eSports team wins Regional Finals

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St John Fisher crowned Regional Champions in first student esports tournament

7 March 2018 Having battled it out at the regional qualifiers yesterday, St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy came out on top in Manchester. Now the team prepares to compete in the Grand Final of the Digital Schoolhouse Esports Tournament, which is both a competitive gaming and careers education event taking place during the London Games Festival.

Students from St John Fisher, based in Dewsbury, joined four other teams from schools across the UK in Manchester, using Blizzard’s popular game, Overwatch, to compete for the coveted prize of Regional Champion. It was a close call between them and students from Liverpool Studio School, but ultimately it was St John Fisher’s Team Veracity that was victorious.

Kris Vilcinksas, a Year 8 student from St John Fisher, was the first student shoutcaster of the day, using live streaming video platform, Twitch, to share his thoughts.

Kris said:

“I’ve been commentating on today’s regional qualifiers event by shoutcasting on Twitch. It’s been really fun and the platform has lots of people talking about how the game is going and how the teams have been playing. I’m really excited to be shoutcasting at the grand final too!”

This ran in parallel to three other regional qualifiers that took place this week across the country, and Team Veracity from St John Fisher now joins the winners from each to battle it out head-to-head at the Grand Final, taking place at Gfinity’s London arena, 11 April 2018.

Bailey Barber-Scargill, Harrison Barber-Scargill and Josh Love, Year 12 students, said:

“We think today went really well and you can tell the team have been playing a lot and practicing. Esports isn’t just a lot of fun to be involved with, it’s also taught us a lot about strategizing and building our skills.

“Today could have gone either way and it was a close score, which has shown us that being prepared isn’t always enough and you have to evolve and go above and beyond to succeed. If this it just the regional qualifiers, the final is going to be awesome!“

Organised by Digital Schoolhouse, the education programme run by the games industry trade body, Ukie, and powered by PlayStation, the tournament will allow students from St John Fisher to meet professionals in a variety of roles within the sector, promoting the importance of computing skills and the wealth of careers available in games.

With powerful sponsors behind the initiative and this event in particular, students and spectators will be given the chance to hear from PlayStation, SEGA, Blizzard, ESL Esports, Warwickshire County Council, XMA-Viglen and Creative Assembly, about why they are getting involved.

Mark Ward, the Digital Schoolhouse lead at St John Fisher said: “We’ve worked really hard during the regional qualifiers heats and have enjoyed competing with Overwatch. Our team won the tournament last year so we’re excited to be heading to London for the Grand Final – hopefully Team Veracity will be reclaiming the title by bringing the trophy home again this year!”

Shahneila Saeed, programme director for Digital Schoolhouse, said: “St John Fisher has been a Digital Schoolhouse for two years and so this will be the second year they have entered. Team Veracity won last year and they’ve done well to get to the top of the regional qualifiers again, but there’s more stiff competition to come at the Grand Final!

“It’ll be a great chance for students to network, improve their teambuilding and problem-solving skills and learn more about the many careers available within the games industry. And we have some great sponsors behind us to share their expert knowledge!”

To register interest in becoming a Digital Schoolhouse, please complete the application:

For more information about the next esports Tournament, visit

Rocket League

Last week saw the culmination of almost three months’ hard work with the inaugural SJF eSports Tournament Final taking place.

Rocket League (basically football in cars!) was the tournament game of choice and almost 150 pupils from Year 7 – 13 took part.  The two finalists, Year 11’s ‘Veracity’ and Year 10’s ‘Mansfield FC’ were both on top form coming into the final with both teams not having lost a team through the group and knockout stages of the contest.

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The gathering crowds knew they were about to witness something special and both teams didn’t disappoint as each game in the best-of-three final featured some outstanding gameplay from all involved.

After two games, with each team winning one game each, the assembled masses were on the edge of their seats knowing that only one team could be victorious.  With tensions mounting (and some tempers fraying) the pressure was certainly palpable as the combatants took to the arena one last time.

After what seemed like an eternity, the mighty gladiators of Team Veracity emerged victorious, with a score line that really did not justify the incredible endeavour shown throughout by both teams.

Both finalists and losing semi finalists will now make the long journey to London where Veracity will take on the best of what other UK schools have to offer in an attempt to be crowned the first ever UK eSports School Champions.

But what is esports?

eSports is an evolution of multiplayer gaming. It is the practice of playing video games competitively. Players perform either solo or in teams (depending on the game) and winners are awarded prizes; which for the world’s best can reach into the millions. Professional arenas and live tournaments are organised, with thousands attending to watch live matches and millions following a live stream online.

What does this have to do with education?

The event is designed to engage and inspire students with computing technology and the creative digital sector using a medium and a platform that they are already very familiar with. By using the medium of games, students are introduced to and given insight into a new world of career opportunities developing in the UK. In addition, students are very much at the forefront of the entire tournament, with many taking on the responsibility of organising much of the regional heats.

