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Our great Christmas Card Competition designed by year 1 pupils!

This Christmas we asked our schools to get involved with a really exciting competition! We wanted the year 1 Pupils at our schools to design us our 2017 Christmas Card!

The only requirement was that the card needed to be A5 and that was it! We received some excellent entries and wanted to show you them all.

Our winner comes from Awbridge Primary School with a lovely message in her design. Please see the design below –


Poppy from Awbridge School

We are now going to take a look at all of the school’s entries.

Awbridge Primary School

Copythorne Infants School

Netley Marsh Infants School

Romsey Primary School


We have had some really great entries and we are very pleased with them all! Thank you to our schools for taking part.


How to create a safe YouTube account for your School

Having a YouTube channel for your School or your individual classes is a great idea. eLearning videos can be a very powerful tool, especially for students. They help to explain difficult topics through a visual representation. Videos also help to keep students engaged in the lesson. Students can then upload their own videos to show their understanding of the lesson. This could be done by demonstrating their latest science experiment, as an example.  The other great thing about YouTube is, if used safely, there is a whole load of informative videos available for free.

So how do I set up a YouTube account?

Firstly, you need to have a Google account if you do not have one already. It is best to create a new one for your class/school rather than use a personal one. If you do not yet have an account you just need to create an account here. Next thing you need to do is go to YouTube. If you have already signed into your Google account, when you visit YouTube you will automatically be signed in.

Next you should click on the user icon circle in the top right. Here you should select ‘Creator Studio’.


This will take you to a page that says ‘Create Channel’, you should click on this and follow the instructions through.



You will then see the below Creator Studio Dashboard. You need to click onto ‘View Channel’ which you will see just below the name of your channel.


You should then select ‘Edit Layout’.


Then, you will see the below image. This is your channel which you can customise how you wish. We would advise branding it to your school with your logo and school colours as well as a description of your school/class.


At the top of the dashboard you will see ‘Video Channel’ and this will take you to a screen where you can upload a video by clicking the upload button in the top right corner next to the bell notification icon. This will upload a video you have previously made. Or you can select ‘create’ which is one of the option on the menu on the left of the screen. This will enable you to create a video straight into YouTube.

You will also have the option to make these videos Public, Private, Unlisted and Scheduled which gives you the power over who you want to be able to see these videos. You are also able to turn comments on and off.  Once the video has uploaded, you can add a title, description and tags. Then select the ‘publish’ button and the video will go live.

How can I make YouTube safer for my students?

If your students are going to be accessing YouTube on their own in your classroom there are a few measures that you can take in order to make it safer for them. Restricted Mode is YouTube’s current parental control offering. It filters out content that has been flagged as bad or branded for adults by the creator. However YouTube has stated that this will not always be 100% effective at filtering out the bad stuff. To gain access you should log in to your google account, which you created in the previous step. Then visit and click on the icon in the top right corner. On this menu you will see the words ‘Restricted Mode: Off’. If you click on this you will see a toggle to enable Restricted Mode. You will be prompted to enter your password. This will lock the restricted mode to this browser only. So if you may be using other browsers then you may want to do this to each one.



If you have any other questions about the use of YouTube for education and its safety please feel free to get in contact with us at or 0800 304 7444.


Congratulations to our first “Technology Heroes” – The Oaks CE Learning Federation!

As part of sharing fantastic examples of how IT is being used in schools, we have decided to highlight schools or individuals that are using IT in unique and exceptional ways.

We have decided to dub these schools or individuals our “Technology Heroes”. Hopefully, by sharing these success stories, this will give other schools great ideas to take away and implement in their own school.

So, on to our very first of our Technology Heroes!

We have seen some fantastic use of IT in schools throughout Hampshire and Dorset so there were a number of schools we could have chosen. The reason we chose this particular school is that technology is used at the heart of the school and goes beyond the curriculum to bring together pupils, staff, parents and the wider community. This school is The Oaks CE Learning Federation.

A bit of background on The Oaks CE Learning Federation. This is a Federation of three infant schools located in the beautiful New Forest in Hampshire. These are; Copythorne CE Infant School, Netley Marsh CE Infant School and St Michael & All Angels CE Infant School. They are successful schools for a number of reasons, including that the schools work together as a team and encourage an environment of collaboration. Or as they put it “our three schools are able to share expertise and resources and are therefore able to achieve more together than any one school can individually.”

