New technology strategy launched – Friday 5 April 2019

This week I report on the publication of a new technology strategy aiming to reduce workload and improve outcomes, plans for a new register of children not in school along with providing support to parents who choose to home educate and the Education Secretary’s response to the Home Office’s proposal to give schools a legal duty to take action to prevent knife crime.

Realising the potential of technology in education
This week the DfE published a strategy to help education providers make the most of the opportunities presented by technology. It indicated there were a range of benefits to using technology including workload reduction, supporting inclusion and driving improvements in educational outcomes.

The DfE also published a range of guidance (Assessing your school ICT infrastructure, Choosing the right broadband for your school, Moving your school to the cloud) on things schools should consider when implementing or changing their use of technology.

Proposed new register of children not in school
The Government has set out plans for a register of children not in school, enabling councils to act effectively if they have concerns for a child’s education. Estimates suggest almost 60,000 children are deemed to be educated at home – a figure that is thought to be rising by around a quarter every year.

The Department is also proposing new measures to support parents who choose to educate their children at home, in the form of a legal duty for local authorities to provide assistance such as helping to pay for exam costs and providing teaching resources.

Under the plans, it will be parents’ responsibility to register their child if they are not being taught in a state-funded or registered independent school.

The consultation follows a call for evidence carried out last year which collected views from across the sector. The consultation will be open for 12 weeks until Monday 24 June.

Protecting teachers from knife crime burden
The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has pledged to protect teachers from “unnecessary burdens” after the Home Office said earlier this week that it wanted to give schools a legal duty to take action to prevent knife crime.

In an interview with the Times Education Supplement the Education Secretary reassured the profession over the controversial proposals that unions claim are “scapegoating” teachers. “What I will make sure is that we don’t add unnecessary burdens on teachers because I have said many times before, teacher workload is a real issue, teachers are working too many hours, and we don’t want to add to that.”

The proposals would mean that schools are held accountable if they fail to spot the warning signs of violent crime among pupils. The consultation on the plan says that schools would be held to account “by their relevant inspectorates, or possibly through joint inspections”.