DfE edtech strategy, BESA LendED platform and Rocket Fund: opportunities to boost education technology in schools at Bett 2019

By Dave Smith Senior Inspector, Havering Education Services

Are you looking for a boost to your school’s edtech provision? If so, Bett 2019 certainly had some answers.  

A combination of encouragement from the Department for Education’s increased focus on edtech, the potential to trial products and services via platforms such as the new BESA LendED website alongside the fundraising potential of Rocket Fund may just help.  

The Secretary of State for Education’s attendance at the Bett Show and Bett Awards demonstrated a positive intent from the DfE to continue to be involved in edtech in England. Damian Hinds’s speech outlined that the DfE ‘are going to be shaping… edtech strategy for England’ with ‘a network of demonstrator schools and colleges’ for edtech (reminiscent of the ICT Beacon schools from the start of this millennium), a positive direction in which to be moving.

He also highlighted the £450m spend on edtech in England and the importance of spending money wisely.  With this in mind, schools have rightfully had to sharpen their focus on the impact on pupil outcomes when deciding where to deploy funding.

Within his speech, Hinds mentioned that the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), supported by the DfE, had launched their new LendED platform providing schools with a good place to search for edtech solutions. 

An opportunity to ‘try before you buy, case studies, hints tips and ideas and the reassurance that the companies have been vetted…  an informed marketplace, where people can buy with confidence.’ Hinds went on to say that…

we must never think about technology for its own sake…  technology is an enabler and an enhancer.’

Wise words to consider when thinking about what edtech to invest in.

On the Friday of Bett, I met two colleagues from a school I know who were looking for ways to power-up their edtech provision, mentioning that their school’s budget, although very well-managed, did not have the wriggle room to allow for new items to further enhance their already effective curriculum.

They also needed advice as to what products and services would achieve the right educational outcomes for pupils, hence their trip to Bett, but how could they trial some of these if necessary? That is just one example of a school with whom I work eager to utilise new types of edtech, keen to find out what products and services to use (and how they might perhaps get a trial) and also asking the age-old question of ‘is there a way to get some more money to pay for it?’.

To help with the latter issue, I directed them both to the ELMO stand, where the Rocket Fund team were hosted. They found out about the benefits of the crowdfunding approach and came away intent on setting up a Rocket Fund project for their school. I watch with interest.

Larchwood

With these points in mind, why not review your edtech strategy, consider options on the BESA LendED platform (maybe even trialling some products and services), then when you have your well-researched shopping list/strategy in place, create a project using the Rocket Fund crowdfunding platform and encourage parents/carers, grandparents, relatives, local businesses, alumni and more to contribute to it.

It is not about replacing existing funding, it is about supplementing it for the benefit of pupils and teaching staff alike.

Finally, I was delighted to see Branfil Primary School in Havering giving the Rocket Fund a try – they raised £1,234 from 27 donors! They now have 4 new visualisers for use with pupils. Well done to all involved.

Why not give it a try? You may well be pleasantly surprised.

Dave Smith

Senior Inspector, Havering Education Services – School Improvement Services

@davesmithict

Dave Smith                                   HES

Dave is a local authority senior inspector, providing school improvement support for schools, as well as leading on Traded Services for the Havering Education Services School Improvement team. He has spent the past 19 years specialising in computing, education technology and online safety for schools. He is part of the team working with Rising Stars to develop the Bett Award winning ‘Switched on Computing’ series (in over 6,500 schools). He recently worked on the education technology aspect of the Department for Education’s Workload Reduction Toolkit. He is the former Chair of the Board of Management of Naace and judge for the Bett Awards and Education Resources Awards. Dave enjoys exploring education technology internationally providing consultancy in Japan, the USA, Middle East and Europe. He was previously a teacher/senior leader in 3 schools, governor of 4 schools and Assistant Marketing Director/Senior Tutor at Anglia Ruskin University’s mPowerNet ICT Training for Teachers.