The Department for Education has confirmed plans for the second phase of its edtech demonstrator programme.
It comes after Schools Week revealed that academy trust United Learning had been appointed to run the scheme in its second year, replacing a consortium of the London Grid For Learning, Education Foundation and Sheffield Hallam University.
The trust’s appointment has prompted concerns about potential conflicts of interest, given United Learning is now both the DfE’s delivery partner and an approved “demonstrator”.
Note: This article has been updated to change the section on grant funding and the list and number of demonstrator schools as a result of mistakes in initial DfE guidance.
The DfE initially said grants would be the same as last year, but then issued a correction saying they would be different. The government also initially said only four demonstrator schools had pulled out, when in fact, five have.
1. Broader remit including Covid recovery
Although it was first announced before the pandemic, the edtech demonstrator scheme was quickly tailored to support remote learning after schools partially closed last spring.
This year, as well as continuing to support remote education “where needed”, edtech demonstrators will also cover things like education recovery, the DfE said.
This will involve showing how technology “can bolster pupil and student progress and outcomes, and support catch up and recovery activities”.
They will also work with schools to reduce workload, aid school improvement, improve resource management and make the curriculum “accessible and inclusive” for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
2. Changes to grant funding
Schools Week revealed last month how United Learning would have responsibility for dishing out £5.5 million in grant funding to demonstrator schools. This prompted worries about a potential conflict of interest, given the trust itself is a demonstrator.
Last year, most edtech demonstrators received between £70,000 and £150,000, though it is understood United Learning received around £200,000 for the involvement of its 73 schools.
This year, the grants will range from £10,000 and £200,000, with United Learning expected to receive the top grant amount again.
The Department for Education said the range had changed based on plans demonstrators shared with it and “reflects capability and capacity”.
The cash is not designed to support schools to buy new IT infrastructure “or pay for marketing materials”.
3. Three tiers of support available
In the second phase of the programme, demonstrator schools will offer three tiers of support to other schools.
Light touch support, or around six hours training over a term, will be for schools requiring “rapid support on remote education, catch-up and recovery provision”.
Medium touch term support, or around 15 hours of training over the next academic year, will help schools identify “one or two areas where technology can be adopted and have maximum impact for teachers and pupils”.
And long-term support, or around 30 hours of training over a year, will for example see demonstrators work with schools to develop a “sustainable digital strategy, embedding technology – particularly digital platforms and devices – as part of a wider change programme, and recognising where technology will and will not make an impact”.
4. New role for the EEF and ImpactEd
The DfE confirmed today that it has appointed ImpactEd to carry out an interim and final evaluation of the programme, although United Learning will be responsible for assessing demonstrators’ progress and performance.
The Education Endowment Foundation has also been “invited into phase two of the programme to strengthen the evidence base”, the DfE said.
“During May and early June, they will be delivering a series of short training sessions to the Demonstrators on how to embed a change model in schools/colleges, using their existing Using digital technology to improve learning report.”
5. Four schools and a college have backed out
The DfE said earlier this year that four of the 48 demonstrator organisations involved in the first phase would not continue to be involved next year.
But five names from the first phase are absent from the list of second phase demonstrators: Balcarras School in the south west, Warden Park Secondary Academy in the south-east, Hadrian Primary in the north-east, Heronsgate Primary School in London, and Derby College.
6. Remaining 43 ‘demonstrators’ named
The DfE has named the 43 schools, colleges and academy trusts that will act as demonstrators in the second phase of the programme.
Here’s the full list…
Stephenson Memorial Primary School
Brough Community Primary School
Kings Leadership Academy Warrington (secondary) in partnership with The Great Schools Trust
Manchester College LTE GROUP
Oldham Sixth Form College
Hambleton Primary Academy in partnership with Ribblesdale High School and Highfurlong School (special school)
Dalton St Marys Primary School
Yorkshire and Humber
Filey Junior School
Crookesbroom Primary Academy (Part of Delta Academies Trust, which was involved in phase 1)
The Grimsby Institute of Higher and Further Education
Outwood Primary Academy Ledger Lane in partnership with Outwood Academies
Wilberforce Sixth Form College
King Ecgbert School (secondary)
Skipton Girls’ High School
Elizabeth Woodville Primary School
Kibworth C of E Primary School
Heart of Worcestershire College
Pheasey Park Farm Primary School and Early Years Centre
Lea Forest Primary Academy in partnership with North Ormesby Primary Academy, Pioneer Special School, AET Trust
St Alban’s Catholic Primary School
East of England
Redden Court School (Secondary)
West Suffolk College in partnership with Abbeygate Sixth Form College, One Sixth Form College, NCCE Computer Hub, Barrow CEVC Primary (ConnectED Teaching School Alliance) and, Swavesey Village College
Coupals Primary Academy in partnership with Thomas Gainsborough Secondary School
Sandringham School (secondary)
La Sainte Union Catholic School (secondary)
Britannia Village Primary School
Reach Academy Feltham (all through)
Cheam Common Junior Academy in partnership with Leo Academy Trust
Shacklewell Primary School in partnership with Grazebrook Primary School, Woodberry Down Primary School
Wheatley Park School (secondary)
Denbigh High School
Wildern School (secondary)
Basingstoke College of Technology
Danesfield School (primary)
Hardenhuish School (secondary)
Devonport High School for Boys (secondary)
Broadclyst Community Primary School
Mount Hawke Academy (primary)
United Learning Trust – Consortium (73 schools nationally)