A group of Year 9 students from Greenacre School for Girls have been crowned champions of United Learning’s national UnitedApp competition for 2016.
In partnership with 7billionideas, the competition challenges students across the Group to come up with a unique idea for an educational app to be designed and then launched online. This year saw 444 ideas submitted from over 1,500 United Learning students; these were whittled down to the ten groups of young entrepreneurs shortlisted for the final, which was held last week at IBM Warwick.
The standard across the teams was incredibly high but, after much deliberation amongst the judges, the app idea from Greenacre School – ‘Financial Helper’ – was announced as the winner. Their concept, which was developed as a response to the fact that personal finance is not taught as a priority in schools, educates young people on core financial concepts – e.g. tax, ISAs, student loans and credit card APRs – in easy to understand language.
In close second was Northampton Academy’s team with ‘Xperience Learning: The possibilities are endless’, an app to help find and advertise work experience placements for young people, and in third place were students from Wye School with ‘The World Changes’, which aimed to educate children on global issues and how they could help effect social change through small gestures.
There were also special prizes announced for Best Presentation, which went to Guildford High School students, and Best Video, which was awarded to the team from Richard Rose Morton Academy.
Vikki Russell-Robbins, United Learning’s Enrichment Lead, said
‘As a Group, we are committed to giving students a range of opportunities outside of the curriculum and UnitedApp has been an important part of this; encouraging students to innovate and be creative and nurturing vital skills such as communication and teamwork that will serve them well beyond their school careers.
'This year’s final has been an excellent demonstration of the talent and diversity of United Learning students. The competition’s success lies in its popularity with students; we are proud to see applications almost double in its second year and it is great to hear such positive feedback from students and staff.
‘Congratulations to the winning team from Greenacre School, to all the finalists and to everyone across United Learning who sent in their ideas. We are all very excited to see the ‘Financial Helpers’ app take shape as it is designed and launched online later this year. We are very grateful to IDNS, Clevertouch, CasioProjectors and IBM for sponsoring the event.’
Mrs Megan Guinan, Head of Years 8 and 9 at Greenacre School for Girls, said of the competition:
‘The competition was fierce, with some extraordinarily polished presentations and ground-breaking ideas. That was why it was such an emotional and exciting moment when our team were announced as the overall winners of the competition.’
Olivia Barbara, one of the winning students from Greenacre School, said:
‘It was a really cool experience, something that not many people get to enjoy. The final was quite daunting but it was really good fun! The most challenging part of it all was developing the idea for the app and working together to find compromises – I’ve learnt that teamwork is key.’
Olivia Chessell, another student from Greenacre School, said:
‘When we started, we never thought we’d get that far, we just wanted to have fun. The competition has really helped with our creativity and we’ve learnt new skills. At the final, I knew we had won when the judges said there was a massive gap in the market for the winning app.’
Jennifer Guy, another student from the winning Greenacre School team, said:
‘UnitedApp was an excellent way to put forward new ideas and use our imagination. It will be useful in the future to have developed presentation skills, for example when we are applying for jobs.’
There was also some great feedback from the other students and staff who attended the final.
William Cowley, a teacher at the Glenmoor & Winton Academies, said of the day:
‘I develop apps and I feel like the UnitedApp competition helps to give students a real passion for the computer sciences. It’s all about problem-solving – about having an idea and seeing it through to the end. I have seen my student team become more willing to take risks and they have improved their critical thinking skills and communication skills.’
Myles, a Year 9 student at Glenmoor and Winton, said:
‘The UnitedApp2016 competition was a good way to learn how to express our ideas effectively. Most of the time, you have loads of ideas, but nothing ever comes of them – they stay in your mind. This competition taught us how to elaborate on those ideas and it helped us build confidence to see things through. The competition gave us all confidence, taught us teamwork and how to have faith in our own ideas.’
Dexter, a Year 9 student at Northampton Academy, said:
‘I participated in the UnitedApp2016 competition as something to help further my CV for the next steps in my life and to help boost my confidence. The competition really showed me that in order to get what you want, you need to work hard. It’s also really important to listen to others and connect with them to help make your idea stronger. An idea can help to inspire and educate people but you need to make sure you are passionate and that you make other people believe in your idea as much as you do.’
Jesse, a Year 9 student at John Smeaton Academy, said:
‘We entered the UnitedApp2016 competition because we really wanted to learn how to make an app. It’s the first time we have done something like this and we just wanted to give it a try. The main thing I learned through the competition was that I could actually present and not be nervous. During the finale, I loved hearing from the other teams and seeing their designs. Everyone had such good ideas!’