Our use of Virtual Reality to allow our young people to enjoy new experiences and accustom themselves to real world situations without leaving the comfort of their classroom or home has just missed out on receiving a national award.

Prior’s Court was shortlisted in the Innovator of the Year category in the 2021 Bett Awards for work being done across site with Virtual Reality over the past two years.

The award was presented to SchoolCloud, a supplier of software for schools, at a ceremony in London on Thursday, 22 July. The BBC and LEGO Education were among the others shortlisted in the Innovator of the Year category.

The Virtual Reality work, led by Computing Teacher Nuno Guerreiro, has involved collaboration between Education, Residential and multi-disciplinary teams to use Virtual Reality headsets as a complementary resource to existing approaches.

The technology has been used to provide our young people with access to relaxing sensory experiences, desensitisation around scenarios such as being on a bus or medical environments, and enjoying new experiences such as skiing.

One success, at the start of 2020, involved supporting one young person to board a plane to go on an overseas family holiday for the first time in nine years, while the technology has also been used to complement the work of our on-site therapy team with phobia treatment (particularly around animals) and desensitisation around medical settings.

Nuno and fellow teacher Daniel Soler Lopez attended the Bett Awards ceremony.

Sue Piper, our Director of Young People’s Learning, said:

We were thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Bett Award for Innovator of the Year among some truly stellar company.

Being shortlisted endorses how we continue to innovate with the use of new technology which we are delighted with, as it links us back to our founding patron Dame Stephanie Shirley, who was herself a pioneer in the field of information technology.

Our use of Virtual Reality was reported in 2020 by the BBC, Thomson Reuters and the New York Times, among other global publications.