Schools tell DfE funding pressures are stopping innovation

Official says schools fear DfE and Ofsted will have a negative reaction to tech in the classroom

Martin George

Schools have told the DfE that funding and workload pressures mean they do not have the bandwidth to explore innovation, a senior DfE official has said.

Schools have told the DfE that funding and workload pressures are stopping them from exploring the benefits of edtech, a senior official has said.

Education secretary Damian Hinds has made the use of technology in schools a key priority since his appointment last year.

The department is currently supporting a series of roadshows across England to show teachers what edtech is available.

One member of the audience a roadshow in Cambridge on Friday told Emran Mian, the DfE’s director general for strategy and international, that schools needed “investment and cash” to enable them to innovate and take risks.

Mr Mian replied: “We definitely hear a lot from school leaders and from teachers saying that the pressures they are under in terms of workload, other burdens such as financial, means that they do not have the bandwidth that they would want to have to be able to explore innovation, and so how do we make that as easy as possible?”

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Last year, a survey by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) found that lack of budget was the biggest obstacle to schools using “edtech systems or content solutions”.

Mr Mian also said that a lot of people had told the DfE that it is perceived as being “against the use of technology in classrooms”.

He acknowledged that concerns about the reactions of the DfE or Ofsted were also putting some schools off using edtech.

He said: “I think teachers and leaders sometimes feel that either the DfE or Ofsted will take a negative view potentially of some of the uses of technology in the classroom, or some of the uses of technology in school, and I think that is why it is so important for us not to give off those bad vibes and to give people the confidence that it’s OK to try some of these products and services, and it’s OK to bring them to life in the classroom and school.”

Mr Mian listed three areas where the DfE saw itself having a role in edtech.

The first was to talk positively about the role of technology, and he noted that Mr Hinds “talks very passionately about the opportunities that technology create”.

He said the second was to “help to organise the market place”.

Mr Mian said it was often quite confusing for schools considering the different edtech products on offer, and the DfE’s roadshows were about helping people in education to learn from each other, and see products and services in action.

He added that the DfE’s third role was to “support innovation”.

He cited the 10 challenges that the DfE thought edtech could help to tackle, and its £10 million innovation fund “to fund and resource products and services that can deal with these challenges”.



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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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