Parents and teachers want esports in schools, research reveals

New data commissioned by Dell Technologies has shown that UK parents and teachers are optimistic about the power of esports to encourage learner engagement

Parents and teachers want to see esports take a more significant role in the education of young people thanks to the academic, social, and emotional benefits, new research from OnePoll has revealed. 

The survey, commissioned by Dell Technologies and Intel, questioned 1,500 parents across the UK whose children are involved in esports, as well as 500 financial decision-makers in education including headteachers, CIOs and department heads. 

Sixty-nine percent of parents surveyed said that esports allowed their children to develop skills they might not otherwise acquire with traditional education methods.  

Of those, 54% said that esports gave children more confidence, with teamwork (62%), problem-solving (57%), and technological skills (55%) coming out top in the ranks of skills believed to develop in children through esports. 

The capabilities demanded of tomorrow’s workforce will be those that technology cannot replicate. Soft skills that were once considered inferior to teachable ‘hard’ skills like machine operation will tip the balance in the future job market. Parents recognise the power of esports to develop their children’s people skills – to communicate, listen, even to lead. That’s a persuasive argument for schools that want their students to be future-ready – Brian Horsburgh, education sales director for Dell Technologies in the UK 

The top skills learners were thought to gain through esports were revealed in the survey as follows: 

  1. Teamwork (62%)
  2. Problem-solving (57%)
  3. Technological skills (55%)
  4. Confidence (54%)
  5. Communication (54%)
  6. Creativity (52%)
  7. Leadership (45%) 

Esports as a career 

Fourty-eight percent of parents said esports should be a part of the school curriculum, but respondents seemed less optimistic about career prospects; only 32% said they would be happy for their child to pursue a career in esports. 

However, the survey also revealed that only a third of parents knew that esports could offer a career path in social media management, which has been shown to be one of the most in-demand careers in the current job market. 

This lack of esports knowledge was said by over two-thirds of respondents to put them at a disadvantage in conversations about careers with their children, suggesting that educating parents on the esports industry could be extremely beneficial in boosting confidence in the industry. 

The need for research 

Seventy-nine percent of financial decision-makers in schools said they believed esports should be a part of the curriculum, and of those, over half thought that this would benefit the grade outcomes of other subjects.

However, a further 61% cited a lack of evidence in the educational benefits of esports. 

“We welcome further quantitative research around esports in education to support the feedback we’re getting from teachers and students about the positive impact esports has in their classrooms and school communities,” said Tom Dore, head of education at British Esports Association, which last year partnered with Pearson to create the world’s first government-approved qualification in esports, the BTEC Nationals Level 3. 

“Esports is a vehicle to motivate and engage a broad demographic of young people. As a teacher myself, I have seen first-hand the benefits to my students when they participate and compete in esports,” he commented.

Inclusivity and esports 

The survey showed that over two-thirds of parents thought that esports promoted inclusivity amongst children at school, with half agreeing that it allows for more diversity across its player base. 

“Esports offers a new way to engage students who can’t or don’t want to participate in physical sports,” said Camilla Maurice, curriculum manager at MidKent College, which offers the BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Esports. 

“In that respect, esports is incredibly inclusive. However, we still see the attitude that gaming isn’t for girls. That simply isn’t true, and it’s something we’re working hard to change.”  

Cost and networking barriers 

In terms of roadblocks to overcome, the survey showed that over half of the financial decision-makers in education thought the equipment needed for an esports provision is too expensive for schools to consider. 

People do become professional esports players, often at a pretty young age, but esports is more than just players. Just as our drivers can’t race without their team, esports players can’t play without theirs – that means publicists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, chefs. We must embrace more ways for children – of all abilities, needs and backgrounds – to learn, and those ways should reflect the future career landscape Lindsey Eckhouse, director of licensing, ecommerce and esports at McLaren Racing 

Fifty-three percent cited poor network connections at school or home as barriers to successfully implementing an esports programme. 

The survey also indicated that a knowledge gap could be hindering progress, with over a third (38%) claiming they did not have the teachers qualified to teach esports, and two in five (41%) attributing a lack of knowledge among parents as a blocker to progress.  

“Esports has seen an explosion in popularity in the past few years, but it’s still relatively early days for esports in education. Partnerships with industry and government will be key to addressing the barriers of cost and accessibility, said Brian Horsburgh, education sales director for Dell Technologies in the UK. 

“Having parents and educators on board will also be critical to success – we need esports advocates at home and at school to realise its potential in boosting learner outcomes.”  

You might also like: Esports: More than just an adrenalin rush

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