EDUCATE cohort, Earwig Academic, included in Government report on special needs assessment

Earwig Academic, part of the EDUCATE programme’s cohort 4 intake, has been mentioned in a Department for Education (DfE) report into the future of assessment of pupils with special needs and disabilities.

The report, Piloting the 7 aspects of engagement for summative assessment: qualitative evaluation, published in November, is an evaluation of the findings of a pilot designed to explore the use of the 7 aspects of engagement approach as a method of summative assessment for pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning.

Ministers want to roll out a new approach to assessing pupils with complex needs from 2020, which will focus on their abilities in special areas such as awareness, curiosity and anticipation.

Earwig Academic, a tool for teachers to record, track and assess pupils, particularly children with special needs, is mentioned as one of the on-line platforms used by some of the pilot school to monitor pupil progress and outcomes using their chosen assessment methods.

Earwig offers teachers a granular and flexible way of keeping records and is suitable for using wide variants that may be necessary for some pupils. It allows teachers to input data easily, including information about the specific curriculum they are using, so they can benchmark pupils against what they are achieving, and customise it for any individual child’s needs.

Peter Gelardi, Earwig Academic’s CEO, said: ‘The DfE’s requirements for the on-going assessment of special needs children has become much more comprehensive in recent years and the software designed for this purpose ten or fifteen years ago simply can’t provide schools with what they need. 

“That is why the DfE is pleased to see the arrival of new packages like Earwig, which break the mould and provide schools with a way to improve their teaching and, therefore, outcomes for pupils, without adding to staff workload.”

Professor Rose Luckin appointed Specialist Adviser to Commons Education Select Committee

EDUCATE’s director, Professor Rose Luckin, has been appointed as Specialist Adviser to the all-party Commons Education Select Committee in its inquiry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Professor Luckin, who gave evidence to the committee in October, will work closely with the committee to plan evidence sessions, offer advice on witnesses, and support committee members and staff in the publication of a final report.

She will attend sessions of the committee in Westminster to provide oral briefings and advise on sources of information and evidence throughout the inquiry process, a spokesman said.

“As a leading expert on artificial intelligence and education the committee will benefit from Professor Luckin’s in-depth knowledge and experience of the sector and policy area,” he added.

Professor Luckin said: “I am thrilled to have been invited to play such an important role in this inquiry.

“What we are going through is, indeed, a revolution and serious questions have to be asked about how we prepare people for the future.

“This isn’t something we can experiment with, and we have to get it right because it involves people’s lives. It is about so much more than just how we teach STEM subjects.”

The inquiry is examining how best to prepare young people to take advantage of future opportunities by looking at the suitability of the school curriculum. It will also look at the role of lifelong learning and how best to help people climb the ladder of opportunity in the future.

The committee will continue its work in the New Year and is expected to report on its findings in the Spring.

A transcript of the session involving Professor Luckin can be found here.

Strong EDUCATE presence at FUTUREBOOK LIVE 2018

Six of the EDUCATE programme’s companies showcased their products and services at the annual Bookseller conference, FUTUREBOOKLIVE, on November 30, while representatives from four more participated in conference sessions.

The six – Wizenoze, Structural Learning, MyCognition, EvidenceB, Edval and Brands Whisper’g – talked to publishing professionals about their work, and how different platforms can be used to facilitate the accessing of content and information.

Little Bridge and Yoto took part in panel discussions, while Fraim and Get my Grades pitched for funding as part of the PitchEd session, an annual competition for EdTech start-ups.  Houtan Froushan, EDUCATE’s programme relationship manager, was one of the four judges.

EDUCATE’s presence at the event  – made possible through its delivery partner Besa, and in association with the EdTech Exchange – was a departure from its usual activities, but it was asked to participate following its inaugural appearance at the Bett Show in January, this year, when FUTUREBOOK conference organisers spotted a connection between EdTech and the future of publishing.

In a keynote speech to the conference during the session on Future Learning: The Big Ideas, Professor Rose Luckin, EDUCATE’s director, talked about the need for human intelligence (HI) to work alongside artificial intelligence (AI) in the development of educational technology (EdTech).

She described the many uses and benefits of EdTech to teachers and learners, ranging from the “personal scaffolding” it could provide to an individual student’s learning, to easing the pressures of workload and being able to recognise the symptoms of anxiety in teachers and pupils.

Describing the work of the EDUCATE programme, Professor Luckin said that by the end of next year it will have had an involvement in 25% of all EdTech companies in the UK, many of which were using AI. She stressed the need for “people to work together in developing AI, because it is the only way we will get it right”.

