GDST Norfolk team

'Want diversity and girl leaders in tech?' Just give them the opportunity, says Tony Parkin

A key challenge facing the digital technology sector is the lack of diversity in the sector’s workforce. Typically only around 12 per cent of technology staffing is female, for example.

A number of theories have been put forward about why this might be, with proposals to help address the issue. One is to encourage female students to take on digital leadership, and the GDST Digital Leaders Conference 2017 showed just how effective this strategy can be.

Digital Schoolhouse eSports in action

John Galloway flexed his Playstation thumbs with students at the recent Digital Schoolhouse event

To become a professional eSports player requires hours of dedication, quick reactions, nimble fingers, and, no doubt, understanding parents prepared to accept that it really is a job and you can make a career of it, one of the reasons for the eSports tournament run by Digital Schoolhouse at London's high-tech computer games showcase, the GFinity Arena in Fulham.

Four teams of three players from schools across the UK battled it out in a best-of-three-games knockout competition playing Rocket League, a game like a cross between Robot Wars and soccer, with on-screen buggies trying to direct a ball towards their opponent’s goal.

Agastya participants

Gavin Dykes on how a London meeting about education for ‘real world’ problems sparked the real thing

The meeting’s challenge was to inspire action to solve ‘real world problems’: “How can we support greater courage and innovation among teachers, and encourage us all to open our eyes to different challenges across the world?”

The responses came quickly: “Would focusing on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals help?” “Yes, but not goal 4, on education! Education should address ALL the goals.” And they had a great outcome: the Maverick Teachers Global Summit 2016 in India.

Agastya sparrow site

Proud maverick Tony Parkin takes flight to southern India to meet a like-minded group of educators

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to those who know me, but having once been labelled a maverick by a disapproving senior leadership team, I have worn that badge with pride ever since.

So imagine my delight when the status was officially confirmed by an invitation to attend a Maverick Teachers Global Summit. And, even better, it was to be held in India, a country I had long wished to visit, and the event was to be led by Gavin Dykes, who I have known for many years and with whom I have worked on Education Fast Forward. But then the facilitator word was used!

Naace Award Cadoxton

Recession hurting organisations as well as schools, as policy failures bite 

'Austerity' is already hitting school budgets, but it’s also playing havoc with organisations that support schools.

Naace, the UK professional membership organisation for those involved with learning and technology, is in the throes of a financial crisis. It's undertaking urgent measures to cut costs and transform itself online using its own volunteers (rather than full-time officers) and the digital technologies it helps schools with. The ICT crunch is here.