How the government’s edtech strategy could help your school

Tabi Bude, managing director of Wonder Workshop EMEA, discusses the new edtech strategy, and why it’s about more than making sure kids can code

The new edtech strategy announced by the UK Government in early April has been relatively warmly received, as these things go. It seems that attention is finally being paid to the fact that teachers can only do so much with the time and money they have available. And by bringing in leading tech companies to work with schools and colleges, there’s a chance for children to learn real-world skills and acquire essential knowledge without over-burdening teachers with the need for additional research, training and marking. However, there are some concerns about the potential commercialisation of the classroom. So, what does the new edtech strategy really mean for schools, and how could it be of benefit to you and your pupils?

What is the new edtech strategy?

Along with a £10m investment, the new strategy calls upon educators to ‘unite with innovative businesses to harness the power of technology to tackle common challenges, and to ensure those working in education are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to meet the needs of schools, colleges, and their pupils.’ But what does that actually mean?

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The idea is to call in outside agencies already expert in the field of technology, and use their skills and products to aid both teachers and students. If someone else can provide a way to deliver the syllabus in a form that can evolve with the industry standard and be tailored to individual lesson plans, teachers have more time to teach. If all of this can be done at a cost-effective price point, then everyone benefits. Students gain the requisite skills and knowledge to compete in the future jobs market. Teachers are able to meet the growing demands placed upon them without increasing their workload – they should also have the opportunity to access new training through this scheme, should they want it. And schools can deliver the best for their students and employees without taking funds from other essential areas.

Edtech isn’t just about teaching kids to code, although that is an important element. It’s about inspiring innovation.

Why is a new edtech strategy called for?

Edtech is no longer important solely for students who wish to find a career in technology. A working knowledge of IT, and coding/programming in particular, has become highly desirable across a huge number of sectors. Before long, it’s likely to become essential in many fields. And that’s only the start. Edtech isn’t just about teaching kids to code, although that is an important element. It’s about inspiring innovation. With technology playing such a vital role in business and commerce, if the UK is to stay ahead in an increasingly global competition, we need to make sure that the current – and future – generations of students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to compete.

Added to that, there’s the ever-present issue of the gender gap in STEM. Both in education and in business. Something has to be done to close that gap; to maximise the potential of all the female students out there who slowly fall away from technology as they move through the education system. In bringing in new ways to teach technology, it’s hoped that we’ll also find new ways to stop 50% of the nation’s potential talent from being wasted.  The key is in finding the right tools.

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The really exciting thing about this initiative is that it opens the door for schools to do what they deem most appropriate. Some will use the opportunity to invest in their teachers, allowing them to follow the training paths they need to keep their pupils up to date. Others will invest directly in equipment that students can benefit from immediately.

Why the new edtech strategy could be a good thing for your school and your pupils.

While it’s understandable that there should be concerns over inviting business into the classroom – and the potential bias that could promote – the introduction of a strategy that allows children to access the latest knowledge and equipment without further burdening teachers must be a good thing. Our children and our country need the skills that edtech brings. Technology does not only have the potential to transform schools but is already transforming our children’s lives, making technological skills essential for tomorrow’s innovators. In every field. And that’s why finding new, workable ways to make edtech fun, engaging and effective is so vitally important. And why we think the new strategy is very much a move for the better.

W: Wonder Workshop