Robin Walker MP
Minister of State, Department for Education
Our focus now is looking ahead to life beyond COVID-19. We need to retain the best bits of technology, adapt them and implement them into our new normal.
The pandemic has opened up new ways of working with technology we could barely have imagined just a few years ago. In the case of the Department of Education, we relied on technology to keep our children and young people learning through the pandemic.
Implementing edtech into new normal
As we continue to improve education for all, we need to harness the power of edtech to help us. We can use technology to take care of the simplest of things in our schools, like intelligent systems to support attendance, communication and other administrative tasks. Doing so would free up our teachers to do what they do best: teach.
We know teachers and pupils alike have embraced technology. Our most recent edtech survey revealed 88% of headteachers said “technology had or would contribute to improved pupil attainment.” On top of this, nearly two thirds of teachers said technology had or would lighten their workload.
The UK has a vibrant, and growing edtech sector, which plays a key role in the global education market. The Government is embracing the innovation of this critical sector and is supporting the drive for evidence-based tools that work. We are taking our aspirations abroad too: we aim to increase education exports to £35 billion by 2030.
As we continue to improve education for all, we need to harness the power of edtech to help us.
Getting young people connected
This builds on our work to get young people connected; putting 1.9 million laptops and tablets in the hands of disadvantaged children and young people; supporting 1,000 schools in hard-to-reach areas of the UK get online with super-fast broadband; and funding the pioneering Oak National Academy, an online platform supporting pupils’ education across the country.
Born out of the darkness of the pandemic, Oak has been a fantastic achievement and has shone a light on where technology can truly make a difference. We are now exploring how we can build on these foundations to create a real, long-term asset for schools, teachers and pupils.
Supporting technology best practice
We’ve been supporting teachers with training and advice on how to make the best use of technology, including a pilot on how to use assistive technology in the classroom, to aid the learning of children with special education needs and disabilities.
I want to build on the investments made during the pandemic as well as the impetus to change our culture in schools toward a better use of technology, to empower teachers and aid learning.