A Royal Boost to BIEA STEM Challenge on Plastic Pollution

The British International Education Association (BIEA) welcomed a royal visit from the Duchess of Cornwall on 19th February at its head office at the Granville Centre in London. Despite the heavy rain, Camila, 72 appeared in high spirit as she toured the Centre speaking to staff working on a number of community and education projects.

Nikki Collins, CEO of BIEA gave an introduction to the Duchess about the BIEA International STEM Youth Innovation Competition, whose 2020 theme encompasses the plastic pollution problem. The competition officially launched at the Royal Institution last month, it engages young STEM students (aged 9 - 21) in technological innovation and how it can be used to clear detrimental plastic waste from our rivers and oceans. Teams from 47 countries and regions are taking part, including UK, USA, Australia, China, Finland, Mexico, Pakistan, UAE, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Poland and others. The grand international final will take place in London on 1st and 2nd of July with spontaneous litter clean up along the Thames riverbanks.

The Duchess was very impressed by the international reach of the competition. She also congratulated the BIEA team’s artistical efforts. A giant marine sculpture created from recycled plastic bottles was the centrepiece in the gallery providing a visual reminder of the issues of plastic waste. The Duchess revealed that both she and Prince Charles support the fight against plastic pollution, it is a cause close to their hearts. Her visit also coincided with the day when Prince Charles made an impassioned speech on plastic waste 50 years ago.

The Duchess accepted a gift of metal straws from Christy Ho (aged 9), a pupil from Twyford School, Winchester who is taking part in the 2020 competition with an all-girls team.

It is estimated that the UK fast food industry alone used nearly billion plastic straws a year and they are one of the top five most common forms of rubbish picked up from coastlines. Due to their small size, plastic straws are not recycled and end up in landfill and often in the ocean.


Engaging young people to tackle plastic pollution - BIEA launches its International STEM Youth Innovation Competition 2020

15 Jan 2020 (London, UK) - The British International Education Association (BIEA) brought together experts in plastic recycling, coastal marine science and waterway conservation to discuss the issue of plastic pollution at a half-day conference at London’s Royal Institution.

An international audience made up of STEM experts, industry professionals, representatives from the Chinese and Polish embassies in London and numerous educators from the UK, China, Venezuela and Nigeria listened to presentations and a discussion about the issue of plastic pollution, and how a STEM education can help young scientists become part of the solution.

A giant marine animal made out of clear plastic bottles provided a visual reminder of the issue of plastic waste, and was the centrepiece for the launching of the BIEA’s international STEM Youth Innovation Competition [hyperlink: http://www.bieacompetition.org.uk.]  Student teams are invited to research, write a report and design a solution to ‘Save our shores from plastic waste through STEM,’ with finalists moving on final rounds in June/July 2020. Open to anyone between the ages of 9 and 21 years old, the winning teams from 9-17 age group will take cash prizes to contribute to their school STEM labs, and the 18-21 age group from universities will take part in the ‘University Challenge’ and become youth STEM ambassadors.

Last year’s competition asked young people aged between 9 and 17 to think about how drones could help conserve an endangered animal species. The competition reached schools in 34 countries and teams from 18 different countries make it to the final in the UK to present their ideas. This year the BIEA anticipate even larger participation as they have extended the age range to include college and university entries.

Anna and Daisy, now Y11s from team ‘Burnkool’ at Kent College in the UK explained how the competition helped them ‘develop our ability to work as a team, as well as raise our awareness of current global issues. We learned new skills and how to overcome challenges with our design. We got to experience new innovative technology and were able to apply it to real-life scenarios. The fact that what we were doing could really help in the future was a strong motivation to give our all to the project, which really helped us to progress as a group.’ Their teacher Head of Design & Technology Mike Cloke says, ‘it was fantastic to have so many students from different subject areas pooling thoughts. The two teams that made it through to the finals in London had an amazing day; they were pushed out of their comfort zones, had their efforts celebrated, rode a boat along the Thames and slept for the entire journey back to Canterbury – perfect!’

David Hanson, BIEA STEM Chairman

BIEA’s STEM Chairman David Hanson, who made his own radio as a youngster says the competition aims to capture the imagination and interest of young people, highlighting STEM as a force for good. Young scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians can think outside the box and invent extraordinary solutions to the global problem of plastic pollution.

