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Schools 'suffer from fear and inertia’ over technology

Ofsted is being called upon to inspect the quality of digital provision in schools, in a report published today

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Ofsted is being called upon to inspect the quality of digital provision in schools, in a report published today

A “cohesive digital strategy” is needed from the government to help schools make better use of technology, according to a report published today.

Driving Digital Strategy in Schools, published by technology company Instructure, also calls for digital provision to be added to Ofsted’s inspection framework.

It warns of “fear and inertia in the education system” about using more technology in schools, with barriers including “broad scepticism among the teaching community about the efficacy of some technology, with many unsure how to integrate it into their teaching”.

The authors also raise the need for help with integrating technology into schools, removing “cumbersome legacy issues”, and providing more assurance about security, privacy, and safeguarding.

It says: “In a particularly sensitive field, involving vulnerable parties, government assistance in ensuring safety and security is crucial.”

The report notes that Ofsted does not measure the use of technology in the classroom.

'There's no real encouragement'

Rachel Matthews, communications director for Instructure, told Tes: “Given that there’s no requirement for technology provision in schools in the Ofsted framework, there’s no real encouragement.”

She added: “I don’t think anyone is saying Ofsted is the answer we need, but a lot of participants said, 'We don’t get measured on it.' It was certainly felt that maybe there needs to be a shift in what’s measured.”

The report says that many schools and college found the procurement process “muddled, inefficient and even frightening”, and called for the government to simplify it.

It also says that the government should intervene to create equal opportunities for rural schools and those in towns and cities.

“Educators are calling on government to promote an approach which levels the playing field and looks to virtual learning as a mechanism to ensure that rural schools get the same access to resources, materials and experiences as their urban counterparts,” it says.

Other recommendations include improving access to training on how to use technology, and support for dealing with legacy equipment and services.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “The focus of inspection is on the quality of provision and the impact the school is having on pupils’ learning.

“Ofsted does not encourage schools to do particular things or to behave in specific ways. Rather, inspection determines the quality of education. 

“Ofsted does not determine how schools should deliver what they offer. If a school is performing well and is successful in delivering high quality outcomes for its pupils, including through effective use of technology, inspectors will recognise this in their reports.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The department recently held a series of meetings with the sector to support educators to make the most of the opportunities technology can bring.  We are now considering our strategy for supporting the education sector to realise the opportunities to effective use of technology.

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