Government invests £10m in education technology strategy

The UK government has launched a strategy encouraging technology companies to help schools use technology to reduce teacher workload, among other things

Education secretary Damian Hinds has announced a government strategy which calls on technology companies to partner with schools to help them tackle common challenges.

The £10m fund will be available to help develop these technologies as well as the partnerships needed to support schools in adopting them.

Hinds reiterated points he made earlier in 2018, claiming that while technology is usually an enabler, in education it seems to add to a teacher’s workload rather than reduce it.

“For too long in education, technology has been seen as something that adds to a teacher’s workload rather than helps to ease,” he said. “This strategy is just the first step in making sure the education sector is able to take advantage of all of the opportunities available through edtech [education technology].”

The government outlined 10 challenges the strategy aims to address, including reducing teacher workloads, making teacher training more accessible, introducing anti-cheating measures, and helping those with special educational needs.

Teachers not only struggle to teach computing due to a lack of skills, but they can also struggle with new technologies when they are adopted in schools due to a lack of appropriate training.

For teachers, technology will be focused on automating some tasks which take the most amount of time, such as marking homework. Giving teachers access to training digitally will enable education to be more personalised to each individual, as well as more easy to access.

Online training courses to teach school leaders and teachers how to use the new technologies, as well as provide continuous professional development, will be provided by the Chartered College of Teaching.

For those with special educational needs, the government will take advice from tech developers and education experts on the best technology to use to help make education easier for those with conditions such as dyslexia or autism by using tech to improve their ability to communicate, as well as personalised learning.

It has been emphasised in the past that collaboration between government, education providers and technology firms will be important in ensuring schools not only provide students with the right skills for a digital future, but also adopt the right technology to deliver learning.

As part of the edtech strategy, teachers, lecturers and education experts will be encouraged to work alongside business to work on technology which will tackle these challenges, both to help schools properly adopt technology and to help firms develop the technologies schools need.

“We now call on schools, businesses and technology developers to realise the huge potential of technology to transform our schools so that teachers have the time to focus on teaching, their own professional development, and – crucially – are able to cater to the needs of every single one of their pupils,” said Hinds.

An EdTech Leadership Group will form to give government feedback on the best way to approach the new strategy, and the government will also work in partnership with UK innovation group Nesta to develop software for challenges the education sector faces such as essay marking, formative assessment, timetabling and parent engagement.

The difficulty schools and teachers face in properly adopting technology has been outlined in the past.

The government’s edtech strategy aims to work alongside the British Education Suppliers Association (BESA) to make sure schools are choosing the products best suited to their needs, and allowing schools to test products before buying them.

A number of schools and colleges will be selected as “demonstrators” to become early adopters of technology and develop best practice and support to share with other schools going forward.

Read more about education technology

  • This year saw education secretary Damian Hinds call for more tech in schools to help reduce teacher workload, but are schools ready, and how do we fix the pressing issues faced by UK education?
  • Traditionally, a degree is the preferred route into the technology industry, but many now believe an apprenticeship may be a more valuable path into the sector.

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