West Midlands: What is the prime benefit of shopping around when it comes to the procurement of ICT technical services?

Choosing an organisation that will provide maintenance of your ICT equipment involves two key issues.   On the one hand there is, of course, the price you pay, and on the other there is the guaranteed reliability of the service that you receive as a result of what you pay.

If we consider price, the benefit of moving away from your present supplier, particularly if it is LA provided, is normally fairly obvious, and it is quite often possible to get a reduction of at least 40% on current prices.

That sort of saving is quite well known and well established.  But there is also the issue of the quality of your service to discuss.

If the last time you needed urgent technical support in the school you were able to make a phone call, have it answered by the third ring, speak to a technician, and get the matter resolved over the phone (perhaps with the technician dialling into your system), or have a technician on your premises within two hours, you might well think that the cost is worth it.

But if you had to wait two or three days, if the query was delayed because there was no one suitable to take the call, or if, worst of all, if the whole enquiry was lost at the other end, and you had to call back to find out what was happening, then you might think again.

You may require a service which guarantees a fix or an onsite visit within a predetermined time so that you know exactly what you are paying for and exactly what you are going to get.

Likewise you might feel that you need a visit once a week, or maybe once a month, or … the fact is, the whole service should be based around your specific needs, rather than a pre-arranged schedule set down by your ICT technical service provider. Of course, the ultimate win-win situation is a drop in the price you are currently paying and a service that is guaranteed and which is geared around your specific requirements.

Maybe that is enough to convince you of the need to consider an alternative quote from elsewhere.

Right now we are offering all West Midlands Schools 20% OFF our ICT Technician services. To discuss your requirements please give us a call on 0121 309 0060.

You can also find out more about Supreme ICT by visiting our website at http://www.ictsupportforschools.co.uk/ict-services/technician-visits/

Angela Hart

Schools Services Manager

ICT Support Schools

Practical Science Activities for years one through to six

Getting involved in British Science Week is really easy to do and you can take part in loads of different ways.

You could, for example, plan a range of stimulating practical science activities for your pupils to carry out – which is where we come in.

Topical Resources has produced the Practical Science Activity Book Series which contains practical science activity ideas suitable for Years 1 through to 6.

The Science activities, which range from planning and carrying out a floating and sinking investigation (Year 1), to exploring evolution and inheritance (Year 6), come with activity worksheets to further enhance pupils’ understanding of science.

Furthermore, you won’t have to stray too far from the curriculum to inspire a love for science this Science Week as the Practical Science Activity Book Series has been updated to meet the requirements of the 2014 (English) primary science curriculum.

You can order the Practical Science Activity Book Series for £108 (books), £64+VAT (CD) and £56+VAT (download) at www.topical-resources.co.uk/product/year-group-science-bundle/

Or, if you’d prefer, you can order the books in the series individually (by year group) at the price of £19.95 (book), £17.95+VAT (CD) and £15.95+VAT (download) each, at www.topical-resources.co.uk/category/year-group-science/

You can also place an order for the resources in any of the following ways:


How to turn “I want to be an actor” into “I am an actor”

It is a given fact that the overwhelming majority of professional actors in the UK were initially trained at Drama School.

It is also true that the top Drama Schools in the UK audition as many as 2500 candidates every year from across the world.

So clearly, any student who wishes to go to Drama School and take up acting as a career needs to be well-prepared and confident enough to showcase his or her talent to the very best of his/her ability simply to get past the first hurdle.

It was with this in mind that A Student’s Guide to Auditioning for Drama School was written to help your students work towards achieving that desired place at Drama School.

The author uses both drama and the actual experiences of students to illustrate how to get ready for the audition and what the interviewers are looking for.  He also demonstrates what can go wrong and offers tools and techniques to avoid these pitfalls.

There is, among other things, a section on the importance of selecting the monologues which are best-suited for the student, plus a list of suggestions for sources of monologues that the interviewers would find acceptable.

