At Pamoja, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future of education and what challenges we believe are on the horizon, and how technology can help.

To mark the New Year, we take a look at what challenges currently exist for schools, colleges, and universities, and what they should be focusing their efforts on in 2020.

Training teachers to use technology

From our experience working with schools, they need to be supported more when it comes to training teachers to use technology. We find that teachers are usually keen on the idea of using new technologies in the classroom, but implementation needs to be handled with greater care.

Tech in UK classrooms often goes unused, which ultimately means that millions of pounds are potentially going to waste. Colleges and universities are making better progress on training teachers to use technology, so we’d like to see more improvement at school level.

How the UK government is responding to future challenges

It was encouraging to hear the government announce in September new measures to help boost the nation’s skills and transform technical education, such as providing up to £120 million to establish up to eight more Institutes of Technology.

Yet many of the measures aimed at boosting the UK’s productivity and building a skilled workforce are targeted towards further education, so it would be great to see some more focus given to schools.

We would also like to see some progress around the UK’s Youth Parliament’s campaign for A Curriculum for Life. Young people are calling for the education system to do more to prepare them for life after school and college — a critically important area that often flies under the radar — so it’s important they are heard.

Given the current political climate it’s hard to make any firm predictions, but from September 2020 the Children and Social Work Act will make relationship and sex education compulsory which is a positive step forward in ensuring young people receive a more rounded education that focuses on life skills.

This could be just the beginning, however. The Government is also planning to consult on giving the same status to personal, social, health and economic education which would be a fantastic development.

How we can improve the education sector

I think if we had to choose one area, then it would be around improving the way we treat and support teachers, addressing serious problem areas such as excessive workloads and teacher retention.

Schools are often given the responsibility of helping reduce teacher workload and ensuring they retain staff, but this can be difficult against a backdrop of increasing budget cuts and Ofsted pressures. I believe EdTech can have a role to play here.

There are many tools on the market that can help with onerous non-teaching tasks such as marking, assessment and lesson planning, so the challenge is to ensure that schools are made aware of those that provide the most value so they can spend their tight budgets wisely.

Adaptive learning in 2020

We think adaptive learning and targeted education are areas set to feature prominently in 2020 — there are many platforms out there making big strides, but there’s still a long way to go.

The end goal is for classrooms to have adaptive learning platforms that provide the opportunity to retain the benefits of learning in a group (social skills, motivation, and so on) and combine this with fully personalised instruction. We’re making progress towards this, but fully moving away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ learning and inflexible learning pathways will take time.

Separately, we’d also like more of a push to see technology used at earlier ages in schools, so that comfort and familiarity with using tech amongst students and teachers is embedded early on.

Nevertheless, no matter what technologies are introduced, we must bear in mind that not everyone is a technophile. For EdTech adoption to take-off, schools and universities must work to adjust internal cultures so that they are open to advancements.

For more information about what we do at Pamoja Education, visit our website. Article written by John Ingram, CEO of Pamoja Education

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