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Why closing the achievement gap matters

In this episode of Texthelp Talks, we are joined by Baasit Siddiqui, TV star and Director of Siddiqui Education. Baasit shares with us his experiences as a former head of department and his drive to close the achievement gap. He talks to us about his work in helping to educate, motivate and develop the skills of disadvantaged school children across the nation. He also explores how the wider community can help schools to support young people and give them greater opportunities for success.

Transcript

Patrick McGrath (00:15):
Welcome to another episode of Texthelp Talks podcast coming to you live and direct from BETT 2022. Very, very excited about our next guest today. And it is the wonderful Baasit, Director of Siddiqui Education, and we'll come a little bit to Baasit's experience and his background in just a little second, but first of all, hello, Baasit. How are you today?

Baasit Siddiqui (00:37):
Hi Paddy, I'm very well, thank you. It's an absolute privilege to be here. Thank you so much for having me in your booth. It's a lovely looking place, it's very nice.

Patrick (00:46):
Yeah. And of course, for everybody listening to us, they're going to be hearing a little bit of background noise, so that is the real live den of BETT 2022. How exciting is that, to be here amongst people?

Baasit (00:56):
It's amazing, it's very exciting. The atmosphere is electric. I think I heard an Nespresso machine, as well, just a second ago, so I don't know if that's just me hearing things, but I'm 99% sure, so...

Patrick (01:07):
Definitely rumors that there's coffee at the Texthelp stand, so if anybody's hearing this live and direct, there should be coffee left for Thursday and Friday, I'm told.

Baasit (01:14):
Fantastic.

Patrick (01:15):
We're all good. Well, listen, Baasit, just as a quick introduction to Baasit, Baasit has combined his 10 years teaching experience with his unique journey in television connections as one of the Siddiquis on the BAFTA and NTA winning television show, Gogglebox, and what he does is he seeks to educate, motivate and develop the skills of disadvantaged school children across the nation. And Baasit, you're speaking at BETT this year and the title I believe is Who's on Your Island? Is that right?

Baasit (01:41):
That's absolutely right. Yes. Yeah.

Patrick (01:42):
And that's tomorrow, day two of the show at 3:50 PM?

Baasit (01:46):
That is right, yep.

Patrick (01:46):
And can we tell everybody where that is?

Baasit (01:48):
It's in the arena.

Patrick (01:50):
Perfect, okay. And of course today we'll be hosting the Twitter chat with Baasit and you can follow that Twitter chat and ask Baasit anything on #AskBaasit and follow that, of course at Texthelp as well. So Baasit, BETT, of course, is back, and what I wanted to really start with in this episode is maybe exploring a little bit about what you've missed about the BETT show and why is it important for us to be together, to reconnect, to be face to face, to be hugging and handshaking and exchanging ideas and of course sharing good practice. It's been a tough two years, why it's important that we're here this year?

Baasit (02:26):
It's incredibly important that we're actually physically here because for me, it's... The second that I found out that I was coming to BETT, I know there was a little bit of a stop and a start, but they wanted to get it absolutely right. But I think for me, even when those initial conversations were happening about coming to BETT, for me, it was a sign that, okay, this is a step back to normality.

Patrick (02:46):
Yeah.

Baasit (02:47):
A step in the right direction. And what's amazed me about the EdTech and education community is how fast they adapted to all of these changes. I mean, I know education isn't alone in this, but obviously being there, working with so many different schools and businesses and institutions, it really made me realise just so many innovative things that people are doing to kind of just carry on and support young people, whether that's working within schools or supporting schools, everyone really tried to evolve.

Baasit (03:17):
And essentially for me, the fact that we're physically back here right now, there should be a celebration of that. The fact that we've made this happen, all these businesses have stuck through thick and thin. They're still here with the purpose to support young people and they're here and they're doing it.

Baasit (03:32):
And exactly as you said, it's not only about all of these different stands, it's these different stands seeing each other, communicating with each other. You've got the arena, you've got all the talks, there's just a wealth of information that's out there and it's all going to be new information, as well. Because obviously people have learned so much during the pandemic and they've got unique insights, unique skills, unique bits of advice that schools will need. Schools and teachers will definitely need.

