Edtech can boost independence for pupils with SEND


Education technology could support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by making them more independent, children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi has claimed.

He told attendees at an edtech conference organised by the Education Policy Institute that “assistive technology” could allow pupils with SEND to have greater access to the curriculum.

Mr Zahawi said that using edtech could “set them up for success throughout their life” and that vulnerable children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds stand to benefit most.

He said that the impact of technology on pupils with SEND could be “most profound”, before adding that assistive technologies “can support students with complex learning, physical and cognitive difficulties to navigate learning in ways that would otherwise seem impossible”.

As well as enabling communication and enhancing their independence, the technology could also help those with SEND to explain what they do and do not understand, Mr Zahawi said.

During his speech, he outlined plans for the Department for Education’s educational strategy and said funding is earmarked for edtech to make it achievable.

“As part of this strategy, we will set aside funding for technology development to address those challenges faced across the education sector where we know technology's impact can be far stronger,” he explained.

The children and families minister used two examples of schools to showcase the impact that technology is already having on education – one from Blackpool and another from London.

In Blackpool, eye-tracking technology is assisting pupils with mobility difficulties to reveal their level of understanding via eye movements, while students with dyslexia at the City of London School in Southwark are benefitting from accessibility features in word processing software.

Mr Zahawi said that “simple features” that are built into software “are not only helping students to access the curriculum, they’re also creating the sort of skills that set them up for success throughout their life”.

He also detailed plans for a public campaign that will highlight methods that parents can use to help enhance their children’s literacy and language skills.