Coronavirus 'is a wake-up call about lack of edtech'

There is a 'lack of consistency' in schools' ability to support pupils to learn online, warns ASCL leader Geoff Barton

John Roberts

Colleges awarded money to support others with edtech

Widespread school closures during the coronavirus outbreak will act as “a wake-up call” about the lack of a national approach to edtech, a schools' leader has said.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said there is a “complete lack of consistency” about what schools can do to support pupils to learn at home.

The union leader suggested school closures might result in long-term plans to develop a national infrastructure around edtech.

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His comments follow Tes revealing that 40 per cent of schools will struggle to deliver online learning in the event of mass closures, according to an adviser to the Department for Education.

Coronavirus school closures expected

Mr Barton said: “I think a big issue people are going to be looking at is that if young people are going to be learning at home, whether they are doing exams or not, what are they going to need and what online resources have they got?

“I do think we will look back and think this has been a bit of a wake-up call for us in terms of the edtech approach, because it has been a market-driven approach.

"This means that if you happen to be in a school with a governor or head who is really interested in technology and you have invested in it then you have done that against a background of reducing costs, which might mean you have done that rather than some staffing decisions.

“Other schools won’t be set up for it and therefore there is a complete lack of consistency in terms of what schools can do. Partly because we spend our time looking backwards at the curriculum and not forwards at what the curriculum could look like in future in a digital age.”

Mr Barton said: “We will look back and think this exposed a complete lack of consistency in edtech and what that might do is to encourage us to start thinking about whether we need some greater sense of national infrastructure."

He said this was partly about the resources within schools but also about what is available for children to learn at home.

An announcement on schools closures is expected this afternoon from the government.

Prime minister Boris Johnson told MPs earlier that further decisions on schools were imminent.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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