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Feb 16, 2016 3:45 PM ET

Archived: GOOSEBERRY PLANET: teaching children online safety through gamification

iCrowdNewswire - Feb 16, 2016

Award winning start-up Gooseberry Planet aims to teach children online safety via gamification, linking the efforts of parents and teachers via parallel apps. Launched Oct 2015, founder Stella aims to diversify across the PSHE Curriculum to become leader in educational gamification in UK schools (est. £15m market) – then worldwide, with 50% of downloads already from overseas.

The Idea

Help to prevent sexual exploitation with Gooseberry Planet, teaching children online safety through gamification.

Children’s safety while using the internet is a major concern for parents and teachers today. Parents succumb to children’s peer group pressure to purchase smartphones and tablets at increasingly young ages and their usage of these devices to access social media can be beyond parental control. Daily press reports of internet grooming, cyber bullying and radicalisation show the vulnerability of children’s online activities and the ineffectiveness of present efforts to safeguard children online.

Internet safety is part of the PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) curriculum in schools, and as it is not a traditional academic subject, schools have been experimenting with different approaches to its teaching. Many schools have lists of “do’s and don’ts” and sometimes invite guest speakers. However, there are concerns about the effectiveness of this approach. Children can often see social media and other internet activities as their own domain and don’t accept adult intrusion into it, which can create a digital divide between adults and young people.  


Stella James, a mother of two children, was not satisfied with the existing approaches and decided to try something different. She felt that the best way to educate children about internet safety is to develop their awareness of the dangers online. She also thought that if she could do this in a fun and engaging way through the use of gamification, it would be more effective. 

This is how Gooseberry Planet was born.

Stella believes this is a unique idea; she could find no other gaming app teaching children about online safety in this way. Seeing the potential of the business, Stella invested her own money to get the gaming app live and raised £150,000 in SEIS funds.

How it works

In Gooseberry Planet, children play a game with a character who lives through scenarios that actually happen in real life. The player has to respond, collecting stars, and can compete against friends or classmates. The initial feedback shows that children enjoy this approach and since they empathise with the characters, they quickly learn about the dangers of the situations the characters are exposed to.

The Gooseberry School Programme connects teachers, children and parents via two parallel apps which allow parents and teachers to view how the children are responding and enable a conversation to be initiated with the players. 

  • Gooseberry Teacher – contains teacher resources , with everything at the teacher’s fingertips to deliver great and engaging lessons
  • Gooseberry Parent – full of resources to help close the digital divide.

The apps were launched in October 2015 and so far have sold to 31 schools nationally with and an expression of interest from just over 50 schools. The sales process has also been refined during this period with a database of 24,000 Head Teachers email addresses within our CRM system and an email marketing tracking system to follow up every click through into inbound enquires which are followed up by a telesales team. 

The selling price to schools is £250-£500 depending on the number of pupils, for an annual license (£1.50 per pupil per year). With a potential market of 30,000+ schools in the UK, we believe the key driver of the company’s success will be the productivity of the sales force and their use of email marketing and online selling techniques.

The reviews

A recent study by the Khan Academy reported increased participation, increased understanding, increased test scores and a high level of teacher and student satisfaction via the use of online instruction. Early reports from schools using Gooseberry School show great enthusiasm about the approach from both children and teachers.


In the last 12 months the business has seen some exciting awards success:

  • Best Start up in the Thames Valley Tech award (winner)
  • TalkTalk Digital Heroes (shortlisted)
  • Pitch To Rich awards (shortlisted)
  • Stella James won the DevelopHER award for Innovation and the overall award at the same event.
  • Current shortlisted for the 2016 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards – Best Startup Founder

Stella also has been on BBC Surrey, BBC Solent, Eagle Radio, Breeze Radio, a well-respected national woman’s magazine, Huffington Post and local press in North Hampshire.

The Future

Gooseberry Planet sees opportunities to extend the use of gamification to other topics in the PSHE Curriculum.

Following feedback from teachers requesting games in Sex Education as the next app, we plan to have this completed in 2016 and other subjects in years 2, 3 & 4. By adding these additional topics to the portfolio, we plan to increase the annual subscription to £5 per pupil per year.

Our goal is to be market leaders in delivering resource for the PSHE Curriculum by using gamification. 

As the topic of online safety is a very current issue and having developed a sales process that works, the funds being raised will be used to complete and enhance the school apps and for working capital to build a telesales team of 8 people.  We consider the business to be very scalable; a school can register, purchase, download and use the app with no contact from Gooseberry Planet. 

We will also be look at how to address the huge potential of overseas markets.  We are already receiving over 50% of downloads via iTunes from overseas addresses.

