DfE exploring options for education strategy ‘built on firm digital and technological foundations’, says schools minister

BettFest 2021 kicked off with a special opening address from the UK schools minister, Rt Hon Nick Gibb

This year’s virtual BettFest is currently underway, kicking off with a special opening address from UK schools minister, Nick Gibb.

In his keynote speech, the Rt Hon Mr Gibb claimed that the Department for Education (DfE) is “exploring options for a strategy to create a more resilient education system built on firm digital and technological foundations”, pledging that the move would improve outcomes “for all children and adults in education”.

“Of course, ensuring that students and staff have the right digital tools in place is only part of the solution,” said the minister. “Schools and colleges also need the support in place to continue to deliver a high quality, well-sequenced curriculum.”

After thanking the leaders of the BettFest event, which runs from today (20 Jan) until 22 Jan, along with the many teachers and education professionals set to tune into the digital conference, Gibb said he had been “struck by the dedication and enthusiasm” of the school and college teaching staff who have enabled learning to continue throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“And we will continue to listen, and to learn, using our research partnerships with the Education Endowment Foundation, with Nesta, and with the International Edtech Hub to investigate what does and doesn’t work when it comes to technology, and cementing Britain’s reputation as a world leader in education research”

He referenced the Oak National Academy, which has “seen teachers rallying together to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects from reception to Year 11”. He said that more than three million people have made use of the platform so far, with more than 17 million lessons being viewed by users.

“Equally, through our National College collaboration,” he said, “we have funded seven projects focused on producing digital content and resources for specific subject areas.”

However, the minister added that the sector must build on the “successes and lessons” deriving from its response to the pandemic, which saw the rapid adoption of digital lesson delivery. He says that it’s critical for educators to ensure that the actions we are taking now are “sustainable for future generations”.

“Yes, we need to make sure that schools and colleges have the digital infrastructure in place to make the best use of technology, but it’s not about using technology for the sake of it,” the minister explained. “It’s about delivering a consistently high quality education, and looking at where technology can support and enhance that.”

But when it comes the DfE’s new strategy, Mr Gibb emphasised that it is not something the government can do alone.

“As we develop our strategy,” he added, “we hope to continue collaborating with all of you to better understand the needs of schools and college, as well as staff and students within them. And we will continue to listen, and to learn, using our research partnerships with the Education Endowment Foundation, with Nesta, and with the International Edtech Hub to investigate what does and doesn’t work when it comes to technology, and cementing Britain’s reputation as a world leader in education research.

“I’m hopeful that when schools and colleges open again, and when the effects of the pandemic are eventually a distant memory, the lessons that we have learned will open the door to new opportunities for children to leave school shaped by a truly excellent education. I want to thank teachers, and heads and principles, for embracing these changes and opportunities.”

“I’m hopeful that when schools and colleges open again, and when the effects of the pandemic are eventually a distant memory, the lessons that we have learned will open the door to new opportunities for children to leave school shaped by a truly excellent education”

Mr Gibb concluded by saying that, while the sector continues to navigate the challenges presented by this new virtual world, he is sure that “this period of time will support teachers to permanently adopt the relevant skills and confidence to use technology in a way that continues to enhance their practice”.

Click here to register your attendance for BettFest 2021.


In other news: COVID-19 drives considerable growth in demand for MOOCs


 

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