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Education: Digital Technology

Question for Department for Education

UIN 135823, tabled on 11 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason his Department’s digital education platform programme provides funding support for schools to set up (a) G Suite for Education and (b) Office 365 Education but not for other digital education and learning platforms.

Answered on

14 January 2021

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services. This has included £14.3 million to provide grants to schools to be set up on a digital platform.

Google’s G-Suite for Education and Microsoft’s Office 365 Education platforms are free-to-use for schools and meet their needs by providing the right breadth of tools and technology to support remote education. As of 5 January, 6,900 schools have applied to the Department's digital platforms programme that forms part of the Get Help With Technology programme. Funding provided by the Department means that schools can access technical support from accredited Google and Microsoft to:

  • set up all staff and student user accounts for the platform
  • provide handover training and technical advice

The funded support is only provided to schools and colleges that:

  • do not have a digital education platform
  • have access to Office 365 Education or G Suite for Education, but are not yet set up to assign work and communicate with pupils

Google and Microsoft platforms bring together the school community, pool resources and give pupils the opportunity to work with their peers remotely. They also enable:

  • Video and chat communications to deliver live lessons remotely, group meetings and presentations, broadcast assemblies
  • Recording of virtual lessons for future re-iteration of key learning
  • Secure file and folder storage for teaching and staff planning resources
  • Submission of assignments and provision of feedback to pupils to support ongoing assessment for learning
  • Teachers and pupils to work together through supervised group calls and via structured groups to support teaching, learning, and planning

The key for school leaders website provides feature comparisons and case studies on how schools are making the most of these platforms, to help schools make the most appropriate choice.

The EdTech Demonstrator network is also in place to offer advice, guidance and training in ways these platforms can be used effectively to strengthen remote education arrangements and reduce teacher workload.

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