Mechanical Engineer Manu Mulakkal from Imperial College London talked about the challenges of recycling multi-layered packaging. The production of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) has almost doubled since 2014 and despite improvements in mechanical and chemical recycling methods much more needs to be done to create plastics or packaging that can be more easily recycled as well as increase demand for recycled materials. Since the 5p plastic bag charge was introduced in England in 2015 their use has gone down by 80%, but the average English household still holds 54 ‘bags for life’, made of much stronger plastic which is more difficult to process. Mulakkal says technology alone cannot solve the problem of plastic pollution; ‘technology, industry, policy and increasing public awareness about recycling and the lifespan of plastic - all play an important role.’

Coastal Marine Scientist Heidi Burdett from Heriot-Watt University introduced us to Maerl, the red seaweed that provides vital shelter for marine creatures in the coastal beds around the UK. Most people are aware of the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, but largely unaware of the slow-growing reefs threatened by temperature rises in the seas around the British Isles.   A striking graphic created by Ed Hawkins shows how temperatures have increased in the years since 1848 and Burdett explained how the sensitive Maerl reefs are already showing signs of being overtaken by opportunistic species which can survive in warmer waters. She’s already striving to reduce her carbon footprint, and on the topic of plastic pollution points out that, ‘even if we took away all the plastic straws ever made we’d still have climate change’.

Prof. Ed Hawkins colour block – indicating temperature change over the years

Conference speakers and panelists all emphasised the importance of collaboration if plastic pollution is to be tackled. Waterway charity Thames 21 mobilises volunteers to clean up areas of the London riverbanks. Deputy CEO Chris Coode explained how the disposal of domestic wet wipes is actually changing the shape of the river bed as they get caught up with twigs and branches in the Thames. In one clear-up, locals counted 220 wet wipes in a single square metre of river bed! ‘Clear-up volunteers go on to be ambassadors for the charity, collecting data on smartphones and feeding it back to our organisation. Putting tech in the hands of people is how we can help solve the problem of pollution. After an energetic clear-up, many of our volunteers vowed they’d never use a wet wipe again!’.

In a lively discussion about whether STEM education can save the planet, Imperial College mathematician Lynda White and British Council Science Adviser Adrian Fenton talked about how to engage young people in STEM, promote best practice and attract the best graduates to teaching STEM subjects. Rick Chandler, who has over thirty years’ board experience in technology in global companies and organisations talked about what employers want in a STEM education and Kelly Smith of the Royal Society stressed the importance of a broad, balanced and connected education system to promote excellence in science. Educator and founder of coding4kids Nagashilpa Seethamraju compared the STEM environments in the US and India, and shared her top tips for teams wanting to take part in the BIEA’s international STEM Youth Innovation Competition. She coached two successful teams in last year’s competition and is intending to help over ten teams come up with solutions to this year’s challenge.


BIEA Early Years Chairman Chris Waterman attends the 6th Annual Conference of Chinese Early Years Education

On November 30th 2019, the BIEA was invited to attend the 6th China Early Years Education Annual Conference, which brings renowned early years education experts and scholars together. Chris, our British EYFS expert, delivered talks on the techniques used to conduct nursery evaluation in the UK, and on the historical development of British early years education.

In the former, he stressed that the evaluation of British nurseries focuses on the inspection framework and plays an important role in improving the quality of teaching. This is because the inspection framework is accredited by the British Office for Standards in Education - Ofsted - an institution with the utmost credibility. Chris wrapped up his speech by sharing how Ofsted defines a "good" nursery, and the core elements of how a nursery can achieve its “outstanding" rating. The latter talk gave them a comprehensive history of EYFS in the UK.

At the conference, it was clear that China's early years education sector is undergoing tremendous development. This is in part due to the impact of current policies and the demand for high-quality education; nurseries and other early years institutions have subsequently been afforded new opportunities, but with them there come new challenges. For many Chinese nurseries, implementing British EYFS is undoubtedly one of the best solutions to cope with the situation. However, how can such a distinct system be implemented? How do these nurseries get an authoritative endorsement? How will they get parental support? These are the main questions that puzzle these institutions.

Based on the high recognition of the British EYFS education framework, many teachers attended the conference to learn more about how it could be implemented in China. Feng Yang, the Head of BIEA’s China Office, gave his thoughts on how excellent the EYFS system is to participating teachers; what its standards are; how nurseries implement it; the current stages of EYFS implementation in China; and the contents of the 0-3 years old and 3-5 years old framework, which is popular amongst members of BIEA Early Years League (E-League).

