Government urges all education providers to move to the cloud - announces ‘Education Technology Strategy’

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez April 2, 2019
The Department for Education has produced a number of guides aimed at helping education providers improve their use of technology.

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Education Secretary Damian Hinds has today announced the government’s technology strategy for education providers, with a strong focus on improving digital infrastructure, shifting systems to the cloud and boosting skills across the education system.

Speaking at the Schools and Academies Show in London, the Education Secretary said “for too long in education, technology has been seen as something that adds to a teacher’s workload rather than helps to ease”.

He, and the government, are calling on schools, businesses and technology developers to “realise the huge potential of technology” to transform schools. Hinds added that technology has the capability to allow teachers to cater to the needs of every single one of their pupils.

Drawing on existing expertise in the system, the strategy will also launch a series of ‘demonstrator schools and colleges’, which will showcase best practice and provide peer-to-peer support and training for teachers, lecturers and school leaders.

This will be supported by free online training courses for teachers and school leaders, which aims to provide them access to materials that can equip them with tools to make the best use of technology.

The strategy

Much like the NHS or local government, the education sector across the UK is incredibly fragmented and a top-down approach is likely to be unsuccessful, do to the differing requirements at a local level.

That being said, a centrally provided framework with useful tools, information and standards could help guide education providers in the right direction.

The strategy focuses on the following key areas:

  • Securing the digital infrastructure (internet and broadband access)
  • Developing digital capability and skills
  • Supporting effective procurement
  • Promoting digital safety

The strategy also focuses on the EdTech sector, with regards to fostering its growth and promoting it as an export opportunity, However, we are more concerned with the above actions, as these will likely directly impact schools and other education providers.

For those that have been working in ‘digital transformation’ for a while, the strategy will likely read as a very simplistic overview of digital opportunities.

That could either be seen as a reflection of the Department for Education's understanding of digital strategy, or it could be perceived as a deliberate attempt to ‘try and speak to the education sector as a whole’.

The most interesting aspect, from my perspective, are the guides that have been published to help education providers assess their ICT infrastructure and also help them move to the cloud.

On the latter, for example, the guide details the G-Cloud and the Digital Marketplace, explaining how they and be easily used to procure cloud services.

The guide to assessing ICT infrastructure asks education providers to consider their current contracts and identify areas that will require attention over the next 3 to 5 years.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“We have a longstanding history of innovation in this country, and our brilliant education innovators have the potential to have a transformational impact across our education system. Therefore, in addition to supporting teachers, lecturers and leaders, we will work in partnership with the EdTech business sector to ensure that businesses and investors access the wide-ranging offer set out in the government’s Industrial Strategy to start, scale and grow successful EdTech businesses and to help encourage innovation to meet specific challenges facing the education sector.

“We are living in a digitally enabled world where technology is increasingly part of our society. We owe it to our young people, and to anyone who wants to upskill, to do more to explore and reap the benefits that technology can bring. This strategy is the first step in helping us do just that across our education system.”