DfE edtech strategy tackles teacher workload, cheating, and better tools for SEND students

The strategy outlines ways in which industry and education can work together to address the UK’s most pressing educational challenges

The DfE has today released its edtech strategy, outlining how education and industry can collaborate to reduce teacher workload, boost student outcomes, and better serve SEND students.

The strategy marks out approaches to 10 key education challenges, including:

  • Reducing teacher workload
  • Boosting training opportunities for teachers
  • Identifying how anti-cheating software can be improved
  • Promoting the use of innovative tech to better serve SEND students
  • A commitment to supporting lifelong learning
  • Developing the UK’s wider digital capabilities and skills

A large part of the strategy focuses on the collaboration between education institutions and industry. This focus aims to facilitate more targeted development and implementation of new technologies to improve learner outcomes, and give teachers more time for teaching.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “For too long in education, technology has been seen as something that adds to a teacher’s workload rather than helps to ease.”

He added: “We now call on schools, businesses and technology developers to realise the huge potential of technology to transform our schools so that teachers have the time to focus on their teaching, their own professional development, and – crucially – are able to cater to the needs of every single one of their pupils.”

Hinds also announced that a new Edtech Leadership Group will be convened, made up of educators within industry, and will report to government by the end of the year. The group’s main aim is to commit to determine the future use of technology and practice throughout the sector.

Government will also work with innovation foundation Nesta to find technological solutions on essay marking, formative assessment, parental engagement, and timetabling technology.

For too long in education, technology has been seen as something that adds to a teacher’s workload rather than helps to ease.
– Damian Hinds, education secretary

Edtech body BESA will also work with the DfE, on their LendED service, which will allow schools to try educational software before buying it. The aim here is to help schools identify the right edtech products before parting with precious budget.

Director general at BESA, Caroline Wright, said: “It is deeply worrying that in 2019 too many teachers are still apprehensive of using technology as a teaching aid. They may fear the humiliation of attempting to use digital devices in front of technologically tooled-up students because of an aging and antiquated school network infrastructure, or, most often in my experience, they simply don’t dare to go digital because they just don’t know where to start or who to ask for help.”

Teacher training is also raised as a key objective in the strategy. A series of ‘demonstrator schools and colleges’ will be launched, in order to ‘showcase best practice and provide peer-to-peer support and training for teachers, lecturers and school leaders’.

Liz Sproat, Head of Education, Europe, at Google, said: “It is encouraging to see how the DfE is pledging to support schools, not just with investment, but guidance on infrastructure and teacher skills to assist them in taking full advantage of the exciting array of technologies on offer.”

The full strategy can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/realising-the-potential-of-technology-in-education