 


BIEA held the signing ceremony of ELQ certification with the Lejian Company, a subsidiary of Choya education group

On December 2nd 2019, the Lejian Company, a subsidiary of the Choya Education Group (formerly Agile Education Group), successfully obtained the British Early Years Qualification (ELQ) accreditation (0-3 years old childcare project), and subsequently held a ceremony celebrating their achievement in Hefei, China. Chris Waterman, BIEA’s Early Years League Chairman, and Chen Linyun, General Manager of the Lejian Company, attended the signing ceremony and delivered empowering speeches on the progress of education under the Chinese and British systems. Chris asserted that holding a BIEA ELQ is authoritative proof of a school being a high-quality British early years education institution; these professed standards have been corroborated by Ofsted and Ofqual. BIEA has recently received applications and undergone preliminary reviews of 5 nurseries in both Dubai and China, out of limited number of possibilities for their ELQ accreditation programme. The company welcomes Choya Education Group's application as one pertaining to high-quality early years education. Chris believes that there will be challenges ahead in the nursery schooling sector, and therefore it is vital that we maintain exceptional education programmes. Successful applications and acquisitions of BIEA’s ELQ Accreditation by the Happy Whale Kids Nursery in Pazhou, Foshan, Chengdu and Sheyang — also subsidiaries of the Choya Education Group — will soon join the BIEA’s prestigious E-League.

Choya Education Group, as the first institution in China applying for BIEA’s EYFS Accreditation in the 0-3 years old childcare field, will be provided full support by the E-League, such as teacher training and guidance from experts. This will also give Choya the resources to develop high-quality childcare education and adopt the EYFS framework comprehensively. With the guidance of BIEA’s E-League, and the reputation of its ELQ, it is anticipated that Choya Education Group will become a model for other Chinese nurseries to follow.

 

 

 


BIEA forms exciting partnership with the University of Northampton

The BIEA is delighted to announce that the University of Northampton is on board as a partner for our 2020 STEM conference and competition: STEM (Stop) the Tide of Plastic Pollution. We are proud to join forces with them in our endeavour to quell the growing plastic problem that our oceans face, and to provide a better education to children across the globe.

The university has very generously offered our cause financial, technical, and training support that we believe will help raise our STEM-based ventures to the next level next year and beyond, and will aid the company as a whole to promote ecological values to schools worldwide, as well as a stimulating and streamline education system. We hope to represent a modern concern for the pressing environmental issues our planet faces by incorporating them into our respective learning spheres. We hope to build a close relationship with the university over the coming years, and believe that our work will encourage other universities to follow in this vein; the resources that universities can provide - and the collective knowledge and experience of their teaching staff - will be crucial in inspiring the next generation at our competitions and providing stimulating panel discussion and debates at our conferences.

The university will also assist our competition by offering the teams greater incentives to perform: the members of the winning team, particularly that of the 15-17 age group, will be recognised in some way for their achievement if they were to apply. They will also be in attendance at the international final in July, where they will be watching and supporting the teams, as well as providing career guidance for those members wishing to speak to the representatives present.

This will be a great opportunity for the students to engage with a university adopting a fresh approach to learning; the University of Northampton is a young, ambitious, and prestigious university based in a fast-growing town 60 miles north of London. It has been recognised for its commitment to innovation and social enterprise by being names the UK’s first Changemaker Campus in 2012, an enormous achievement considering the university’s age, and a clear sign of its intentions going forward. We are proud to be partnered with such a committed and ambitious institution, and anticipate a constructive relationship that will help us create a future we want to visit!


BIEA EYFS (0-3 years old) child care thematic training successfully concludes in Beijing

On November 25, the BIEA successfully completed the EYFS (0-3 years old) childcare training in Beijing, introducing the cutting-edge British EYFS education framework. Laura Rathbone, a senior lecturer of the BIEA Early Years League (E-League), brought a unique EYFS education lecture to teachers, sharing her rich EYFS teaching experience. The trainees laid a solid foundation of EYFS in the two-day study, and they had a practical session in the Windsor Bilingual Kindergarten on the last day. They obtained the British Vocational Training Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certificate afterwards.

Laura focused on the age characteristics of children aged 0-3, and interpreted EYFS childcare and daily teaching from different perspectives such as the EYFS conservation and education programmes, and the EYFS teaching cycle (observation, evaluation and planning). The trainees received guidance on the problems encountered during these stages. In addition to the positive interaction, the information Laura shared inspired the teachers, giving them new ideas about their own teaching methods. Some trainees commented that the training has reshaped their understanding of childcare and education.