Here are some of the ways that the Oaks CE Learning Federation have embraced technology:

Using YouTube to raise money for refugee children across the globe

Technology has enabled us to have a truly connected world where we can reach others, regardless of location.

The Oaks Federation contributed to the ‘A Million Voices’ charity by recording and creating a video of the song ‘A Million Voices.’ This has been posted on YouTube and on the ‘A Million Voices’ website, raising money through YouTube sponsorship fees, public donations and donations via the Justgiving site.

This has helped raise money for charities including: TearFund, Save the Children, UNHCR and International Refugee Trust who work in refugee camps ensuring that there is sufficient food and water for refugee children throughout the world.



Keeping parents entertained and informed with class blogs

Blogging is not exactly a new technology but its popularity is continually on the increase. This is a fantastic tool for teachers and pupils to publish news and stories and to document the pupils ongoing learning. Each class at the Oaks has their own blog full of colourful pictures and videos showing exactly what the pupils are up to.

These are frequently updated with current posts. The blogs have a given parents a fascinating insight into what their children have been busy doing throughout the day. An opportunity that they would not have had without the technology being available. As a parent myself, the chance to see pics and videos of the exciting lessons – whether this is creating an erupting volcano or seeing the latest chicks hatching – is a great privilege.

This has also encouraged a dialog between the schools and the parents. Parents will often read and comment on the latest class news, getting them fully involved in their children’s learning.

Check out the excellent Blog from the Swallows Class Blog at Copythorne as a perfect example.


Moving seamlessly between schools and working together using technology

As already mentioned, the Oaks CE Federation consists of three schools located in the New Forest. When we took over supporting the IT for the school, they were very keen to find ways that the schools could use technology to allow the schools to collaborate. At this time, each school had a server, each running a completely separate IT system.

We saw an opportunity to join all three schools together under a single domain which would allow users to log in at any of the three schools using the same account. File shares are replicated seamlessly between sites meaning that users can access their files, no matter which school they log in at.

The school has embraced this opportunity to work together whenever possible. Staff such as the executive head, Tina Daniel, move across the three schools on a weekly basis and she can now access the same familiar system regardless of location. This flexibility also extends to the pupils as well. The schools regularly plan days out where the pupils can visit the other schools in the Federation and are able to log in and use the IT systems seamlessly. If you are interested on the technology used to links the schools together, check out the Oaks CE Learning Federation Case Study for more details.


Encouraging the journalists of tomorrow with social media

We have been very impressed by how the schools of The Oaks CE Federation have embraced social media. In a similar way to how their class blogs allowed the schools to communicate with the parents, The Oaks have taken this one step further by using social media to interact with the community and beyond.

Each school and the head all have their own twitter accounts, which are frequently updated with informative, entertaining and often very amusing content. See below for an example:

Rather than just posting content and leaving it at that, the schools actively use Twitter to strengthen relationships with local schools. Useful information, ideas and success stories are shared between local schools by liking, retweeting and commenting on each other’s feeds. The idea being that when schools work together, everyone benefits.

As always, pupils are encouraged to contribute fully, which each Twitter account full of images and videos of them at work and play.


Using WhatsApp to communicate quickly between staff

The WhatsApp instant messaging phone app probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of using technology in schools. But this is another example of how the Oaks CE Federation are using technology to work for them.

More traditional forms of digital communication such as email are fine but are more formal and suited to official correspondence. When a quick message needs to be distributed to staff – whether this is notice of an imminent Ofsted inspection or a school closure – using WhatsApp is a much faster way of getting it out there. The big advantage of the app is that separate groups can be created such as school, federation, leadership team, ICT team and so forth. This encourages idea sharing between staff, and makes everyone feel part of the team. The other advantage is that all communication is securely protected by end-to-end encryption which eliminates any eSafety concerns.


So, here are just some of the ways that the Oaks CE Learning are using technology. How your school is using technology? Get in touch as we would love to hear from you!


Microsoft in Education: Whats new

In May of this year Microsoft unveiled their vision and development for Microsoft in Education at the Microsoft Education Event in new York City. Their vision is to not only move the classroom from physical to digital but to also to provide ‘more outcome-driven, personal learning paths for students’ as they stated in their education blog. They vowed to create an affordable and accessible learning platform.

