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UK schools and tech industry urged to work together to bring about a revolution in education

The UK’s education secretary, Damian Hinds, has said that he wants UK and Silicon Valley firms to help put tech at heart of UK classrooms.

According to Hinds only a few schools and colleges are using technology to bring education to life – using virtual reality to take children on trips to places as diverse as the Amazon or the Sahara, for example, or enabling them to control robots.

As a result he is urging tech companies, both here and from abroad and including the likes of Apple and Microsoft, to help foster an education revolution by putting technology at the heart of the classroom.

Speaking earlier this week Hinds said, “I’ve been fortunate enough to see technology being used in revolutionary ways. Students are able to explore the rainforest, steer virtual ships or programme robots from their classroom, while teachers are able to access training, share best practice with colleagues and update parents on a pupil’s progress without being taken away from their main focus – teaching.”

Hinds has called for a strong partnership between government, technology innovators and the education sector to bring about benefits to such things as: teaching practices, assessment processes, teacher training and development, administration processes and lifelong learning.

He went on to say,“Schools, colleges and universities have the power to choose the tech tools which are best for them and their budgets."

There's the rub!

In reality school technology budgets are actually falling. According to the British Educational Suppliers Association, the average ICT budget for 2017-18 had fallen by 4-7% on the preceding year.

So how should schools prioritise funding to ensure that smaller budgets are spent on the most useful technology and, more importantly, how is that technology going to be used?

Tablets have been used extensively but proved problematic in terms of literacy, for example. By contrast they have been used successfully with children with special educational needs.

Small scale trials are vital, especially in straightened financial times, before embarking on any costly roll-out.

Schools are poor, and funding isn’t going to get any better.

Calling for more technology is one thing, providing adequate funding and deciding how technology investment is made, which technologies are adopted and who makes the final decision, quite another.

Neil Tyler

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