The Market

The internet is now part of every day life for most of us, but for our children, it is their everyday life. The problem of online dangers will not go away and will probably get worse which is why we need to educate our children in a more effective way. In fact, this is a worldwide problem for all children that have access to the internet

Online Safety

According to The Social Age Study by Knowthenet.org.uk, approximately 59% of children have already used a social network by the time they are 10. Facebook has the most users under the age of 13, and 52% of 8-16 year olds admit they ignore Facebook’s age restriction.

This is an issue most parents worry about – here’s some of the research about online safety for children that you might find troubling.

In a ChildLine survey of 13-18 year olds:

  • 60% said they had been asked for a sexual image or video of themselves
  • 40% said they had created an image or video of themselves
  • 25% said they had sent an image or video of themselves to someone else.
  • 23% of 11 and 12 year olds with a social networking site profile say they have been upset by something on it over the last year
  • 8% of these felt upset or scared for weeks or months after the incident occurred
  • 20% experienced something that upset them every day or almost every day
  • 62% of these experiences were caused by strangers or people they only knew online.

In 2014/15 ChildLine carried out 378 counselling sessions about grooming, a 42% increase on the previous year.

Schools market

There are over 10 million children in primary and secondary schools in the UK and Ireland and at a £1.50 per annum license fee, we estimate the initial market at £15 million.

The DfE officially published a National Curriculum in December 2014 and which all schools have a statutory duty to follow. Section 2.1 of the National Curriculum framework states:

“Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society  
  • prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life”

These duties are set out in the 2002 Education Act and the 2010 Academies Act. Schools also have statutory responsibilities to promote pupil well-being and pupil safeguarding (Children Act, 2004) and community cohesion (Education Act, 2006). PSHE education plays an important part in fulfilling these responsibilities.

Our market is not limited to the UK, the latest figures published by The International School Consultancy Group (ISC) indicate that there are now 7,017 international schools around the world meeting the learning needs of over 3.5 million students, all using English as the language for learning. Our apps can be translated into any language, which opens the market even more.

Gamification in Education

To understand gamification and why it is gaining popularity, it is useful to look at its precursor, the video games industry.  International video game revenue is estimated to be $81.5bn in 2014.  More than double the revenue of the international film industry in 2013. Globally people spend 3 billion hours playing video games a week.

This market is predicted to grow from $4bn in 2012 to $9bn in 2017.


There are commercial and not for profit organisations involved in online safety, some offering text based literature via their websites.  However, our research shows that many focus their efforts on parents and teachers rather than on the child. Gooseberry Planet’s use of gamification empowers the child to develop his or her own knowledge and confidence in dealing with online safety issues. Playing a game is intrinsically more engaging than listening to lectures from a teacher or parent on such issues and we believe this gives us a major advantage over competitors.

Feedback from teachers and pupils

“Gooseberry planet supports Ash Manor School students, staff and parents in educating us all about being safe online.”Jo Luhman – Deputy Head, Ash Manor School

“It is a fantastic programme that enables us to make a difference to students lives and up skills teachers’ knowledge regarding topical issues. Thank you!” Charmaine Poulton  – Deputy Head, Everest Community Academy

We also get regular feedback from children who have played the game:

  • “That it is illegal to post naked pictures”
  • “I thought the game was amazing”
  • “Great game and great fun which also improves E-safety”
  • “A fun way to learn internet and Online Safety”
  • “Fun games. Fun way to teach people E-Safety”
  • “It’s a good game”
  • “Awesome”
  • “Do not post pictures of yourself on a public account”
  • “A fun way to learn internet safety. Levels are not too easy or not too hard”


Rewards with monetary value over £1000 can affect the amount of EIS you may be able to claim. Please obtain independent tax advice if there is any concern as Crowdcube does not provide legal or tax advice.

  • Invest £100

    Meet the team and visit our offices based in a beautiful Hampshire village, we will give you a Gooseberry Planet Sticker and Posters while you are there for your children or their school.

  • Invest £500

    All of the above PLUS 10% discount on Gooseberry School for a school of your choice.

  • Invest £2,500

    All of the above, but with 20% discount on Gooseberry School for a school of your choice. We might even take you for lunch!

  • Invest £5,000

    All of the above but with 25% discount on Gooseberry School for one school of your choice.

  • Invest £7,500

    Choose a school and we will implement Gooseberry School Free of Charge. We will also give you the opportunity to meet the team, who will take you for afternoon tea. PLUS an invitation to attend one of Gooseberry Planet’s internet safety advisory panel events so you can hear about our latest ideas and contribute your own thoughts to the process (subject to a non-disclosure agreement).

  • Invest £25,000

    As above but the team will take you for lunch at the office’s local pub set in the beautiful Hampshire Country Side.

Contact Information:

Stella James

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