‘Empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow’ – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

So we are going to look at some of the new developments to Microsoft in Education.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft teams is a digital hub for teachers, students and staff that brings together content, conversation and apps into one place. You can create classes within Microsoft Teams which can then connect with the schools information systems to populate the student rosters. In every class there is an integrated OneNote notebook which enables the teacher’s to create interactive and immersive lessons. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Planner are all easily accessible through Microsoft Teams too. Distribute, collect and grade assignments within Microsoft Teams. You can create instant meetings as well as sending quick videos and face to face chat through the camera. Because teams is a digital hub, it can be used anywhere, on any device. Meaning students can work together at any time.

Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S is a new version of Windows. The S stands for ‘streamlined, secure and superior performance’. One of the most important things on Windows 10 S is its speed. Log in takes less than 30 seconds.They have got rid of the use of apps from any other third parties and you can now only use Windows apps meaning you can ensure you will have a faster experience. This also makes it a safer experience too as Microsoft have confirmed these apps to be secure. There will also now be many free apps available on the Windows store for education as well as a 1-year free subscription for Minecraft. You will get a modern PC experience with the Windows 10 S. We had a look at Windows 10 S in a little more detail in a previous article we wrote.


Intune for Education is an exciting development from Microsoft. This is a cloud based service that allows schools to manage their Windows 10 devices efficiently. With Intune you can easily manage policies, settings and apps on all of your classroom devices. Intune for education is tailored for schools. When purchased you will have the express setup dashboard where you configure your devices. This includes customised settings and options for which apps you would like. When the student goes to use the device it will be set up under these desired settings. If you have many devices for all of your students that you need to set up, Microsoft have thought of a great solution. Create your desired settings and apps on one device then insert a USB into that device. The information will download onto the USB. You then simply insert these into the other devices and your preferred settings and configurations will be applied to that device. You can do an entire classroom of devices in under an hour.

Story remix

Story remix is a video creator that will be coming into the Windows 10 Autumn Creator Update. It is created to inspire students and educators to create and tell stories using video, music and photos. It has a Story Editor so students can show their teacher the process of creating their video. You can easily add music, filters, text and transitions to your creations. You can put animated characters into your video enabling it to become mixed reality. Students can work collaboratively on projects seamlessly. This will be available on iOS, Android as well as Windows devices. You can work on Story Remix across your devices so if you start a story on your iPhone you can then finish it off on you Windows 10 PC.

Learning Tools – Immersive Reader

Learning tools for OneNote is transforming the way that students learn. One featured tool is Immersive Reader. Immersive Reader teaching students who struggle to read and write to really immerse them into the literature experience. Students who could only read a few words per minute are now achieving to read 20+ per minute. The tool shows the words of your part of text in a large font, it then has a voiceover which will read through the text out loud. You have the ability to change the background colour theme to what works best for you as well as changing the spacing between the text and the font type and size. The language can be changed and there is also the ability to choose ‘nouns’, ‘adjectives’ and ‘verbs’ which then highlights these in the paragraph of text. This enables the student to differentiate between them with colour coding. You can also choose ‘syllables’ and this will separate the text with dots to show you were the syllables are. Pretty much everything has the ability to be personalised making all of the reading experience just right for you.




So, what is Secure School Gateway?

You may of heard about it before, but you aren’t quite sure what it is or what it does. Coretek Secure School Gateway (SSG) is safe and secure home and remote working solution for schools, allowing staff to securely access school applications and data.

So, how does Secure School Gateway work?

Secure School Gateway is a home working solution that is easily accessible from a web portal. The portal simply requires you to enter your school username and password to gain access. Upon successful authorisation, you will see the school desktop which will provide you with everything you would normally use in school.

Why do we need Secure School Gateway?

Working from home or outside of school is now part of the modern work ethos and for some schools is an absolute necessity. Access to planning resources and other such information whilst out of school can present a headache (especially during holidays), with staff usually having to take work home on a memory stick to conduct such tasks. Coretek SSG removes the need to do this and has the ability for multiple staff to use the service simultaneously.

What can Coretek do for me?

We are aware that school staff require a secure, convenient and easy to use method for accessing school resources from home. The goal for Coretek was to develop a remote working solution that is easy to use, low cost and above all, secure.

