Pupils across UK attempt to break Guinness World Record in Yoga

Guinness World Record

This autumn, pupils in primary schools across the UK will join a mass online participation attempt to break a world record for the most children to practise yoga together. Pupils taking part have the chance to create and enter their very own Yoga pose, with the winning pose being practised during the 10 minute attempt at the start of the school day. “All primary schools are welcome to register and we’re supporting schools with free weekly yoga clips to help prepare children with a handful of Yoga poses for the main event. Any child in any primary school anywhere can take part, it’s an inclusive practise.” comments Joanne Wharton, Yoga in School Specialist at Shaping Healthy Minds Online, children’s online Yoga company. In 2016, 35,985 people took part in the largest ‘in person’ Yoga lesson in New Delhi, India, whilst last year, 3,118 people broke the world record for most people practising plank pose together in Zhuji, China. All schools joining will be listed as taking part and receive a certificate. The date and time this autumn are yet to be confirmed, but schools can register now to join this record breaking exciting online Yoga lesson and receive free Yoga by emailing: info@kidsloveyoga.org.uk   All information will be sent out in September 2021 and also held here: www.kidsloveyoga.org.uk About Shaping Healthy Minds Online With a mission for every child in primary school UK education to have access to the benefits of Yoga, Shaping Healthy Minds Online and Kids Love Yoga help children in school to be flexible, connected and relaxed through fun Yoga based activities.  Through a team of Primary School Teachers and Children’s Yoga Teachers, Yoga sessions are delivered through an online platform of videos and plans, as well as in person – as part of the school timetable or as breakfast, lunchtime or after school clubs. Learn more:www.kidsloveyoga.org.uk

Headteacher’s advice ahead of results day

A girl on GCSE results day

The head at a local independent day and boarding school has shared some home truths ahead of GCSE and A-level results day this year. The rite of passage of sitting GCSEs or A levels and all of the associated ups and downs, has once again been impacted this year, and students face yet another period of worry this summer as results day looms.  Whilst most schools have been very good at preparing their pupils and teachers for the TAG (Teacher Assessed Grades) process, it has been a year of uncertainty and Headteacher at St Margaret’s School in Hertfordshire, Lara Péchard, has shared some useful advice with local parents to help them to prepare for the coming weeks as she recognises that 2021 has been another difficult year for young learners. She commented: “Once again our children have been stripped of their opportunity to sit exams, not to mention to experience the personal satisfaction and growth that comes with such achievement. For many, their learning experiences over recent months will have been tarnished too.  This is certainly the case for science where students have not been able conduct science experiments and also creative arts like drama, where students have been unable to undertake theatrical drama performances.  This is perhaps the most saddening thing as many will have lost enthusiasm for their future paths and may have lost energy.” Ms Péchard warned that although this has been a tough year for many, now is the time for students to do all of the things they love and have missed, catch up with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors, immerse themselves in activities, reset aspirations and re-evaluate their priorities. She added: “At this point in time, I would urge students and parents to squeeze as much information and support out of their school as possible, in particular, insight around careers advice.  If they know what they are studying at A level or University, then get gently preparing and reading.   Trust the process that your school has put in place, try not to worry and channel any anxieties into something productive that will help you for the next stage.” Ms Péchard also urged parents to encourage their child to see this as a week or two out of a long summer and to reach out for support if they need help.  She also highlighted that parents should try to dissuade their child from getting involved in ‘online worst-case scenario chatter’. In preparation for results day, Péchard says families should keep talking and set time aside. She said: “Eat together as a family and do things in real life, away from the virtual world.  Parents might want to take a few days off work if that is possible.  Encourage an early night before the big day so you are raring to go that morning.  Be prepared, clear on the time that the results are released in schools and come into school so staff can help and support. Parents should try to focus on the hard work and offer support rather than focus on grades or the disruption of this last year.  Keep the attention on the excitement of what is coming – results are about the future.” For some, results day might hold disappointment and for others, it will be perfect.  Ms Péchard shares some tips below to prepare for either situation: If results day is disappointing: • Steer your child towards a practical rather than emotional response if you can. • Make sure you come into school so staff can advise you. Together you can forge a plan and move forward.  This year there are processes for appeals or internal enquiries although they are different to normal.   • Your child might want to talk through their future choices with their Head of Year or a teacher, encourage them to bottom-out their questions and to lead on this. Talk about the possibilities to demonstrate there is always a way through these outcomes. • Parents in this moment have to be a splendid mix of supporter (ready with hugs but also allow their child to take personal responsibility) and of course serve as taxi driver! • Don’t forget to celebrate what has gone well, this is an important day so try to find the light in the tunnel. If results day is spot on: • Even if your results are perfect, still come into school and speak with staff, celebrate your hard work and achievement, it can help add to a sense of achievement which has been missing this last year. • Then come together with loved ones to mark this time (even if there are decisions still to make), it is a special point in your child’s life and we will all have to work harder this year to make it feel special.  

