With schools still closed, the question of what the next year holds for the education sector is truly pressing. While the likelihood is there will be a phased reopening of schools in England across different regions, a concrete plan is still far from fruition.
What’s certain is that blended learning is here to stay, and education technology is more essential than ever before. Bringing together insight from headteachers and leading edtech influencers, let’s take a look at what the next few months could hold for the sector.
Today’s edtech is hindering, not helping, teachers with time management
Mark Anderson, a former teacher and leading edtech influencer, more commonly known as the ICT Evangelist, highlights how edtech is currently proving more of a barrier than support, “Teachers and senior leaders in Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) are being made to lose bandwidth and time they don’t have by having to constantly change their plans. They need to be able to access genuine insight so they can make informed decisions in their classroom. A significant help with this would be a Management Information System (MIS) that’s easy to use and provides real intelligence. However, this is rarely found across the state education landscape.”
He continues, “Department heads need to be able to track their learners – and by integrating insights from across subjects, year groups and forms, they’d be able to do just that. In practice, this might be identifying students who have maths deficits in subjects other than maths, such as physics. Having this insight would enable teachers and leaders to step in at the point of need to provide support. As it is, current MIS’ are not user friendly and don’t provide this insight.”
Time-poor on a good day, teachers and senior leadership teams (SLTs) need integrated technology systems, or MIS, that remove the time and energy from everyday tasks so they can focus on improving the life chances of learners, not on logistics planning. This is where a powerful MIS can come into its own.
What’s needed to successfully deliver blended learning?
With exams out for another year across the UK, it’s critical that teachers can moderate, level, and benchmark students fairly and consistently.
James Singleterry, headteacher at Stukeley Meadows Primary School, says this is one of his biggest concerns: “Now that we’re not doing those tests, whatever they replace SATS with has to be robust enough to check that what we’ve done in lockdown or in the absence of school teaching has worked. That’s where errors were made last year: what they put in place instead of exams wasn’t secure enough and it all had to be revisited.”
He continues, “We’ve done everything we can to make sure our children and parents are supported and provided for. But progress is going to be slower, access to the right support is going to decrease. The best bet is to have good technology resources, high expectations and guide parents as much as we can.”
Clearly, technology that makes it as easy as possible to continue teaching and access the essential insight teacher’s need to make informed decisions about their classroom (virtual or otherwise) is no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’. It’s a necessity.
The turning point for edtech?
The pandemic has highlighted that having a MIS embedded across the whole school or Trust estate is essential. SLTs need technology that makes it easy to access vital intelligence and provides that crucial single source of truth.
Set in motion before COVID-19, but rapidly accelerated because of it, a revolution is underway. An approach that will give teachers time back to focus on their love of teaching by using integrated technology solutions to take away the headaches. This will be the turning point for edtech.
Free time is a concept rarely associated with SLTs in education. However, the introduction of real-time data, integrated from across the entire school estate, presented in an easily digestible and interpretable way, would enable them to make well-informed decisions that best serve their students and staff.
The impact a head of department can have on the academic outcomes of pupils or the health and wellbeing of their staff reduces the more their time is eaten up by collecting and collating data into useable formats. Instant access to intelligence enables the SLT to intervene at the point of need, maximise their impact and achieving their goals of ensuring every student reaches at least their true potential.
The edtech solutions we see embrace this year, driven by teachers and SLTs, will enable education leaders to deliver an inclusive education today and tomorrow.
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