Taking Shakespeare as an example of the classical monologue, the book also discusses how to approach the presentation of the monologue with huge emphasis on understanding the real meaning of what is being said – as well as on the need for practise, practise, and then more practise.

Following this there are chapters which help the student prepare for the interview and workshop, as well as ways of dealing with such issues as confidence, nerves and the need to prepare one’s mind for what can be a gruelling interview experience.

The book ends with useful tips for students and lesson plans, all of which are geared towards improving the student’s confidence and presentation.

A Student’s Guide to Auditioning for Drama School is available in photocopiable format so can be shared with your colleagues and students in your school.

ISBN: 978 1 86083 886 6;  Order code: T1827emn – please quote with order.

Sample pages can be viewed at http://www.pdf.firstandbest.co.uk/dramas/T1827.pdf

  • Photocopiable book, £24.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £24.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the bookr and the CD £31.94 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report…

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“How many blue whales can you fit into a Boeing 747 before lunch?” and other questions.

Over the time I have been writing this column I have occasionally dipped into the world of strange notices and random bits of information. And it seems that I am not the only one who has been fascinated by this desire of humans to put up ever odder bits of information for others to read.

I must admit that this fascination of mine doesn’t have too much to do with storage facilities any more, but since you already know that Admiral is a storage facility in the West Midlands, and you can see exactly what we do by clicking here, I thought I might be permitted a minute or two to report on some tales of bizarre signs and inexplicable messages.

The web page at the end of the internet is now quite well known – and it has been expanded since I last went there as it has a device which claims to be loading the whole internet into your hard drive.

This, it says, will take 4,381 years (or at least it will on my computer) but then after a moment or two it tells me that my computer is full, and so invites me to put a disk into the A drive.

I am sure I did once find a website that matched this, proclaiming itself to be the start of the internet, but when I typed that phrase in today I got two thousand nine hundred million results, none of which are on the first page.

Moving to another planet, I have been sent a copy of an old 10 Downing Street Newsletter which contained the interesting notion that “all new cars should be green”. As a person who generally likes blue or black cars, I am not sure that this restriction on my freedom of choice in the motoring market is that welcome.

Of course, there are always notices which relate to factors that are so boringly obvious one wonders why they are ever written. But then following one or two developments in the American Primaries one might begin to understand.

Here’s my favourite, passed on to me by a medical colleague. It is from the Journal of the American Medical Association…

“Keeping a gun locked and unloaded, and storing ammunition in a locked and separate location, can lower the risk of unintentional injuries and suicide among youth.”

I am surprised that no one in the UK has asked for that to be taught in the national curriculum.

Sometimes, however, it is all a matter of comparison. For example, it is sometimes said that a blue whale can be as long as the distance between the halfway line and the penalty spot on a football pitch and weigh as much as eight aeroplanes.

The problem with this is that elsewhere it is stated and oft repeated that an aeroplane can weigh as much as three blue whales.

Except that the world’s lightest planes weigh about 150kg which is less than one eighth of your standard blue whale. On the other hand, a Boeing 747 can weigh about 412 tonnes, according to my “Everyman’s Guide to the Weight of Aeroplanes” 2016 edition.

But Google tells me that a blue whale weighs on average 190,000kg. Which means I now have to translate tonnes in kg.

Fortunately, I know that one. A tonne is 1000kg. So a Boeing weighs 4,120,000kg while a blue whale weighs 190,000 kg.

That means that a Boeing is 21.6 times heavier than a blue whale.

But… if the Boeing were to be empty, with limited fuel and no passengers and luggage it would only weigh 180 tonnes. However, to then make the comparison one would have to weigh the blue whale before breakfast.

This is starting to get a bit too complicated for me, but in essence blue whales are fairly big and heavy while Boeing 747s are bigger and heavier. Both are too big to be stored in the Admiral Storage Facility.

It really is amazing what you can learn when you start looking.

Or not, as the case may be.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.admiralstorage.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@admiralstorage.co.uk 


What is the most effective way of helping students come to terms with the key issues in psychology?

