Why a report suggests an office for Edtech is needed to drive change


The creation of a devoted Office for Edtech and Digital Skills should be at the forefront of driving national change, according to a pioneering new report.

Such an approach will be key to ensuring a nationwide approach to digital skills, the Edtech Advisory Forum has said, a group comprised of technology and education specialists.

In an interim report, set up to focus on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, they suggested that an office “at the heart of government” is needed to provide “coherent national change”.

It includes several recommendations and has been submitted to the education select committee, drawing specific attention to the “fragmented” nature of edtech across government departments.

The report suggests that an office “with clear ministerial responsibility” is required to “coordinate and improve the focus across those departments.”

Currently, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have partial responsibility for developing edtech, along with the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS).

According to education technologist, Tony Parkin, a move to enhance edtech across the UK should be welcomed, even if it may require an arms-length body set-up.

However, member of the forum and chair of EdTechUK, Ty Goddard, said such a set-up was not the answer, adding: “We need a unit at the heart of government that’s able to drive this agenda forward with focus.”

By bringing together the many disparate elements of edtech from across the UK, he suggested it should enable change to be more effective.

The increased focus on digital education comes after schools were forced to turn to virtual lessons and online support systems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

While highlighting an “urgent need” for a new edtech strategy, the report also said an educator designed and led platform could provide a solution in England, similar to Hwb and Glow, which operate in Wales and Scotland respectively.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said work is ongoing to see how technology can benefit the education sector and enhance learning outcomes.