Clearing 2021: advice students hoping to secure Plan B

Exam results day - girl clearing on computer

This time of year can be very stressful for students as they await their hotly anticipated exam results. After a much-maligned academic year, this summer, students have the dreaded wait to find out if they have secured their spots at their educational institution of choice. If you’re in this position, the best advice right now is not to forget to have a plan B. If you don’t get the results you expected for your first choice and don’t want to appeal your exams next year, then Clearing is the way to go. Clearing is used by universities and colleges to fill up the spaces they have left on their courses and helped more than 70,000 students last year. Many of those did not originally apply through the traditional UCAS route, instead deciding to wait until Clearing began. Navigating Clearing can be tricky, so here are some top tips to secure your future. When is results day?  Tuesday 10th August will be when most people receive their  Level 3 BTEC and A-Level results. Scottish results will be released on the same day for SQA levels. Where to start First things first – don’t panic! Through Clearing you have more time than you think if you don’t get the results you expected. This year, the UCAS Clearing portal will run between 5th July to 19th October, and the option to use Clearing Plus, which matches you to courses you had previously shown an interest in, means it’s never been easier to see course options. The Clearing process gives you extra time to find a course you want while allowing you to start university in September. During this period, you are able to visit online open days and virtual campus tours, giving you access to explore wider options. This is crunch time, and there is plenty of support available from your school, college, parents, or directly through UCAS. Searching for a course It may feel like starting all over again when looking at courses through Clearing but don’t be disheartened! Remember you already picked your favourites, so it might be a good starting point to look back on your original choices. If you were already interested in these universities and courses, and already applied through UCAS, this will prove your interest when you give them a call to go through the Clearing process. If these universities don’t have any Clearing places, don’t be discouraged. Allow yourself to think about what was important to you when you first chose these courses. Have your priorities shifted since then? The pressure and stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it mean some students may no longer wish to attend university in September. Others may opt for a course closer to home rather than one at the other end of the country. You may find that you have a new passion to explore or that moving away is no longer what you want. It is important to answer all these questions when searching to find exactly what course and university will suit you. There will probably be courses you never knew existed that are available, so it’s also good to keep an open mind and not to discount alternative courses – you never know what you might find! It could set you on the path for a career you previously hadn’t looked into. Consider your alternative options A really important factor to consider is exactly what you want to get out of your studies. After studying for your A-levels or Level 3 qualification you may have found that the traditional routes aren’t for you after all, or you may need more time to adjust to higher studies or moving away from home. You may do better to look for institutions that offer a broad curriculum of foundation degrees or more vocational options for study. Many colleges offer higher education options and are still great places to study! They are able to offer more support while also giving the option for work experience alongside your studies and smaller classes for a more personal teaching style. You can still get the perks of studying in a location you want to as well, whether that is close to home or near your ideal city of choice. Degree apprenticeships are also a great option to get the best of both worlds. You can enter the world of work while also getting paid and achieving your degree without tuition fees. While you can earn as you learn, degree apprenticeships are also a way to give back and apply your learning back in the workplace, entry requirements differ across colleges and employers but there are great opportunities across the UK through a variety of different businesses. There is no need to stress on results day. There will be disappointment if you don’t get into your first choices, but it’s essential to keep an open mind! Taking that step further into higher education is an exciting new chapter in life, with many memories and friends to make, so don’t let one day change that!

