Edtech 50: Meet the UK Schools Leading the Way in Digital Transformation in the Classroom

The Intel-supported Edtech 50 schools initiative focuses on sharing knowledge and experience to provide critical, school-led insight to the education community

In 2019, it’s clear that if we are to maximise the impact of education, then technology has a huge role to play. And if you’re looking for evidence, look no further than the results of the recent Edtech 50* schools initiative in the UK.

“Recognised as one of the country’s fastest growing sectors, education technology can provide a more immersive classroom experience, while also preparing pupils for the digital workplace of the future”

Supported by Intel, the Edtech 50 schools is a celebration of the work going on in schools that use education technology to support great teaching and learning across the UK and Northern Ireland. The ambition is to shine a light on this work to help share, develop and grow successful edtech strategies and innovations across the entire schools community.

The initiative is the result of a partnership between The Education Foundation* and Intel, supported by Edtech UK*, Jisc*, Chartered College of Teaching* and the Independent Schools Council Digital Strategy Group*.

Recognised as one of the country’s fastest growing sectors1, education technology or “edtech” can provide a more immersive classroom experience and encourage collaborative learning, while also preparing pupils for the digital workplace of the future. Including everything from Virtual Reality-Assisted learning to the next-generation IT infrastructure that supports it, edtech offers clear benefits for educators and students.

With the summer holidays fast approaching, the winners of Edtech 50 were recently announced and the results showcased some of the brilliant work going on in many of the 30,000 schools across the UK with entries representing every corner of the nation and schools of all sizes and budgets.

The list of 50 institutions highlights digital flagship schools that demonstrate a focused sense of what is useful to them in terms of technology – whether it be in supporting teaching, cutting teacher workload, collaboration across staff teams or consolidating knowledge, enhancing creativity and broadening experiences across the curriculum. Sharing these teacher-led strategies and techniques can help to inspire and inform teachers and leaders at other schools and empower them to develop digital strategies of their own.

A snapshot of some of the 2019 winners includes Alsager School* in Cheshire, which was recognised for its use of Microsoft’s* Sway software to help children engage with dementia sufferers in the local community. In South Shields, Hadrian Primary School* was recognised for its use of everything from the Seesaw* digital learning platform to YouTube* and social media, allowing students’ work to reach a wider audience and encouraging them to improve standards. London Design & Engineering UTC* is a high-tech school whose impressive employer and industry engagement includes exciting projects using robotics, AR and VR technologies.

The school’s CEO and Principal, Geoffrey Fowler commented on the award saying: “As a school leader I can understand why it’s difficult for schools to make the decision to invest in digital transformation. However, our employer partners are looking for their next generation of digitally skilled employees and appreciate that our learners come versed in AI, AR, VR, and robotics.”

A full list of the Edtech 50 winners is available here

Reflecting on the strength of this year’s entries, one of the judges Gareth Shaw, ICT Strategy Leader at Ballyclare High School* said, “The quality of the entries was simply outstanding. The diversity in these entries was startling in the different hardware and software solutions each school was employing, but paradoxically, all the entries were in one sense analogous in that the technology was there as a vehicle to take each learner into deeper learning.”

As part of the UK-only initiative, schools successfully using digital strategies were encouraged to nominate themselves. All nominations were then put to an independent judging panel, with judges whittling down the entries to the top 50 most influential uses of edtech for inclusion in the Edtech 50 schools publication. This report is intended to serve as a valuable resource for those schools looking to begin their own digital journey.

Writing in TES, Edtech 50 judge and co-founder of the Education Foundation, Ty Goddard, said: “There's a verve and commitment across these edtech champions, and they deserve real praise. To put yourself forward for a national award, sharing your learning and practice, is a challenge. But it will be a bonus for all schools who may want to develop their digital offering.”

The longer term plan is to call on this insight, the schools and individuals involved in the programme, to create a community developed guide to help other schools implement their own digital strategy. This will unlock their untapped potential, regardless of the size of the establishment or the available budget.

“The response we had from schools in all corners of the UK has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Stuart Walker, Intel Head of Education UK. “It’s fantastic to see so many of the schools at the House of Lords for the launch, it’s really important that we celebrate and share the fantastic digital insight from this inspirational Edtech 50 group. What’s most exciting is that this is just the beginning and we can’t wait to see what new innovations this year’s list inspires.”

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others

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