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Developing a digital strategy

February 14, 2022, 20:38 GMT+1
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  • David Turnbull unveils a new initiative to help schools plan their tech use
Developing a digital strategy

The pandemic forced primary schools into an online learning environment with little warning, with teachers and leaders scrambling at speed to adopt suitable technological tools for teaching and learning. 

Whilst many found pockets of good practice in the chaos, much of this has fallen by the wayside in the desire to “return to normal”.

Schools have gone back to in-person teaching with access to more technology than ever before but, for many, coherent strategies around how and when and why those tools should be used remain elusive. 

A May 2021 Department of Education edtech survey found that a considerable proportion of schools do not have a digital strategy.

Schools are excellent at defining priorities and setting goals for teaching and learning but need support with creating a digital strategy that supports this school vision. 

A new collaboration between the UK’s Educate Ventures Research and the US’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is designed to help bridge this gap.

Make the Future is a community event specifically aimed at helping teams of leaders create thoughtful, coherent digital strategies that make sense for their schools. 

Make the Future will kick off with an in-person, retreat-style summit for 50 school teams, each with three members. Schools will come from across the sector - state and independent, primary and secondary, mainstream and special, and will dive deep into their own digital strategies through workshops and keynote speakers focusing on three topics:

  • Today - how can we harness positive developments that emerged during the pandemic to strengthen and advance our digital strategy?
  • Tomorrow - what are the next steps in your strategy and how can we remove barriers to progress?
  • The future - what does it mean to be AI ready and how do we do it?

They will also get the opportunity to consider technological solutions to their current school priorities by going hands-on with innovative tech solutions. 

One of our participants is Rachel Tomlinson, headteacher at Barrowford Primary school. She said: “Heads are overwhelmed with tech companies trying to sell us things.

“What we need most is advice and help on how to create and implement a digital strategy in our schools; how to discern good solutions from bad; and in some cases, just get a basic understanding of what’s out there and what works.”

After the summit, Education Ventures Research and ISTE will curate an ongoing programme of content to provide continuing support and activities. But they expect that the strength of Make the Future will come from within the new community. 

Schools are all at different stages in their digital journey and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to technology.

But we know that a grounding in understanding data and evidence will serve all schools well, and that building a community of school leaders and teachers who can turn to each other for support is essential. 

David Turnbull, teacher-in-residence at Educate Ventures Research. Make the Future ( will be held on 28-30 March 2022 at Sevenoaks School.