When taking into account the sensitive nature of pupil information and other such data present on school networks, security concerns continue to be at the top of the agenda. For this reason, several security measures are built in the Secure School Gateway that make this solution both highly usable and as safe as possible, with the goal being an experience the same as being in-school. Here is an example of what the Secure School Gateway looks like from one of our schools:


What is the technology behind your Secure School Gateway Service?

Secure School Gateway services is based upon Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, a secure industry leading technology designed to make remote access easy and seamless. In comparison to some competitors solutions this is more secure and scalable. The system is hosted and managed within the school and requires no additional hardware.

What are the key benefits of your Secure Gateway Service?

There are many benefits that the Secure School Gateway services offers. Here are a few of our key benefits:

  • It aligns with the requirements on secure data set by OFSTEDs eSafety Policy.
  • Multi user support meaning that staff can use the service at the same time.
  • No USB sticks are needed!
  • Ability to print to local printers.
  • Access from anywhere, on almost any device.
  • Ability to restrict use to certain users or groups.
  • SSL secured web portal and complex password requirements.
  • No additional hardware is needed.
How do I get Secure School Gateway?

Coretek are happy to carry out a free, live demonstration which will allow you to see first-hand how the platform works. We offer Secure School Gateway free of charge for all schools who take out our flexible Coretek Total Care support package. We will also license the platform for 5 initial users at no extra cost. Additional user licenses will need to be procured by the school, however these are very low cost to educational institutions, even more so if you are already using a licensing scheme such as Microsoft EES.

So if you want to know more about our service or want to book in your free live demonstration then please get in contact with us today! Call us on 0800 304 7444 or email us at, we hope to hear from you soon!


Do your school desks look anything like this?

Here is a before and after pictures of a Laptop install done at one of our schools. As you can see in the before image the desks are quite cramped with a lot of equipment leaving no space for the pupils to work. In the after picture you can see a clean desk with minimal equipment.

Could your school’s IT suite do with an upgrade? If so, why not get in contact with us today to see what we can do to help you. Contact us via email at or by phone on 0800 304 7444. We look forward to hearing from you!

What Coretek made of The BETT Show 2017!

On Friday the 27th of February, members of Coretek visited the 2017 Bett show. We reflected on what stood out for us and what we think will be the next big thing in educational IT.

The BETT Show was a very useful experience for any schools looking to find out what are the latest trends in educational technology.

We found that IFP’s are easily the biggest trend of 2017, following on from last year. The difference being that now there are a much wider range of options available. Smart and Promethean are still big players but other companies such as Clevertouch are now offering comparable, competitive products. In addition, vendors such as BenQ have also come into the market offering products for the more budget conscious schools. Although it’s not new news, it’s important to mention that the Smart Notebook software is now a paid annual subscription. Smart do provide one year free with a new board or IFP.


All of the IFP’s we saw at the show have Android build in, which means that teachers can do basic annotation and web browsing even without connecting their laptop. This also provides access to the apps available on the Google Play store for use on the board. Some, such as Clevertouch, have their own bespoke app stores with exclusive apps.

As many are predicting, it is likely that VR is going to the next big thing in IT. However, the number of units available for testing at this year’s BETT was quite limited. We had a play with the ClassVR headsets (which is a VR product designed for schools) but found the technology to be fairly limited. There are some fantastic VR products on the market such as the Vive and Oculus but these are going to be currently too expensive for most schools. It will be interesting to see if there will be more VR options next year.

Did you attend the BETT show and have any thoughts that you would like to share with us? Get in touch!


Find out the latest ICT innovations with Microsoft Hack the Classroom

Tomorrow morning sees the exciting online event called ‘Hack the Classroom’. Microsoft are bringing together inspiring educators and thought leaders to share their very own secrets with you. This had been designed to inspire teachers and enable you to incorporate the new ideas and tools that you learn from this online event, into your classroom.

By attending this online event you will be able to gain access to professional development resources and tools in order to get your hackathon started! You will be able to take a glimpse into teachers who have already taken this on board and see how these small changes do really make a big impact. You will also be able to engage, interact and pose questions to the speakers and educators.

Lets take a brief look at the agenda for the day…

Interactive Maker Space

Jordan Shapiro, an education thought leader called, will be taking you on a tour of the live make space.

Glimpse into a classroom using OneNote

MIE Expert and elementary special education teacher Laura Pittman, takes a look at the learning tools within OneNote to show how her students reading and writing skills have been dramatically increased.

