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Views & Opinion

An education in energy saving Comment by Dr Alex Mardapittas, EMSc (UK) Ltd Managing Director

Reports indicate that the total energy bill for schools in the UK is estimated to be a staggering £543 million, with an additional £400 million in the further and higher education sector, resulting in around 3.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. With guaranteed savings on energy costs and

reduced carbon emissions, it is no surprise that school bursars and procurement managers are turning to Powerstar, the global market leading voltage optimisation brand and the only voltage optimisation system with a patent on its design. Powerstar has been leading the field in voltage

optimisation since being established in 2001 and has built an enviable global reputation as an innovator at the forefront of the development of the technology. The latest product in the range, Powerstar Virtue is no exception. Powerstar Virtue uses the unique, patented

Powerstar voltage optimisation technology and harnesses the induced negative power feedback to the supply, to charge a storage medium. In essence, the savings achieved from the voltage optimisation system are diverted into the energy storage system to be used at a time most beneficial to the electricity user.

The solution can be integrated with on-site

renewable energy generation to combine the energy saved from the voltage optimisation system with that generated from the renewable energy source. As a result, users can save energy and switch to the stored supply at any time they wish, to avoid peak tariff times, as well as ensuring a constant and reliable energy supply. Due to the exceptionally easy way in which the

availability of power can be predicted, Powerstar Virtue, can in effect, act as a Virtual Power Station (VPS). With this capability, users are able to make informed decisions on when to switch to the stored energy and participate in national grid led initiatives like FDR, STOR and EDR. The Powerstar Virtue solution can act as a full

facility UPS system for up to two hours and due to the modular nature of the system, storage modules can be fitted post installation to match any future needs of the site. Voltage optimisation works by addressing the

over supply of voltage from the National Grid and improving power quality issues - voltage is generally delivered at 242V rather than the 220V required by equipment and machinery.

St John’s Academy sixth form college in County

Durham is one educational establishment that is already reaping the benefits of installing a Powerstar system. Originally built in 1964, The Catholic Academy

has undergone an extensive redevelopment and extension programme to meet today’s ever changing educational demands. The school was experiencing severe, repeated electrical equipment failures on a regular weekly basis. Powerstar engineers, once on site, immediately

recognised the problem as being a power quality issue, specifically highlighting excessive harmonics as the cause of the equipment failures, which included, computers, air handling equipment, food mixer motors and pumps for the swimming pool. The installation of the Powerstar system has

also resolved power quality issues with a reduction on energy consumption of 8.8% equating to annual financial savings of £8,125 and carbon reduction savings of over 42 tonnes per annum.

Teachers and students alike need more

freedom during the school day Comment by Charlie Rigby, founder of the Challenger Trust

It has been made clear over the past decade that previous education administrations have had little interest in the overall development of a child. The policies imposed by numerous education secretaries in the past decade, including Michael Gove, have reflected a dated view of our education system, which placed more emphasis on academic achievement and reaching targets than producing well-rounded individuals. This has resulted in a generation of children

who are able to learn from textbooks and pass exams, who look impressive on paper, yet lack the life skills, personal attributes and personality traits needed to succeed in the real world. Simply put, they have immense knowledge,

but don’t possess the character, grit, resilience and drive to implement them effectively and make a maximum contribution to society. This view was recently expressed by Nicky

Morgan, which is something I applaud, but it has been too long coming. We need to take a more holistic approach to education, ensuring that the school experience is as broad as possible and not focusing solely on classroom learning. Looking back it is safe to say that the blame

for this traditionally narrow focus on Maths and English does not lie with the teachers. We have some of the best educators in the world but the

demands of the curriculum can obstruct the facilitation of good overall learning. This red tape is restrictive and means many students simply don’t get the most out of their school day. It’s impossible for teachers to have sufficient

time to work on character building skills with pupils when they’re constantly made to jump through numerous hoops by Ofsted. They need some of this burden to be removed to provide a greater opportunity to develop children wholly, rather than simply being focused on ensuring they tick the boxes for the next assessment. To develop this generation of well rounded

individuals with potential for creative thinking and a strong sense of self belief and confidence, we must start as young as possible. It is at primary school where there is great potential for early character development, which can be coupled with building the educational foundations which will stand children in good stead for the rest of their academic career. Children should be given the opportunity to

broaden their experiences as much as possible, whether this be through sport, travel, or the arts, as by doing so they will return to the classroom enthused, enjoying their education and keen to learn more.


My fear is that as pressure on teachers continues to rise and results are demanded more frequently we will continue to be a nation of educational box tickers, producing a factory line of children, with no original ideas, drive or ability to put a theory into practice. Instead, we need to inspire a generation to

have the creative ability to not only perform a task, but to ask the question, is this the best way to do this? We’ve seen in the last few years, a spoon-fed generation hit hard by a recession and lacking drive or creativity to get themselves out of it. We need to instill the grit and determination to make sure than when times get tough again, we will see a generation of entrepreneurs and self-starters flourish. As it stands, these vital traits are being ignored in schools and this needs to rectified as soon as possible. What we need to do is get back to basics, give

teachers an opportunity to teach and give children an opportunity to learn both inside the classroom and through experiencing as much of the world around them as possible. Neither teachers nor children should be made

to perform like robots and if we can get away from this model everyone will benefit long-term.

April 2015

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