Archive for February, 2012

Schools: The Changing Landscape

We are currently going through a major structural change in the UK education system as schools covert to academies and new institutions such as UTCs, Free Schools and Studio Schools appear on the scene. So what are these new institutions? How many are they? What further expansion might we expect? Here’s a summary of the current situation which I’ve extracted from the DfE web site –


New academies open on the 1st of each month. As of February 2012 there were 1580 open academies. In total 1861 applications have been received, of which 1629 have been approved. This means that there are at least 49 more approved academies that will convert in the coming months and the likelihood of many more between now and the end of the year. With this number there is now a critical mass of academies representing over 50% of the total number of secondary schools in England. The Academies programme has yet to reach Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Briefly, the main differences of an academy include:

Academy Freedoms

  • freedom from local authority control
  • the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff
  • freedoms around the delivery of the curriculum
  • the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days.

Academy Sponsors

Some academies, generally those set-up to replace underperforming schools, will have a sponsor. Sponsors come from a wide range of backgrounds including successful schools, businesses, universities, charities and faith bodies. Sponsors are held accountable for the improving the performance of their schools. They do this by challenging traditional thinking on how schools are run and what they should be like for students. They seek to make a complete break with cultures of low aspiration and achievement. The sponsor’s vision and leadership are vital to each project.

Academy Funding

Academies receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school, plus additions to cover the services that are no longer provided for them by the local authority. However, academies have greater freedom over how they use their budgets to best benefit their students. Academies receive their funding directly from the Young People’s Learning Agency (an agency of the Department for Education) rather than from local authorities.

In addition to the growth in academies, several other new school ‘types’ have emerged:

Free Schools

The first 24 Free Schools opened in September 2011. So what is a Free School?

Free Schools are non-profit making, independent, state-funded schools. There is not a ’one-size-fits-all’ approach. They are not defined by size or location: there is not a single type of Free School or a single reason for setting them up. Free Schools could be primary or secondary schools. They could be located in traditional school buildings or appropriate community spaces such as office buildings or church halls. They could be set up by a wide range of proposers – including charities, universities, businesses, educational groups, visionary teachers or committed parents – who want to make a difference to the educational landscape. They might be needed because there simply are not enough school places in a local area and children have to travel too far to the nearest school. The thing which unites all Free Schools is that they are being set up in response to real demand within a local area for a greater variety of schools. 

A further 54 schools have been approved and will open in September 2012 or beyond.

University Technical Colleges

UTCs are academies for 14-19-year-olds. They focus on providing technical education that meets the needs of modern employers. They offer technical courses and work-related learning, combined with academic studies.  All UTCs:

  • are sponsored by a local university and employers. It is also usual for FE colleges and other educational institutions – like established academy trusts – to work in partnership with them;
  • specialise in two curriculum areas (e.g. engineering and science);
  • teach core GCSEs alongside technical qualifications, and we expect them to offer young people the opportunity to achieve the English Baccalaureate;
  • focus on disciplines that require highly specialised equipment, for example, engineering, manufacturing and construction;
  • teach these disciplines alongside developing young people’s business, ICT and design skills to prepare students for a range of careers and continuing education at 19; and
  • have 500 to 800 students.

The Baker Dearing Educational Trust plays a key role in developing partnerships and advising on applications for UTCs.

Two UTCs are already open – the JCB Academy in Staffordshire, and the Black Country UTC in Walsall. Three more UTCs have been fully approved to open in either Sept 2012 or Sept 2013 and a further 13 applications are progressing through the approval process. This gives a total ofr 18 against the government target of 24.

Studio Schools

On 14 December 2011, 12 new Studio Schools were approved to enter the pre-opening stage. They are spread across England and are a new type of 14-19 school that allow young people to prepare for work, while gaining core qualifications and valuable employability skills. Pupils in a Studio School will experience an innovative curriculum built around project-based learning, with part of the timetable devoted to meaningful work placements and pupils over 16 paid a real wage. They are small schools – typically with around 300 pupils – delivering mainstream qualifications through project based learning.

Students work with local employers and a personal coach, and follow a curriculum designed to give them the employability skills and qualifications they need in work, or to take up further education.

The first two Studio Schools opened in September 2010 in Luton and Huddersfield with a further four opening in September 2011 in Leicestershire, Durham, Manchester and Maidstone.

In summary the educational landscape is rapidly changing. New types of schools are emerging, the role of the local authority has diminished, schools have far greater independence (and responsibility) and funding is direct from the YPLA rather than through the LA.

Muse: Public Beta 6 Now Available

Muse (code name) beta 6 was released on February 8 with more than 80 updates and enhancements, changes to the installer, plus new feature support. For a complete list of updates, visit the Muse Beta 6 blog post. This release also includes changes to the installer, so the in-product updater will not work the way it has in previous beta versions. Older versions of the Muse beta releases will expire on March 15, 2012. In order to continue to use Muse without interruption, beta users will need to update to beta 6.