Combatting Sexual Harassment in Schools

Combatting Sexual Harassment

At Johnston & Marsh Training & Consultancy Ltd we pride ourselves on the delivery of educational workshops, produced by academic experts, to combat the issues surrounding sexual harassment, the sending of ‘nudes’ and sexual assault in schools.  There is a growing number of incidences of sexual violence amongst primary and secondary schools. This issue has attracted wide media attention over the course of the last few months with the publication of the Everyone’s Invited website in March 2021. The website has over 16,000 accounts of young people being subjected to sexual violence. Moreover, the Ofsted Report (2021) discovered that 9 out of 10 school girls have experienced sexual harassment. This is an endemic problem facing schools and colleges throughout the UK.  To challenge this issue, we offer training for staff and education for pupils on how to identify sexual violence and challenge such behaviour. Examples of our content include exploring what it means to consent to sexual activity, why sending ‘nudes’ is problematic and highlighting the synergy between sexual assault and sexual harassment.  Meet the Experts Dr. Ed Johnston is an academic lawyer with over a decade’s experience teaching at University, where he holds the position of Senior Lecturer. Having obtained his PhD in the field of criminal procedure, Ed teaches and researches in the areas surrounding criminal procedure, justice and sexual offences. Ed is passionate about social justice and trying to instigate change from within. Ed is widely published and speaks at home and abroad on a wide array of topics.   Sophie Marsh is an Associate Lecturer in Law and Criminology and a Law PhD candidate. Her thesis explores the extent to which rape myths are impacting the high levels of attrition in cases of rape. Sophie’s interests include sexual offences, criminal procedure, criminal law and human rights, in particular, issues surrounding consent, victim-blaming and sexual harassment.  Our Testimonial At Johnston & Marsh Training & Consultancy Ltd, we are passionate about wider societal change. Education happens within the context of a larger community. Our approach extends beyond the school to help ensure students have the necessary support to combat and challenge the rising levels of sexual violence and other criminal justice issues. On 14th July 2021, we ran a poll on our Instagram account (@jandmtcltd) which asked followers about their experiences of receiving education on sexual violence at school. When asked “did your school offer sexual education on sexual violence?”, 100 % of 33 voters answered “no.” When asked “would it have benefited you to receive education on sexual violence?”, 94 % of 29 voters answered “yes.”   Here are some examples of answers to how this would have benefited ex-pupils at school.  “Knowing that what happened to me wasn’t my fault” – victim blaming is rife within the field of sexual assault. Our sessions highlight that the victim is never to blame, despite the existence of the myth of victim blaming.  “I was working a part time job, had my bum pinched twice by senior staff. This would’ve encouraged me to feel confident enough to report this issue” – our sessions highlight that this behaviour without consent is not ‘playful banter’. It needs to be reported.  “I would have been able to recognise exploitation” “Would have taught some boys that sometimes their actions constitute sexual harassment” – educating boys about the conduct and behaviour is a core tenet of our sessions.  “Learning what it actually means! Learning boundaries! Not being taken advantages of when drunk at young ages and not knowing what it actually means!” – students will leave the sessions knowing what consent actually means.  “Maybe I would have known that I had been sexually assaulted at the time it happened and not years later when I felt like nothing could be done as it was too late” – again, the re-affirimation that you need to consent to any activity is fundamentally important. We want pupils to feel comfortable sexually developing but provide them with the confidence to say ‘no’ and understand that ‘no’ means no!  “I would have realised that my boyfriend having sex with me whilst asleep was rape” – the session on sexual assault will allow students to understand that sexual intercourse without consent is rape. The students will recognise that consent can be withdrawn at any stage.  “To educate on the importance of consent, relationship or not” – our first session spells out the meaning of consent and how you do not have to give it.  “Knowing what happened was wrong. Not that it was normal like I was told” – students will learn the difference between consensual and non-consensual behaviour.  As our survey demonstrates there is a clear gap in school education surrounding consent and what constitutes appropriate behaviour. Our sessions will cover what is and is not appropriate, how to obtain valid consent and the ramifications of the inappropriate behaviour.It also demonstrates the important role both awareness and education play in effort to dismantle the prevalence and culture of sexual violence surrounding school-aged children. Our survey, alongside the Everyone’s Invited website and the recent OFSTED report highlight how rife these issues are. Our program will help educate your pupils about appropriate behaviour and will play a part in not only educating pupils about these issues but reduce the instances of sexual harassment in your school.    What We Can Offer Our 60 minute session will include a short, yet powerful, presentation on 3 topics that are particularly relevant to young people. We will cover:   1. What is sexual violence? We will highlight examples such as non-consensual touching, up-skirting, sexual harassment including cat calling, whistling and then more severe offences such as sexual assault and rape.   2. Possession and distribution of indecent images Here we will discuss the swapping of ‘nudes’ and the legal ramifications of such an act. Young people may not realise that this act could lead to legal intervention which could hold stark ramifications for their futures.   3.  What is consent? We will discuss various examples of what is true consent. It is important to highlight that coercion, bullying and ultimately forcing someone to send you nudes or engage in sexual activity is an offence.   Ideally, we aim to change the culture of sexual relations with young people and highlight that this is arguably the most

