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Moving forwards, looking back – with Patrick Hayes

Last in our series of education technology experts from across the world of education looking back on a year of innovation, and anticipating what the coming one might bring for schools, colleges and universities

What three words sum up 2018’s education technology scene for you? 

Evidence-based. Connected. Transformative.

What have been the particular challenges of 2018 for education providers?

Being able to raise awareness of their offering and scale across the UK at a time of tight budgets and a rapidly changing procurement landscape – with the rise of multi-academy trusts (MATs) in particular disrupting traditional ways that schools purchase ICT equipment.

What technology have you seen making an impact in education this year? 

This year has all been about a wide range of technologies demonstrating impact. Academic initiatives such as the EDUCATE programme, headed by UCL, impact investors like ClearlySo, and the Department for Education, alongside BESA – of course – are working with companies to put an evidence base at the heart of what they do. This means that a vast array of technology companies are starting to be able to demonstrate impact in fascinating ways. From assistive devices like scanning pens, to maths tuition provided by the likes of Sparx and Manga High, what’s really impressed me this year is how companies are demonstrating impact to schools in a way that is unprecedented.

This year has all been about a wide range of technologies demonstrating impact

What has surprised you this year?

That we finally have a Secretary of State who has a vision for education technology in the classroom! Since his appointment in January this year, Damian Hinds has been very supportive of the sector, no more so than over the summer when he announced his ‘vision’ for edtech and that new technology will “spearhead a classroom revolution”. We haven’t heard such warm words about the transformative nature of edtech for over eight years, and it’s incredibly positive to hear the Education Secretary champion the use of innovative new education technology in this way. We even saw £400m being announced in the budget for school equipment (although the description of it as the ‘little extras’ could have been better phrased). Government support for edtech has come as a welcome surprise this year. Now let’s make that £400m available every year, so schools can really reap the benefits of this digital classroom revolution.

What would you like to see education providers put on their agendas for 2019?

I would encourage all education providers – and teachers and parents alike – to sign up to BESA’s Resource Our Schools campaign www.resourceourschools.com. The campaign is dedicated to ensuring that every school has access to the resources they need to deliver the education that our children deserve. The UK is renowned the world over for its high standard of education and there is a voracious demand for UK educational resources, technology and talent overseas. As schools benefit from the UK’s leadership in education across the globe, it is of the greatest importance that pupils across the UK do as well.

Patrick Hayes is a Director of BESA and EdTech Exchange