The teamwork and collaboration required to play the game along with the strategic thinking required to win the game, provides creative links to help develop computational thinking skills. The game itself is a strong hook for further cross-curricular computing opportunities and ongoing work. We want the participants to think beyond the enjoyment of the game, to the people who have utilised their expertise in computing and creative technology to successfully build a game that is enjoyed by millions globally.

From encouraging students to engage with education to careers education, and cross-curricular creative computing lessons, to planting the seed of alternative career paths, eSports is a cutting edge and highly motivating educational experience for all those involved with it.

Every pupil involved in every team has behaved impeccably throughout the entire tournament.  An amazing amount of sportsmanship has been shown throughout and it has been a joy for me to be a part of an event like this, allowing pupils of all ages to participate in the same event.

Roll on next year!

St John Fisher becomes a Digital Schoolhouse!


St John Fisher has been selected to be one of 19 schools throughout the UK to be a part of the prestigious Digital Schoolhouse Project as it rolls out its national programme.

The project is designed to get primary students enthused and engaged by Computer Science and their teachers prepared for delivering this exciting subject in their own schools.

At St John Fisher we are offering local primary school staff and pupil workshops designed to enable pupils to succeed and staff to deliver this essential curriculum area. The best part, thanks to the new Digital Schoolhouse partnership with PlayStation – these are free to all!

Every Monday, from 11.00am until 3.20pm, we will open its doors to our community of primary staff and pupils and a dedicated Computer Science teacher will be available to help support them. Our lead teacher can also be seconded to visit and deliver at individual schools, if that best suits teachers and learners.

This may be by taking a class and delivering a workshop to initially engage pupils or delivering INSET to staff to guide them through the minefield of teaching Computer Science at KS1 and 2 and boost their skills and confidence in this area.

A pre-workshop visit can also be arranged (and is encouraged!) to allow staff to be involved in the planning and delivery of workshops so that a bespoke experience is in place that truly matches the needs of everybody involved.

If you are a local primary school teacher and would like to discuss booking a workshop, INSET session or visit, or would just like more information about the Digital Schoolhouse project, please do not hesitate to contact our lead teacher for more information at

The lead teacher for the project is Mark Ward, a highly experienced teacher and self-confessed Computer Science geek, who has been involved in teaching Computer Science in one form or another for the past 16 years. He is both a Raspberry Pi and Apple Certified Educator and has delivered seminars at education conferences including the BETT conference and the Education and Technology conference, on changing from an ICT to Computer Science curriculum. He has also written on this subject for numerous education magazines and websites.


This year’s Desktop Background Challenge goes to Mina Flanagan 8I.  Well done Mina!

We had some fantastic entries this year and thank you to everyone who took part in the competition.  We’ll change the background ready for September.

Runner Up – Kacper Lubisz.


Desktop Background Challenge






Hi everyone!

Our desktop background is complaining a little and us IT guys are really starting to get a bit bored of its complaining!

So we have decided to replace the background and we came up with an idea for you guys to make our new background for us!

Apart from a few rules of what we’d like to see on the image, you’re welcome to take some artistic licence!

The deadline for submission is Friday 10th July 2015, finalists will be drawn the following week and will be reviewed by the ICT Support team and guest judges

The winning image will be set as the desktop background for the next school year!

To submit your image, please attach it to an email and send it to


1. Resolution must be 1024×768

2. Incorporate the school logo, you are welcome to update the image to a higher resolution however it must match the current logo we have and also the school motto should feature somewhere on the background

3. Must have “St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy” featured in the image

4. Must fit with the school ethos

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Spot the difference…

What’s the difference between Computer Science and ICT?

After speaking to Year 9 today about their option choices for next year, one thing that I felt needed a bit more time was to give more detail on the differences between Computer Science and ICT.

It’s not unusual for these two terms to be confused, and in fact, there is a lot of overlap between them. A person in either discipline will be familiar with most common computer programs and be very ‘tech savvy’ in general. The difference comes down to the focus of each discipline.

Computer Science is focused on creating new applications for computers. This means that computer scientists must have a deeper understanding of computers, algorithms, programming languages, theory and so on.

Information and communications technology focuses on how to best employ the programs out there. This means that information and communication technology professionals need to know about existing applications, how they interact, how they are best used and how to troubleshoot problems between them.

Again, this is not to say that a computer scientist won’t know how to troubleshoot two conflicting programs or that an ICT professional won’t know how to program. However, each type of professional has a different focus.

It is a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s not incorrect to say that computer scientists focus on building programs, while ICT professionals focus on running them.

You can have a more in-depth discussion about this with your ICT (or should that be Computer Science?) teacher, and for Year 9 pupils and their parents/carers, there will be further opportunity to speak to us next Thursday evening.