GUEST POST: Closing the Gap

Here’s a first for me – a guest blog! Whilst Ive been busy writing new articles (there are about 5 part written at the moment…note to self, must finish those) – technology continues to move on. Xbox One, Google Glass and many more – and with BETT around the corner, that list of “new” will continue to grow! So, it was quite fitting that I was approached by Cath Lane and her team ( with an interesting post about how technology can be used to bring equality. Now, this is right up my “integrated” street – so here it is…

Technology’s role in closing the gap by Jonathan Ovenden
The increasing focus from the government on closing the stubborn gap that persists between higher and lower achievers means schools are having to focus much of their time and effort ensuring they make progress in this area.

As schools’ minister, David Laws, so succinctly put it, “If gaps are not being narrowed, Ofsted will want to know why not.”



The problem is that schools are still having to meet all the other objectives laid down for them at the same time. Technology has a role to play here; giving teachers access to resources designed specifically to raise the achievement of the hard to reach so they can make progress more quickly. But what sort of technology will have the biggest impact?

Give children the skills to learn
“One of the issues you can find with lower ability learners is that they are often spoon fed learning and so are unable to apply what they have learnt in one subject to other learning,” says David Godfrey, the principal of two schools in a deprived area in the North East.

As a result, choose resources that are designed specifically for lower ability learners. You want something that does not simply revise key topic areas, but also helps children understand the topic by breaking it down and encourages them to discover things for themselves.

Online means flexible
Online tools are the most flexible as a pupil can access resources from class, at a breakfast club or at home with their parents by their side. “Parents hold the key to a child’s achievement so anything that offers the ability to share results or activities with parents is ideal,” says David.
According to a report by the Centre for Social Justice, if parents engage with their child’s education, their attainment increases by 15 per cent, regardless of the social background of the family; reason enough to ensure parents are given access to tools to help their children.

It’s all about you
The time teachers have with a pupil to make a difference is very limited so you do not want children covering topics that they have already mastered. The best resources help teachers diagnose a child’s weak areas and deliver content that is specifically designed to work on these gaps – meaning learning is personalised and time is not wasted.

By choosing the right online learning technologies that are suited to this hard-to-reach group, you can have an impact on their achievement and make the most of available teaching time.

Jonathan Ovenden is a director at vision2learn who will be at Bett 2014 (stand F346) if any readers want to discuss these issues with him further.