Pupils make their pitch for business success

business success

It’s fair to say that day-to-day schooling has been impacted significantly during the past year; not only in terms of pupils’ general learning, but also the extracurricular activities that support broader personal development. One of the key moments for GCSE pupils is the exposure to the world of work, through placements and career development events. At Aldermore Group, we’ve been keen to explore ways in which we can play our part in supporting local education initiatives in areas around our Cardiff, Manchester, Reading and London hubs. This is a core part of our ‘talent and early careers’ strategy, building relationships and offering insight into the diverse and rewarding careers available within financial services. As part of this, we recently partnered with Bridge GM, a team within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. They work with secondary schools and colleges within Greater Manchester, helping them strategically plan and develop their careers provision. Sophie Hallworth, Enterprise Coordinator for Salford & Greater Manchester Combined Authority, explains how our partnership has already started to show results: “Bridge GM met with Aldermore as they saw an ask for employers to support a local school in Manchester with their workplace experiences. Aldermore worked in collaboration with the careers lead at Abraham Moss Community School to tailor a specific career programme and workshop for their Year 10 students. It was hugely successful and gave students a valuable encounter with an employer and a sector many may not have considered a career in before. The Bridge GM team look forward to working with Aldermore again and building on this successful partnership in the future.”  Jonny Carberry, Aldermore’s Talent and Early Years Partner, who led the partnership work with Bridge GM, said: “We take the responsibility of financial education seriously and are keen grow young peoples’ understanding of the financial services industry. For this event, we were able to provide pupils with an insight into our organisation and our purpose – ‘Backing people to fulfil life’s hopes and dreams.’ We were also able to invite colleagues from different areas of the business to share their career stories, including the successes and challenges they faced along the way. The day concluded with the class pitching business start-up ideas to a panel of our senior leaders – our very own ‘dragons’ den’! The pupils did a fantastic job; it was great to see their enthusiasm and creativity during the task and was a privilege to be a part of.”  Kathy Ashworth, Careers Advisor at Abraham Moss Community School, reiterates the importance and value these events can have: “Unfortunately, Covid-19 has meant that our young people have missed out on a lot since March 2020, including work experience. The experience of work and time with employers is really important and allows them to build lots of skills, so I didn’t want pupils to miss out. I contacted Aldermore to help me develop a ‘virtual work experience day’ for Year 10. They were really receptive to my ideas and created an engaging event for pupils which fit in perfectly with our plan and school day. Our pupils enjoyed it and gained a lot from interacting directly with an employer, learning about careers within financial services, but also developing general work-related skills. The ‘dragons’ den’ activity went down particularly well.” So, if you see a self-deodorising shoe or electric car powered from road sensors coming to market in the future, it may well be the genesis of the idea borne in the classroom!

Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall Revealed as Ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Summer Reading Challenge

The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, in partnership with WWF, is delighted to announce that teenage naturalist, award-winning writer and broadcaster Dara McAnulty and award-winning explorer, presenter, and writer Steve Backshall, are ambassadors for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021, as the full plans for the campaign are unveiled. The Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, encourages reading for pleasure for children aged 4 to 11 over the summer holidays. The Challenge launches in Scotland and Northern Ireland on 19th June, and on 10th July in England and Wales. Teaming up with WWF for 2021, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes which inspires children to explore ways of helping to save the planet. The annual Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. The Reading Agency are aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1 million children with its new digital platform providing accessible, fun reading activities for all children. With ideas from WWF, the Challenge focuses on action for nature and tackling real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss. Through taking part in the Challenge, with free packs from public libraries or online, children will be able to join six fictional characters – ‘wild heroes’ – to help solve some of these threats, learning about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature levels in the neighbourhood of ‘Wilderville’. A ‘Welcome to Wilderville: Meet the Heroes’ digital campaign will run over summer with a different weekly habitat theme, led by the Wild World Heroes, including Woodland, River, Farm, Town, Home/School and the Beach. The characters and landscape are illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie.  Over the summer term, WWF will be offering opportunities and resources for UK public libraries and primary schools to engage with the nature theme in the Summer Reading Challenge and to explore some of the most important issues of our time through the power of reading. WWF will also be running school seminars and live lessons, with further details to be confirmed over June and July, and updates posted on their dedicated Summer Reading Challenge webpage. A range of partners are also supporting the Challenge this year. Sky VIP are teaming up with The Reading Agency to offer thousands of VIP customers the chance to win a copy of Shark Seas by Sky presenter and Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador Steve Backshall. Customers will be invited to start their Summer Reading Challenge journey with Steve’s book at participating libraries nationwide – and can head to the My Sky app to find out more. The Challenge is also being supported by Pearson (sponsoring the digital platform’s School Zone) and Overdrive Education (sponsoring the digital platform’s Home Zone). Dara McAnulty, ambassador, said:  “I am so excited to be championing The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, to encourage children to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure over the summer holidays. I’m 17 years old now – but not so long ago, the Summer Reading Challenge was something myself and my siblings completed every summer. It’s such a joy to now be an ambassador and encourage other children to take part in this wonderful scheme. I’m delighted that The Reading Agency is teaming up with WWF for this year’s very special nature-themed ‘Wild World Heroes’, to help children explore ways of helping our magnificent earth. The Challenge feels more vital than ever after such a challenging year for school children, so it is brilliant to see the fun and engaging reading activities that everyone can get involved with, in libraries and online – inspiring them to help make a difference to nature. I look forward to celebrating two of my favourite things this summer… reading and helping the planet!” Steve Backshall, ambassador, said:  “I am thrilled to be supporting the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Reading Agency has teamed up with WWF for Wild World Heroes, an exciting nature-themed reading challenge that will inspire children to take action for the environment. Wild World Heroes will spark conversations about the issues facing our planet, from plastic pollution to wildlife decline, and will show how we can all work together to look after our world. By taking part in the Challenge, children will unlock the benefits of reading for pleasure – it’s never been more important for young people to keep up their reading skills and confidence over the summer holidays. Wild World Heroes is a brilliant way to get children reading and talking about big issues! Happy Summer of Reading!” Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing further details of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, and to have the support of our wonderful ambassadors, Dara McAnulty and Steve Backshall. We hope that this year, more children than ever will feel inspired and encouraged to sign up to the Challenge. After a difficult year for many, we are immensely grateful for the continued and longstanding support of public libraries, and we’re looking forward to working closely with them to help get children reading, alongside our brilliant partners and sponsors.” Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF, said: “Young people are the future – and they are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic advocates for our natural world. I’m continuously inspired by our young supporters at WWF and their efforts to speak up for nature, often in wonderful and creative ways. We are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action.  We hope it will encourage more children across the UK to get reading, and to take positive action for the planet – our one shared home.”  Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Reading is a cornerstone of children’s education and a key skill for developing their language and vocabulary. After the impact of the pandemic on young people, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is more timely than ever, and a great opportunity for children to discover the joy of reading while building knowledge of vital environmental issues.”   Visit www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk for more information. Find out more about the Wild World Heroes Book Collection here.   Follow the latest developments on social media:    @ReadingAgency / @WWF #SummerReadingChallenge / #WildWorldHeroes

