Children working with tablets

Government pledges raise hopes of better support for technology for learning

After seven years of almost total government neglect of schools ICT, the Department for Education (DfE) is finally showing signs of developing the political will to create a policy for its schools and colleges.

It has just conducted three stakeholder meetings with representatives of the education community and sent senior civil servant Emran Mian, director of strategy and social mobility at the DfE to deliver a clear message: "We have been more absent in this space than we should have been, but there has been a shift in leadership in the DfE and we have had a very clear and strong steer from the Secretary of State. Now there is alignment between political leadership and civil service leadership on this issue."

Kensington roof garden flamingos

Could the Government finally be waking up to ICT for learning? Or is it just a dream? Bob Harrison reports

A sunny barbecue amid the greenery and flamingos of the Kensington Roof Gardens might have tempted me to forget “austerity” and England's schools funding crisis. But I was present as a panellist at a briefing by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) for its members, and they want the facts rather than the ideology — the window dressing — particularly as the Department for Education (DfE) finally appears interested in creating a policy for ICT for learning (see below).

Trade associations are diplomatic when it comes to politics, but I have no such concerns. My role was to deliver a short presentation on the policy vacuum around the use of technology in teaching, learning and assessment in schools and colleges, and the implications for suppliers of technology and services.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Education is setting agendas at Microsoft – new products for schools at special event in London

A slew of recent product announcements from Microsoft in the US underlines the intensity of competition in the schools technology market and the company's success in making education a core business, building on what it learns from its partnership with its global teacher and schools communities. Next week (June 13) its UK education department stages a special "Edtech 20/20" event in London as part of London Tech Week.

The announcements includes a new 'light' version of Windows 10 — Windows 10 S. It's an operating system that is easier to manage and keep secure, supported by key management features, including Microsoft 'Intune for Education', with 'Teams' for collaboration. There's also an impressive new Surface Laptop at the vanguard of a range of affordable and light new student laptops for 10 S (from below £200), new features for its popular Minecraft Education Edition program and exciting new possibilities for augmented and mixed reality.

Students using Frog

Who said learning platforms are dead? Denmark signs Frog for national schools network

Leading UK learning platform provider for schools, Frog Education, has won a contract to provide a bespoke 'Facebook for education' for 2 million users in Denmark.

The contract, worth £24 million, is for 10 years and goes to Frog and its Danish partner, business consultancy Netcompany, to develop a brand new education communication and collaboration platform. Called Aula, it will be based on Frog's technology, currently used by about 12 million students, teachers and parents worldwide.

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.