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DfE wants edtech to cut time teachers spend marking

Damian Hinds to launch edtech strategy with call to ‘realise the huge potential of technology to transform our schools’

Damian Hinds is due to launch the DfE's edtech strategy.

Edtech companies are being invited to help schools to solve problems including the amount of time teachers spend marking homework.

The Department for Education’s long-awaited edtech strategy, due to be launched today, pulls together a number of initiatives previously announced by the DfE.

These include a £10 million fund to help develop technology to address key challenges facing the education sector, first revealed by Mr Hinds at the Bett Show in January.


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The strategy also sets out plans to create an "edtech leadership group", bringing together figures from education and industry, which will make commitments by the end of the year “to determine future use of technology and practice throughout the education sector”.

Edtech 'can free up teachers' time'

Damian Hinds, who has championed edtech since his appointment as education secretary last year, is expected to tell the Schools and Academies Show that “for too long in education, technology has been seen as something that adds to a teacher’s workload rather than helps to ease”.

He is due to say: “This strategy is just the first step in making sure the education sector is able to take advantage of all of the opportunities available through edtech.

“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 teaching, their own professional development, and – crucially – are able to cater to the needs of every single one of their pupils.”

But heads' leaders are warning that edtech can also add to workload and are calling on the DfE to speak to teachers to work out what its real impact will be. 

James Bowen, policy director at school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Some technology has had a positive impact on the classroom and has enhanced learning, but it's important to take a strategic approach to its use.

“There are many examples where technology has inadvertently added to teacher workload, rather than reduced it, so it's welcome to see the secretary of state putting workload reduction right at the heart of his plans."

He added: "Interactive whiteboards have seen many teachers spending their evenings designing all-singing and dancing slides to add the ‘wow factor’ to every lesson. And plain old email, when not used proportionately, can play havoc with your work-life balance.

“If technology companies are interested in helping to tackle the workload issue through IT, then the first thing they need to do is spend time listening to teachers.”

The edtech strategy reiterates a number of challenges that the DfE wants to tech sector to help address, including making training more accessible and tailored to teachers, and identifying technology that suits the individual needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

As part of the strategy, leading assistive technology developers and education experts will make recommendations on ways to use technology to support learners with conditions such as dyslexia or autistic spectrum disorders in the classroom.

The strategy will also pledge the creation of a series of "demonstrator schools" to showcase best practice and provide peer-to-peer support and training for teachers and school leaders.

And the Chartered College of Teaching will produce free online training courses for teachers and school leaders to give them access to high-quality CPD and equip them with the knowledge required to make the best use of technology.

Ofsted’s director of corporate strategy, Chris Jones, said: “The government’s edtech strategy highlights some exciting opportunities for teachers to harness technology that allows them to dedicate their energies to the substance of education: effective teaching of the curriculum that produces great outcomes for pupils.”

 

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