Free activity: A world without mobile phones?

Develop your KS2 pupils’ speaking and listening skills with a free activity from Brilliant Activities for Speaking and Listening

Mobile phones image

Download a pdf copy to print for your pupils.

You can find more activities like this one in Brilliant Activities for Speaking and Listening.

Brilliant Activities for Speaking and Listening contains activities designed to develop the spoken language skills of KS2 children while providing full coverage of the National Curriculum requirements for Spoken Language.

The reproducible activities include: interpreting facts and figures, working out the correct order in which instructions should be given, discussing and debating issues (bullying, junk foods…), role-play, thought tracking, hot seating, retelling stories and responding to and interpreting poems.

For more information or to order Brilliant Activities for Speaking and Listening for £17.99, please visit Alternatively, you can contact us by phone on 01449 766629 or by email at

Results of the Minibus Survey 2017 by the Teachers.

We have been running regular surveys relating to school use of minibuses by schools for six years, and during this time we have perceived an increasing tendency for schools to change the way in which minibuses are funded and are used.

This year for the first time, as well as asking senior management for their thoughts on minibuses and their use, we asked heads of department and subject coordinators in secondary and primary schools to tell us whether they had access to a minibus and how it was funded.

The responses summarised here are those from that particular survey to subject coordinators and departmental heads.

What we found was that 20% of our respondents had access to a minibus that was reserved for their particular department or subject area.

This is, as expected, still far smaller than the number of respondents who booked out the school minibus (68%).  7% of respondents felt they had no need for a minibus while 3% had no access to a minibus but would welcome it, and 2% shared a minibus owned or leased by another school.

In terms of ownership 39% of respondents said that the school had purchased its most recent minibus outright, while 30% stated that the school’s most recently acquired minibus was leased.

The use of a minibus shared with another school has risen greatly and has now reached 14% of the schools represented by our respondents while another 21% said that they thought this could be an approach which could benefit their school.

As we found in the past, the number of school minibuses on the road which are over five years old is large and rising – 39% of respondents said that they had a minibus in their school in this age group.

But where the big change came from our past surveys was with the view of future arrangements for minibuses.  6% felt their school was thinking of a secondhand minibus, 11% were considering leasing, and 51% believed the school had no plans for expanding their minibus fleet.

Although sharing a minibus with another school is growing in popularity, our respondents working outside of senior management did not see this as an option, although it is being more widely considered by senior management themselves.

The primary use of the minibus was transporting pupils or students to sporting activities (34%) while the second most popular was taking students to places of interest (22%).

60% of respondents could see the benefit from having another minibus in the school, but despite the huge growth in the notion of learning outside the classroom 34% declared that there was no need to have another minibus in the school.

In this survey schools were split fairly evenly between those which already leased or were thinking of leasing a minibus (38%) and those which have not considered the idea (27%).  Interestingly only 2% of schools said that they had looked at leasing but decided against it.

We invited our respondents to tell us about the way in which minibuses were used and the results were incredibly varied including using the minibuses to support staff in charity events such as the 3 Peaks challenge, as emergency & support vehicles for cycling events, to transport plants etc to the school’s ‘creation’ at the RHS garden Show at Malvern, and as a removal van to transport benches to the local church, sporting equipment for events and even pianos for carol singing!

Several schools spoke of allowing local groups to use the minibuses at weekends and during the school holidays, and one of enabling a group of disadvantaged children to go sailing.  One school spoke of transporting recyclable resources from local factories and another to help parents get to school for parents’ evenings.

We also had a most interesting report from a school that hired the minibus from a local fleet hire company.  However in this case the school was charging the students for use of the minibus for a trip, which of course would only be possible where the visit was not a part of the formal school curriculum in a state-funded school.

As might be expected. 63% of respondents felt that access to another minibus (either by buying it, leasing it, or sharing it) would be helpful to the school.

However 40% of such respondents stated that they were unable to raise the money.  2% of respondents indicated that the school would not take on a lease as a matter of policy, but 14% indicated that they had not previously thought about leasing a minibus.

In terms of gaining a business or commercial sponsor for the minibus, 37% of respondents thought that this could be a good idea – but it was not one that they had pursued – while 32% thought it would not be right for their school.

If you would like more information on the leasing of minibuses please contact us on 01753 859944 or email or go to

If you would like to read our short report on how schools are arranging the sponsorship of minibuses by local businesses and other organisations please email

Politics Summer School 2017 – Additional dates added 21st-25th August

This is an exciting time for UK politics, no matter where you see yourself on the political spectrum. Brexit offers significant challenges and opportunities to both left and right, while the election of Donald Trump looks to usher in a new era of global economic and military relations.

At the Politics Summer School we will be exploring the underlying reasons for the radical shifts of recent years, and equipping students with the knowledge and analytical tools to begin to develop their own opinions as to where we will go next, and how they might be a part of those changes.

With seminars and workshops on both political science and theory, including the nature of democracy, representation and freedom, human rights, populist movements and political economy, this Summer School offers a fast-paced and fascinating look at a discipline which is in a state of very rapid development.

This five-day Summer School for students aged 15-18 offers a stimulating combination of practical activities, (including an extended Mock Parliament), and seminars on key topics in political philosophy, as well as workshops on political campaigning and briefings on key policy areas.