Patrick (03:57):
Yeah, and you know, I think for me throughout the pandemic and when a lot of teachers had to move to remote learning, there was a consideration when things started to lift again. Could we maintain that? Could we facilitate that? Did we have the momentum there? And I think what struck me really about today, Baasit, I don't know whether you've seen this since arriving, is that the real drive from those teachers who have been resilient, who've adapted really quickly just to keep things going and actually embrace all this new technology around us and drive forward.

Patrick (04:26):
I suppose we're here, Stand NF60, and hopefully people will drop by, but I think this morning, and maybe you saw on your way in today, palpable excitement about the show, proper excitement. This is not a bunch of exhibitors standing there hoping people will come. There are people here and they're chatting, they're participating and they're really embracing the technology that's there. Are you seeing that on your walk around the show?

Baasit (04:49):
100%, yeah, and I think you've hit the nail on the head there. The atmosphere is electric and I think it was touch and go, to be honest. I think everyone was a little bit nervous, are people actually going to come? But what I found is not only are people coming, but they are embracing that technology.

Baasit (05:05):
COVID and the pandemic was essentially, to some degree, a baptism of fire to kind of think that, okay, we've sort of shied away from education technology, ed tech, but now we've used it. We can see massive benefits in it. Okay, let's explore what else is out there. Let's keep trying to push forward with regards to that. And I think it's really striking while the iron's hot. There has to be a fantastic collaboration between the two, the ed tech, the business institutions and the teachers that are willing and quite excited to see what's out there, as well.

Patrick (05:36):
It's funny you say that, because I think certainly from today and I hope it maintains for the other couple of days, there's proper conversations happening. We've had pupils on our stand today. Hearing their voice and their experience and what maybe we can do with them. We'll be talking to people like yourself and we'll talk in a little second or two about some of the amazing programs that you have in place for schools.

Patrick (05:55):
I think there's more conversation going on about how we can work closer together and it's less about the commercial reality of things. Now, we all realise many of us here, of course, are commercial entities, but we're all here with common goals and you can see that on the show floor. And speaking of the show, what... You're here for a few days, you've obviously got your session tomorrow.

Baasit (06:15):
Yes.

Patrick (06:16):
What are you kind of looking forward to, both tomorrow and Friday at the show? What are you keen to see or who are you keen to listen to or keen to explore?

Baasit (06:24):
I'm extremely excited. There's so many different people that I've met through this virtual world, this digital world, and I'm really looking forward to catch up with them, to meet them. I'm fortunate enough to know CEOs within multi academy trusts that are doing talks. I know TES are doing some talks around wellbeing that I'm quite excited to see.

Baasit (06:46):
Yeah, there's, there's a really good mixture in terms of it. But for me, it is really about the chance to actually go and meet people that I've only met in the virtual world. And we've stuck together thick and thin. I know that Siddiqui Education has grown because of these people, and I'm so grateful for that and to actually meet them, to thank them, to talk about potential plans moving forward as well is mega exciting.

Patrick (07:06):
Okay. And there's some... You talked about some speakers. There's some fabulous speakers on this year, really... And some of the panel lineups this year, I'm really excited to go to. Have you picked out a few already that you're looking to attend, or...

Baasit (07:18):
To be honest, I'm kind of focused on my talks and areas that I'm going to be looking at. And when you're kind of in the zone with that, you're like, "Okay, get everything, get all your affairs in order. Make sure you're happy with that." But it's nice because I've kind of prepped and planned everything and now I can just take a step back and just let the whole BETT experience soak in.

Patrick (07:35):
Absolutely.

Baasit (07:35):
So the second I've finished on this stand, I'll be going over to the arena, I'll be going and seeing what different talks are out there, as well. So yeah, just excited to see what's out there because essentially, this is three days for me not only as a business owner, but as someone who still works in education, works with kids. I'll pick up so many different bits and pieces of advice throughout these next three days.

Patrick (07:56):
And of course, Baasit, many people, of course, will know you from Gogglebox and I think we always want to make sure that people are aware that's not the only job in your life at this point in time. So tell me a little bit about the talk. So the title of the talk is Who's on Your Island. What type of things are people going to find out about in that chat?

Baasit (08:14):
Essentially, it's what we've been talking about. It's this idea of collaboration. Siddiqui Education is close to five years old now. It is the most unoriginal name for a business. I literally took my surname and added "education" to it, but I'm under no illusion that if it wasn't for all of the different people that I've met on my journey in and out of education, in and out of television, it wouldn't be what it is today.

Baasit (08:38):
And essentially, it's a celebration of those people that have helped me get there. The people that have helped me just reflect on my own practice as a teacher, as a business owner, the people that have helped me to think about, okay, this is what you're doing within the classroom. This is how you should focus on it through a business point of view, as well. So what I'm hoping is that anyone attends, they'll just see the different people that have helped me. They may not know about the things that are out there that can support them, so hopefully I'll be able to give them some sound advice in terms of if you're looking for something a little bit unique, a little bit different in the education sphere, it's there. It's there in my talk.

Patrick (09:13):
Yeah. And so tell us a little bit more about the work you do with schools, Baasit. So tell us more about that, because you've got some really innovative programs that you run with schools. So just give us kind of the...

Baasit (09:24):
100%, yeah.

Patrick (09:25):
Quick of tour of that.

Baasit (09:26):
So just a bit of background with regards to me, I've worked in education, like you said, for 10 years. Full-time teacher, business, IT and computer science. So for me, personally, BETT is just an absolutely brilliant place to be because I've always been interested in the ed tech, the technology side of it, as well. Obviously the craziness of the whole Gogglebox...

Baasit (09:44):
That's nearly 10 years since Gogglebox started. That started and a couple of years ago I collaborated the two. I basically created a workshop where I work with students and it has evolved over time. It started with a class of 30. I can now work with an entire year group in a hall with the tech that's out there. And they work in groups to research, plan, and pitch an idea for a television show. So it's almost like a Dragons Den, but then there's the television aspect to it.

Baasit (10:15):
Now on the surface, that sounds really exciting. They have the potential to win a trip to London and some spending money close to Christmas time, it's great. The exec producers of Gogglebox get involved, they treat them to a nice meal. But behind that, and I remember this when I had a zoom meeting a couple of years ago, someone said, "Oh, it's a bit like learning through stealth." So they're learning all of the... They're learning and developing all of these transferable skills. So communication, collaboration, digital literacy. But they're doing it through the guise of creating an idea for a television show.

Baasit (10:44):
And then what I've absolutely loved is the fact that the kids stand up and share this idea. And I always say at the end of the day, "I was a stranger to all of you in the morning. Look how much you've achieved within five hours." You've stood in front of this stranger, in front of your peers. You've sold me on a concept for a television show that didn't exist five hours ago, and that needs celebrating. And when kids can show off that creativity and put their business hat on and present it as a business, that's an amazing skill that they should take home and really celebrate. And it's about talking about that and making that link between everything that we've done today is helping you develop not only within education, but in the world of work as well.

Patrick (11:23):
And so I suppose the set of pupils that you work with in those programs are probably fairly diverse, both in terms of background, in terms of social demographic, in terms of culture, in terms of individual needs, for example, as well. So that must be quite an inclusive environment to be in, to give every pupil a voice in that scenario?

Baasit (11:42):
100%, yeah, definitely. And when I first started, I specifically worked with pupil premium students, NCOP students, Pre-NEET students, I had quite a focus with regards to that. But at the same time, those labels, so to speak, a school knows who will benefit from this the most. They may not fall under a PP bracket or an NCOP bracket or anything like that, but they know that they'll get something massive of value from this.

Baasit (12:09):
And because of that, it's allowed me to just explore and work with lots of different students. In the height of the pandemic, we created a version, a digital version, of Let's Pitch It that opened out to families so they could do it remotely. I collaborated with a British Sign Language interpreter who helped me create a BSL version, as well. Through some sponsorship from a business, we were able to run that nationwide. So it was a real... It's always just having that teacher hat on thinking about, "Okay, how can we make this as inclusive as possible? How can we get as many people involved in this as possible?"

Patrick (12:41):
Do you know, we... In some of the software tools, obviously, that we've created in Texthelp, things like Read&Write, it's... I'll not go into any depth today, but one of the things that we see whenever pupils are given those supports is their confidence increasing. And I guess, to a degree, some of the programs that you're working provide the same sort of supports because it's encouraging pupils to speak up, to have a voice and increasing confidence, and I suppose that's one of the core goals, that teaching by stealth thing you talked about earlier.

Baasit (13:10):
Oh, 100%, yeah. I've realised I say 100%, by the way. I'm going to say a smaller percent next time. 90%.

Patrick (13:14):
Don't do a Simon Cowell and say "One million percent," you know, that...

Baasit (13:17):
One million percent, yeah. But in terms of that, you're absolutely right. In fact, not to give too much away, Who's on Your Island, I give a specific example of that where there was a young man who was just not getting involved in the sense that he wasn't rude or anything. They work in groups of three, essentially.

Patrick (13:35):
Okay.

Baasit (13:36):
Just quite introvert, quite quiet. I kept going over saying, "Are you okay? Are you happy with what you're doing?" Kept politely saying yes. In the afternoon, we started to use a little bit of digital technology and the kids had never used it before. The shift in character, he became a leader in that situation and his confidence grew. He wasn't the introvert anymore, there. He was sharing, he was bouncing ideas, because he took charge. He was a natural problem solver, he loved using the software. And I think when tech is used right and you create this classroom environment around kids where you can let them just explore the technology, that opens up so many different avenues and you'll just see different characters within that classroom, which is lovely to see.

Patrick (14:16):
Yeah, no, absolutely. And we see that. Sometimes we talk about, at Texthelp, we'll talk about pupils who are neurodiverse, as an example, and it's not a term that I use overly, but the importance of that and talking about that is that you will find pupils that may live with certain challenges, may struggle with certain challenges just because they're different. And that's the only thing.

Patrick (14:41):
And we don't want to give them a label because those pupils, actually, they have their superpowers and they have their strengths and I guess programs like that and support tools like some of the support tools we do as well, start to bring those things out. That example that you brought there was fabulous from that particular student, but that student may have sat there in that classroom for the last two years and never had a voice, and suddenly in this program, they've got a voice.

Baasit (15:03):
100%.

Patrick (15:03):
That's amazing.

Baasit (15:04):
90%.

Baasit (15:07):
With that in mind, as well, the environment that they learn in, as well. So when I created the digital version, we called it Let's Pitch It: Family. So essentially it was the same thing, I just wasn't in the classroom. And there were little worksheets and stop and start activities, but essentially the kids could work with their families to create ideas for television shows.

Baasit (15:26):
The support network was a little bit different there and we started to get different entries in there. So kids who wouldn't necessarily have got involved as in depth within my physical classroom sessions, they got a chance to shine in a completely different environment there, as well. So it's just little tweaks to things that we do and you just... I'm just amazed at the outcome of it. But it requires teachers who do this anyway to reflect on that and think, "Oh yeah, didn't even think about that, but that's working really nicely." And then it just becomes natural, it becomes ingrained in what you do.

Patrick (15:56):
Do you find the teachers that you work with, do they readily link up your program and the importance of those kind of core skills? I kind of don't like the phrase "soft skills," I think that's a little bit overused, but they're life skills, they're necessary life skills, at this point. Do you get buy-in from the teaching staff using these programs?

Baasit (16:14):
And that's come through reflection with me, as well, in the sense that I would rock up, do the workshop and then essentially say, "Okay, well done. Goodbye." But as time's progressed, I've started to articulate what's the importance in this. So I do... I always finish every single session with, "Okay, here's a certificate for getting involved. You could take this home and just say, 'Oh, I was part of this Let's Pitch It competition,' but I don't want you to do that."

Baasit (16:40):
And then we just go through and list every single skill that they've worked on and built in that situation. So to answer your question, teachers have opened my eyes to that and they're the ones who have kind of championed that and said that, please take into account the skills that you are using in this situation and celebrate that. And now I've started to adopt that within the talks that I do, as well.

Patrick (17:00):
So what's the roadmap here for things like those core skills? For you, is it take it nationwide? Is there... How should ed tech companies be involved in that? What should we be doing to contribute to the... Sometimes we view it as a skills deficit, but for me, it's more about skills development, I guess. The skills are there, we just need to develop them more. So what could we all be doing more of, together, to develop those skills going forward?

Baasit (17:26):
I think, for me, it's... There's a couple of things, because I focus on quite a lot in terms of careers education which has quite a strong focus, because of everything that I do, the essential life skills, exactly as you said. Every single person that's working on this stand right now is showing an essential life skill. And every single person behind the programs that you create is showing these skills.

Baasit (17:49):
And I think what's missing is this really solid connection between businesses at every single level. Not just the programmers, not just the marketers, but everyone who's working within a business has a skill that they should be celebrating and talking about. And I created a series of videos a while ago called Career Catalysts, and essentially what that was about was interviewing people who have different learning journeys. Different career journeys. They wouldn't have necessarily gone to university, or they may have gone to university and be doing something completely different than what they're doing now.

Baasit (18:24):
And they get to just talk about why they love what they're doing, how they got to that road, because everyone's got their own personal success stories to how they've got something and what they're most proud of. So I wanted to bottle that, because essentially if kids are listening to that, and they can relate to that person, hopefully they'll start thinking about a career that they had never thought about before. There's, there's an example that I always give in my presentation. So when Gogglebox was first created, they was a chap called David Glover who was a commissioner of Channel Four. He's the guy who kind of gave the green light to say, "Yeah, we'll give this show a go."

Baasit (18:59):
And he, kindly, when I started my business, said that I could have a little podcast interview with him. Worked for Channel Four for years, worked in television for so many years. One of the questions I asked him, I said, "What's the proudest moment of what you've done within your career?" And I was not expecting the answer that he gave. Essentially, he worked on a show called Stranger on a Bridge, and it was a journey about someone trying to find a person that essentially saved their life. This young man was about to jump off a bridge. A stranger came up to him and said, "Don't do it," talked him down. But then obviously in the hustle and bustle of everything that happened, this stranger went.

Baasit (19:36):
So it was this person's journey trying to find that person and thank that person. So David was one of the key people involved in commissioning that and creating that. The show went out on TV, I think we watched it through Gogglebox, actually. A few weeks passed... A few days passed, I think. And he got an email from someone, or the crew all got an email from someone. And said that, "This show was extremely important for me. I was at university at time, I was at university halls, and I was about to go and do something very similar to what this young man was going to do. I noticed in the common room that everyone was watching this show, this stranger on the bridge."

Baasit (20:10):
He sat down, he watched it with them, and ultimately the final message with regards to that is life's worth living, I'm so glad that person saw me, stopped me, and has changed my life. And that, in that situation, that man emailed in and said that, "Look, I was about to do something very similar. I wanted to personally thank you for that." And it's these little stories that you wouldn't even expect that people are so proud of in the businesses that they work in. And for me, it's about making and humanising that and celebrating that, because everyone's got them.

Patrick (20:41):
No, I absolutely agree. And I, with a lot of the people I work with in my team, I'll remind them as often as I can about the ripple effect. And you can't underestimate the tiny things that you do. Even a salesperson selling a software tool actually has a ripple effect because just by somebody buying that, further down the line, some pupil will benefit from that absolutely. You know, I got on...

Patrick (21:04):
Share a story with you, I got on the plane yesterday to come to BETT and there was a guy beside me on the plan and he said, "Excuse me," I had the Texthelp face mask, on all face masked up thinking I had to be face masked up, "See you work in Texthelp?" I'm like, "Uh-huh (affirmative), I do, yeah," thinking where's this going? And he was able to tell me about the fact that our tools had helped him through his thesis. And he credited the fact that he got through this with the fact that he had this one tool. And then I come today and I see interviews with primary school aged children able to articulate themselves with confidence so well. And you're going, do you know what, even if any of us played a tiny, tiny, tiny part in that, that's job done. You know, it's that ripple effect. Nobody knows how much impact we've all had in the things that we do.

Baasit (21:51):
And then to bring it all the way back around, and you asked me this question right at the start, why am I excited about being at BETT. For that one story that you told me, there'll be thousands and thousands of people that setting up stalls today will have similar stories, because they work within an industry that is helping other people. And like you said, you've got to have your business hat on to some degree, but you could pick and choose any business to work in. You choose to work in education, in ed tech, and that's something that you should be mega proud of, I think.

Patrick (22:15):
Yeah, I sent a tweet out, the usual run up the BETT tweets, "Oh, I'm so excited to be here," but I finished the tweet off last week and it really made me think. And all it said, the last few words in it was "Education is a special place." And I think all collectively in this industry, I think we all believe that and genuinely believe it. We know it's a special place because we know we get to help people every day. You're doing it in what you do, hopefully we're doing it, what we do.

Baasit (22:39):
Definitely.

Patrick (22:39):
And I just want to... A couple of quick questions for you as we start to wrap up the day, but just on technology, Baasit, and you think about technology, and we talked earlier about the impact technology's had through the last couple of years, through remote learning, how we're trying to embrace it.

Patrick (22:57):
But what do you think the opportunities are there going forward for technology? Is the sky blue? Is there lots of stuff to explore? Should we consolidate what we're doing? Is there something specific you see out there that we go, "This is really helping the pupils and students in our schools, colleges and unis?" Like what do you see there? What do they gain from using technology?

Baasit (23:16):
I think... I personally think that with regards to technology, the opportunities are infinite, which is quite daunting. It's quite scary. But it goes back to the transferable skills, if we can develop those, the problem solving the taking our time. We talk about metacognition, learning to learn, and all of those little bits and pieces, the teacher's role in terms of fostering these inquisitive young people, that essentially means that whatever happens in technology, big or small, our kids will be ready for it.

Baasit (23:48):
I think to shy away from it is not a good thing. I think that we are in a position now where there's some fantastic momentum around technology, but keep it simple, as well. I mean, what we found is that the things that work the simplest have had the most impact. Don't overwhelm, just don't buy a shiny new toy just for the sake of buying it. Do your due diligence, see how this is going to work, roll it out. But most importantly, talk and collaborate with the ed tech companies. They know what they're talking about, they know what they're doing.

Baasit (24:17):
I've noticed on your stand, you've got some teachers that work for you, as well, so fantastic, because they're going to be looking at it through the eyes of a young person. So for me, it's kind of like I'm mega excited to see where technology takes us moving forward, but at the very heart of it, you'll always need good teachers because they'll use the pedagogy, they'll use their... They'll reflect on how that tech works, how they've described that tech to the kids, and it'll just help the kids get better and better at using it.

Patrick (24:44):
Yeah, and you know that, Baasit, it's interesting to hear you say that. My mantra has always been that technology is there to underpin teaching and learning, and that's what it's there for. And we can't ever change the order in that. It's really, really important. That support that's needed, and those opportunities that can be created by technology, I think is key and there's some great stuff here around the show.

Patrick (25:02):
I mean, I've only had a short walk around the show today and only even in one hall today, but the amount of stuff I've seen that I really should have known about, Baasit, and didn't. I realised just how much was happening in this industry that I'm very fortunate to be a part of. So sort of the mantra and the theme around BETT this year is "create the future." What does this mean to you, "create the future?" What's that about for you? How do you interpret that line?

Baasit (25:29):
Create the future. I mean, it does what it says on the tin, really doesn't it? We are creating the future in the sense that every bit of technology that's being used could have one of those moments that you just said a second ago, could have that ripple effect. And if everyone's working towards that step in the right direction, supporting young people, we are essentially creating the future.

Baasit (25:53):
What I love, though, and I'm in such a privileged position, and I never lose sense in that, where I have the opportunity to not only work and go to different schools, but work with different businesses, as well. Now, the ed tech world, the education world is this fantastic place. And I think sometimes we take for granted how absolutely fantastic kids are because we work with them day in, day out.

Baasit (26:19):
But I recently had the privilege to see the impact that young people can have on businesses that are outside of the education world. So I was a judge for a competition. In fact, the competition's called... For me, when it comes to create the future, obviously we talk about the impact that education has, but what's lovely is to flip it round as well and to see the impact that the young people that we work with have on the outside world.

Baasit (26:50):
So we work within education institutes, ed tech companies, and to some degree, we can take for granted how fantastic kids are. Because we just work with them day in, day out. We lose sight of all the amazing things that they do. But I had the privilege recently to work with a company that has no links or ties to education. So there was a competition that was run by a London based company. The competition is called The Side Hustle Initiative, and there was a collaboration between Your Game Plan and FinCap.

Baasit (27:21):
But essentially, it involved students whittling down their entrepreneurial ideas and then getting to present in front of, and it was very much like a Dragons Den situation, London based FinCap company, which they invest in big ideas, essentially. And these kids had a chance to actually win some money in that situation. I was a judge there and I went in as a judge as a teacher would judge, if I'm perfectly honest. I was really looking at, "Oh, they didn't deliver that right," or "They were missing a bullet point on their PowerPoint." Whereas they blew everyone else away with their pitches and their heartfelt ideas.

Baasit (27:58):
Long story short, I was in that room. The plan was to get three overall winners. They just could not decide because they'd been so impressed by everyone that was there. They then whittled it down and they ended up, long story short, they gave out six or seven prizes, but they gave out a special price to these young girls that moved them so much. Their idea was essentially to create an online platform to support people that are new to the country.

Baasit (28:25):
So coming into the country for whatever reason, sometimes not the nicest reasons as well. They've had to flee a really challenging environment. I mean, you only have to look at the news to see what I'm on about. But they told their story about how they felt that their school had supported them, they'd created this network around them. Such simple stuff like the culture. What food to eat, what clothes to wear. And they wanted to create this platform where other people who were in a similar situation could come. They just moved the judges so much and they ended up investing in them for the next three years.

Patrick (28:58):
No way. Incredible.

Baasit (28:58):
And I remember when the guy gave the money to that event, and this was a top executive, a CEO in this business, and he was just us in tears. And for me, it was just that I just take this for granted. I work with kids who come up with fantastic ideas that move us. So going back to what you said, when it comes to create the future, that's the kids giving back in that situation in the sense that, okay, teachers have inspired them, motivated them, the education system's inspired and motivated them, but then this is what the outcome can be and the impact that they can have on businesses that have no link to education. I am very humble to be in a position where I see that come to life.

Patrick (29:34):
Maybe we should talk to BETT and tell them that they should rename this "Create the Future Together," and maybe we should just add one word in there, together, because actually what you've talked about there is how can we foster wider links than just staying in the education circles? How can we support people through into the world of work, how can we tie up those skills into the... We've talked a lot about all of those things that are interrelated and not just boxed into that one corner. So maybe that's what we'll suggest. We'll get that one out to BETT today. I doubt whether they're going to change the theme off this year's BETT 2022, but maybe they'll consider it for next year.

Baasit (30:04):
We'll just get a felt tip and add "Together" there.

Patrick (30:05):
Anybody got a sharpie on them?. I get a red one, that's fine. Listen, Baasit, I could genuinely talk to you... Well, I was going to say talk to you, I could generally listen to you all day because that was a wonderful, wonderful insight into the work that you do, the very impressive work that you do and your views on skills, your views on technology. And it was great to hear that you're excited to be here at BETT. I wish you all the very best. And just as a reminder for those listening, your talk is tomorrow, three...

Baasit (30:33):
3:50, yes. Yeah.

Patrick (30:34):
3:50, you remembered.

Baasit (30:37):
Yeah, you had to tell me. You had to tell me. At the arena.

Patrick (30:38):
I'm just going to advise our listeners just to double check that on the BETT schedule...

Baasit (30:41):
Please do.

Patrick (30:42):
In case we've all got it wrong. But that's... I wish you all the very best with that, I hope you have a good crowd. I will certainly be there to have a listen to that and I can't wait. So Baasit, Siddiqui Education, thank you so much for being our guest today on this episode of Texthelp Talks podcast, and you're going to stay around and you're going to take part in Twitter Fest which is #AskBaasit.

Patrick (31:05):
So we're going to have a session on Twitter and I'm going to encourage anybody after they listen to this, before they listen to this, try doing that, to ask any question they want of you, the work that you do, your links with us. I'm sure there'll be a Gogglebox question or two within there, what size are those cameras and do they switch the lights on before they start recording? All the things I've been busting to ask you about.

Baasit (31:28):
Absolutely.

Patrick (31:29):
So listen, thank you and enjoy the show and it's been great to have you here.

Baasit (31:33):
Likewise, Paddy. Thank you so much.

Patrick (31:39):
Huge thank you for joining us for day one of our BETT podcast series of Texthelp Talks. Make sure you join us again tomorrow when we'll be joined by even more exciting guests, for even more insights and views on BETT 2022 on education technology, education pedagogy, and all things in between. And do make sure, of course, to let us know your thoughts on what we've chatted about today using the hashtag BETTerTogether on your social channels.