The answer to the question is simple: for the students to undertake activities relating to the topics that they are studying. Topics which they may have touched on in everyday life, but which they have never considered in terms of academic study.

Through such activities the students can engage in independent learning, develop their application skills and evaluation skills, and judge their own progress using the success criteria linked to examiner comments and the skills needed at each level.

Seven separate areas are covered within this resource: Social Influence, Memory, Attachments, Research Methods, Approaches in Psychology, Biopsychology, and Psychopathology

By way of example, the memory section of the resource starts with a sorting activity so that the students can clarify the difference between the multi-store model of memory and the working model of memory.  This is followed by a number of tasks to reinforce understanding of long-term memory types by relating them to real life examples.   And finally there is a section with activities on types of forgetting, looking at factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony and analysing and assessing cognitive interview techniques.

A similar level of depth is covered through each of the other topics.

There are sample pages at  http://www.pdf.firstandbest.co.uk/authordownloadsamples/T1839sample.pdf

AQA Psychology Teaching Resources – AS and Yr1 Level is published as a download so that you can immediately receive a copy onto your computer, from which you can print out pages for colleagues and students as often as you want.  You can also put it on your school learning platform so all staff can access the document – and indeed you can make it part of the induction documentation for new members of staff.

You can obtain AQA Psychology Teaching Resources – AS and Yr1 Level by going to http://shop.firstandbest.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=73&products_id=787

The price is £12 plus VAT (the VAT can be reclaimed in most cases by the school).

AQA Psychology Teaching Resources – AS and Yr1 Level is published by First and Best in Education, part of the Hamilton House group.  If you have any enquiries you can call 01536 399 011, or email sales@firstandbest.co.uk or write to us at First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct., Earlstrees Rd., Corby, Northants NN17 4HH.

The full range of First and Best books can be seen at www.shop.firstandbest.co.uk

First and Best in Education
Earlstrees Road
NN17 4HH

Website: www.shop.firstandbest.co.uk
Email: sales@firstandbest.co.uk

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How to avoid time-consuming administration, bureaucracy, and cash flow problems when procuring a brand new school sports facility.

It would be an understatement to say that having a brand new sports facility installed in your school is costly. And, in addition to the expense, such a project typically comes with a significant amount of time-consuming administration, bureaucracy, and cash flow implications.

So how can you get a brand new cricket facility (for example) installed in your school without encountering any such problems?

The answer: Notts Sport and the Fast Track Funding Scheme.

Notts Sport will design a bespoke cricket facility (or refurbishment) that’s perfect for your needs. Then, using Fast Track Funding, we will provide you with a flexible funding solution with monthly, quarterly, or annual repayments to suit you.

This means that no (or very little) payment is required until the facility is complete, and we won’t expect you to pay it all back at once, which will help to minimise the impact on your cash flow.

If you have any questions about the Fast Track Funding Scheme, please don’t hesitate to contact us, either by calling us on 01455 883 730 or emailing us at info@nottssport.com.

There is further information about Fast Track Funding on our website.

What’s more, you can find out more about the various pitch surfacing systems designed and developed by Notts Sport, by visiting http://nottssport.co.uk/.

Where can you find Nursery books and equipment at discounts not available anywhere else?

The answer to the question is simple. Savings for Schools only carries announcements of products and services that are relevant to teaching and learning, and which are available at a discount exclusively to readers of these services.

In between these announcements there are also occasional short summaries of education news and information that you might have missed.

The new Savings for Schools services, which are of course completely free for teachers, started earlier this term, and we’ve been getting some interesting feedback. So now we are opening up the services to everyone, and with an extra bonus.

If you are looking for a particular product or service at a discount but can’t find one, you can write to us and we’ll do our best to locate one or more companies that have the product you want, and will make it available at a discount.

If we can find such a company we’ll email you with the details, and then place the announcement on Savings for Schools. To make suggestions, or indeed if you have got any questions about the service, please write to Jenny@hamilton-house.com and write Savings Suggestions in the subject line.

I do hope you will find the new services of help as a way of getting the very best value for money.

