Schools App Challenge

by Emma Savage in West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom

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'Schools App Challenge' - a digital skills, health & wellbeing competition primed to launch nationally to all Primary Schools.

by Emma Savage in West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom

The story so far

Schools App Challenge is a digital skills, health and wellbeing competition with a mission to inspire young minds and improve outcomes for children.

Run annually in primary schools, the project has been successfully piloted in Wakefield since 2015 through funding from NHS England, and in partnership with Microsoft.  In that time we have been able to release two multi-platform apps, using the designs from the winning schools, and engage with over 1,000 Year 6 (10-11 year olds) who have taken part.  

Our first app Dragon in the Attic was released using the winning concept from Horbury Primary School's all-girl team addressing bullying, cyber safety and approaching adults with your worries.

Our second app Healthy Island was released using the winning concept from Horbury Bridge Academy seeking to address childhood obesity and oral health. It has since been updated and added to using our third winning concept from Sandal Castle Primary School "Peaceful Paradise', which includes tonnes of self care tools and tips on mindfulness and dealing with stress.

Engagement through co-design

Each year we set a challenge to the kids to help us co-design an app to help them learn about making good health choices - apps genuinely designed by kids for kids. A real life application to the 'Hour of Code' mission to help our next generation become developers and not just consumers of tech. The students research, collate and design their ideas, code elements of their app, create storyboards and user flows and gain loads of life skills about working as a team, listening to feedback and ultimately pitching their concepts to their peers and our expert judges from across health, education and tech. Check out one of their video pitches here .

It has demonstrated to teachers and health practitioners alike how important it is to creatively engage with children and inspire them to take greater responsibility for their own health choices and positively champion change amongst their peers, their family members and the wider school community. 

When surveyed, over 90% of respondents involved in the competition reported a positive experience to taking part and over 75% reported making a positive behaviour change as a result of taking part, with 'making sure I do at least 1 hour of exercise outside of school' and 'not rinsing my mouth out with water after I brush my teeth' being the most popular.

Tech for good partnerships

As well as working with key local public sector stakeholders and child health experts, we have been lucky enough to have Microsoft on board throughout all 3 editions of the competition, helping us mentor both teachers and students via Skype calls and our an e-learning platform. Microsoft also provide us with some fantastic prizes including tablets, coding kits and a unique day trip for the winners to one of their game design studios. Microsoft are set to continue their support in the future and we would like to add more corporate partnerships in the future, with organisations who share our social impact vision.

What next - the funding ask?

With NHS England endorsement and Public Health England support in place, in April 2017 we reassigned Schools App Challenge and the apps to a Community Interest Company (CIC) with a social impact mission to now roll out the programme nationally to all primary schools across the UK.  As much as we would love to make that happen on passion and commitment alone there are costs associated with building on the good work done to date.  That's where you come in - as an individual who would like to see this kind of digital skills project come to your school or play an active role in reviewing the creative concepts, or as a business keen to find a corporate social responsibility project that meets your corporate values and provides a meaningful volunteering platform for your employees.  You can help us keep up the momentum for scalable growth.

The funds we are looking to raise will allow us to launch the 2017/18 programme as a national endeavour in September 2017, operating the competition at scale through the web platform that will host all registered schools, publish all entries, collate all peer and expert judging scores and collate all public votes so that no matter how many schools take part we will also be able to generate a clear shortlist that can progress to the Finals.  

These funds will ensure we can deliver all elements of the competition programme management, online and offline, to as many eligible schools that register in 2017, and ensure the winners see their concept released as a real app.

We have over 120 schools already registered to take part, but we need more. We would love to reach a target of 600 schools taking part in our first national campaign, that's 18,000 children challenging themselves to learn new skills in a fun and engaging way.

Don't just take our word for it - here's what our most recent winners, Sandal Castle Primary School, had to say about taking part - 'our testimonials'

The team behind the idea

To know more about who is involved, please click on our names to review our profiles on LinkedIn.  

Emma Savage,   Dr Chris Jones  &  Sarah Fatchett


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£50 or more

£50 Reward

If you can pledge £50 we'll give you kudos for your support with your name in lights on our web platform

£200 or more

£200 Reward

If you can pledge £200 you can nominate a primary school of your choice to take part in the 2017/18 completion. They just need to have a Year 5 or Year 6 cohort of students ready to learn new skills! You will of course be credited as their 'Nominee' on the website.

£2,000 or more

2 of 20 claimed

£2,000 Reward

If you can pledge £2,000 you get to be one of our expert judges that will have the important task of helping us review our shortlisted 20 schools entries on-line and decide on our Final Six, who will have the chance to pitch their app concept in person to our 'dragon's den' style panel of judges.

£60,000 or more

0 of 2 claimed

£60,000 Reward

Pledge £60,000 and become a Founding Partner. Your fantastic support will be recognised throughout our website, in the apps and on all collateral materials. We'll find meaningful ways to support your CSR objectives and you will be able to nominate someone from your organisation to take a seat on the panel on Final Judging Day - helping us to decide on the overall winner for 2018.

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