For EDUCATE cohorts it was a unique chance to exhibit and demonstrate their work to a new audience.

Dr. Nukhet Vardar, founder of Brands Whispr’ing, said: “It was a great opportunity to meet with different academic publishers and get a chance to talk about EDUCATE as well as introducing our product to such a wider audience. Many people were impressed by the EDUCATE programme and wanted to find out more about it.”

Natalie Nezhal, media and marketing manager for Edval Education, said: “We’re extremely proud to be part of the EDUCATE programme, helping to lead the way in evidence-informed, research-based EdTech. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting our timetabling solutions at FUTUREBOOK and had some interesting discussions. People were particularly surprised to learn how timetabling can facilitate flexible working and workload reduction for educators.”

EDUCATE cohorts pitch to financial backers in front of a packed City Hall audience

A capacity audience of 300 people attended the inaugural EDUCATE Investor Summit and Demo Day at City Hall, yesterday (November 26), to watch 11 leading EdTech companies pitch to financial backers for possible funding, investment and partnerships.

The businesses, all successful former participants of the EDUCATE programme, each gave a six-minute presentation to investors, who have a combined fund value of £850 million, before answering questions in a Dragon’s Den-style event.

The investors will now contact the companies privately to discuss any potential opportunities for collaboration.

Each company was selected to participate following a stringent application process and was required to be a recipient of an EdWard – the EDUCATE programme’s own quality mark. The 11 were:

  • Priyanka Agarwal – Connet2teach
  • Matthew Harker -MyPocketSkill
  • Phillpp Legner – Mathigon
  • Heather Lyons – Blue{Shift} education
  • Scarlett McCabe – Debate Mate Online
  • Murray Morrison – Tassomai
  • Charles Roddie – MathSpire
  • Emma Rodgers – Little Bridge
  • Dr Becky Sage – Interactive Scientific
  • Keiron Sparrowhawk – MyCognition
  • Dr Tom Judd – Virti

They were pitching to potential backers including venture capitalists, angel investors, crowdfunding platforms, accelerator programmes, as well as an EdTech investment fund.

Professor Rose Luckin, EDUCATE’s director, told the participants, investors and distinguished guests from the EdTech sector, that education was facing “untold challenges” which were exciting and scary in equal measure.

“One thing is clear, and that is that we need people with skills, understanding and knowledge that are perhaps different to those we have traditionally needed,” she said.

“We need educational technology that is fit for purpose to help bring that about.” Professor Luckin added that, for the first time ever, thanks to technology, it might be possible to educate all the world’s population.

Rajesh Agrawal, London Deputy Mayor for Business, told the audience that the future of the capital “depends on the educational opportunities afforded to our young people, and embracing technology is a key part of this”. He hailed London as the EdTech capital of the world, and home to a quarter of all European EdTech companies.

Koby Yogaretnam, EDUCATE’s business lead, who opened the event, said the Investor Summit and Demo Day emphasised the importance of London as the world capital of EdTech, and the role of the EDUCATE programme as a leader in the field.

“Many of those in attendance said the event was one of the best they had attended in the Edtech sector and commented on the high quality of entrepreneurs presenting,” he said. “The Demo Day felt like a celebration of the UK EdTech sector, and was an excellent opportunity for the EDUCATE programme to promote its global offering into 2019 and beyond.”

EDUCATE companies to pitch to investors in Dragon’s Den-style event at City Hall, London

Eleven companies that have successfully completed the EDUCATE programme will be pitching for investment, funding and business partnerships in a Dragon’s Den-style event, being held at City Hall, in London, today (Monday, November 26).

The Investor Summit and Demo Day, organised by EDUCATE and believed to be the first event of its kind held in Europe, is being hosted by Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy London Mayor for Business.

It will showcase some of the capital’s pioneering educational technology (EdTech) entrepreneurs and innovators. Companies will demonstrate their products and services, and pitch for funding or corporate partnerships from investors who have a combined fund value of £850 million.

The Investor Summit and Demo Day is designed to connect EdTech companies with venture capitalists, angel investors and corporations that want to buy, partner or invest in EdTech. Each of the participants had to apply to take part in the event.

The demos will be rapid-fire 5-minute presentations with 3 minutes of Q&A for entrepreneurs to pitch to investors.  The following companies have been chosen to pitch, and are developing EdTech in areas as diverse as coding, language learning, maths and enterprise skills:


Koby Yogaretnam, EDUCATE Business Lead, said: “The response from the EdTech sector and interested parties to this event has been phenomenal. Everything points to this being a trail-blazing occasion, which will set the tone for the development of EdTech in the UK into the future.

