BT helps boost school children’s digital skills through its tech factor competition

BT has announced the winners of its Tech Factor competition, with a prize fund of more than £20,000 to invest in IT equipment being shared across ten schools across the UK. The competition, which is now in its fourth year, invited schools to demonstrate how they would use technology to prepare pupils for the workplace of the future by boosting their digital skills.

Four winners have been selected across a number of categories which recognise entries from primary schools, secondary schools, special educational needs (SEN) schools and after school clubs. Each school was asked to submit a short video to demonstrate how they would spend the funding to benefit their pupils.

The winner of the primary school category is Euxton Primrose Hill primary school, based in Chorley, Lancashire, who plan to use the money to invest in equipping an entire class with virtual reality headsets to enhance learning experiences for their pupils.

Gareth Caunce, head teacher at Euxton Primrose Hill, said: “We really could not be more thrilled. As a result of their efforts, all the children at Primrose Hill will now have the opportunity to utilise virtual reality to enhance our curriculum.”

Moor Hey Special Needs School in Preston, Lancashire, impressed the judges to scoop the prize in the secondary school category. The school will be using its prize money to purchase laptops, iPads and virtual reality equipment, to enhance the learning experience of pupils with a range of special educational needs.

Debbie Townsend, English subject leader at Moor Hey Special Needs School, commented: “The laptops will be a very welcomed resource for our school and will help enhance learning across all key stages. Our pupils are very proud of this achievement and it has taught them the valuable lesson that 'you have to be in it to win it' and having special needs does not mean that you can't achieve great things in life."

Meanwhile, the winner of the special educational needs (SEN) category, Frewen College, plan to use their winning funds to update their equipment, assisting their pupils with special educational needs.

Sally Welch, head of Frewen Prep School, said: “Assistive Technology - dyslexia-friendly software - has made such a difference to our dyslexic students. For example, one of our pupils can now dictate his stories so he is able to really enjoy story writing.” Sally continued, “We will be spending the prize money on more IT, including upgrading our existing computers so we can maximise the effectiveness of Assistive Technology.”

Finally, the winner of the after school club category, North Tyneside Trust’s Little DigiLadies club, based in North Shields, will be using the funding to help to develop girls’ technology skills.

Laura Dickinson, eLearning lead practitioner at North Tyneside Trust, commented: “Our Little DigiLadies were so excited to receive their DigiLadies Kit Box, full of robotic equipment that can be used to run after school coding clubs. The kit boxes are allowing the girls to work collaboratively across schools on coding projects to raise standards, inspiring them to have careers in technology."

Helen Slinger, director of BT Business Direct, said: “Congratulations to this year’s winners, who really impressed the judging panel with some brilliant examples of how schools can utilise technology to enhance learning for pupils. At BT we are excited to support an initiative that provides technology funding for a future generation. Investment in IT equipment for schools will enable pupils to develop their digital skills early on, better preparing them for an increasingly digital world.”

This competition forms part of BT’s long term commitment to boost digital skills in the UK. The BT-sponsored Barefoot computing programme, now in its fifth year, has delivered free classroom-ready teaching resources to over 70,000 teachers across 60% of the UK’s primary schools. By helping pupils develop basic computing skills, teachers are preparing them for today’s digital world and their future careers.

For more information and to view the winning school pitch videos, as well as the runners up you can visit the BT Business Direct website: https://www.businessdirect.bt.com/promotions-and-press-releases/latest-news/tech-factor/

Look out for more details about Tech Factor 2019 coming soon at: www.businessdirect.bt.com