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New book of Education Technology insights provides food for thought for schools in today’s changing education landscape

This book charts the journey of EdTech pre- and post-Covid, with unique tips and insights from an author with experience in the domains of education and software development.

UK: 10th May 2021 – Looking at educational technology through a wider lens is the subject of a new book by Al Kingsley, CEO of education software company, NetSupport, and Multi Academy Trust Chair. My Secret EdTech Diary brings readers a unique view of the topic of EdTech from an author who has dual experience as both the head of company that develops education solutions and as an active participant in the strategic operation of education in his local area.

EdTech suddenly came into focus during the pandemic and, with it, came an explosion of questions from schools as to how they could best leverage its benefits as the education landscape shifted and changed ahead of them.

“Many people think of EdTech simply as the solutions that are found in the classroom,” says Kingsley. “But expanding that view to paint the picture of what tech can do throughout a school, while putting its evolution into perspective, will hopefully get people engaged and thinking about the potential that technology has to improve things across the board for everyone working in a school or trust.”

Al has spent over 30 years working and volunteering in the education sector and, with this book, brings together his knowledge and experience of education technology to share in an easy-to-read conversational format with schools. My Secret EdTech Diary is not only a commentary on educational technology; it’s also a helpful guide packed with tips and suggestions for best practice, suggested questions schools should ask themselves (and vendors) as they select the right solutions for their context, and advice on co-producing solutions with vendors – as well as featuring practical checklists, recommendations, and contributions from trusted peers.

 

Availability

My Secret EdTech Diary is published by John Catt Educational Ltd and is available in paperback for pre-order from Amazon ahead of its official launch later this summer.

ISBN-10 : 1913622630
ISBN-13 : 978-1913622633
Price: £15.00
Release date: 5th July 2021

For a detailed overview of My Secret EdTech Diary, please see: https://alkingsley.com/my-secret-EdTech-diary-EdTech-book/

 

 

Education Spends

How much are local governments spending on education around the country?

Education spending (of which EdTech such as Promethean interactive displays and teaching software is just one area) is one of the most important things that taxpayer money goes towards, from early years nurseries to post-16 education.

But with funding for schools being controlled by individual local authorities, which parts of the country are investing the most into the future of their youngsters?

We’ve analysed the latest government spending data to find out, as well as highlighting the areas where spending has increased and decreased the most in the last five years.

The areas spending the most per pupil

It’s clear that it’s pupils in London who enjoy the greatest funding in the country, with eight of the top ten highest-spending areas located in the capital, with Islington being the highest, at £8,105 per pupil.

Specifically, it was those boroughs in Inner London which most commonly had a high level of spending, with Islington followed by the likes of Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Camden, and Hackney, likely due to the higher salaries of teachers, but also due to increased social deprivation in these areas.

The only two areas from outside London in the top ten were Knowsley (£6,106 per pupil), on Merseyside, and North Tyneside (£5,751 per pupil), in the North East.

Rank Local authority Region Net education expenditure Number of pupils Net expenditure per pupil
1 Islington London £207,326,000 25,581 £8,105
2 Lewisham London £319,679,000 41,825 £7,643
3 Tower Hamlets London £363,955,000 48,127 £7,562
4 Camden London £218,195,000 32,371 £6,740
5 Hackney London £276,922,000 42,659 £6,492
6 Knowsley North West £126,748,000 20,757 £6,106
7 Barking & Dagenham London £264,106,000 44,517 £5,933
8 North Tyneside North East £179,805,000 31,264 £5,751
9 Merton London £188,987,000 33,133 £5,704
10 Lambeth London £227,356,000 40,043 £5,678

The areas spending the least per pupil

Interestingly, despite previously highlighting that spending per pupil is much higher in London than in other parts of the country, two London boroughs fell into the ten areas with the lowest spend per pupil too: Bromley (£1,599 per person) and Bexley (£1,599 per person).

The area with the lowest spend was England’s smallest county, Rutland and while this can perhaps partially be attributed to the area’s very low population (just under 8,000 pupils, the third-lowest in the country), the county still comes bottom when we take pupil numbers into account as well.

