DfE Alternative Provision Innovation Fund:
Using telepresence solutions to support pupil attendance
Meet AV1 – The telepresence robot that acts as the child’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom.
The Department for Education has provided funding for a large scale research project as part of the Alternative Provision Innovation Fund to investigate how AV1 can help pupils with medical needs remain connected to their home schools, and access their mainstream lessons. This means that they will also be enabled to keep in touch with their friends, social isolation being a common side effect being absent from school due to the impact of their medical or mental health condition. Hospital and Outreach Education is the lead organisation in the project and is currently coordinating the roll out of the use of AV1 in schools across the country as well as in our schools in Northamptonshire.
How safe is it to have AV1 in a mainstream school?
Only one child or young adult can use AV1 at a time. The user creates a password to log on to AV1 and confirms that only they know the password. The student’s parents/guardians are required to sign a contract and confirm that only the child/young adult will be using the AV1. If a parent/guardian logs on to AV1, it’s a breach of contract.
AV1 can only be used in real-time, and it is not possible to record or save any data. All streamed data is thoroughly encrypted, and it is impossible for any external party to access the video/audio sent through a closed tunnel between the robot and their tablet/phone. To participate and interact, the user has to be present either in front of the robot or front of the tablet/phone. All data is sent encrypted between No Isolation’s servers. Consequently, neither No Isolation or anyone else can access the video and audio sent between the child and the robot.
What we know from small scale use of AV1
- Pupil remains in touch with their friends
- Pupil is enabled to access mainstream lessons
- Attendance is not impacted by medical condition
Check out the article on the Daily Telegraph site: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/02/15/robot-helps-prevent-loneliness-seriously-children/
How Sam uses his AV1 to attend school: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/education-47240463/the-robot-helping-a-seven-year-old-boy-go-to-school
How can a robot help mental health? Podcast of Cath Kitchen and Zoe talking about the project, recorded by on behalf of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
How can I find out more?
Schools who are already engaged in the pilot project – please go to the Schools Section of the website to access the resources.