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School should prepare kids for the digital workplace, say teachers

Many teachers say school should prepare young people for working in a digital environment, but a number of schools are underinvesting in technology

Teachers believe the education system should be used to prepare children for the digital workplaces they will be working in in the future, according to research.

A study by the National Literacy Trust, funded by Crick Software, found that 88% of teachers asked believe education and schooling should help ready young people for working in a digital world, but many are also concerned about the lack of investment in technology in schools.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Technology is ever present in children and young people’s daily lives – and it’s here to stay. Teachers believe that technology has the potential to transform pupils’ literacy and learning, yet limited access to hardware, software, Wi-Fi and training presents significant challenges to teachers seeking to use technology in the most effective way for their pupils.”

Technology adoption in schools is varied depending on a number of factors, such as a lack of knowledge about what to invest in and not enough funding.

Despite the UK being more likely to have technology in schools than some other European countries, there is still a lack of technology adoption for some education providers.

According to the National Literacy Trust’s research, under half of pupils have access to iPads or laptops in schools, only 39.3% had access to a desktop at school, and some technologies such as virtual reality headsets, smart speakers and wireless headphones are accessible to fewer than 3% of students in some cases.

But primary schools were more likely to have access to technology such as laptops and Wi-Fi than secondary schools, and primary schools teachers were more likely to have received training on how to use technology to support literacy learning than secondary school teachers.

As well as a lack of confidence in teaching subjects such as computing, teachers often struggle to use technology in the classroom.

Where schools are given access to technology, there is often a lack of teacher training to help teachers then effectively use the technology – 23.3% of teachers said they’d never received any training on how to use technology to support the teaching of literacy to students.

This lack of technology adoption in schools could be standing in the way of supporting learning for particular students, according to teachers – 87% of teachers surveyed said technology can be used to engage students when learning reading, writing, speaking and listening.

For those who struggle with reading and writing, more than 60% of teachers claimed technology can help make it easier for them to learn, with tech enabling teachers to provide more personalised learning and support to pupils, as well as make learning more inclusive for those who might struggle with particular concepts.

Teachers also said technology to support the teaching of literacy should be available across the curriculum.

In 2018, the education secretary Damian Hinds encouraged the technology industry to help schools adopt technology, and has since called for partnerships between education providers and industry to help schools adopt the right technology to solve common problems and reduce teacher workload.

The government has invested £10m in an education technology strategy which encourages technology companies to help schools select and adopt technology.

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