Remote learning has set kids up for life beyond school

Remote learning

As the academic year comes to a close and the learnings of the past 18 months are taken into account, new research from Lenovo reveals that seven in 10 (70%) parents and teachers in the UK believe digital skills gained during the pandemic will set children up for life beyond school.   The survey, made up of 500 teachers and 2,000 parents in the UK with children aged four to sixteen years old, outlines the changes parents and teachers want made to the school curriculum as a result of the pandemic.   Over half (53%) of parents in the UK believe that the way education has been delivered has changed for the worse due to the pandemic. Teachers are a lot more positive about the situation, as six in 10 (59%) say that the situation has improved. Of these teachers, over half (51%) say it is a result of increased emphasis on independent learning while almost half (48%) believe it has enabled children to work at their own pace and revisit topics at ease.   Changes in learning styles   What’s more, demand for a blended approach to learning that combines online interaction with traditional classroom methods is set to increase, with more than half of teachers (54%) and almost half of parents (47%) in the UK wanting to see the approach carried over into the future school curriculum.   Half of teachers (55%) and parents (49%) in the UK believe that children’s digital skills have improved with remote learning, compared to before the pandemic. A quarter (25%) of teachers and one in 10 (10%) parents disagree and say that child’s digital skills have worsened as a result of homeschooling.   Independent learning was one of the main skills that parents (39%) and teachers (31%) cited as a benefit of remote learning, one that will set them up for further education and the future world of work.   “Since the start of the pandemic, we have put to use of all types of technology within the classroom. Not only has the technology enhanced students’ learning and enriched the curriculum, but it has also helped to improve our staff’s knowledge of ICT to provide better education in a post-pandemic world,” said Ellie Wilkinson, Primary School Teacher, Oxford. “We’re excited to move towards a blended learning approach that combines online education with traditional place-based classroom methods and have already seen how it can shape future learning and make a considerable difference to children’s lives.”   Increased demand for tech in the classroom   There is a huge demand for increased technology in the classroom, with three quarters (78%) of parents and 6 in ten (60%) teachers in the UK wanting desktop PCs or laptops to be incorporated into classroom learning and the national curriculum. In addition, over half (54%) of UK teachers would like to see virtual or augmented reality devices incorporated into classroom learning compared to four in 10 (41%) parents.   Both parents (64%) and teachers (39%) said this is because classroom technology gives children opportunities to learn in different ways. Making homework more interactive was also identified as a reason by half (53%) of parents and a third (31%) of teachers, whereas giving children more opportunities to learn at their own speed was cited by half (51%) of parents and over a third (37%) of teachers.   “The rapid adoption of remote learning has accelerated digital transformation at warp speed, creating radical shifts in the new “everything-from-home” environment that will forever impact how technology is used in education,” said Rich Henderson, Director, Global Education Solutions, Lenovo. “As a result, schools and the EdTech industry need to utilise key learnings from the pandemic to maximise the capabilities of technology and improve online learning. The industry must work alongside schools to improve accessibility and accelerate the impact of technology investments.”   “We are committed to our vision of delivering smarter technology for all – by empowering schools with greater access to smart devices, technology infrastructure and solutions, students can fully benefit from an advanced learning environment and develop the critical, diverse skills they need for the future workplace. This year we will also be launching our Digital Education Equity Programme to give more back to children and schools that need it and help close the digital divide.”   This year, Lenovo will launch the Digital Education Equity Programme. Working in partnership with United Way, Lenovo will donate money, devices and employee time to support schools with technical assistance, digital skills training, careers advice and mentoring. Through the Digital Education Equity Programme, funding will benefit all local, regional and national charities with a focus on digital poverty, education and technology. Lenovo aims to raise £1M with the help of its partners and customers to make a meaningful impact on digital equality in the UK and Ireland and support the most disadvantaged students.

