Penbridge School (was Newbridge Junior School)

AV1 is a telepresence robot for absent students that transforms digital inclusion for schools

Newbridge Junior School (now Penbridge School), part of the TSA Trust, provides education to around 500 pupils aged 7-11 in Portsmouth. They pride themselves on their ‘safe, stimulating, challenging and caring environment, where children develop intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially’.


Portsmouth City Council have trialled AV1 across the city to see if they can form part of their offering for pupils with medical or SEMH-based needs. Assistant Headteacher at Newbridge, Jack Jones, says the school is on board with digital transformation, so when the opportunity to trial AV1 arose, they were keen to take part.


Jack gives some background on the pupil they were looking to support with AV1;

“Our year 6 student is a multi visceral transplant patient. He is at high risk from common bugs that tend to circulate and so he is often off school. We have to be very fluid and flexible when it comes to his attendance and how much work he is expected to do. The student hasn’t received anything like AV1 before. He started with us in September, and before coming here he had no real link to school when he was off and unwell.”

Introducing AV1 to the school community ensures everyone understands how AV1 works and that it is safe to use in the classroom. Newbridge informed parents via a letter and the pupils had an introductory session about AV1 before it was used. Jack explains:

“We received a positive response from the parents and no objections, and children were excited they would be able to communicate with our student through AV1."

During this year of coronavirus disrupted teaching, Newbridge was able to combine the use of AV1 with other distance learning platforms which allowed the teacher to review work the student was completing at home.

"As a result of the pandemic I think many teachers feel more confident with the concept of live streaming, so I don’t think it was too daunting for them to have AV1 in the class. Managing it became part of a routine and the teacher found it easy to set up for each day. The security of AV1 is a big selling point, and the fact it is so manoeuvrable. I think in terms of supporting student wellbeing, both for the user and the classmates, AV1 is a much more impactful tool than other video-conferencing options.”


The school faced some challenges around setting up the school WiFi network to allow AV1 to work. Jack elaborates:

“Like in many schools there are certain restrictions placed on streaming and devices, but I want to let schools know that they shouldn’t give up just because there is an internet issue. Since we got those issues sorted it has been a very positive experience.

Renting AV1 from the council has been a very cost effective solution and the protection and security it offers sets it apart from other options. The biggest impact for the student was that it allowed friendships to continue and allowed the child to still feel part of school life even with longer periods of time away from the classroom.”

Looking for more information?