News: Apollo Ensemble in line for national award

A Yorkshire company which designs and manufactures technology which allows children with disabilities to express themselves through movement has been named as a national finalist at a prestigious industry awards ceremony to be held next month.

Apollo Ensemble allows children with physical or learning difficulties to transform their body movements into sound, light, images and video and can be used for music-making, in sensory environments or for interactive story-telling.

Invented by Apollo Creative, based on Manse Lane in Knaresborough, the equipment has been shortlisted as a finalist in the ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions category of the British Educational Training & Technology Awards (Bett).

“The beauty of Apollo Ensemble is that it can be adapted for any user, no matter how limited their range of movement. It can be configured so that even the twitch of a finger can have significant audio or visual results,” explained creative director Mark Hildred.

“For schools working with children with a wide range of disabilities this is a real benefit. The system is portable too, so it can be taken wherever it’s needed.”

Apollo Creative has worked with establishments such as The Dales School at Morton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire, and KidsOut, a national charity which helps disadvantaged children.

Mr Hildred hopes the Bett Award nomination will help take Apollo Ensemble out to an even wider audience.

“Ensemble is really versatile – it can be integrated into classroom learning for group use or geared to an individual, which is why schools find it so useful,” he said. “We’re delighted the selection panel has recognised its advantage and have our fingers crossed for the final judging.”

The Bett Awards ceremony takes place on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London.

The Bett Awards are considered to be the most prestigious in the education sector, and are committed to celebrating a distinctive and diverse digital education resources market that meets the needs of the education system.

Event director with organisers i2i Events Group, Debbie French, said: “It is the quality of these products and services that helps to maintain the UK’s position as the leader in the use of technology in education.

“The specific nature of each individual child’s learning requirements means judging the products and services entered into the Bett Awards is possibly the most challenging of any award programme. This year we have been astounded by the levels of innovation in the judged products.”

Director of the British Educational Suppliers Association and chairman of the judging panel, Caroline Wright, added: “Despite schools now realising they do have strong available budgets, teachers are becoming more shrewd in assessing the aptness of products for their specific needs.

“Products therefore need to be of the highest standard to ensure that, aside from the initial purchase price, the total cost of ownership is low. This is what the judges have identified; products that offer the highest quality and are fit for purpose.

“These Bett Award finalists are certainly companies that schools can safely consider to be amongst the best available.”