Got a question about the EdTech Innovation Testbed? Read our frequently asked questions to see if we’ve answered it here. If you’re still not sure or have other questions, you can email us at [email protected] or call us directly on 020 7438 2592.
Please note, this information is for schools and colleges who may want to participate. Further information for EdTech organisations will be available soon.
The EdTech Innovation Testbed helps schools and colleges try out promising technology products for free, while our independent evaluation team find out what works best for students and teachers. The EdTech products are designed to help you with formative assessment and essay marking, parental engagement and timetabling.
Technology has the potential to support teaching and reduce teacher workload - but we know that it doesn't always live up to expectations. Through the EdTech Innovation Testbed, we want to change this. The main outcomes will be practical advice based on evidence for schools, colleges and EdTech organisations. This project is part of a wider programme of work in partnership with the Department for Education to support schools and colleges to make more effective use of technology.
The programme is designed for busy schools and colleges with limited resources - but who want to get involved in the latest research, and want to experiment to see how technology could help them. Here are four key benefits for participating schools and colleges:
The programme is designed for busy schools and colleges with limited resources. This means we will support participating schools and colleges in different ways. These include:
We have a small number of eligibility criteria for participating in the Testbed.
Finally, your school or college must fit into one of the following three categories:
NB. If you are applying as an existing group of schools (eg. a Multi-Academy Trust, Teaching School Alliance, or other close network) then only the lead applicant must have a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ inspection grade. Other schools in the group may have other Ofsted grades.
There are a few key responsibilities of the Lead Contact:
We haven’t specified exactly who this person should be and we anticipate it will vary depending on the school or college. What’s most important is that it’s useful for the member of staff involved. However, it might be:
It’s important that a member of the senior leadership team is supportive of the application, even if they are not the Lead Contact. The Lead Contact may change during the course of the Testbed.
We haven’t selected the specific products that will be tested yet. This is because we want to make sure we understand which types of products will be most useful to the schools and colleges that participate. In the short application form, we ask questions which are designed to help us identify the most useful technology tools for participating schools and colleges. However, all products will be tools to support one of the following:
We are particularly interested in products that could reduce the workload of teaching staff, as well as benefiting other outcomes such as student outcomes, attendance and flexible working of staff. We will work closely with participating schools and colleges to identify technology tools which are most suitable based on their context and priorities. Of course, no technology will be forced on a school or college and they remain the ultimate decision makers about whether to trial a product or not.
We expect the majority of products to be software, such as apps, websites or online programmes. Where products rely on hardware to function, such as laptops or tablets, we will not be able to provide participating schools and colleges with additional hardware. However, there are no specific requirements for schools and colleges to possess particular technology in order to participate in the Testbed. We will support schools and colleges to make informed decisions about what could work for them.
The exact design of the trials will vary, depending on the type of technology being used and the schools and colleges involved in the trials. However, there are a number of common features:
It’s possible that some trials will involve ‘control groups’. ‘Control groups’ are participants who don’t trial the product at first, so that we can compare the impact of the technology tool against those who are not using it. Where control groups are used, we will use a waiting-list design to ensure that all schools and colleges will get the chance to try out the product at a later stage.
The technology will be available for free to participating schools/colleges for the duration of the trial (between one and two terms). Following the trial period, it may be available for free for up to a year after this depending on the product, but the exact conditions will not be confirmed until after each school/college has been matched with a product.
We will make sure that schools and colleges are aware of the ongoing costs of the technology to help inform decisions about what technology they trial.
Within the application there is an opportunity for you to identify specific products that you would like to trial. We will take this into consideration but cannot guarantee availability of the product.
We want to focus on the underlying problem that you’re trying to tackle or outcomes you want to see, rather than starting with the technology. That’s why we’re keen to first understand your needs and context and then work with you to match an appropriate product.
Expressing interest in the testbed programme will not commit the school/college to participate in the programme, and a school or college can withdraw at any time if they find the programme is no longer right for their institutions.
However, we encourage any issues to be reported to the evaluation partner as soon as they occur. The evaluation partner will then take all steps necessary to ensure any issues are dealt with in a timely manner to prevent unnecessary burdens and complications. However, if withdrawing is unavoidable, please let us know as soon as you can to help us mitigate any impact on the wider programme.
The Testbed is a more structured way of:
Additionally, the Testbed will help schools and colleges to find out the extent to which these products help to improve current practice. This will be of benefit to participating schools and colleges and other schools and colleges more generally.
Through the Testbed we will be trialling technology tools that are supported by evidence, are in use in schools or colleges already, and show great promise.
All schools and colleges will be volunteers, and staff, students and parents can withdraw from a study at any time.
We will make all efforts to allow interested schools and colleges to participate in the programme, but, unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that everyone who applies will take part in a trial.
We will make decisions about participating schools and colleges based on the availability of technology tools suited to the schools and college interests and needs, and the suitability of the school or college for a useful evaluation design.
We require that a member of the senior leadership team of your school/college is aware and supportive of your application to take part in the Testbed. We would expect a member of the senior leadership team to be involved in early discussions about matching a school/college with the most appropriate technology tool.
When matched with a product and before a trial begins, your Head or Principal will need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines a commitment to meet agreed responsibilities.
Since this project is generating evidence on products to help existing school and college objectives, and is in the public interest, there is no need for individual consent. We will support any school or college which, nevertheless, wishes to obtain consent for students or parents.
All participants may opt out of the evaluation at any stage.
The time commitment for the Lead Contact will likely vary depending on the technology tool being used and the intended objectives being measured - but we will work hard to reduce this to a minimum. For the Lead Contact, we expect the heaviest time commitments will be at the:
As described in ‘What kind of support will schools and colleges receive?’ we can provide financial support towards covering staff time.
Where possible, the evaluation partner will provide support to ensure these additional burdens are kept to a minimum. During the trial, we might want to arrange some activities like a school visit, interviews and monitoring the implementation of the tool, but expect that less time commitment will be required from the Lead Contact during this period.
For other staff in your school or college, taking part in the evaluation will not take up additional time beyond using technology as appropriate. And of course, we hope that the EdTech tools being trialled will reduce workload! Additionally, the evaluation partner may ask to observe some lessons, talk to some teachers and students to get their feedback or to complete a very brief questionnaire about the topic.
We will follow GDPR guidelines for data management and sharing practices. All personal data (from students, teachers and parents) will be transferred to the evaluators for analysis as password-encrypted files. Such data will be treated with the strictest confidence, and stripped of any individual identifiers. Only suitably qualified researchers on the evaluation team will have access to the data. All data will be analysed anonymously. No individuals will be identified or identifiable in any report.
The evaluation team has extensive experience of working with schools, colleges and families. All members are familiar with safeguarding protocols involving children and young people. All are DBS-certified, ONS SRS-certified, and trained in the use of sensitive or individual data.
Read our terms and conditions for schools and colleges.