“The interest expressed in the Demo Day also reflects the burgeoning EdTech industry as an attractive investment landscape, with powerful corporate partnerships, mergers and acquisitions of innovative businesses taking place globally.

“EDUCATE will use this opportunity to showcase the very best of our programme and, in turn, we want the audience and investment world to understand why innovation in education is now happening; how to embrace it and how the EDUCATE programme with its world class research acumen is integral to defining effective learning outcomes.”

Participants and guests will hear keynote speeches from Professor Rose Luckin, the EDUCATE director, Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business and Kevin Bone, a partner with LGT Impact Ventures.

Mr Agrawal said: “London is Europe’s technology capital, and home to some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs. The capital’s future depends on the educational opportunities afforded to our young people and embracing the opportunities presented by new technology is a key part of this.

“I’m delighted that City Hall is able to host EDUCATE’s Investor Summit and Demo Day and look forward to learning about the latest ideas in EdTech.”


EDUCATE cohorts to showcase at this year’s FUTUREBOOKLIVE conference

Six of the EDUCATE programme’s most successful companies are to showcase their products and services at the annual Bookseller conference, FUTUREBOOKLIVE, on November 30.

The participants will be on hand to talk to more than 400 publishing professionals about their work, and how different platforms can be used to facilitate the accessing of content and information.

EDUCATE was asked to participate following its launch at the Bett Show in January, this year, when conference organisers saw a connection between EdTech and the future of publishing.

Professor Rose Luckin, EDUCATE’s director, will deliver a keynote speech at FUTUREBOOKLIVE and take part in a discussion about the future of learning.

Professor Luckin said: “Our participation is FUTUREBOOKLIVE is a departure from our usual activities, but it is a very important one, as we showcase the many opportunities that EdTech has to offer. We will always welcome the chance to discuss and debate the issues around the future of learning with a wider audience and this is a perfect platform to do so.”

The six EDUCATE cohort members who will be showcasing are:

  • Structural Learning, a cognitive scaffold that helps students build lasting, conceptual knowledge
  • EvidenceB, which is developing digital modules that include tests, activities and dashboards, based on specific topics of school curriculum (math, language, science)
  • Wizenoze, a fast growth EdTech start-up, which has developed the Web for Classrooms (WfC), a unique technology that provides students worldwide with access to an internet that they can read and fully understand
  • My Cognition, which has designed, developed and tested apps to monitor and improve cognitive fitness
  • Project Kitchen Table, which helps improve the poor communication and mental health being passed down the generations through a digital conversation partner
  • Edval, a company offering tools for schools to automate construction of perfect times-tables

The FUTUREBOOKLIVE conference will include PitchEd, an annual competition open to all EdTech start-ups. Five finalists will pitch to an audience of publishing executives, with the winner receiving £1,000 in prize money, sponsored by EDUCATE, and an additional £1,000 in expert PR support from Mango Marketing.

Start-ups will be judged on their innovation in the education sector, as well as their growth and achievements over the last year. Four highly experienced judges will judge entries and provide individual feedback to finalists at the conference.

For more information, go to:

EDUCATE cohorts listed in Bett Awards 2019

Several EDUCATE cohorts have been listed in the Bett Awards 2019.

The awards, which will be announced at a special ceremony at the Bett Show on January 23, include 21 categories covering every aspect of EdTech design and  development.

Overall, EDUCATE start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs are mentioned 19 times in the list of finalists, with some appearing in more than one category.

The Bett Awards celebrate the creativity and innovation in the EdTech sector and form an integral part of the Bett Show each year. The winners are considered to have excelled in ICT provision and support for nurseries, schools, colleges and special schools alike, with a clear focus on what works in the classroom.

Professor Rose Luckin, EDUCATE Director, said: “The inclusion of so many of our cohorts, in so many categories, is a testament to their hard work, innovation and entrepreneurialism, and to the contribution of the EDUCATE programme to the EdTech sector.

“Since we launched in 2017, we have seen some truly inspirational people come through the EDUCATE programme and it is fantastic to see that this list reflects the huge diversity of interests and innovative thinking among these companies and individuals.

“The publication of this list is timely as it coincides with the induction of Cohort 7 to the programme this week. The EDUCATE team congratulates each and every one of the finalists on their success to date – and good luck for the awards ceremony!”

The EDUCATE Bett Show 2019 Finalists are:

Innovator of the Year

  • Kano

Early Years Content

  • EasyPeasy – EasyPeasy App

Primary Content

  • Discovery Education – Discovery Education Espresso News

Secondary Content

  • CENTURY Tech
  • Mangahigh –
  • Tassomai

Whole School Aids for Learning. Teaching and Assessment

  • Learning Ladders

Best Education Resource for Parents or Home Learning

  • Auris Tech Limited – Fonetti
  • Learning Ladders – Learning Ladders at Home
  • Tassomai

Free Digital Content or Open Educational Resources

  • EduKit Solutions Limited – EduKit Insight
  • Mathigon

Collaboration with a School

  • Mangahigh
  • MyTutor

Start-up of the Year

  • EvidenceB

International Digital Education Resource

  • Discovery Education – Egyptian Knowledge Bank
  • Kano – Computer Kit Touch

Exporter of the Year

  • Mangahigh

Company of the Year (less than £3m turnover)

  • Tassomai

Wizenoze gains partnership with Pearson

EDUCATE member, Wizenoze, has signed a new partnership with Pearson UK, during the same week as it showcased its AI technology to the King and Queen of The Netherlands during their State Visit to the UK.

Wizenoze, a specialist AI company, was chosen by the Global Entrepreneurs Programme at the Department of International Trade, and by the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce to demonstrate their innovative solution, The Web for Classrooms, to the Netherlands’ Royal visitors, and to the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Unlike most popular search engines, The Web for Classroom was built for education, and developed in response to research that showed that more than six out of ten people could not understand most of what is written on-line.

Wizenoze demonstrated how the use of AI enabled them to create a simple 5-scale ‘reading index’ that curates, by reading level, almost 7 million pages of online content. Wizenoze now provides bespoke APIs for customers to take advantage of this new technology.

The Web for Classrooms is now becoming the go-to search engine on managed school platforms to enrich digital textbooks and support the whitelisting of websites for internet safety companies.

Its partnership with Pearson UK will involve piloting the enrichment of BTEC coursebooks, by embedding The Web for Classrooms, and allowing students to gain better understanding through this dynamic learning environment. The partnership is part of the Project Literacy Lab, the world’s first international project focussing on close the global literacy gap by 2030.

Dr Leila Walker, UK Director of Wizenoze, which was founded in Amsterdam, said: “We see that the education sector is increasingly switching to the digitisation of teaching content, with students becoming more dependent on public online information.

“With The Web for Classrooms we offer access to an internet that has been developed for an educational environment. Students gain valuable learning because they are confronted with relevant information, which is readable and comprehensible.”

Mrs Cindy Rampersaud, Senior Vice-President, Pearson BTEC and Apprenticeships, said: “We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Wizenoze. As technology expands and the internet becomes more accessible, the greater the need to help learners filter reliable content that is personalised to their reading level.

“At Pearson, we aim to widen the range of contexts available to learners so to better their learning outcomes. We believe access to Wizenoze’s solution, The Web for Classrooms, will support this mission. And if the pilot proves successful with our first colleges and BTEC courses then we will broaden access to The Web for Classrooms across all curriculum areas.”


Society is “sleepwalking into a human disaster” of uncontrolled and unaccountable AI technology development, the founders of Institute for Ethical AI in Education warn

Governments and the giant tech companies are not paying enough attention to the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) in education, leading to a potential global disaster for humanity,  it has been claimed.

Guests attending the launch of the new Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED), which took place at Speaker’s House, in London, were told that there is too little understanding of AI and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society were at risk of being exploited by advances in the technology.

The IEAIED has been founded by Professor Rose Luckin, director of EDUCATE, Sir Anthony Seldon, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, and Priya Lakhani, CEO of CENTURY Tech, a former EDUCATE cohort.

Professor Luckin, who is professor of learner centred design at UCL Institute of Education Knowledge Lab, said that the invention of machines that can learn was “enormously exciting” because learning was the “holy grail of humanity”.

But those developing the technology needed to be held to account. She said the combination of expertise among the founders – who are educators and EdTech developers – meant the Institute was in a unique position to do this because it  understood the implications for learners.

“At UCL Institute of Education, we run the EDUCATE project and we have so far interacted with 15% of the UK EdTech companies and, by the end of next year, we will have interacted with 25% of EdTech start-ups and SMEs, which means we have worked with them to develop a framework they can adopt.”

Professor Luckin warned about “snake oil” merchants in the EdTech market. “They get away with it because we have not educated people into what AI is,” she said. “We must do this and help them understand about the technology, where they should be careful, and where they don’t need to worry.

