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DfE funds edtech projects for special needs and disabilities

23/01/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Department for Education (DfE) is planning to fund trials of technology to help pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in the classroom.

Hands typing on keyboard at table

It has announced an initial funding round of £300,000, part of a longer term £10 million programme, as part of its education technology strategy.

Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore announced the plan to provide funds for projects at up to 100 schools and colleges.

They are expected to include the use text-to-speech and speech recognition software, and eye gaze technology, which can help pupils with severe motor impairments to communicate.

Skidmore said: “With technological advances happening at increasingly breakneck speed, it is only right that we ride the wave so pupils in our classrooms with special educational needs are given all the support they need.”

The pilots will run from April until the end of the 2020-21 academic year and will assess the impact of different types of assistive technology for pupils with special educational needs, informing best practice on the tools which most help pupils in the classroom.

Evidence base

Chief executive of the National Association for Special Educational Needs, Professor Adam Boddison, said: “Assistive technology is increasingly being used by schools to ensure that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities have full access to the curriculum offer.

“This programme will play an important role in providing a reliable evidence base for schools so they can be as effective as possible in their use of assistive technology.”

This programme sits alongside the development of a network of demonstrator schools and colleges to support peer-to-peer learning in the use of technology, which will launch in the spring. These will be supported by a consortium consisting of the London Grid for Learning, the Education Foundation and the Sheffield Institute of Education.

In November of last year the DfE provided 13 edtech projects with funding of up to £100,000 each in an initiative run with innovation charity Nesta.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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