This event is well suited to anyone who is interested in a political career, or who would like to know how to get more involved or informed about the world around them. It is particularly recommended for anyone considering Politics, PPE or related disciplines at university.

Course highlights for 2017 include:

  • Seminars on key concepts in political theory such as liberty, equality, and representation. We will engage with some classic texts and thought experiments, as well as looking at how we can apply theories and philosophies in contemporary contexts.
  • A full day Mock Parliament in which participants form parties and take the roles of MPs and Ministers, debating and voting on bills, taking account of constituency opinions, party lines and personal views.
  • A look at the wider European picture – in the past few years ‘outsider’ and populist political movements have gained in momentum and popularity all across Europe. We will be asking what has prompted this shift in the political landscape, and whether any of these movements represent a genuine long term challenge to ‘business as usual’.
  • A critical look at the new world of ‘post-fact’ politics and how we might successfully navigate it both as individuals and as democratic societies.

Students interested in current affairs should also consider our International Relations, Economics and Philosophy Summer Schools – details of which can be found at

Practical Details:

The cost of the five-day course is £475 and it will be held at the University of London in Bloomsbury on the 24th-28th July, and additional dates now added on the 21st-25th August – please check the website for current availability. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

There is bursary funding available for those who would otherwise have financial difficulty in attending – please see our website for details.

To book a place please visit call us on 0845 519 4827, or email Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.


Summer Schools 2017

The Debate Chamber Summer Schools offer students age 11-18 the opportunity to find out more about some fascinating subjects, prepare for university applications, meet like-minded peers and get to grips with some tough intellectual challenges.

The material will be challenging (for the older age-group, about the level of difficulty one might expect in the first year at university), but the atmosphere will be relaxed, with plenty of discussion, debate, and opportunities for students to shape the direction of classes. It is an environment conducive to getting to grips with new ideas.

Working in small groups (usually around 14 students per group) over several days offers participants a real chance to get to know tutors and fellow students and to explore the topics or questions that particularly interest them.

Highlights of Summer 2017:

The five-day Computer Science Summer School, new for 2017, will explore modern developments in the field and provide students aged 15-18 with a practical programming tool-kit for use in future projects.

The Law Summer School for 15-18s, in three distinct five-day Parts to allow time for more cases, more analysis and more debate on some of the most intriguing legal questions. Students can choose to focus on Criminal Law, Civil Law or International Law.

The Philosophy and Critical & Cultural Theory Summer Schools will look at some of the biggest questions in metaphysics, ethics and political theory, giving an opportunity to engage with the work of some fascinating thinkers, and also to develop students’ own skills of reasoning and argumentation.

For students interested in the Social Sciences or Humanities, we have Summer Schools in Economics, International Relations, Politics and History, while Arts enthusiasts should take a look at the English Literature, Classical Civilisations or Art History Summer Schools (all for students aged 15-18).

For aspiring scientists and mathematicians we also have the Physics, Mathematics and Medicine Summer Schools.

Last but not least, we also have a smaller number of courses available for younger students (ages 11-14) in Law, Medicine, Creative Writing, Critical Thinking and Law.

Practical Details:

All the Summer School events will be held at University of London venues in Bloomsbury, Central London, and will take place in July and August 2017. Please note that these courses are not residential, and accommodation must be arranged independently if required.

You can find full details of schedules, dates, costs, student reviews and tutors at

There is a limited amount of bursary funding available for students who would otherwise have financial difficulty in attending – please see our website for details.

To book a place please visit, call us on 0845 519 4827, or email Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

What can your school do to help the children celebrate 1000 years of England?

Most countries have a national day, celebrating the founding of the nation.  Unfortunately our nearest equivalent (St George’s day) suffers from the fact that little is known of St George, although we do know he wasn’t English and the dragon story isn’t true.

What’s more, it is curious that the oldest dates most people remember from English history are dates when the country was invaded – 55BC and 1066 – rather than dates which commemorate our coming together as one nation.

But next January will be the moment in which we can celebrate 1000 years of England, as the country became united under one ruler: the start of the long journey ultimately to the United Kingdom and what we now call “British Values”.

For 7 January 1018 was the date on which King Knut consolidated his power across the whole country, and England was effectively born.

And so to celebrate this date we have developed a programme that sensitively highlights the issues of today by exploring them through stories within the context of the very beginning of England, 1,000 years ago.

Through the stories we tell, children can invest their imagination in creating the story world with their mind’s eye.

And since it is quite possible that most children’s parents don’t know about the creation of England in 1018, the power of the story will be ever greater. For children love nothing more than educating their parents!

Storytellers from Snail Tales are travelling the country sharing the legends of the Anglo-Viking period, from Alfred’s burnt cakes to Knut’s wet feet – tales which reveal how England was forged by the great Anglo-Saxon and Viking leaders.

The storytellers will also run workshops on life in Anglo-Viking England to help your children understand how Knut united the various tribes that made up the country.

We’ll also supply an activities pack marking England’s 1,000th, including: recommended music; Who Made England? book from The History Press; a special commemorative coin from the Royal Mint; and a special discount on tickets to your nearest performance of our theatre tour celebrating Knut, The First King of England in a Dress.

If you would like one of our storytellers to come to your school to engage in the activities above, please do click here to find out more.  Alternatively you can email us at or phone us at 020 328 76245.