Westminster Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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The future for edtech in England - standards, quality and accessibility, the experience of lockdown, and next steps for the Edtech Strategy

Morning, Thursday, 11th March 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on the next steps and future for the use of edtech in England.

We expect a key theme to be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a reported 130% rise in the use of edtech during the crisis.

It also comes as schools resume remote learning following the announcement of a further national lockdown, and with the publication of new guidance outlining the DfE’s expectations of schools in relation to remote learning.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with a range of key policy officials who are due to attend from DfE, as well as from the Department for the Economy NI, the Geospatial Commission and the UK Space Agency.

The agenda:

  • The edtech sector today - and prospects for the future
  • Edtech and COVID-19 - educational attainment, student engagement, best practice and lessons learned so far, and looking ahead to the role of remote learning post-pandemic
  • What works in edtech - building an evidence base, school-to-school support for edtech, and next steps for driving up standards
  • International perspectives on the use of edtech
  • Ensuring edtech works for all - accessibility, levelling up, and supporting a rounded education:
    • Making edtech work for students with SEND
    • Strategies for bridging the digital divide
    • Delivering social and emotional learning in a virtual setting
  • Next steps for the Edtech Strategy and priorities going forward

Key areas for discussion:

  • edtech during the pandemic - what has been learned, implications for the Edtech Strategy, and possible future ways to integrate remote learning in learning in England’s schools post-pandemic
  • safety - ensuring that future classroom use of edtech takes into account risks, and safeguards students spending increased time online, in the context of the Online Harms White Paper
  • quality of education:
    • ways to measure standards, build up an evidence-base of what works in edtech, and to improve
    • following the Ofsted review of online education in the 2020 summer term and the recent What's working well in remote education for schools from Ofsted
  • spreading best practice:
    • the role of the wider school system and school-to-school support in driving up standards in the use of edtech
    • the edtech demonstrator schools and colleges programme - its impact and what has been learned so far, with the programme re-focused on the response to COVID-19 soon after its launch
  • a case study from France - looking at OpenClassrooms, an online learning platform characterised by hands-on projects, one-on-one mentorship, and guaranteed employment for graduates
  • improving remote learning - strategies and best practice for addressing the challenges, and learning from benefits experienced by students, studying in the home environment:
    • the digital divide - addressing the impact of digital poverty on educational attainment amongst disadvantaged students, including assessing recent government support programmes
    • assistive technologies - options for increasing support for its use by students with SEND, and for its integration within the classroom
    • social and emotional learning (SEL) - the way forward for ensuring that future integration of remote learning takes a holistic view of students’ wider needs

The background - recent policy developments at a glance:

  • Realising the potential of technology in education: A strategy for education providers and the technology industry - the Government’s Edtech Strategy, with aims for:
    • skills - help for teaching staff through online training, school-to-school support and dissemination of edtech research
    • workload - reducing the burden on teachers by cutting time spent on non-teaching tasks, and facilitating part-time and flexible working
    • assessment - streamlining processes, and tackling cheating and plagiarism through anti-cheating software
    • digital safety - providing schools and other providers with the necessary guidance to effectively navigate responsibilities around privacy, security and data
  • teaching standards:
    • Ofsted announcing that that it will resume the monitoring of schools judged to be inadequate at their previous inspection as well as some schools graded as requiring improvement, with inspectors looking at how well schools are educating pupils in the current circumstances
    • Ofsted to review students’ and apprentices’ online further education experience - focusing on what can be learned from online education delivery during this term and the 2020 summer term
  • Vision 2025 - the review led by the Edtech Advisory Forum, looking at edtech sector’s response to the pandemic and the current state of the sector, as well as its future deployment
  • the Future Tech Trade Strategy - recently announced by government and aimed at supporting the growth and expansion of the UK tech sector, and encouraging investment
  • assistive technology - DfE’s trials announced last year, seeking to assess and inform best practice in the use of assistive technology for pupils with SEND
  • the digital divide:
    • Schools' responses to Covid-19: pupil engagement in remote learning - recent NFER findings of lowest student engagement amongst those with limited access to IT or study space
    • Learning during the lockdown: real-time data on children’s experiences during home learning - IFS research showing challenges, particularly amongst those from least well-off families
    • Get laptops and tablets for children during the latest lockdown
  • The Online Harms White Paper - laying out next steps for improving online safety in the UK

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by a range of officials from the Department for Education; the UK Space Agency; the Geospatial Commission; and the Department for the Economy, NI.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area, together with school leaders, local authorities, teaching unions, multi-academy trusts, edtech providers and the wider technology sector, publishers, awarding bodies, charities and advocacy groups, psychologists and other health professionals. parents’ groups, academics and commentators, and reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Supported by

Keynote Speakers

Ty Goddard

Chair, Edtech UK

Pierre Dubuc

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OpenClassrooms

Caroline Wright

Director General, British Educational Suppliers Association and Member, Department for Education Edtech Leadership Group


Rt Hon The Lord Willetts

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP


Ritam Gandhi

Founder, Studio Graphene

Dr Sara de Freitas

Executive Director of Education, Wey Education Group

Professor Rose Luckin

Professor of Learner Centred Design, UCL Knowledge Lab and Director, EDUCATE

Julian Drinkall

Chief Executive Officer, Academies Enterprise Trust

Dan Sandhu

Chief Executive, Sparx and Member, Edtech Evidence Group

Scott Hayden

Digital Innovation Specialist, Basingstoke College of Technology, Hampshire

Kerry-Jane Packman

Executive Director of Programmes, Membership and Charitable Services, Parentkind

John Baskerville

Managing Director - Technology, RM

Sarah Horrocks

Director, London Connected Learning Centre, Education Development Trust

Will Millard

Head of Engagement, Centre for Education and Youth