This series of blogs looks at some of the most innovative use of technology in the education sector, around the world – how schools and school chains are using new ideas to help with all aspects of their performance.
You can also check the full series of the School of the Future blog posts, click below:
- School of the Future (part I): 9 Ways to Use EdTech to Help Teaching and Learning
- School of the Future (part II): 7 Ways to Use EdTech to Help Planning and Assessment
- School of the Future (part III): 6 Ways to Use Technology in Education to Support Recruitment, Retention and Parental Engagement
- School of the Future (part IV): Implementing the Government’s EdTech Strategy
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This allows teachers to focus on what tech isn’t good at – building strong relationships in classrooms and tailoring delivery to the immediate needs of students. This is at the heart of the UK Government’s EdTech Strategy – well worth downloading and reading!
This third blog of the series looks at how the school of the future will use technology to improve recruitment, retention and parental engagement – vital tasks outside of the control of classroom teachers. The first one looked at teaching and the second at planning and assessment – the main teacher tasks outside of the classroom.
1. Tracking teacher development over time
Teacher development can be haphazard in many schools – paper records make it difficult to see who has had essential training in areas such as safeguarding, let alone developmental training. Companies such as BlueSky Education move this online – empowering teachers to manage their own development while allowing schools to see how the skills of the whole school are developing.
2. Facilitating part-time and flexible working through better timetabling
This is an area specifically mentioned in the UK EdTech Strategy. It’s often not easy for schools to fit part time and other models of flexible working into their current timetables, despite the strong evidence that this improves teacher retention. Kennet School in Berkshire, England, was able to make huge improvements to its timetable and save hundreds of thousands of pounds by using the latest technology.
3. Helping recruit teachers
Recruitment of good teachers is one of the biggest challenges for many schools at the moment – with recruitment adverts often producing few (or in some cases no) applications. One key problem is that application forms for teaching jobs tend to be long and complex and can put off current teachers.
However, education recruiters are learning from other industries where recruitment is far more automated – the TES now has a ‘Quick Apply’ feature where an application form is populated with key information provided by the jobseeker earlier – and the progress of the application can be progressed online. Schools have a long way to go through to reach the automation levels seen in other sectors. Check out what recruitment technology company eArcu offers recruiters on their website.
4. Improving continuous professional development
Online courses aren’t that new in teaching, but they’ve moved on from stand-alone webinars and downloadable PowerPoint presentations to become more flexible and of longer-term use. Organisations such as Optimus Education and The Key for School Leaders offer curated banks of useful information for teachers to access on demand. At ONVU Learning, we’re close to launching our ALIGN methodology course in ‘professional noticing’ – rather than telling teachers what do in lessons, this will empower them to identify areas to improve themselves while developing this important skill.
5. Helping parents and students to use home-learning software
Much of the variation in student achievement comes from the support they have at home, especially at the very start of their school journey. One way of helping close this gap is for schools to provide and train parents in the use of the best home-learning tools. Embedding the likes of ReadingEggs6 and Mymaths allows children and parents to develop at their own pace.
6. Improving parental communication.
Parental communication tools have also been around for several years, but it’s worth looking at how new innovators are adding greater functionality to allow parents to access more information about a school – and thereby reduce the number of questions they need to ask busy teachers and reception staff. ClassDojo shares class work, behaviour information and the latest news, while SchoolCal creates an information hub that can share everything from awareness days to things to do in the school holidays.
ONVU Learning is a pioneer in the use of 360-degree video recording for lesson observation, used for teacher training and development, called Lessonvu. We have spent the last couple of years working closely with our partner schools to ensure that Lessonvu delivers exactly upon the real needs of teachers and trainers – case studies, reports and guides can be found on our evidence page.