Step forward

Earlier this year, the Department for Education (DfE) released the UK’s first EdTech Strategy. For many years there had been a notable lack of conversation about the promise and development of education technology. However, signs of DfE support for Edtech had been building, with the then Education Secretary, Damien Hinds, declaring in 2018: “There is clear, untapped potential for schools, colleges and universities to benefit even further from the power of technology to support students to learn, reduce teachers’ workload and save money.”

The delivery of the EdTech Strategy in April 2019 therefore represented a watershed moment for Edtech in the UK, but what does it exactly mean for the teaching and learning of PQ readers?

Much of the strategy focuses on getting the key building blocks for edtech in place, identifying four key barriers that must be overcome: infrastructure, skills, safety, and procurement. The strategy then goes on to lay out several commitments by DfE to supporting the progression of the edtech sector, largely focus on collaboration between representatives across the education sector to ensure that students get the teaching they want and need.

At Mindful Education, we certainly welcome these proposals, and for PQ’s readers we might be about to see a new wave of edtech developments that help with your learning over the coming months and years. That said, there are several elements that we believe to be lacking. Perhaps the most significant of these is that raising outcomes and attainment feels more of a byproduct of edtech, and not its central purpose, with DfE placing greater emphasis on edtech being able to drive down admin time and costs.

Of course, improving workloads, efficiency, communications and support are all important, but it is helping learners to achieve better outcomes that makes any edtech company – including ourselves – get out of bed in the morning. We believe that edtech has the power to change the lives of learners, and we strive to deliver those ‘lightbulb moments’, helping learners open up new doors that might previously have been closed.

Clearly there is still some way to go to reconcile the new EdTech Strategy with what learners – and their employers – want to see, but at least we can say with certainty that the conversation about edtech’s role in UK teaching and learning has truly started.

• Mark Mckenna is the founder and Managing Director at Mindful Education