Thought Leader Keynote

John Kao shares with us his ideas on how to build a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship for students.

Glimpse into a Classroom using Minecraft

Patricia Romero will show you her journey of using Minecraft in her lesson, to then spreading this across her school and schools across Latin America.

Virtual Field Trip with Skype

Skype Master Teacher and MIE Expert, Dyane Smokorowski has used Skype to open the walls of her classroom and she will be taking you on a Virtual field trip.

Maker Space Panel

Listen to how other teachers from the Marker Space share what it was like ‘making’ for the first time. Get to see how they connect this to their curriculum.

So if you want to join #HackTheClassroom it takes place on September the 24th 2016 at 08:00AM – 10:00AM PST. That’s tomorrow! So go and register now and don’t miss out on a very innovative live event that will take your classroom to the next level!

Register here.



Minecraft: a learning aid for Education

Minecraft is a video game that essentially is a virtual land and the users can create their own worlds. These are made through the construction of blocks, done by mining for building resources. This game really stretch’s the user’s creativity.  As you may have already heard, Minecraft has taken a key role within classrooms throughout the world. Minecraft: Education Edition is an ‘open world game’ that can lend itself to the education curriculum. It contains many features that enable it to lend itself to the classroom.

Students can use their Office 365 Education accounts which enables them to have a simple sign-in. These accounts are secure and already have their information embedded. Minecraft lends itself so well to collaboration as up to 30 students can be actively working within one world, at one time. Teachers are even able to create an ‘non-player’ character. This character acts as a guide for the students, it will give instructions and provide information. A Chalkboard can be used within the games, they are there so that teachers can post learning goals and tasks. Links can even be added through the ‘non-player’ character as a point of reference. To document their development throughout the game, there is a camera option which will take screenshots.

There is a range of lessons for the educators which cater for age and lesson. You get objectives, questions, activities and learning criteria is each of these lessons. Here is an example of the lessons plans for each age groups.

Ages 5-9
Ages 10-13
Ages 14+
Creating a Virtual Community Preventing Urban Sprawl City Planning
Factors & Multiples Loss of Biodiversity Sustainable Living
Landmarks in The Community Ignoring Climate Change Solar Planning
Story Setting Fraction Stories Rube Goldberg MAchines
State History Deforestation Animal Farm
Area & Perimeter Storytelling

To start using Minecraft: education Edition you need to be signed up to Office 365 using the school or district email. You will then need your operating system to be either  Windows 10 or OS X EI Capitan. Then lastly, you just need to download and enjoy!

There is an early version which is available for free, however the full version will cost you between $1 and $5 per user, per year. The price will vary depending on the size of the school and qualification for volume licensing. If you want to find out more visit the official Minecraft: Education Edition website, or watch this video to see how pupils enjoy using Minecraft in the classroom.


How Learning Tools for OneNote is revolutionising reading in the classroom

Previously this year, an add in for OneNote was announced called ‘Learning Tools for OneNote’. It has now been moved out of preview and is  generally available. This has been designed specifically to help people with learning differences, focusing on improving their reading and writing. Learning notes has greatly helped within special education by enabling students to increase their reading speeds as seen by a Special Education teacher. Since its initial release, there has been a great response from both students and teachers but the great thing about this add-in is that it could benefit nearly anyone. Forbes magazine even described it is “One Of The Most Disruptive Education Technologies Yet” (Forbes OneNote review).

Features of Learning Tools includes the Immersive Reader where text can be highlighted and read out with voice over text which helps to sustain attention. You can alter the speed of speech and the size of the text.

Learning Tools Immersive Reader

Learning Tools appears as a new tab on your menu bar.

Immersive Reader live


 Here you can see a real live example of Immersive Reader. Each word is highlighted when spoken. To the right is a panel with options to later colour/size and more.

Other features include enhanced dictation which improves authoring text, front spacing and short lines, syllabification and comprehension mode. Which the general release of Learning Tools come some additional features; colour themes, switching languages, multiple language support, speech controls and easy download. Students can become independent learners with this excellent add on for OneNote.

Download Learning Tools for OneNote and find out for yourself why it is getting so many accolades! If you don’t currently have OneNote you can download Office 2016 and get the latest version there. You then just need to download this Learning Tools add on.

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