Other authorities that fall into the bottom ten are relatively spread around the country in areas such as Humberside (Kingston upon Hull and North East Lincolnshire), Essex (Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea), North Somerset, Bournemouth and Northamptonshire.

Rank Local authority Region Net education expenditure Number of pupils Net expenditure per pupil
1 Rutland East Midlands £11,881,000 7,980 £1,489
2 Bromley London £91,668,000 57,317 £1,599
3 Kingston upon Hull Yorkshire & the Humber £71,949,000 43,196 £1,666
4 North East Lincolnshire Yorkshire & the Humber £42,656,000 24,539 £1,738
5 Thurrock East £54,043,000 29,824 £1,812
6 Southend-on-Sea East £57,155,000 31,216 £1,831
7 North Somerset South West £59,726,000 31,909 £1,872
8 Bexley London £89,121,000 44,645 £1,996
9 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole South West £110,541,000 54,078 £2,044
10 Northamptonshire East Midlands £262,122,000 125,484 £2,089

The areas where spending has increased the most

We also looked at how the total spending on education has changed over the last five years and again, it was London boroughs which came top of the tree.

Five London boroughs fell in the top ten areas with the biggest spending increase, with Hillingdon increasing the most, from £162 million in 2014-15, to just under £195 million in 2019-29, an increase of 20%.

In fact, each of the top ten areas was found in the South, with the sole exception being Sandwell, in the West Midlands, which saw a five-year increase of 14.45%.

Rank Local authority Region 2014-15 net expenditure 2019-20 net expenditure Five-year change
1 Hillingdon London £162,093,000 £194,627,000 20.07%
2 Richmond upon Thames London £115,362,000 £138,123,000 19.73%
3 Hampshire South East £780,970,000 £913,248,000 16.94%
4 Buckinghamshire South East £313,091,000 £362,434,000 15.76%
5 West Berkshire South East £97,645,000 £112,888,000 15.61%
6 Hounslow London £174,699,000 £200,346,000 14.68%
7 Sandwell West Midlands £238,286,000 £272,712,000 14.45%
8 Kingston upon Thames London £90,658,000 £102,378,000 12.93%
9 Barking & Dagenham London £234,447,000 £264,106,000 12.65%
10 Gloucestershire South West £286,468,000 £319,470,000 11.52%

The areas where spending has decreased the most

However, those areas where spending has increased are in the minority, with overall education expenditure falling in just under a third (63%) of local authorities.

Aside from the Isles of Scilly, which are something of an outlier due to their very low population, the area where spending has decreased the most is Kingston upon Hull, which saw expenditure drop by half in the last five years.

For that reason, it’s perhaps no surprise that Hull and two other authorities in the bottom ten (North Somerset and Southend-on-Sea), also fell into the list of areas with the lowest spend per pupil.

Rank Local authority Region 2014-15 net expenditure 2019-20 net expenditure Five-year change
1 Isles of Scilly South West £3,772,000 £894,000 -76.30%
2 Kingston upon Hull Yorkshire & the Humber £144,916,000 £71,949,000 -50.35%
3 North Somerset South West £115,699,000 £59,726,000 -48.38%
4 Southend-on-Sea East £110,104,000 £57,155,000 -48.09%
5 Rotherham Yorkshire & the Humber £168,254,000 £99,619,000 -40.79%
6 Redcar & Cleveland North East £91,179,000 £56,087,000 -38.49%
7 Staffordshire West Midlands £531,183,000 £340,058,000 -35.98%
8 Middlesbrough North East £96,395,000 £62,309,000 -35.36%
9 Suffolk East £407,131,000 £280,253,000 -31.16%
10 Plymouth South West £124,712,000 £85,897,000 -31.12%

Methodology

Education expenditure for 2014-15 and 2019-20 was sourced from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s local authority revenue expenditure and financing data collection.

The expenditure refers to the total net expenditure for early years education, primary schools, secondary schools, special schools and alternative education, post-16 education and other education and community budget. Note that due to changes in the structure of some local authorities in the last five years, some areas were omitted.

