A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sonocent's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Sonocent is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Dave Tucker, CEO
Sonocent Audio Notetaker is
used in education to improve
students’ notetaking
In our world of fast-moving information, how do you keep up?
Sonocent’s CEO Dave Tucker asks if it’s possible to mine this
mountain of knowledge at our fingertips and take note of the
buried gems. The way you take notes has likely not changed
much since you were a student; whether you use a notebook or
a laptop, it is likely that the process remains the same. Despite
technology enabling us to access any information in a matter
of seconds, the way we note it down and learn from it remains
remarkably stagnant.
For many, putting pen to paper – taking typed or written notes – is not only
ineffective, but often unmanageable. Without a way of capturing, annotating,
reviewing and engaging with information that suits their learning needs, students
simply cannot reach their full potential.
That is why we at Sonocent are rethinking the way that students take notes to create a
process that fosters better learning outcomes. We believe that for students to learn
effective note-taking skills, we need to “scaffold” the process for them. That is,
break the steps required into stages so that it can be independently mastered..
Navigating the assistive technology market
In 2005, my father had an idea for a software application to help students
with disabilities to take better notes. This was a population of students, largely
with dyslexia, who found written note-taking challenging to the point it was
disproportionately affecting their attainment.
»CEO: Dave Tucker
»Established in 2007
»Based in Leeds
»Services: Development
of education technology
»No. of employees: 33
»BETT IT Company of the Year
(under £1m turnover), 2015
»Top 100 fastest growing
technology companies in the
North, 2017 and 2018
Highlighting best practice
»87 per cent of students have said that Sonocent
has helped improve their grades.
»96 per cent of education professionals say that
Sonocent software has the best range of features
for helping students who struggle with note-
Note-taking is a fundamental study skill and has been
proven to correlate to better learning outcomes. The
Curve of Forgetting formula shows that we tend to lose
almost 40 per cent of the information we first read or
hear within 24 hours. With notes, you can capture up to
100 per cent.
After using his savings to develop the
first version of the software, my father
released Audio Notetaker in 2007.
The desktop application turned audio
into visual blocks, making it easier for
those who struggle with written text
to absorb and organise information.
You can then structure notes
with colour highlighting, bringing
everything into one place with slides
and text notes.
The technology was soon routinely
recommended to students through
the Disabled Students Allowance
(DSA) and as feedback from students
increased, so did our reputation. The
DSA is a simple system for getting
much needed technology and support
into the hands of students with
disabilities. For us, it meant we did not
need to navigate complex university
procurement processes, which gave us
a fighting chance at innovating with a
brand-new approach to note-taking on
a smaller budget.
Creating inclusive learning
Looking to the future, Audio Notetaker
– and other EdTech tools – are fast
becoming key to creating inclusive
learning environments. By that, we
mean spaces that can be used by
all students alike, regardless of their
learning needs. That has opened doors
to new markets, as the software is
framed not just as an assistive tool but
performance-enhancing technology.
Audio Notetaker has developed into
a program that empowers students
to become independent learners,
proving time and time again to raise
As mental health concerns rocket in
higher education, users also say it helps
relieve their anxiety and improve their
confidence. It works because it enables
them to take better notes without the
pressure of needing to write everything
down in class.
It reduces the stress of trying
to copy everything down in
lectures. I can focus on and
engage with what’s being said,
rather than rushing to write
everything down.”
– A user from US
Today our fastest growing market
is colleges and universities in North
America, supporting Universal
Design for Learning (UDL) strategies.
As you read, 22,000 students and
328 institutions are now using
Audio Notetaker in North America.
Ourgoalis to have over 2,000 colleges
and universities support their students
Students capture and
annotate audio, then
go back to review and
engage with content
Notetaker is a
workspace: a
tailorable to
your learning
with our note-taking software by
2022. So far, we have been able to
work almost entirely remotely using
strategically driven sales based from
our Leeds office. This, combined with
frequent trips to stateside conferences,
has enabled us to keep as lean as
possible as we develop thismarket.
A software company for the
digitally native generation
As a bootstrapped software company
with big ambitions we have had a
challenging journey over the last few
years as we have tried to grow as
fast as we can while keeping within
our means. I believe our success
so far has come from two places:
our obsession with our people; and
constantly learning how to improve
how wework.
It is crucial for us to:
»Remain a purpose-driven
organisation with strong values;
»Retain and grow a fantastic team
who genuinely care about each
other and about making a difference
in the lives of our users.
Our Audio Notetaker software has
reimagined how we can better take
notes using audio recordings but our
next project seeks to meet the needs
of this generation’s digital natives.
Students have the ability to access
almost any information within seconds
from the device in their hands.
Withthis ever-growing reach, young
people now need skills to capture and
organise this information and spark
fresh, innovative thought.
Young people have spent a lifetime
cramming for exams rather than
developing the skills they need to
be successful in the workplace. With
automation and AI around the corner,
we need to ensure that we are giving
the next generation the skills they need
to succeed.
Curiosity is Sonocent’s first value as
an organisation. I believe we should
never stop learning or else we may
find the world changes around us
and leaves us behind. This is why our
organisation’s mission is so dear to
me: I believe it is not only students
who will benefit from our technology,
but all of us who are curious in this
age of information.
Students spend
a lifetime
cramming for
exams rather
developing key
skills for the
Sonocent’s market reach continues to grow:
»120,000 students through DSA
»328 North America colleges
»22,000 students in North America
»44 UK universities and colleges
Eighty-seven per cent of
students say Sonocent
has improved their
Use Sonocent’s app to
take notes on the go

This article was sponsored by Sonocent. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy