Tech-savvy teenagers create homework app

Three pupils from St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School in Newcastle have come up with a mobile phone app to help them beat detention

Rick McDonnell, 15 and Jack Harrington, 15 from St Cuthberts High School who invented an app
Rick McDonnell, 15 and Jack Harrington, 15 from St Cuthberts High School who invented an app

A trio of tech-savvy teens from Tyneside have created a mobile “app” designed to stop them and their peers getting into trouble for not doing their homework on time.

Friends Joe Drady-Fitzpatrick, Jack Harrington and Rick McDonnell came up with an idea to develop the app after their school’s paper planner system led to several detentions for late homework.

Keen to avoid any more, the pupils, who attend St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School in Newcastle, came up with an idea to put the planner on an app, which they’ve named PlanIt.

Joe said: “We have a paper planner system, which in theory is good but in reality, pupils lose them, forget to write in them and generally don’t use them as they were intended.

“We figured that practically every pupil in the school has a mobile phone, so we thought of a system where teachers could enter homework details into an app and the details, along with reminders, would go straight to pupils’ phones – something which the majority of teenagers are permanently attached to, so the chances of them getting the message is very high.”

The group is now working with a team from Newcastle University’s computer science department to turn their product into a reality. It is hoped it will be up and running in time for the new school year. In the long-term, the pupils would like to see their app being adopted by other schools.

The project is part of Newcastle City Council’s Enterprising Newcastle scheme, which encourages secondary schools to access business support to set up and develop real entrepreneurial ideas.

Gillian Parker, enterprise learning coordinator at Newcastle City Council, said: “The scheme allows young people to experience running a business in the safe environment of their school.

“Pupils gain valuable skills which they can then take into the world of work.”

The PlanIt app project has now won a STEM Innovation Award from Newcastle City Council and the Centre for Life at the annual School Business Awards, which were held at Life yesterday .

Andy Lloyd, from the Centre for Life, presented the boys with their award. He said: “The PlanIt app has been well thought out. and the team have found a way for teachers to get important messages and updates directly in front of their pupils, without it being cumbersome for the teachers or intrusive for pupils.”

Pupils from St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School also received an award for their commercial printing company, The Enterprise Hub.

Other schools that were honoured at the School Business Awards included:

  • St Mary’s Catholic School for its Just Is project – a social enterprise tackling issues such as racism, bullying and poverty.
  • Kenton School for its Captain Jewels jewellery business and its photography and ceramics business, Ginger Giraffe.
  • All Saints College for its Olympade healthy drinks project.
  • Excelsior Academy for its arts and crafts business, Excel 5.
  • Trinity School for its corporate hospitality company “BEST”.


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