Why we’re supporting EdTech innovation

We believe that technology has the potential to address some of the big challenges in the education system. From supporting teachers with automated marking to introducing new ways to meaningfully engage parents, technology could be used more effectively in our school system in a number of ways.

However, we know that to be truly transformational, education technology needs to achieve tangible impact for teachers and students, be informed by robust evidence and be easy to implement. By supporting EdTech organisations to develop and grow, we hope to generate valuable learning which can be shared across the sector to help technology better meet the changing, and challenging, needs of the education system.

When we launched the EdTech Innovation Fund earlier this year, in partnership with the Department for Education, we were looking for EdTech companies who were motivated to increase the impact they could have on teachers and students in four challenge areas:

  • Formative assessment
  • Essay marking
  • Timetabling
  • Parental engagement

We’re excited to now announce the successful grantees who will be supported by the EdTech Innovation Fund. The grantees range from early stage products developed by a college, to more established EdTech organisations. Grantees will be supported to develop their products, grow their evidence base and reach more schools and colleges.

From cutting edge technology to support assessment and provide higher quality feedback, to products which transform the way schools engage with parents and enable more teachers to work flexibly, our grantees address a range of issues featured below.

1. Encouraging innovative development

We want to support bold ideas which have the potential to be transformational and enable technology to have the impact in education that it has in other sectors. The EdTech Innovation Fund is supporting organisations to develop new ways to address key challenges in schools and colleges.

Bolton College is building First Pass, an online service that enables teachers to analyse free form text responses from students and offer real-time feedback. Bolton College will develop First Pass to effectively support teachers and students, and will evaluate its impact.

Pobble is an online platform that supports the teaching of writing in primary schools. Pobble will improve their student functionality by supporting self and peer-assessment, allowing students to access lessons outside the classroom and to publish their own work.

2. Improving evidence and sharing learning

To be able to make effective decisions about which products to bring into their classrooms, schools need to know that the technology makes a difference. To develop high-quality products, EdTech organisations need robust evidence about their impact. The organisations we are working with are carrying out pilots and evaluations to understand more about the impact they have and to improve their products.

No More Marking is an online platform that enables schools to use comparative judgement to assess students’ written work. They will run a research project to assess the value of comparative judgement as an effective method of marking and share learning across the sector.

freeflowinfo is a parental engagement platform that enables all parents, regardless of their background, to establish and maintain positive attitudes towards learning in the home regardless of the age of the pupil. freeflowinfo will undertake research in secondary schools and develop online teacher training resources to support workload reduction.

3. Supporting growth

Reaching schools and colleges in the English education system is challenging for many reasons. Teachers are busy and funding is stretched, and the system is fragmented making it difficult for schools or colleges to share what works. To make a real difference to teachers and students, we want innovative, effective technology to be available for all schools and colleges. The EdTech Innovation fund is supporting organisations to reach more teachers and students across England.

HegartyMaths is an online formative assessment platform which provides students with adaptive maths assessments and gives teachers a breakdown of student’s progress. Hegarty will grow their in-house training team and develop a new tool to support more schools to use their platform.

MangaHigh provides gamified questions and quizzes for students in class and for homework. Mangahigh will adapt their platform to make it more suitable for SEND students and improve the accessibility of the questions and games.

Next Steps

Find out more about all the EdTech Innovation grantees and keep an eye out for updates on their progress and future funding rounds through our website.

The grantees will be delivering their projects until March 2021, and we’ll be sharing our reflections and what we learn about innovation in EdTech along the way.

Alongside the fund, we have launched England’s first EdTech Innovation Testbed. The Testbed is an exciting new programme which allows schools and colleges to trial promising technology products that are suited to their needs for free, with hands-on support from evaluation experts to understand what works and generate actionable insights for schools, colleges and EdTech organisations. EdTech organisations and schools and colleges in England can apply to take part now.


Lucy Turner

Lucy Turner

Lucy Turner

Senior Analyst, healthy life mission

Lucy is a senior analyst on the healthy life mission team.

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Nancy Wilkinson

Nancy Wilkinson

Nancy Wilkinson

Senior Programme Manager, fairer start mission

Nancy leads Nesta's work on technology and education, overseeing a partnership with the Department for Education to help schools make more effective use of technology.

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