Win 10 teen care packages worth over £250!

teen care packages

In these extraordinary times, it has been more important than ever that we pay attention to our wellbeing. Following Lockdown restrictions, we have seen a huge impact on both ourstudents and teacher’s mental health and looking at different initiatives and ways to reach out and offer support to both students and staff has been made a priority.  A wonderful Berkshire businesses Brown Paper Packages have been helping send care packages throughout the pandemic to those in need… all the care packages focus on different ways to improve mental wellbeing and are designed to inspire someone to try something new.  This month Brown Paper Packages has been shortlisted for Health & Wellbeing Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2021 Great British Entrepreneur Awards for the South East region! Founder Helen O’Callaghan told us that ”during the pandemic Brown Paper Packages provided an alternative way to send support to those in need, including young people and staff…  we sent just under 1000 wellness gift boxes to young carers who were struggling during the pandemic. The Young Carers Packages were designed to provide support to young people ages 11-18 who care, for a friend, relative or someone in their community. We also shipped 3000 boxes to a youth centre which offered different ways to look after your mental wellbeing” Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Francesca James, said: “Creating the shortlist out of so many wonderful applications was incredibly tough, so I don’t envy the judges who will now decide the regional winners. Everyone who has been shortlisted should be incredibly proud and we’re thrilled to be able to showcase their achievements.” Helen previously worked as a product manager but founded her brand in 2016. “my youngerbrother, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, was very unwell and I wanted to send him something meaningful that would offer him something positive to do while he was in hospital.” She says “Meanwhile, some of my close friends were going through really difficult times so I decided to create a care package brand that could show support and bring something positive during those times when you can’t be there in person. Little did I knowhow relevant that would be today.” Brown Paper Packages was born, and now Helen sells gifts for men, women and children. “The look and feel of our gift range is really important to me as a buyer,” she says. “Our gift boxes and packages are not only a beautiful treat, but they also offer positive benefits, and all our products focus on wellbeing and maintaining good health, especially mental health. “In December 2019 I launched ‘Build a Box’ where the customer can build their own gift box, and we started working with companies, charities and institutes creating a bulk offering ofbespoke care packages. We have seen a great response and received wonderful feedback from those receiving our boxes. People build boxes for all occasions, such as birthday presents, get well presents, thank you presents, or just to let someone know they are thinking of them.   To enter click the link the link below and answer the following question. When was ‘Build a Box’ Launched? Enter Here