Pupil numbers were sourced from the Department for Education’s schools, pupils and their characteristics statistics 2019/20, and refer to the total number of pupils in all state-funded schools (aged 3-19).

Want to speak to someone about your EdTech spending?

Promethean is on hand to talk to you about your EdTech choices for interactive displaysteaching software and a full professional development support plan. Ready to talk more right now? Why not request a virtual demo with one of our friendly education team members?

The most innovative and ultra safe digital school board launched today

Prowise’s newest product brings digital schooling to another level. Today, they have launched their best touchscreen yet. With outstanding writing experience, high privacy and security standards, and other smart solutions, it’s offering top performance in the classroom and during remote learning. This new product is already nominated for a coveted BETT Award and a iF Design Award. Meet the brand new Prowise Touchscreen Ten. 

 

Over the years, traditional chalkboards had to make room for their digital successors.

Today, the most complete and state of the art solution has been launched: the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. This all-in-one screen is everything one needs to teach and follow digital classes. 

 

The best writing experience yet

Several technologies are used for the Prowise Touchscreen Ten, in order to create the best writing experience. The powerful ProWrite Touch Technology is directly integrated within the glass panel. This results in the ultimate pen-on-paper experience, with blazing fast writing speed and optimal writing accuracy. The screen has 40 touch points, which makes it possible to write, erase and use tools all at the same time. The so-called display bonding technology sticks the glass panel to the LCD panel, removing the space in between. This way, the user is able to write more accurately, smoothly and quicker than ever before on a Prowise screen. Moreover, display bonding reduces the glare on the screen, since external lighting is not reflected. In order to limit glare, reflection, and fingerprints, nano-texture was applied directly on the glass panel. Apple is offering this technology, at an additional price, on their iMacs. All these technologies work seamlessly together with ProNote, the company’s own developed software, offering the best writing experience on a digital board. 

 

Security

The Prowise Touchscreen Ten is the pinnacle of security. The user is in total control of their data. Only they can access their own data and grant other users permission to see or use their information. Everything is hosted from their own dedicated server, which can only be reached by its user. Both hardware and software are developed in-house by Prowise and have been tested by a team of independent professional hackers. Prowise is the only digital school screen supplier with an ISO 27001-certificate and a pending BSI-certification. Certification from these leading independent authorities confirms the incredible safety of the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. To avoid inappropriate apps and content from being visible and downloaded, Prowise created their own Appstore. All apps have been screened by a test team, ensuring that only school-proof applications make the cut.

 

Erik Neeskens, Chief Sales Officer at Prowise: “11 years of experience come together in our latest product. I am extremely proud of the result and everybody who worked on this major project. The Prowise Touchscreen Ten is outstanding and distinct from its competitors by design and technology. Digital schooling has never been so easy and fun. For us, it’s a perfect ten!”

 

For teachers

This new digital school solution was developed from a teacher’s point of view, using their feedback in order to make a product that fulfils their needs and wishes. Most of their desires are now integrated in the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. This educational game changer comes with a Prowise MOVE-camera, 6 microphones, a 2.1 soundbar that provides perfect sound to every corner of the room, and gives direct access to Teams, Meet, Skype and Zoom. No other devices are needed, which makes it the perfect all-in-one product for interactive (home)schooling.

 

Learning through motion

Some children learn better when they are actively and physically engaged. Learning through motion aligns with the way children experience the world around them. Furthermore, it is healthy and improves the learning abilities. Previous Prowise Touch Screens were already the only ones worldwide that offered a fully integrated solution for learning through motion and video calling (remote learning). The Touchscreen Ten takes it one step further by offering even more possibilities and improved functions. The Prowise MOVE camera allows you to play educational games on the Prowise Touchscreen without physically touching it. The combination of the camera with Intel® RealSense™ and the technology in the screen register motion, and connects this to the movements on the screen. Prowise has developed its own range of educational games for MOVE. These games trigger pupils to get in motion while they are completing cognitive learning activities. The games are suitable for children of various ages and available in different subject areas.

 

Sustainability

Children deserve both great education and a carefree future in a climate neutral environment. To fulfil both of these goals, Prowise aims to minimise its ecological footprint as much as possible. The company continuously strives for the best sustainable performance during the production process, making powerful devices that consume less energy, good working conditions in the factory and use the best disposal procedure. To compensate for their CO2 emission, the company plants one tree for every sold screen. One tree absorbs 20 kg CO2 per year, which equals the footprint of actively using a Prowise touchscreen for half-a-year.

 

For more information or demo request: www.prowise.com/touchscreen

Teenagers’ only lifeline in lockdown comes via a mental health app

With mental health concerns for young people increasing and normal full-time schooling for every child unlikely to return for some time, some schools have turned to a new phone app in an effort to support their students’ wellbeing.  

 

The EduKit app, created by a social enterprise of the same name, enables students to send an alert to their school if they are feeling unhappy or unsafe at home so teachers can step in and help if needed.

 

The app also delivers targeted support to the student so if anxiety or online bullying is the problem, the student can be directed to a school-recommended counselling service or guides and video resources that will support them.

 

Emilie Darabasz, joint head of school and pastoral lead at Frances Bardsley Academy in Essex, who is using the app with their 1,476 students said: “The cumulative impact of this lockdown on young people can not be underestimated. They are not only dealing with their own issues but absorbing the emotions of their parents and carers too, many of whom are facing financial hardship and job losses.

 

“There is a sense of hopelessness in some children and with no end date in sight, they need support. The app means we can send help right into their hands at the point they need it. They can be directed to resources to help or they can message a teacher trained to deal with their concerns.”

 

The app has been developed by EduKit’s co-founder, Nathalie Richards, who was inspired by her own experience of being bullied at school: “I wanted no child to feel alone in dealing with a problem at home or school.

 

“The first lockdown made me very concerned for those who did not have someone they felt they could talk to. I had to make sure that would not be the case this time around and so we made sure the app was available for schools soon after this lockdown was announced. It’s important that teenagers know they can get help no matter what they are going through.”

 

The development of the EduKit app has been part funded by the Inclusive Recovery Fund from Comic Relief and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

 

What is next for UK Edtech in the pandemic era?

25 January 2020: Even before the global pandemic, the UK was considered as Europe’s EdTech hub. As the new demands of home learning have accelerated the industry’s product offerings and processes, the full breadth and scope of the UK’s Edtech portfolio have made us pause to celebrate their quality and success. It has also made us think what further support is needed to make sure that those that need the services of EdTech most (parents/carers/teachers) are able to find and access them.
 
In a recent report published by London & Partners, London-based EdTech companies raised a total of $124 million in VC during 2019, positioning it as the largest EdTech ecosystem in Europe. At Downing Ventures, we are proud to work with some of the very best EdTech companies in the world that have had to modify and hasten their business offering to provide much-needed solutions to the challenges that Covid-19 has created for education.
 
Closing the attainment gap
 
One thing that each of our EdTech portfolio can agree on is that Covid-19 and lockdown has caused the attainment gap to widen and resulted in a massive need to help students catch up. Government funding has increased to reflect this.
 
Third Space Learning (TSL) has recruited a global tutor community to provide high quality, affordable online tuition to children in schools across the UK, helping to close the attainment gap.
 
Founder and CEO, Tom Hooper comments:
 
“The government launched a £1 billion catch up fund this year, within which TSL was chosen as one of 33 school tutoring businesses to participate in the National Tutoring Programme. We have been able to put in place tuition for tens of thousands of disadvantaged pupils very quickly given our global tutor model. In addition, we have launched a product in the US in partnership with a large US EdTech company. We integrated our tutor operations with their student community, allowing us to launch quickly and with low risk. This global partnership reflects the strengths of our platform model.”
 
A company supporting three of the tuition providers from the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is EdPlace, who offer industry-leading and curriculum-aligned English, maths and science home learning for years 1 – 9 with all resources written by experienced teachers.
 
As the business has always focused on home learning, they had a great product fit for lockdown. However, prior to Covid-19, they were a premium only product. They recognised the need to quickly open up the platform for free whilst not undermining their business model and so, during the first lockdown, Edplace made their resources on the website accessible without an account.
 
Breaking down barriers to entry were key. As pupils prepared to go back to school in September 2020, they launched free ‘catch-up’ assessments to identify learning gaps following school closures. It was also recently named as number 3 on a list of 100 things that the Mumsnet community swore by in 2020.
 
Empiribox, a science education specialist provider, created an already twice-award-winning product service, Empiribox @ Home, helping to create those ‘wow’ moments for primary school pupils at home, in a safe and engaging way. It provides access to a complete library of curriculum-aligned and engaging interactive science lessons that include interactive videos, supporting resources and adaptable hands-on activities, even if schools aren’t open.
 
For teachers, this means they can assign any lesson to pupils to complete, using readily available materials found around the home. For parents and carers, it means they have access to their very own dedicated science teacher at home.
 
Empiribox’s CEO, Richard McGrath comments:
 
“If Covid has shown us anything, it is just how important science is to the world’s wellbeing. Sadly, the UK has a massive skills shortage in terms of science graduates and this issue needs to be addressed well before pupils arrive in a secondary school setting. At Empiribox, we are committed to the advancement of practical science in primary schools and through our new Empiribox @ Home service, we can now support delivery of this goal using online digital video lessons that can be used in school and at home.”
 
The New Parent TA
 
Helping parents be as fully engaged in their children’s education while also playing the role of teaching assistant is a solution that Firefly had found before the pandemic. The Firefly platform is a school learning tool that gives teachers more time to teach, enables students to learn in ways that work best for them and involves parents with their child’s learning every step of the way. The platform keeps parents up to date with their child’s progress and enables teachers to provide parents with the resources they need to support learning outside the classroom, which all have been vital during lockdown.
 
The Firefly team had a head start in their preparation for the first UK lockdown, as schools that used their platform in Hong Kong needed it to be modified as they began remote learning during the protests in 2019. Firefly identified the best quick-to-adopt practice and the result was an onboarding process that took days rather than weeks.
 
“Building institutional muscle memory is crucial for the future of pedagogy. We need to give parents and teachers the tools to know what to do so they have them at hand for whenever they need them. Self-isolation and teaching bubbles will continue to exist for the foreseeable future so it is our mission to make sure all parents that engage with our community are using it to be set up for success,” says Firefly’s CEO and founder, Simon Hay.
 
Importance of agility
 
Being agile in these unpredictable times is key to enabling the most successful and efficient service. Kinderly’s award-winning early years software provides digital reporting, child-development tracking tools, training and resources to enable early years childcare professionals to be at their best so they can give the children in their care the best start in life, regardless of their background or economic circumstances. 
 
With the early years community heavily impacted, Kinderly wanted to find a way to support early years professionals (EYPs), help them stay in touch with the children they normally care for and support the parents with the huge and daunting task of home learning. Thanks to their rapid agility, Kinderly has transformed and grown their business by almost 300% during the pandemic and launched in new markets.
 
Kinderly’s digital platforms created a unique opportunity to access their free support package and resources that include a Covid-19 resource bank, much-loved and celebrated weekly expert webinars that reaches up to 10,000 EYP’s, continuing professional development with Kinderly Learn, a Facebook community group, weekly activity bulletins (with a list of age-appropriate activities) and yoga for children.
 
While Kinderly haven’t received support from the UK government, its founder and CEO, Geraint Barton suggests that the ever-growing EdTech community could be a source of new employment opportunities for those who have been made or face unemployment during the pandemic:
 
“We would love government support to employ more staff, whether that is for internships or people looking to retrain or make a move from other sectors. We have met so many people who have lost their job, because of Covid, who need new opportunities in different industries that are calling out for employment.”
 
Opportunities for the industry to continue thriving
 
When schools received government relief funding in 2020, they were told by the Department for Education that it had to go towards either Microsoft or Google software. A more efficient procurement process that celebrates indigenous, independent innovation is encouraged by the UK’s EdTech community.
 
Firefly’s Simon Hay comments:
 
“We would like to see more open communication channels between the government and our sector that is made up of small, homegrown EdTech companies who are driving innovation in this country while also giving real time solutions. Pushing for schools to use international exports is actively harmful to British business and the EdTech sector should continue to be a source of national pride and appropriately supported.”
 
Will Paterson, CEO at EdPlace adds:
 
“Lockdown has highlighted the disconnect between the EdTech industry and the DfE, with for example, initially recommending loosely screened resources, followed by a drive to create their own, despite strong, proven alternatives already existing in the market. In order to deliver educational support where it’s needed most, the DfE should invest in understanding what the industry has to offer, support its development through targeted funding and build a better procurement process. This will ensure all students get the targeted support they need and gives the EdTech industry the backing it needs to compete and win on the global stage.”
 
Looking to the future
 
With the outlook for education looking uncertain, preparing for the year ahead and beyond as best as possible is crucial.
 
“The National Tutor Programme is planned for at least four years. With the massive social impact from the two lockdowns, a huge impact on poorer children’s learning, it will take years to catch up, if we even can. We need significant and consistent government support for innovation to drive our businesses to be able to support as many people as we can,” concludes Tom Hooper of TSL.
 
While the growth and innovation of the UK EdTech sector has been supported by government initiatives that encourage investments in the industry, a call to consult the industry experts is hugely encouraged by our EdTech portfolio. As the education sector continues to navigate the best processes during the ongoing pandemic, the EdTech community offers lifeline solutions in addition to employment opportunities.
 
Across the pond in the USA, the growth of education SPACs* make a sharp increase in global mergers and acquisitions in the EdTech space likely, as well as opening up opportunities for UK businesses.
 
By 2025, the EdTech market is set to reach a total value of $341 billion and with the ongoing innovation borne out of the UK, the future looks bright for the UK to still carry the torch as global leaders in this market.
 

https://thirdspacelearning.com/
https://www.edplace.com/
https://www.empiribox.com/
https://fireflylearning.com/
https://kinderly.co.uk/
 

*What is a SPAC? Read more info here.

TOP SPEAKING LINE-UP CONFIRMED FOR INAUGURAL EDTECH SUMMIT

An impressive line-up of speakers has been finalised ahead of the inaugural EdTech Summit, which will be taking place online on the 18th and 19th November. The event will be run alongside the bi-annual Schools & Academies Show (17th-20th November), the UK’s largest education policy event organised by GovNet.

Gillan Keegan MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills at the Department for Education, will open proceedings with a keynote presentation on the status of apprenticeships whilst updating the audience on the measures put in place to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on young people’s careers. She will be joined in the opening session by Dr Daniel Susskind, Career Development Fellow from University of Oxford, exploring the future of work in light of the ongoing pandemic.

A 65-strong speaking line-up also includes Helen Miller OBE, Chief Executive of the Good Things Foundation, Robin Ghurbhurun, Managing Director of UK Further Education and Skills, Prof. Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Leading and Teaching) at Teesside University, and Lauren Thorpe, Director of Strategies at Ark. 

This virtual event will also enable education technologists, senior industry leaders and pioneering speakers to come together to discuss how to bridge the gap between education and technology through an innovative online networking platform. More than 750 senior ICT executives and 3,000 leaders from across the education sector have already signed up for the summit, which is being supported by multiple EdTech suppliers. 

Chris Callaghan, Event Director, EdTech Summit, said: “Whilst we are disappointed this launch event is not taking place at the NEC Birmingham as planned, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the level of support we have received to transform the inaugural EdTech Summit into a virtual event has been astounding – which clearly illustrates what an innovative and digitally-minded sector we are working with. 

“Despite this change, we have assembled an inspiring and authoritative line-up of speakers who will provide vital updates and share best practice. The EdTech Summit is the only event in the UK to focus on helping primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities to optimise their digital strategies, implement new technologies and drive efficiencies in the classroom and the back office.” 

For more information about the EdTech Summit, or to register for the event, please visit the official website – https://edtechsummit.co.uk/