The teachers are now interested in BIEA E-League's latest 0-3 year-old thematic courses, and some are interested in using British teaching aids.

On the last day of the course, the teachers visited a Chinese nursery - Windsor Bilingual International Kindergarten - adopting the British EYFS teaching framework. The school’s teaching director, Wendy Weng, relayed her own EYFS knowledge to the teachers.

In China, daycare education has increasingly attracted attention from early years educators in conjunction with changes in the market. Everyone is enthusiastic about learning the advanced education concepts of British EYFS, in order to help them create a better education environment for young children. The EYFS (0-3 years old) childcare training courses run by the BIEA E-League have garnered wide attention from early years educators across China. In the future, while maintaining the quality of training, BIEA E-League will share further details of the BIEA Early Years League Qualification (ELQ) accredited nurseries and British early years education study tours.


BIEA’s 7th EYFS training has been successfully held in Hangzhou

From the 19th to 21st October, BIEA Early Years League (E-League) held its first British EYFS (0-3 years old) thematic training in Hangzhou. The teachers who participated in the training obtained BIEA Continual Professional Development (CPD) certificates. As the first EYFS training in China focusing on 0-3 year old children, teachers sharing a passion for EYFS from all over the country learnt a lot of fresh information from Angela Fedi, BIEA’s CPD Training and Quality Assurance Specialist.

The training focused on the educational content of 0-3 years old children in the UK and how one can effectively link this with EYFS. Its content included child observation, evaluation, teaching plans and the support provided by EYFS in developing positive relationships amongst the children — this received high attention from teachers. The teachers put forward some specific problems related to circumstances in their nurseries; Angela drew from her rich teaching management experience consequently to give instructive solutions to these issues.

In order to consolidate the EYFS knowledge of the teachers, Angela held an interactive game session that required teachers to classify different behaviours according to their own understanding. She divided the teachers into groups and asked them to design thematic activities for children aged 0-3. She then gave professional advice and guidance according to each group's design. In addition, Angela shared activity, weekly, and environmental plan examples for children based on the EYFS framework.

In the future, the BIEA E-League will expand the EYFS thematic training. Together with the BIEA Early Years League Qualification (ELQ) accreditation programmes, BIEA aims to bring the best support to teachers, providing more training in adapting EYFS, and more opportunities to visit excellent nurseries that will help E-League members improve the quality of education and establish authentic EYFS nurseries in their home countries.


The 6th EYFS training concluded successfully in Chengdu Station

On the 21st October, the BIEA Early Years League (E-League) successfully held a three-day EYFS training session in Chengdu. The teachers gained professional EYFS knowledge, as well as a deeper understanding of how nursery teachers in the UK work, with the help of BIEA CPD Training and Quality Assurance Specialist Angela Fedi. They were enthusiastic and expressed their excitement for next session’s agenda.

The EYFS training takes the interpretation of the early years education in the UK as a focus, and serialises the important contents of the key person system, teaching and learning methods, home education and child behaviour. Out of these, the teachers were most impressed with the contents of the key person system.

The key person system outlined in the British EYFS framework refers to the dedication of a staff member (teacher) in taking care of - and being responsible for - a group of children in nurseries. This makes the children feel safe and looked after, and the key person then assumes an important role in their growth. The implementation of this system is one of problems being encountered by Chinese nurseries.

After the training session, the teachers commented that they understood the importance of the key person system, which facilitates continuous evaluation in a child's growth, but were wary that the implementation of the system still requires adaptation to be successfully integrated into the Chinese nurseries. In addition, Angela further summarised the qualities that a key person should possess and the strategies they should master before visiting a child’s family. Teachers found the discursive element of the training to be valuable, as they could communicate with experienced British EYFS experts face to face.

On the last day of the training, Angela presented the Continual Professional Development (CPD) certificates to the teachers. With BIEA’s promotion of Early Years League Qualification (ELQ), its recognition in Chinese nurseries is getting higher.

In the UK, professionals like lawyers, doctors, or teachers must take a certain number of CPD courses per year in order to obtain a CPD certificate and upgrade their industry skills. BIEA ELQ also has the same requirements for the teachers of the accredited nurseries; this is also one of the factors determining whether the nurseries can achieve accreditation.