You can join the Savings for Schools services by clicking on these two logos.
Jenny Burrows
Savings for Schools

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Does your school or college have classroom chairs with a warranty which lasts until 2026?

One obvious advantage of such a TEN year warranty is that you’ll have no maintenance or replacement costs for a decade or more.

This could mean significant financial savings compared with alternative products.

But that’s not all……….

The Postura Plus range of chairs has been designed not only to be extremely durable but also to encourage good posture for your students, as well as being easy to stack and move from room to room.

Postura Plus chairs are used successfully in thousands of UK schools, often just as a trial in one classroom and then being “rolled out” throughout the school as funds allow.

Postura Plus chairs are available in a range of 15 attractive colours.  The TEN year warranty (and its associated benefits) means that these chairs are likely to be one of the best financial investments that a school or college could ever make.

Further information about Postura Plus chairs including very competitive pricing and how to obtain a sample for evaluation, may be obtained from Central Educational Supplies Ltd, PO Box 999, London E14 6SH

Why not visit their website: www.centraleducational.co.uk or phone 020 7515 1797 and ask to speak to Martin Evans who will do his best to help.  You can also email: signpost@talk21.com

PS. In addition to the Postura Plus chairs described above you’ll also find details of classroom tables, exam desks, storage units, cupboards etc. on their website.

The learning that occurs in the playground cannot be replicated in the classroom, at home, or otherwise.

The learning that occurs in the playground cannot be replicated in the classroom or at home, making playtimes a fundamental part of your pupils’ development.

Moreover, professionals have discovered that the interaction of the playground can be particularly beneficial to the development of children’s social skills. So physical activity is not the only thing that should be encouraged at playtimes, but the activity of socialising should be too.

It is therefore important that your playground offers suitable space for the children to chat with each other – perhaps a designated “quiet area” or a number of attractive seating areas.

If you are looking to increase the amount of seating in your school’s playground, Greenbarnes regularly supplies schools with benches of different sizes, shapes, colours, and designs.

You can see our full range of outdoor seating by visiting our website and for further product information, please visit our online catalogue. Alternatively, please do call us on 01280 701 093 or email sales@greenbarnes.co.uk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Barnes

Collecting evidence and evaluating the impact of SMSC

The issue of showing Ofsted inspectors how social, moral, spiritual, and cultural development is occurring in the school is difficult – but fortunately there is a solution which allows the collection of evidence and the evaluation of its impact on the school.

It is an approach which covers the teaching of British values as well as SMSC, and which can gather information and evidence from all departments in the school.

In short SMSC GridMaker has been designed to provide schools with everything required to contribute to the whole school self-evaluation and improvement plan with regards to the school’s SMSC provisions and visions.

SMSC GridMaker allows you to gather and log detailed evidence of the school’s current SMSC provisions including policies, values, visions, leadership, coordination, monitoring, evaluation, staff awareness, CPD, student knowledge, student behaviour, environment, ethos, resources, and materials.

Using this information, grids, dynamic bar charts, and reports are generated to help you identify where there is an abundance or lack of SMSC provision in the curriculum and also in extra-curricular activities.

Furthermore, in purchasing the SMSC GridMaker software you will also receive a free copy of iAbacus software which offers assistance in evaluating the impact of your school’s SMSC provision.

This is achieved through analyses of the current SMSC provisions, identification of the factors which support or hinder each provision, and by tracking improvements over time.

Our tracking and evaluation tools are highly accessible and collaborative, enabling every member of staff to contribute their thoughts and findings at any time, from anywhere and on any device.

What’s more, this unique approach to school improvement takes into consideration the criteria from the latest Ofsted Common Inspection Framework.

“Ofsted inspectors liked the visual way of presenting SMSC provision and said as a result that our SMSC delivery had moved from “unsatisfactory” to “good”.”
The Manor Academy

To see how SMSC GridMaker can help your school to collect evidence and evaluate these provisions to create an SMSC improvement plan, go to: http://smsc.opeus.org/free-extras/smsc-self-evaluation-tool

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