EdTech has the power to transform outcomes for children

2 July 2018

The Learning Foundation has worked for the last 20 years on the premise that technology has the power to transform outcomes for children and especially for learning within a school setting. But still, 20 years later, vast numbers of children and young people can’t even start that transformation.

As business, government and individuals have learned over the last 25 years, technology in the right hands and used well has the power to transform almost every aspect of our lives.

So – why should that be any different for the education and development of our young people? Socially, of course, there has already been huge change but this opportunity is being taken up too slowly in the education system to provide the level of impact and change that it has the potential to provide for those that need it the most – those children and young people struggling at the bottom of the attainment gap.  Normally for no other reason that their family’s financial circumstances.  In 2018 the UK continues to have one of the largest attainment gaps in the developed world and, at 16 years old, children at the bottom who are most likely to come from disadvantaged households will be 30% or the equivalent of three years’ of school, behind their peers.

The arguments for enabling young people to engage with technology are now fully understood but are as diverse as the young people themselves.

Technology can be used to augment and enhance their learning – preferably supported within the auspices of their school or college but, if not there, then within their peer groups and their own home.

Technology is part of life for almost every child and young person who has the good fortune to be able to access it. Correspondingly a lack of access or adequate access lowers self-esteem, impacts confidence and hampers learning development.

Technology is key to future employment and every young person leaving school unfamiliar with technology will find themselves further excluded from job opportunities and career progression.

As we embrace and engage with a rapidly developing digital world where increasing numbers of government and commercial services are now exclusively or expensively available online then it is hugely important that we ensure that everyone has the wherewithal to participate and benefit from everything our digital society now has to offer.

As well as demonstrably and evidentially changing individual children’s lives and whole classes and even whole schools, technology is transforming life for schools more widely too.

Well-managed Edtech can also lead to significant savings for schools in many aspects of resourcing and management and can markedly improve their systems – including key elements such as student assessment and lesson and curriculum planning as well as communication processes with parents, carers and the community.

Whilst we continue to allow the one million+ families of school aged children to manage with no access or inadequate access we will continue to disenfranchise people. Removing the digital divide will enable and further empower a group of people whose lives and contribution are needlessly lessened. Anything that enables them enables everyone and moves them and the entire country forward and would see us move up the tables and into the lead in international education rankings once more rather than continuing to languish behind.

Paul Finnis, Chief Executive Officer, The Learning Foundation

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