Be sure to check out the Muse website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Download the beta and learn more at the Muse website.

Adobe Education Exchange: February Update

If you haven’t come across the Adobe Education Exchange yet, it is well worth taking a look. You will need to register, but it provides a wealth of resources and a unique insight into the use of Adobe technologies by Educators. Here are the latest topics talking about what’s new from Adobe:

This month, we’re featuring what’s new from Adobe. We have four new tutorials to help you learn how to use the brand new, still-in-preview product, Adobe Edge. We know you’re dying to find out what’s coming in Photoshop, so check out new sneak peek videos to find out. Submit a hidden gem tutorial to enter for a chance to be the Next Photoshop Evangelist and garner international acclaim. And, as we do every month, we highlight some of the innovative resources and educators that make the Adobe Education Exchange so special.


Music to Image

Use this inspiring lesson where students create an image, in Adobe Photoshop, based on a song or several songs. In the process they go through a variety of tutorials, work in groups, and learn to interpret their feelings and or memories into an image that is personal.
Learn more >

Adobe Edge Preview 4 tutorials

If you haven’t heard about Adobe Edge yet, now is the time to check out this new web motion and interaction design tool. View four new tutorials on using the latest Adobe Edge Preview to use web fonts and symbolscreate playback actions, and embed a composition.
Learn more >

Using Flash in the Science Classroom – “Animate to Educate”

Check out this project example that uses Adobe Flash as an integration tool in the science classroom. While learning Flash skills these students produced animations as part of a project that showcases their knowledge of a variety of science concepts.
Learn more >

Featured Members

Nicole Dalesio

Working with elementary students? Look no further than Nicole’s wealth of engaging and creative lessons and tutorials that integrate technology across the K-6 curriculum while using technology for creative purposes.
Learn more >

Eva LaMar

Check out Eva’s posts to help you make the most out of digital media projects. She offers fun ways to teach Adobe Photoshop, copyright citation best practices, as well as digital assets for projects.
Learn more >

What’s New?

Photoshop Sneak Peeks

Check out a new series of videos with sneak peeks of what’s coming in Photoshop.
Learn more >

Next Photoshop Evangelist Contest

We’re on the hunt for the Next Photoshop Evangelist! We’ve asked fans to submit a 2-minute video showcasing their favorite “Hidden Gem” in Photoshop CS5. The winner will receive a trip to Photoshop World, the opportunity to showcase their Hidden Gem live at the show, time with the product team, Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard & more. The deadline for entries is March 5.
Learn more >

Photoshop Sneek Peeks

 If you’re interested in what a future version of Photoshop may offer, you must check out Adobe Photoshop Sneak Peeks on YouTube:

There is also a competition for Photoshop enthusiasts as follows:

We’re on the hunt for the Next Photoshop Evangelist! Submit a 2 minute video showcasing your “Hidden Gem” in Photoshop CS5. Hidden Gems are lesser-known features or new uses for commonly used tools that people may not already know about. The winner will receive a trip to Photoshop World, the opportunity to showcase their Hidden Gem live at the show, time with the product team, Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard & more. The deadline for entries is March 5.

There is a blog post explaining the competition at:

Plus a Facebook contest tab at:

Please note the following:  *NO PUR. NEC. Open to 50 U.S. (excl. RI), D.C., Canada (excl. Quebec), the UK and Germany. 18+. Rules:

Learning Technologies: Adobe Tops the Exit Polls

Adobe appears in the top 5 of 4 different categories in the learning Technologies 2012 Exit Poll. I attended the show myself and there was certainly a buzz on the Adobe stand where the focus was on Captivate. Throughout the day the Adobe team showcased Captivate, demonstrating the ease with which learning resources can be created, the ability with the HTML5 plug-in to deploy on iOS devices and the integration with common tools such as PowerPoint.

Following the show, here’s what attendees said when asked about their day:

We asked: “When you planned your Learning Technologies 2012 visit, which company was on top of your must see list before visiting the show today?” LT12uk visitors said:






Comment: Captivate at No. 3

We asked: “In terms of visual impact, which company really stood out for you at the show today?” LT12uk visitors said:






Comment: Adobe at No. 3 again

We asked: “Without looking down at any of the literature you’ve come away with today, can you name one of the event’s official sponsors?” Top five responses from most frequent (left) to least frequent (right) were:






Comment: No. 1 sponsors

We asked: “Of all the literature you’ve come away with today, what do you think you’ll be reading on the Tube home?” The top five most popular answers from our respondents were:






Comment: No. 3 again this time for literature

And finally, when it comes to the Top 250 web sites for eLearning and Learning technology we find that Adobe is No. 1.

If you want to know more about Captivate and eLearning from Adobe, go to: