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The Progress Group’s Transformation and Innovation Director Crowned “Most Innovative Leader 2023 – UK (Education & Training)”

Sumita Chopra

The Progress Group, an award-winning national provider of education and training are celebrating a further success in EdTech having learned that their Transformation and Innovation Director, Sumita Chopra, has been announced as the Most Innovative Leader 2023 in UK Education and Training as part of the Most Innovative Leader Awards.

The Most Innovative Leader Awards 2023 have been launched by Innovation in Business to shine a spotlight on individuals who are pushing the boundaries, surpassing expectations, and thinking beyond the status quo across their respective fields.

Responding to the changing educational needs of students through the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond, Sumita Chopra has led the organisation’s edtech innovation, with a particular focus on the group’s specialist Alternative Provision provider, Progress Schools. Here she has led on the creation and implementation of a digital platform that is enhancing the educational experience of some of the most vulnerable young people in society.

The Progress Group entered the Innovation Sprint Programme with Edge Hill University in 2021 with a focus to meet the increasing demand within alternative education provision through exploring digitisation within Progress Schools.

Research at the time reported there to be 473,300 children and young people with Education, Health & Care (EHC) plans in January 2022, a 10% increase from January 2021, and market insight showed a high number of fixed and permanent exclusions, especially in Northwest and Northeast England. The Northeast for example had a Permanent Exclusion Rate of 0.8% of all students, and a suspension rate of 6.97%.  Due to the increased complexities of the young people being referred to Progress Schools, it was felt that a more agile and immersive virtual learning platform was required, in order to best meet the needs of generation Alpha.

Sumita said “The integrated technology platform that we have developed, enabled Progress Schools to enrol and educate “non-attender” learners, who for various reasons cannot attend a physical school site. It also facilitates more specialised subject learning, delivered by subject specialists, something that we have not been able to achieve previously due to the volume of learners being much lower than mainstream settings.

“The innovative platform uses multi-disciplinary software ecosystems. We have carefully selected educational technology & resources to provide an immersive and engaging journey for learners. The school structure, timetable, and discipline are seamlessly applied as per DfE guidelines both in a virtual and hybrid environment. This is underpinned by a sound pedagogical learner centric approach, which ensures high standards of education delivery and subject specialisation.

“The new service idea and focus was skilfully nurtured and tactfully challenged by the ‘Innovation Sprint programme’ with market insight data, operational probability and financial robustness resulting in a sound business case for additional growth investment from the Progress Schools board with a viable Target Operating Model (TOM).”

Following the successful partnership with Edge Hill to develop phase one of the programme, The Progress Group have now secured £200k of  funding from InnovateUK to develop a new student assessment tool at Progress Schools, which utilises Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide individualised learning journey’s for each student.

Sumita continued:

“It is heartening that, off the back of this hard work and the brilliant innovation developed by our team, we have received such recognition by Innovation in Business.

“It is truly an honour to be awarded Most Innovative Leader 2023 – UK (Education & Training).  Across The Progress Group, we are passionate about supporting the aspirations of our learners, and we will continue to explore new and innovative ways to achieve that.”

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