DfE launches advisory panel for digital literacy

DfE’s panel of experts will assess literacy apps and produce guidance for parents and teachers

The Department for Education has announced a new advisory panel to assess educational apps and produce tips and guidance on children’s literacy education.

There are currently hundreds of educational apps on the market, but little advice about their quality. The new advisory panel will help address this issue by helping parents and teachers make informed decisions about which apps have the most educational value, and can help aid children’s learning.

The panel will consist of eight educational experts, and will be chaired by University of Sheffield professor of education Jackie Marsh.

Marsh said: “I am delighted to take on the role of Chair of the panel on early years, language, literacy and communication apps. Young children are immersed in a digital world from their earliest years and have access to many apps on tablets and smartphones.”

There is a need to identify the features of high-quality apps that support their learning and to offer parents, carers and teachers guidance on how to select and use apps effectively.
– Jackie Marsh, University of Sheffield

“There is a need to identify the features of high-quality apps that support their learning and to offer parents, carers and teachers guidance on how to select and use apps effectively. The government has rightly identified this as a priority and I look forward to working with the members of the panel on undertaking this important task.”

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We want to create a generation of confident learners who can read and communicate effectively – these are vital skills that children need to grasp from the earliest opportunity in order to succeed.”

The new advisory panel will consist of:

  • Professor Jackie Marsh, Chair: Professor of education at the University of Sheffield and a leading figure in children’s digital literacy;
  • Olivia Dickinson, Deputy Chair: Digital consultant specialising in children’s and educational digital media, with experience working for Nickelodeon, BBC, Discovery Education, Sky Kids and Amazon;
  • Peter Robinson: Global head of research and company director of Dubit Limited, specialising in digital entertainment and education for children;
  • Antonio Gould: Executive director of Teach Monster Games, a not-for-profit education technology company responsible for the ‘Teach Your Monster to Read’ app, boasting a monthly reach of more than one million children;
  • Dr Rosie Flewitt: Co-head of research, Department of Learning and Leadership at UCL Institute of Education and co-director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy, with 20 years’ experience in early communication, literacy and language research;
  • Sandra Mathers: a former primary teacher and now senior researcher at the University of Oxford, with expertise in child learning and development, including the ways in which this can be supported through technology;
  • Jonathan Douglas: Director of the National Literacy Trust, responsible for the Trust’s ‘Literacy Apps’ resource for parents and teachers, and a key advocate of the government’s work to improve the home learning environment; and
  • Jane Lewis: Head of programme development and quality at Save the Children UK, responsible for programme development and innovation, focused on the home learning environment and supporting parents’ engagement in their children’s early education.

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