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Strategy & Big Picture

5 key trends in UK MATs digital strategy

How Multi Academy Trusts are leveraging technology to improve teaching and learning in the 2021/22 academic year.

School digital strategy team
Jo Hopper

Jo Hopper

Jo is Sparkjar's Head of Partnerships. She has worked in a professional capacity with schools for over 10 years and also spent 5 years as a governor at her local secondary school.

Technology is everywhere, and is an integral part of any organisation's infrastructure; from core business critical systems, to job role specific software to drive efficiency. So what are Multi Academy Trusts focussed on? And how are they using technology to improve?  We've done some digging and put together a list of trends we are seeing across UK MATs Digital Strategies.

  1. All learners should have access to appropriate digital technology
    An awareness of technological inequality and the impact that has on the ability of students to engage with their programs of study comes through strongly in almost all the strategies that we looked at. There were a range of approaches to solving this but the most popular was a goal to reach one-to-one device provision across the Trust.
    This is a sound approach, and one we have laid out more detail on in a previous post. At its heart it promotes equality of access and opportunity for all children.
  2. Promote good digital citizenship
    By embedding technology in school life, and blending traditional and digital pedagogies, Multi Academy Trusts are recognising the opportunities this affords to provide young people with guidance about appropriate behaviour online in an organic way and as it becomes pertinent, rather than trying to make it relevant in one lesson per term. Get this right and students will leave their school setting digitally fluent, mature, and prepared for technology outside the classroom.
  3. Invest in up-skilling staff
    Academy Trusts seem to have picked up on the fact that staff and teachers are not necessarily digital natives. And even for those who are highly IT literate, the world of technology moves so fast you must have a robust digital CPD program in place. Teachers need to feel confident in front of a class, and Trusts need to de-risk using technology for them to ensure a consistent approach across lessons and schools.
  4. Engaging and empowering parents
    Schools are more than just their buildings, teachers, and students, they are the broader community too. Lots of the digital strategies we looked at mentioned embedding new communication methods with parents which they had employed during the pandemic. It seems that with traditional ways of communicating (letter home, face to face meeting, etc) not being possible, schools found alternatives which proved to be better. From video calls to parent engagement apps, a change in how they connected with parents and carers seems to have been a step in the right direction, and one which Trusts are doubling down on.
  5. Improved resilience and sustainability
    Continuing the outward looking theme, we've read lots of positive stuff about environmental sustainability within Multi Academy Trust digital strategies. We all know how much paper schools get through, having a "digital first" approach to resources and communication will help trusts cut that carbon bill drastically. Many spoke of the use of digital in their schools focussing on workload, cost, efficiency and the environment.
    Trusts also seem to be considering the impact of environmental changes on school closures. Looking at taking lessons from Covid lockdowns to support a more flexible, resilient teaching and learning environment, which can pivot to quality remote teaching if needed, was another common theme across UK MATs digital strategies.

There are lots more great ideas out there for how technology can improve the school experience for both learners and staff, and central Trust teams seem to have the expertise and remit to really drive a digital transformation in UK schools.

If you would like to discuss your digital strategy and how Sparkjar can provide the digital platform for improved teaching, learning and assessment across your schools, please get in touch.

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