Westminster has ‘no mandate’ to launch UK-wide online academy

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The Welsh and Scottish governments have denounced UK government plans for a national online academy offering “the best lessons” from the “best teachers”.

They say Westminster has “no mandate” to set up a UK-wide academy, that they have not been consulted and that the existence of separate education systems in Scotland and Wales does not was not taken into account.

Meanwhile, edtech industry leaders have questioned whether the UK government has evidence that there is demand from school leaders for the “new digital education service”.

The plans for the free online resource were included in the Leveling Up white paper released yesterday. He says: “We will create the UK National Academy. Just as the UK pioneered the Open University, this new digital education service will help students from all backgrounds and all parts of the UK United to succeed at the highest level.”

It is unclear which organization will run the UK National Academy and whether Oak National Academy – set up to provide online courses and resources to teachers in England in response to the April 2020 pandemic – will be involved.

Scotland and Wales ‘not consulted on UK-wide online academy’

However, a Welsh Government spokesperson pointed out that, since 2012, Wales has provided maintained schools with access to a wide range of digital infrastructure, services and resources through its Hwb digital learning platform.

Meanwhile, Scotland also has its own long-established digital learning platform – Glow – as well as the e-Sgoil (e-School), which has expertise in delivering online courses in direct, and the West OS bank of pre-recorded lessons.

The Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are clear – education is devolved and the UK government has no mandate to create a UK-wide academy that overlaps with our responsibilities. We have no not been included in discussions of a UK-wide academy.”

Responding to the plans, Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville also stressed that “education is fully decentralised”.

“So far we have not been consulted by the UK government on their plans for an online ‘national academy’,” she said.

“These plans don’t seem to take into account that Scotland has a separate education system.”

Meanwhile, the British Educational Suppliers’ Association (BESA) said a survey of 1,306 schools showed two-thirds of headteachers were “completely or mostly supported by existing technology and digital content providers – and that their main concerns were actually about connectivity, CPD for staff and ICT funding.

BESA chief executive Caroline Wright said the survey suggested that additional online provision in the form offered by Westminster’s Department for Education was not “high on the list of needs for school leaders”. establishment now”.

She said she looked forward to the DfE sharing the ‘analysis and evidence’ that informed the plans, and added there must be ‘a robust, fair, open tendering process and transparent” for the national academy.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Michael Gove, Westminster’s former Education Secretary and now Upgrading Secretary, said: ‘Today we are creating a new digital UK National Academy – just like the UK Uni created the Open University to bring higher education to everyone, we make high-quality online education available to every student in the country, so geography is not a barrier to opportunity. “

The Leveling Up white paper states: “The UK Government will create a new UK National Academy. It will help students from all backgrounds and all fields to succeed at the highest level. Just as the UK pioneered the world’s first national broadcasting service and created the Open University to bring higher education (HE) to the whole of the UK, the new UK National Academy will harness technology to ensure geography or income is not a barrier to academic extension beyond the UK government is committed to working with devolved administrations to explore how the UK National Academy can support students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A draft copy of the Leveling Up white paper, including a sentence about a new UK-wide national academy, was leaked to the BBC yesterday morning.

The draft said the new organization would “deliver the best lessons” from the “best teachers” online.

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