The last two weeks have brought opportunities to collaborate with both the DfE and DCMS on two critical aspects of our work.
Firstly, we have been able to connect with the DCMS Online harms team who are responsible for the Internet Safety white paper(Online Harms) and strategy and this week we have been able to visit the DfE who are committed to the place of technology in supporting teaching and learning.
Commitment to engage and support EdTech firms
The openness and willingness of both departments to engage is very welcome and refreshing. At a time when government has many distractions that may impact every facet of their work to maintain existing channels of communication is a challenge. To open new ones and to do so for an individual organization goes a step further and demonstrates their commitment to openness and involvement. Whilst the information available from both departments is already in the public domain, it is certainly positive that they are seeking a wider range of views from multiple sources. We were privileged that our Director of Education, Colin Green has been able to share our thoughts and have an input into critical areas of policy.
Championing the use of EdTech in education
Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education has been very active in engaging with the EdTech sector and has shown his commitment over the last few months. Last August he set a challenge to the industry to meet challenges in five key areas from reducing workload through effective administration systems to supporting life-long learning. He further developed this theme in his keynote speech at BETT and expanded the themes to ten areas. Later, during the Spring we will see an Edtech strategy produced by the department. This will be a very welcome development. A key element of the strategy will undoubtedly be efficacy and evidence and the department are keen to involve partners in research and sharing best practice. For too long technology has been considered a quick fix for all manner of challenges. It is essential that solutions make a difference and that they do so without significant cost or increased workloads.
The DfE have already demonstrated their commitment to this approach through their support of the BESA initiatives LendEd and LearnEd. Both are excellent opportunities for schools to find out about technology solutions that are making a difference. Further initiatives will undoubtedly add to the opportunities and will be announced as part of the EdTech strategy.
Collaboration on the teaching of online safety
The DCMS meanwhile are pushing ahead with the Online Harms White paper. This is an area where there is cross-over between the two departments. Online Safety is a key element of curriculum reform through the introduction of statutory Relationships (and Sex) Education which is the responsibility of the DfE. The two departments will continue to work together and coordinate activity. As Margot James, Minister for Digital and Creative Industries announced in a speech on Safer Internet Day the white paper will include ambitious measures to support continued education and awareness for all users and to promote the development and adoption of new safety technologies. Some of this work will focus on the vital role parents play in their child’s education.
In the meantime, the department will continue to help shape the UK Council for Internet Safety and look at ways to engage a wider audience in the important debates ahead.
At New Era Technology we look forward to continuing to support the DfE and DCMS in their critical work. We will to contribute to the discussions and debates ahead. Most importantly we will of continue to develop our products to meet the needs of the education sector focused on effective outcomes whilst placing safety and privacy at the heart.