Having had experience, both direct and indirect, of high-profile Government education technology initiatives, I have my doubts as to their efficacy over the long term, or even in some cases the short term.
They all seem to follow the trajectory I’ve outlined in the cartoon above. First, a new initiative with a whizzo new name is created and tons of money thrown at it. It fits the current thinking (at least by government officials and their favourite experts), and schools are expected to adopt the policy, even though (perhaps because of workload issues), it will be non-mandatory. (That bit will be spoken sotto voce.) Inspectors will ask whether the policy has been adopted, with the unspoken suggestion of an “and if not, why not?” at the end of the sentence. Teachers will fall over themselves trying to make it work.
Eventually, the educational fashion changes, and the policy is seen for what it is: a gigantic hole into which money and time have been poured. It is quietly dropped from the conversation, or government ministers will declare it to have been a huge success, but which cannot, alas, be repeated or extended because of a lack of funding.
It is at that point the policy will join all the previous policies that were going to change the (educational) world.
Later still, all of the people who became experts in ‘delivering’ (a word I hate but which seems rather apposite in this context) the policy will get other jobs, and any collective expertise or memory will be lost, to all intents and purposes.
I could name several government-led initiatives that have followed this route. Does that mean that such initiatives should be opposed? Not necessarily, if money is made available for teachers to have time to develop resources or go on training courses, or if resources are provided from ‘on high’. Believe it or not, occasionally some of these are actually useful. The money in particular can come in handy (to put it mildly in these cash-strapped times), especially if the rules according to which it is to be spent are reasonably flexible.
I do sometimes wonder, though, whether I have not finally turned into the archetypal cynical grumpy old man sitting in the corner of the staffroom mumbling!