Latest Public Sector News

22.01.20

High-tech support for pupils with special educational needs

Trials for new innovative technology to aid disabled pupils in the classroom will take place across the country in the first programme of its kind in the world.

Universities, science, research and innovation Minister Chris Skidmore spoke today (Jan 22) at the biggest education technology show in the world. He announced plans to fund trials of revolutionary assistive technology for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in up to 100 schools and colleges.

The new technology is expected to include ‘text-to-speech’ and ‘speech recognition’ software, which can help pupils with dyslexia advance their reading and proof-reading. Other trials entail the use of eye-gaze technology, which can help pupils with severe motor impairments to communicate, helping to level the playing field for children with further needs.  

An initial investment of £300,000 will fund the cutting-edge technology, as part of a wider investment of £10 million through the Department’s EdTech Strategy.

The trial runs will take place from April 2020 until the end of the 2020-21 academic year and will look at the impact the different forms of assistive technology for pupils with special education needs, ensuring best practice on the tools which most help pupils in the classroom.

EdTech exports are worth an estimated £170 million to the UK economy, and the strategy will deliver on the Government’s drive for tech firms to work with the education sector and create innovative solutions to 10 key education challenges, including:

  • Encourage the use of new technology to level the playing field for people with specific educational needs and disabilities, recognising the technology that best suits peoples needs
  • Lessen teachers’ marking workload, using technology to cut the time teachers have to spend marking and preparing homework
  • Show how artificial intelligence can support the sufficient delivery of online learning and training for adults
  • Prove that the use of apps contribute to improved literacy and communications skills for disadvantaged children

Minister for universities, science, research and innovation Chris Skidmore is expected to say: “Harnessing the power of modern technology can help us change lives and unlock the potential of every child.

“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.”

Chief executive of National Association for Special Educational Needs, Professor Adam Boddison said: “Assistive technology is increasingly being used by schools to ensure that pupils with SEND 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.”

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