milton Keynes every year, has been recognised as an Accredited Practitioner by national body the Institute for Outdoor Learning.

James Walsh, who has worked for The Parks Trust for three years, received the accreditation after completing a comprehensive portfolio of work and passing an interview panel with two independent assessors.

The work in his portfolio included published articles in industry magazines, personal reflections on practice and the issues facing the outdoor learning industry, detail around his experience and an ongoing professional development plan.

New Play Kit Designed for Children’s Development

Kitcamp

Kitcamp, founded by Anna Saunt and Jonathan Lord, have introduced a new build-and-play modular kit as an alternative to, or to complement, fixed play equipment. The innovative kit is more versatile than traditional fixed play furniture and the advantage is that children build structures themselves, which helps with learning and social development.

The product is unique, comprising of interlocking panels which fit together in different configurations, so children can assemble large objects like castles, dens and spaceships to their own design and limited only by their imagination. It’s ideal for primary schools but can be used in various ways by different age groups, even as a useful storage system or as classroom dividers.

Explore and Learn

Children's charity launches first hospital-based pre-school

Piggles Trust

A charity set up by a family in memory of their late daughter has launched the first hospital-based pre-school, Piggles Trust,  in the country at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Piggles Trust, founded by Caroline and Edward Martin from Andover, aims to provide early years education to young patients nationwide.

In partnership with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s workplace nursery provider Taplins, the charity has funded the first nursery nurse in the NHS.

Prior to the development of Piggles Trust, there was no provision for delivering pre-school education for children aged two to five while in hospital – despite being a crucial age for learning and development.

Adopting Adaptive Learning: A teacher's Guide

Adaptive Learning

Part of the thriving edtech industry, Adaptive Learning fuses education with IT using computers as interactive learning devices. It presents educational content and resources to the user according to their unique needs.

It’s also veiled in mystery, jargon and scepticism. Hasty investments by Venture Capitalists into half-baked solutions have seen many a school stuck with a learning product rushed to market that ultimately does little to add value to the classroom.

A buzzword and a black hole

Enticingly, adaptive learning promises to feed the technical appetites of the digitally native youth; to deliver incrementally better learning experiences and outcomes; and to relieve busy teachers of the paper work and reporting that cloud their evenings and weekends.