Introducing Skill City: A New Virtual Learning Platform

In this blog, we chat with Founder and Managing Director of 360 Skills for Life, Rob Hattersley about Skill City and the opportunities for virtual learning.

The Safeguarding Company is working in partnership with 360 Skills For Life, a start-up social enterprise offering skills for life. 360 Skills for Life uses a virtual reality Skill City, alongside cross-curricular teaching plans and resources to teach children and young people valuable life lessons. Founder and Managing Director Rob Hattersley answered some questions about the new programme. 

Question 1: What do you do at 360 Skills For Life? 

Our education system is heavily focused on academic outcomes, and at 360, we want to ensure young people are prepared for life, not just exams. Topics we will cover include mental wellbeing, active travel, personal finance and budgeting, the climate emergency, safety – and a lot more! 

Safeguarding is the first topic we have addressed, hence the partnership with The Safeguarding Company who have advised on content. The work that schools are doing on their safeguarding process is crucial. But, with our funding partners the NHS, we decided that there was a gap in classroom support for teachers to have positive discussions in the classroom on these difficult topics. We want young people to know they are not alone, how to get help and have the confidence to do so. 

Question 2: What skills are you teaching children and young people? 

We don't tell young people what to do or think. We don't make them learn facts. Through an approach we call dilemma, discuss, decide, do and deliberate, we help them to think for themselves, weigh up pros and cons, assess risk and make evidence-based decisions. This means that rather than rote learning for specific situations, they are prepared for anything! 

Question 3: What age groups do you currently cater for?  

Our first phase is now live for 10-14 year olds - Year 6 to Year 9 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Primary 7-10 in Scotland. We're now seeking project funding to extend this down to Early Years and up to 18. 

Question 4: What are the benefits of the blended learning environment? 

We can create more realistic scenarios and situations using virtual reality, without leaving the classroom. It's as though the learner themselves are there, and brings learning to life in a way that a linear video doesn't.

But blended learning is important – it’s not all about the VR, which is only the stimulus for much more. We use existing school hardware, not headsets (which would limit takeup), and we want learners to use Skill City only as a start for learning together in school and outdoors too. 

Question 5: Can you explain Skill City and the value of realistic dilemma-based scenarios?  

Learning is often too theoretical or didactic (telling). Using Skill City, we put young people in a realistic environment and present a series of options. Using our lesson plans, the teacher leads a discussion about the pros, cons and risks of each option. The learner makes a choice and is guided to consider potential outcomes. 

This works whatever the topic. Our first phase on Safeguarding presents some challenges and decisions that young people may face in this area, and they explore the options they have and review their decisions. 

Question 6: What are some of the different topics covered? 

Our 360 Safeguarding module covers sensitive topics at an age-appropriate level including: 

  • Eating disorders, self-harm, coping strategies, how to get help for self or a friend
  • Reducing personal risk when out and about e.g. choosing safer routes home, knife crime, drugs and supply/ county lines
  • Unhealthy relationships – violence in the home, bullying, how to help, how to get help, managing social media for mental health
  • Dealing with emergencies – someone has been attacked; someone has had an accident in the home
  • Being kind online – risk, personal safety, harassment, body image and mental well-being

Find out More

Sign up for the programme for Year 6 – Year 9 and benefit from a 10% discount if you are already signed up to MyConcern. You'll get extended membership until August 2023 at no additional cost. 

If you teach another age group, sign up for our newsletter on the site and we'll let you know as soon as these modules are live.

If you have any questions at all, email hello@360skillsforlife.org  

 

Author
Rob Hattersley
Founder and Managing Director

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