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Edtech can make pupils with SEND independent, minister says

Nadhim Zahawi says DfE will set aside funding for edtech development in new strategy

Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi has issued a warning to private schools

Education technology has the potential to give "vulnerable" pupils with special educational needs and disability independence and "agency", the children and families minister has said.

Nadhim Zahawi said that "assistive technology" could allow pupils to access the curriculum and give them skills that "set them up for success throughout their life".

He was speaking at an edtech conference in London this morning organised by the Education Policy Institute thinktank. 


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Mr Zahawi told the event that he was “very specifically, really passionate about the opportunities technology can bring to vulnerable children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds".

He highlighted SEND as an area where “the impact of technology can be most profound and support some of our most vulnerable learners”. 

Assistive technologies, he said, "can support students with complex learning, physical and cognitive difficulties to navigate learning in ways that would otherwise see impossible".

"Such technologies enable students to communicate, to be independent, to have agency over their own needs, to let their teachers know what they do and do not understand."

He pointed to a school in Blackpool using "eye-tracking technology to help students with mobility difficulties show their understanding of learning content". He also mentioned City of London School in Southwark, which "empowers students with dyslexia to overcome barriers such as handwriting and reading through accessibility features within the word processing software".

"Simple accessibility features built into internet browsers… are not only helping students access the curriculum, they’re also creating the sort of skills that set them up for success throughout their life," he said.

During his speech, Mr Zahawi mentioned the Department for Education's education technology strategy, which he said would allocate funding for edtech development

"As part of this strategy, we will set aside funding for technology development to address those challenges faced across the education sector where we know technology's impact can be far stronger," he said.

Mr Zahawi also said the DfE was going to "launch a public campaign to show that there are simple everyday things to help their children’s language and literacy".

 

 

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