Education technology organisations receive funding to tackle teacher workload

Nesta, the innovation foundation, and the Department for Education have today announced the EdTech organisations that will receive up to £100,000 each to develop and scale their ideas in order to reduce teacher workload. From supporting teachers with automated marking to introducing new ways to meaningfully engage parents, the organisations have been selected for their innovative use of technology to overcome some of the biggest challenges facing schools and colleges.

The EdTech Innovation Fund will support grantees, from technology startups to a college to established Edech experts, to develop their products, grow their evidence base of what works, and reach more schools and colleges. The organisations will be given financial support for up to 18 months and have access to non-financial support relevant to their individual needs provided by Nesta. This could range from help with evaluation techniques to business development or communications.

The fund, open for applications since April, set out to find the EdTech products that could make the most difference to teachers and students through focusing on one of four challenge areas:

  1. Formative assessment
  2. Essay marking
  3. Timetabling
  4. Parental engagement

For many people working in education, technology has not always lived up to its promise of reduced administration, time savings and new opportunities that we've seen in so many other sectors. Instead, a disconnect between the experience of teachers and learners, and the potential of technology has in some cases created new pressures and problems. 

The EdTech Innovation Fund is part of a £4.6 million funding programme that aims to change this. The programme will stimulate industry innovation, support the development of EdTech products, and involve schools and colleges in building the evidence base to ensure that technology lives up to its promise in a real world setting. 

Alongside the fund, Nesta has launched England’s first EdTech Innovation Testbed. The Testbed is a new programme, currently open for applications, which allows schools and colleges to trial promising technology products that are suited to their needs for free. They are also offered hands-on support from evaluation experts to understand what works and generate actionable insights for schools, colleges and EdTech organisations.

Joysy John, Director of Education, Nesta, says,

‘To be truly transformational, education technology needs to achieve tangible impact for teachers and students, be informed by robust evidence and be easy to implement. Nesta will work with grantees to develop their ideas and share learnings across the sector so that technology can better meet the changing, and challenging, needs of the education system. We believe these products have huge potential to free up teacher time so they can spend it doing what they do best, inspiring students.”

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Edtech Innovation Testbed Grantees

  • First Pass, Bolton College - an online service that enables teachers to post open-ended questions to students. The service then analyses the free form text responses that are entered by students and offers real-time feedback. 
  • Educake - an online formative assessment platform which provides questions mapped to the curriculum, automatically-marked homework and revision tests for GCSE English, maths, science and geography.
  • Skills Builder Hub, Enabling Enterprise - an online tool that hosts a suite of resources to support the development of key employability skills. After completing an activity with their class, teachers complete a quick assessment of the whole class' skills and are presented with suggestions for resources to use next. 
  • Freeflowinfo, Engagement in Education Ltd - a parental engagement tool which allows pupils to upload photos and videos showing examples of their learning, which are shared with parents.
  • Firefly Learning - a parental engagement tool which allows parents to access information about their child’s progress, attendance and behaviour.
  • HegartyMaths - an online formative assessment platform which provides students with adaptive math assessments. Teachers are given a breakdown of student’s results and effort for each assignment.
  • Formative Assessment for SEND Students in Maths, Mangahigh - a KS1-4 maths platform providing gamified questions and quizzes for students. Teachers use Mangahigh in class and for homework.
  • No More Marking - an online platform that enables schools to use comparative judgement to assess student's written work.
  • Time Tabler, October Resolutions - a timetabling software used by schools to develop and adapt their timetables.
  • Pobble - an online platform that supports the teaching of writing in English classes, currently in primary schools. Pobble stores, publishes and shares examples of children’s handwritten work, and has a bank of resources for teachers and students.
  • Seneca Smart Homework & Diagnostics, Seneca Learning - a homework and revision platform covering 95%+ of the exams taken in the mainstream UK education system for KS2, KS3, GCSE and A-level curriculum.
  • Studybugs Parent Time, Studybugs - a parental engagement platform. Funding will be used to accelerate development, specifically a video-conferencing feature for parents to book a 5 minute video call with teachers, and engage more fully with schools and parents.
  • WriQ, Texthelp Ltd - provides automated marking of student writing, assessing spelling, grammar and punctuation to provide an accuracy score, with teachers able to give individualised feedback.

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