About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

If you are a school or college interested in participating in the EdTech R&D programme, please complete the application form.

Application form for schools and colleges.

What is the EdTech R&D Programme?

COVID-19 has led to school closures around the world, making education technology (EdTech) an essential part of every student’s education. However, we know there are many barriers to overcome to ensure that EdTech can benefit everyone equally, from the provision of devices to improved connectivity.

Nesta is working in partnership with the Department for Education to deliver the EdTech R&D Programme which aims to understand how remote learning EdTech tools can better meet the needs of teachers and students, with a specific focus on those students that face a variety of challenges and disadvantages. You can find out more about the EdTech R&D Programme on our website here. You can also read more about the programme for schools here.

What are the benefits of participating in the EdTech R&D Programme for Schools and Colleges?

  • Financial support: Schools and colleges receive a grant of up to £1,250, from Nesta and DfE, to support staff time or other costs associated with delivering remote learning this academic year.
  • Specialist school support from Teacher Development Trust who will identify common needs across the participant schools and design a programme of support, facilitating opportunities for participating teachers and school leaders to connect, collaborate and share best practice.
  • Bespoke data-driven insights: schools will receive relevant information about what does and does not work when it comes to supporting their disadvantaged students using technology. This will be possible through the specialist evaluation support offered by ImpactEd, who will work closely with schools and colleges to support their participation in the evaluations and produce targeted recommendations. ImpactEd will also use their evaluation platform to make data collection as straightforward and easy, where possible.
  • Recognition from Nesta and the Department for Education for the schools’ involvement in the Programme (including content for school website, public thanks in reports, and a display plaque).

How does the programme work?

  • We have chosen 6 EdTech tools that we think have great ideas for how their tools can better meet the needs of a specific group of learners. These tools have already identified a specific group of learners they would like to focus on and have started working on developing their tools to better meet the needs of this group.
  • Your school is already using one of these tools, and so we have invited you to work with us to test out some of their ideas.
  • Nesta and the Department of Education provide participant schools with a range of financial and non-financial support.
  • Our partners will work together with your EdTech tool partner across two iterative evaluation cycles to improve the tool or how it's used and generate actionable evidence to improve future use.

What is required from me and my school or college?

  • Before evaluation activities can begin, a brief Memorandum of Understanding needs to be signed. This allows us to make the grant payments to you and manages how we use your school data. We have also collected key contact information needed for the delivery of the programme.
  • Cooperation with partners in the delivery of evaluation is expected. This will vary at different points in the cycle, but we expect it to average out at a couple of hours per week.
  • We expect you to provide any data and information we, or our Programme partners, reasonably request to help us carry out the Programme evaluation work, and you’ll need to make sure this is true, accurate and complete.
  • In order to be entitled to the benefits as described above, you will have to participate for the full length of the evaluation.

How much time is required of participant schools?

Each School will nominate a research lead for the project to liaise with our research team. Their responsibilities include participation in focus groups, completion of surveys, and providing relevant data as needed, in line with data sharing agreements. The commitment will vary throughout the program with the maximum time commitment averaging out at around an hour or a couple of hours each week. A more intensive time commitment is likely to be necessary during the programme setup phase.

Schools will receive additional guidance on this upon their confirmation on the programme and can see the project timeline here for key project activities. Grants for schools can be used to support teacher time.

How do I know which students I need to conduct evaluation with?

The group of students you will conduct the evaluation with depends on the EdTech tool you are working with. Each EdTech organisation will focus on a specific Key Stage (or more than one) and on a group of students, such as EAL or those eligible for Pupil Premium. Our evaluation partner ImpactEd and the EdTech tool will work with you to make sure you know which students should be involved.

How do I manage students and staff that don’t want to participate?

The evaluation will be working with just a small subset of your pupils. This will be determined by the tool you’re working with (e.g. which subject it supports) and by which key stage the evaluation will focus on. Within that group, there may be people who don’t wish to participate in the evaluation. We recommend you share our Privacy Notice and this Opt-out form with all potential participants so they can let you know they don’t wish to be involved.

What can my school spend the £1,250 grant on? Is there a time limit within which it must be spent?

The grant has been awarded to cover the reasonable expenses incurred by your school’s participation in the programme. This could include for example the costs of staff time or IT-related costs required to facilitate your school’s participation in the programme.

The grant must only be used for costs related to your school’s participation in the programme and so the grant should be used within the timeframe of the programme (i.e. 2020/2021 academic year).

You must not use the grant towards activities that are party political, religious or intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, government or legislative or regulatory action.

When will I get paid the grant and how?

After having completed the onboarding process, you will receive an email asking for the bank details of your school. Once you share those details with Nesta, you will receive the first payment of £500 (usually around December 2020). You will receive the second payment of £750 at the end of May, when the majority of the summer term evaluation activities have taken place.

What are the schools' responsibilities in relation to personal data used in the Programme?

All participating schools must comply with their obligations under applicable data protection laws (including the Data Protection Act 2018) and the Schools Data Sharing Schedule. Schools will be responsible for sharing the Programme's Privacy Notice with participating students and staff. Schools will also be responsible for sharing the Programme opt out form with participating students and their parents/ guardians, and must not share with Nesta any personal data relating to anyone in respect of whom an opt out form has been returned.

Who should attend CPD workshops offered by the Teacher Development Trust?

The CPD programme will focus on the strategic elements of remote learning, including supporting teachers, change management and evaluating the effectiveness of remote learning strategies used in your school. For this reason, it may be more useful for a member of SLT to attend the workshops. However, research leads at smaller schools or primaries who are keen to improve their skills in these areas may wish to attend themselves, and are very welcome. If you have any queries, please contact [email protected].


What is ImpactEd’s role in the programme?

ImpactEd is a non-profit organisation that supports schools and education organisations to evaluate their impact and prioritise what is working best to improve outcomes for young people. We will be working with your school throughout the school year to gather insights from teachers, pupils, and other stakeholders to test and improve the EdTech tool you are using, and to provide you with bespoke impact insights to improve how your school is able to implement the use of remote learning technology with disadvantaged pupils

What is CfEY’s role in the programme?

The Centre for Education and Youth is a think and action tank, and is evaluating. CfEY are working closely with Nesta, the grantees and with schools throughout the project

What is the Teacher Development Trust’s role in the programme?

Founded by teachers and school leaders, the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) is the national charity for effective professional development in schools and colleges. In this project, we will be supporting your school to diagnose and identify your EdTech needs and delivering a programme of tailored CPD opportunities, helping you to embed carefully-designed changes matched to these. We’ll also be recognising your involvement in the project by establishing a virtual network where you can share best practice with other remote learning partner schools, as well as access remote-learning guidance and resources on demand.

How were schools selected for the programme?

  1. School pre-requisites to participate in the project
  • The school or college is a non-selective state school in England.
  • The school or college’s most recent Ofsted Inspection Grade is ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.
  • The Senior Leadership Team of the school or college is supportive of the application.
  1. Shortlisting criteria if eligible for participation

Based on the total number of schools and colleges applying for the R&D programme, we have selected the cohort as a whole accounting for:

  • Optimal population (at least ~15%) of the relevant pupil population being targeted
  • Geographical spread across the country
  • Mix of longer-term users of the tool, and newer sign ups
  • Capacity to engage with the programme
  • Senior leadership buy-in

Where we needed to make decisions between similar schools or colleges, we have opted for applicants with a higher proportion of pupils from the cohort being targeted.

Each application has been reviewed by an independent shortlisting team with a minimum of two judgements provided in order to arrive at a combined recommendation.