We are really excited by the announcement of the long awaited EdTech strategy made today by the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, and for our new partnership to support technology in education.
Technology has already transformed many areas of our lives – connecting us with people around the world, revolutionising how we access information, and even changing how we get medical advice. But the education sector hasn’t been able to embrace technology in the same way as other sectors. With major funding pressures and a lack of basic infrastructure, it has been difficult for schools to embrace new tech. And even when new technology is brought into the classroom, it often doesn’t change much – replacing a blackboard, with a whiteboard, and then an interactive whiteboard has not really transformed learning.
Yet, the UK EdTech sector is booming, expected to reach £3.4 billion by 2021. So what needs to happen to make sure UK schools and colleges are getting the most out of technology?
The Government’s new EdTech strategy outlines a number of ways they are looking to support technology in education. Firstly, it’s good to see the Government focusing on existing challenges in education that technology could potentially help alleviate pressure for schools. Teacher workload, flexible working and assessment are well known problems for many educators. And with ongoing shortages of teachers, are not challenges that are going to be easily solved. Technology could play a role in alleviating some of these pressures – removing excessive marking, developing smarter ways to give student feedback and track progress.
There’s also the opportunity to change other aspects of education. How can we use technology to engage with busy parents, involving them more in their children’s education? How could technology support children with complex needs, so that all children have access to high quality education?
Of course, technology products still need to improve in many areas, and schools need more support to know what works. This is why we are excited to be partnering with the Department for Education on a programme of work to stimulate industry interest, support the development of products, and build the evidence base to ensure that technology meets the needs of teachers, lecturers, pupils and students. We will be working across four of the challenges outlined in the EdTech strategy:
- Formative assessment
- Essay marking
- Parental engagement
We will be launching a grant funding programme to support EdTech products across these challenges and build the evidence for what works by connecting schools and industry to test high-potential products. In the coming weeks we will be publishing more detail on what the programme will look like and how to get involved.