James Grant is co-founder and MD for schools at MyTutor
Q. What are the key events this year that have affected your sector?
The new Ofsted framework is probably the policy that has had the biggest effect on the edtech sector in 2019. It’s driven schools to review their curriculum and, in some cases, completely change the way they look at student progress and assessment.
As an edtech company, it’s vital that we are aware of the changes and pressures facing schools if we are going to provide relevant and valuable support through technology. At MyTutor we work with hundreds of schools across the UK to provide one-to-one tutoring and to enhance outcomes for students. This means any change to inspection frameworks is something we have to take seriously if we are going to provide the best results for our school partners.
Additionally, we have had a change of education secretary this year, and the transition from Damian Hinds to Gavin Williamson may mean we see more big changes before the end of the year.
Q. Has there been a particular edtech trend or service focus that has affected you?
Something we’ve started to see grow in importance for schools is evidence-based tech procurement. At a time when budgets are being stretched thin, school leaders want to know that the technology they bring into their classrooms is going to provide them the outcomes they need, and following evidence-based practices is a good way to ensure this.
2019 also saw an increase in schools looking for technology that helped to facilitate human interaction, not just tech that supports teachers with admin or behind-the-scenes work
More and more, educators are wanting their edtech to foster connections between students and their peers in the classroom or beyond. The technology we use outside the classroom is designed to be social, so why shouldn’t edtech be the same?
Q. What has been your biggest challenge this year?
MyTutor has seen quite significant growth this year, so our biggest challenge has been making sure that we are still providing the best quality for learners on our platform whilst also continuing to scale.
Q. What does 2020 look like for you and your sector?
As we continue to grow our school partner base, it’s crucial for us to raise the quality of our lessons. To support this, we recently launched a new tutor training programme developed with award-winning teachers and examiners.
More broadly, it’s difficult to say with any certainty what the next year will bring to the edtech sector, particularly given the turbulent political landscape at the moment. However, what we do know is that increased uncertainty leads to schools prioritising those technology partners that they can trust to move the needle where it matters most.
● Jisc’s Step Up programme: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/get-involved/step-up-programme
● Ofsted framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework