A long-standing tradition is that BETT is opened with keynote address by the Secretary of State for education. This provides businesses in education with a helpful indicator of the ‘mood music’ for tech demand in the year ahead. 2016 was no exception, so as we look forward to BETT 2017, we thought it worthwhile to reflect on some of the key themes from the then Secretary of State for Education, Nikki Morgan’s speech, notably a call for Edtech to up its game on evidencing benefits.
Support for ‘evidence based’ technology ‘that really works’
Overall whilst claiming to be excited about education technology there were caveats:
First that education technology is an aid to schools and teachers but not a replacement.
Second that technology benefits should be ‘evidence based and outcomes driven’ – ‘where it really works – we will back it all the way’. In this context, it was instructive to see the high profile and support given to developments in assessment, notably adaptive systems alongside the more usual suspects of broadband, computing in the curriculum and online security.
Finally, there was an expressed ambition for open data standards – welcome in principle, particularly when considering progress in comparison to other sectors such as healthcare, but possibly still early days.
All change for 2017?
So what might we expect in 2017?
Post Brexit we do have a new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, whom we can expect to have her own agenda. However, retaining Nick Gibb et al means we can expect continuity on the priority given to assessments, and, with paper the preferred medium for exams and associated textbooks, a continuing squeeze on tech.
A likely development is a heightened drive for efficiency combined with pressure for a redistribution of the combined budget of £86bn now that universities have joined schools and colleges under the same DfE umbrella.
A simmering, if not burning platform however is a projected bulge in school’s population, which combined with teacher shortfalls and a widening education/industry skills gap are all problems suggesting potential for a fresh impetus for innovation and change.
Adding to this pressure is England’s failure to make progress in the latest international rankings in Maths and Science (TIMSS) whilst Singapore retains the top spot.
So we await the Bett 2017 edition with interest.
In the meantime a full transcript of Nikki Morgan’s 2016 BETT speech can be found here
Are you expecting change or more of the same? To what extent might a redistribution of the £86bn budget benefit UK education rankings and young people’s education? Has the Edtech industry done enough on evidence to secure its share?