Southend-on-sea City Council

Southend-on-sea City Council

Growing from 15 AV1s in 2020 to 50 today, the UK council keeps absence rates consistently low

Southend-on-sea City Council has steadily grown their AV1 offer, since investing in 15 units in 2020. There are now 50 AV1 robots that sit within and are managed by their Access and Inclusion team.

About their project

Schools can request an AV1 via the dedicated AV1 service page and if a student meets the access criteria for the interim tuition service, an AV1 can be loaned out free of charge. If a pupil does not qualify, the AV1s are also available for short or long term rent, for a smaller monthly fee.


Simone Isaacs and her team have been committed to promoting and implementing their AV1 service across Southend. This has involved regularly collecting testimonials and feedback from schools (below), holding information sessions and working with No Isolation on larger marketing projects including a recent billboard and bus stop campaign. This has led to a strong community of advocates and invested schools.

The AV1s in Southend have supported long term absent students (as well as students struggling to get into the classroom) for both medical and mental health needs. A recent article on Southend’s fleet reported that:

“The 2021/22 academic year saw 46 students use the AV1’s to access education. Twelve of those students have now fully re-joined full-time education at their school, and many are still in use as part of their reintegration plan.”

The financial impact is also huge, as reported in Schools Week: "Southend-on-Sea said the annual running cost for 50 AV1s was £23,000 – compared with £850,000 for a one-to-one tutor for 50 pupils." (Read article).


"We were incredibly lucky to have been offered the use of an AV1 on two occasions. The robots really are a great way of including the pupil who can't be in class, to still feel part of the learning experience. We had positive feedback from parents and we would have no hesitation using AV1s again should the need arise." – Primary school

AV1 has enabled our anxious students to reintegrate into lessons from the safety of our iMatter centre. Students tell us using the AV1 helps them to feel as if they are still able to make progress with their academic work, causing less additional anxiety. AV1 gives them the capacity to work on the social and emotional aspects of school life that are causing them worry whilst being able to build resilience and not getting further behind in their studies. – Secondary school

We have found the robots invaluable for students who are unable to attend school due to medical or mental ill health. The student's feel comfortable joining in lessons, knowing they can still participate and be able to communicate with their teacher and peers. The students have used the robots outside of lesson time to maintain social interaction with friends which in turn makes its easier for their eventual return to school. – Westcliff High School for Girls, Southend-on-Sea

It is the best option to reduce enforced isolation for those students who require it. – Simone Isaac, Pupil Access Lead, Southend-on-Sea City Council
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