Late this afternoon (31/07/19) the Welsh Government announced another £50m of investment in EdTech to support their schools. Their ongoing aim is to embed digital into the fabric of schools and encourage local authorities to work collaboratively to deliver their digital vision. A structured approach to sharing best practice seems to be the core intent, and it’s well-founded. EdTech is front and centre for improving attainment in Welsh schools and the impact is already being seen, hence the ongoing and increased investment.
The situation in England sadly is different: the intent is there for sure but the execution is far more difficult given the fragmented nature of the market. Unlike Wales, England has no centralised structure any more to foster collaboration and so it makes best practice very difficult to share. Hence any vision becomes distorted and subjective.
The key – as already identified in the DfE’s EdTech strategy – is to set up a network of “demonstrator schools” and create a means and process for collaboration: a framework to support innovation and to handhold those schools who are less confident finding their way through the digital maze, and to show where impact can be delivered. A support network is the most important aspect in enabling an EdTech vision, but a year on since the strategy was published we are still no clearer really as to how the “demonstrator” concept will work. It really needs to happen more quickly.
But with a change at the Ministerial helm, the EdTech Leadership Group still really at a very early stage and many questions still unanswered, it’s a struggle to see how anything will happen quickly. So for now we must look overt the border to see how a model might be deployed, and to better understand how EdTech can indeed improve outcomes for our children.