“I don’t want to scare people away because the dream of everyone being educated is so important. But we have to have this Institute because no one else is paying attention to this puzzle. It is the ‘wild west’ and we are going to call it to account.”

Sir Anthony Seldon said AI was the single most important development in educational technology since the printing press. But it was going to be “either the best thing or the worst thing for humanity”.

Sir Anthony said: “We cannot trust the giant tech companies, and we cannot trust governments around the world. If we are going to get this right we have to depend on the women and men who understand what is happening and have the magnificence of mind to steer this development in the interests of all, and particularly the most vulnerable and least disadvantaged.

“We do not know all the answers yet. But at the moment are sleepwalking into a morass which will become a human disaster on a scale that is even more frightening than global warning. There are AI deniers and the AI apathetic who are not seeing what is fast coming towards us.

“In this country we are not thinking about AI in education nearly enough. It is the Cinderella of the AI applications across human life. It could be the thing that will liberate and have untold benefits in cultural and education experiences, but for the most vulnerable it also has great dangers.”

Among the dangers facing young people, apart from the applications of the technology, was the current system of education with its obsession with exams, which was creating passive learners who are unable to discriminate and learn for themselves.

Priya Lakhani, CEO of CENTURY Tech, said that while there were many committees and institutes devoted to the study of AI all over the world, none was specialising in education.

“We have to ensure we do something meaningful. We have to demand that the industry considers, holistically, the impact on young people,” she said.

The Institute will publish an interim report on its work at the end of 2019, with a full report a year later.



Professor Rose Luckin co-founds the UK’s first Institute for Ethical AI in Education

A new Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED) is launched today (October 18) at Speakers’ House, in London, to tackle the potential threats to young people of the rapid growth of new technology.

It is being led by Professor Rose Luckin, director of EDUCATE, Sir Anthony Seldon, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham and Priya Lakhani, social impact entrepreneur and CEO of CENTURYTech, a former EDUCATE cohort. The launch event was being hosted by the Rt Hon John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons.

The Institute will seek to ensure the ethical development of AI-led EdTech, and future EDUCATE cohorts using AI as part of their product development will aspire to become exemplars of the principles underpinning the Institute, Professor Luckin, author of Machine Learning and Human Intelligence: The future of education for the 21st century, said.

“Ethical, thoughtfully designed and implemented AI could solve many of the problems facing the education system – from tackling the global teacher shortage to providing high quality education for everyone,” she said.

“The solution is at our finger tips, but we must ensure that the ethical vacuum of much of today’s commercial AI development is filled with practices, moral values and ethical principles, so that society in all its diversity will benefit. Ethics must be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI for use in education, from the moment of its inception to the point of its first use.

“Our aim is for EDUCATE cohorts developing products with the use of AI to be exemplars in this field, and to align with the principles of the Institute. I am thrilled to be working alongside Priya Lakhani, one of our most successful former cohorts, on this important venture.”

Sir Anthony Seldon, who has also written a book on the impact of AI on education, The Fourth Education Revolution, said: “We are sleepwalking into the biggest danger that young people have faced, eclipsing totally the risk of social media and other forms of digitalisation.

“The Government is not stepping up to the mark, and the tech companies are eating them alive, making shamefully high profits, preaching platitudes while infantilising our young and exposing them to great dangers. AI could be a considerable boon if we get the ethical dimension right but with each passing month we are losing the battle.”

Priya Lakhani said it was “important attention is paid – by government, by industry and by the education system – to the ethical issues that arise from introducing AI into education. We must make sure all learners and educators are protected from the risks that unethical use of AI in education could bring about”.

The IEAIED, based at the University of Buckingham, will see how data and AI within education can be designed and deployed ethically. The aim is to make the UK a world leader in ethical AI for education by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to protect the vulnerable and maximise the benefits of AI.

The institute will look at how ethics can be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI in education and training from the inception of an idea for an AI product or service to the adoption of that AI within society.

The Institute will examine the assumptions about human behaviour that underlie current AI development and how social values are manifested in AI design. It will also look at how ethical frameworks can be grounded in responsible innovation and integrated with our assumptions to transform how AI innovators make decisions when designing for educational AI.

The IEAIED will also aim to ensure that AI in education does not prioritise certain aspects of learning at the expense of others, which can distort the process of learning and human development.

The Institute has been set up because the growing volume and diversity of data generated raises ethical concerns about what happens to that data, who owns it, who uses it, for what purposes, and who is accountable for its interpretation and exploitation.

The founders believe that there is currently no consistent or effective governance around AI in education, which has led to it operating like a “wild west” in technology development.