Improving the learning experience through AV & IT

Karl Deady of Cinos, Improving the learning experience through AV & IT

Karl Deady, Executive Director at Cinos talks about the role of AV & IT across the higher education space and the steps that organisations can put in place to positively impact the learning experience for students. As the student user experience becomes more important than ever, so does the role of audio-visual (AV) technology. The coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of many university campuses, and while the easing of restrictions has allowed them to reopen, AV and IT solutions hold a vital role in ensuring students and staff remain safe on campus in the months to come.  Creating the ideal learning space  Like many working environments, it’s often the small changes that go a long way to improving the overall experience. When it comes to learning, the key to success is ensuring spaces inspire and create an engaging experience. In order for students to be fully absorbed, they need to be able to see the content and hear the educator loud and clear. Universities and education institutions can ensure this by implementing high quality display technology and professional grade audio products. If students can’t view the content properly or hear the educator, there’s a risk they’ll lose interest and engagement levels will drop. When it comes to teaching, educators can engage with students in many ways whether that’s a live lecture, streamed or even on-demand. It is important to offer multiple ways for students to consume course content and offering choice will only enhance the learning experience. Whatever the choice, the systems must be easy to use for both educators and students. There’s nothing worse than a system that’s complicated and frustrating to navigate. Using feature-rich collaboration workspaces such as Microsoft Teams gives the ability to interact with students through chat, voice and video. Sessions can be recorded and learning resources shared through the platform’s secure file sharing functionality. This is a great tool for students, helping them access necessary information on demand. Creating efficient processes for the long term Within a learning space there are a number of considerations that need to be made when choosing video and audio solutions. It’s best to look for technologies that offer flexibility and AV devices that leverage the existing IT network (AV/IP) are a great way to achieve this. They are easier to scale when compared to traditional analogue systems. It means that you do not need to convert signal format across devices, reducing the complexity and costs considerably. This allows educators to push video or audio signals to multiple learning spaces or even directly into the students’ homes, helping to increase efficiency in the long run. Furthermore, AV/IP solutions can help organisations comply with social distancing guidelines. By delivering content across multiple lecture theatres and integrating into campus-wide streaming services the number of students in each physical space is greatly reduced. To maximise return on investment institutions should work with an integrator who truly understands the technology that will make a difference. Audio and visual technologies need to be reliable and stand the test of time, so look to robust solutions that can be easily maintained by onsite support teams. Bring your own device (BYOD) is a useful service that should be made available to the wider student population, as it allows students to consume course contents at their leisure and on their own devices. Not only is this particularly useful for students moving around campus between sessions, but it also ensures the content is easily available for students who cannot physically attend the session, for example, where self-isolation is required. As with any organisation, minimising the impact on the environment and reducing carbon footprint is key. This can be achieved by implementing energy efficient recyclable products and employing technologies such as motion sensors that can automatically shut down or start up classroom equipment, lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). In a similar vein, having a resource management system in place can provide insights on room and equipment utilisation allowing education institutions to adapt their practices accordingly. Unified communications to maximise learning experience As we’ve seen with the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s key to have future proof systems in place, especially ones that enable remote learning. Choose video conferencing solutions that are familiar, easy to use, robust and well built. Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex all have the capabilities to facilitate virtual learning sessions.  Through the installation of plugins, these solutions can integrate with virtual learning environments (VLEs) such as Blackboard and Moodle, allowing the student to move seamlessly from video collaboration to accessing learning resources via their learning platform. Integrators are best placed to provide onsite support for institutions and advice around on-going costs, both in terms of licencing and maintenance. This can help education institutions to budget effectively and choose the best option based on their needs. Remote learning capabilities are more important than ever. Having tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams in place can help universities to promote seamless collaboration and minimise some of the disruption caused for students by these very uncertain times. While the etiquettes of conferencing calling won’t be unfamiliar to educators, they might very well be to students. Familiarising students with remote learning practices is really important to ensure sessions remain productive and engaging for all. Steps such as muting when not talking and preventing all attendees from talking at the same time, must be made clear from the start. AV to solve the campus crisis Higher education has had to overcome many challenges over the last 12-15 months, from social distancing to safely navigating the return to campus learning. AV technology has a part to play in helping bring confidence to universities as they go about creating processes that are safe for both staff and students. For those who are learning onsite, AV also has a role to play in helping implement social distancing guidelines. Desk booking systems can be deployed to ensure the correct social distancing measures are in place throughout lecture halls