Award-winning EdTech provider GLUU has spearheaded a taskforce of leading education partners to pilot askOLA with Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust .


askOLA is an on-demand, out-of-school learning and wellbeing support system.  The intention is for the system to support the whole student, both academically and emotionally; addressing their readiness to learn.  Students receive academic support from vetted Online Learning Assistants (OLAs) and are signposted to the digital mental health and emotional wellbeing service provided by Kooth if they are experiencing difficulties – including direct access to counselling services or pre-moderated self-help content, if needed.

The Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust is a multi-academy trust based in the Black Country area of the West Midlands.  It encompasses five primary schools, three secondary schools and two nurseries.  The trust has a “Whole Education” philosophy, meaning that they want to prepare students for the world both personally and professionally and make sure they are well-placed for a successful and happy life.

The pilot is being launched in the run up to 2022 exams and vocational qualifications with schools able to choose how they spend ‘catch up’ funding and with wider concerns about mental health being expressed by the Children’s Commissioner and other leading Education figures.  

Christine Major CEO of GLUU said:

Everyone at GLUU is so excited for the askOLA pilot to get underway at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust.  We know that the pandemic has created huge amounts of upheaval for children, both in terms of their educational progress and their wellbeing and we wanted to design something that could help address both those problems.

We know that children and teachers can benefit from what askOLA has to offer but we also hope to bring some peace of mind to parents; with the help of an OLA, they can rest assured that their children have extra professional support to underpin their learning recovery activity, reducing pressure at home.”’

Sir Mark Grundy, CEO of Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust said:

“We are delighted at Shireland to be the pilot Trust for askOLA. It’s been wonderful to see how helpful it is for pupils to have amazing online support at their fingertips outside of school. The combination of wellbeing advice and tutoring is so important as we help young people recover from the pandemic.”  

Sam Palombella, Director of Government Services, Kooth said:

“As with us all, the lives of young people have been significantly disrupted during the pandemic, this has had an impact on both mental health and wellbeing. By signposting students to Kooth, this taskforce is ensuring that students have a safe, confidential, and welcoming place to access non-judgemental mental health support. One that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and easily accessed via a click of a button on a smartphone, laptop or tablet.”

Chris Rothwell, Director of Education, Microsoft:

EdTech has such an important role to play in the classroom – and at home, that’s why at Microsoft we want to see programmes like askOLA succeed because this pioneering programme is another example of how online support can give all-round benefit to young people.” 

Tej Samani Founder Performance Learning said:

“We are proud of be part of a task force helping young people with online support and askOLA is a programme that helps with both learning and mental health advice. It’s an extra tool for pupils, teachers and parents to use and hopefully shows how EdTech can be so beneficial alongside classroom teaching.

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