Closing the inequality gap

Tony Wilmot, principal, The Queen Elizabeth Academy, examines how technology can close the gap in education inequality

A recent output from the US Department of Education struck a chord with me this month. “The most beautiful aeroplane in the world doesn’t do much for a kid who doesn’t have a ticket or a passport. For too many children, that’s exactly what technology is.”  Over 95% of households in the UK now own a computer of some sort and 90% have internet access. There are now over three billion internet users on the planet which means effectively that any tweet or website article can reach a significant portion of the world’s population. This is a staggering thought.

However not every child is fortunate enough to be in the 95% of households with computers or 90% that have internet access. If technology is the way forward, as undoubtedly it is, then we have to ensure that every child has adequate access to what is an amazing learning resource.  The pupil premium funding may help but all schools must ensure they do more to enable equality of opportunity for every child so that their family circumstance does not affect their chances of being successful in life or affect the career they wish to pursue.

We are fortunate at The Queen Elizabeth Academy in that we have the latest, state-of-the-art computer and technology facilities and we are backed by a very forward thinking trust, The Erudition Schools Trust, who really get the potential for technology to really make a difference to the life chances of young people in school. Does this mean that computers and online learning will replace teachers? Absolutely not. Does it mean that learning using computers has a place in a modern education? Absolutely yes.

Newspaper circulation is down by millions, traditional advertising is significantly lower but online advertising is up 18% year on year. Phones have more computing capacity now than the largest computers in 1990 and YouTube and Wikipedia were not even around at the turn of the last century. Remarkably, Facebook started only in 2004. The average person now sends over 2,000 texts a month and 200 billion emails are sent worldwide every day (although 90% of them are spam). What does the future look like then? Well, it’s thought that by 2025 the primary connection tool to the internet will be the mobile and many of today’s students by then will be doing jobs that haven’t yet been invented. By not embracing technology we are missing a trick and acting like King Canute. We will not stop it so join in!

The education of the future will see every child have equal access to the technology they need. The curriculum will be designed so that the power of technology, blended with our highly skilled teaching force, leads to fantastic learning and engagement in education. We need to embrace technology not ignore it which is why at The Queen Elizabeth Academy we are doing just that with the support of The Erudition Schools Trust.

 

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