The DPA (Digital Poverty Alliance) says teachers need more support to minimise digital poverty in the profession, after it donated 1,750 laptops since the start of its Tech4Teachers scheme, according to its latest white paper launched today.

The white paper outlines the progress of its Tech4Teachers project, supported by Intel, as well as a donation from the Barclays COVID-19 Community Aid Package. The scheme supplied laptops to teachers in schools with high pupil premium numbers, as well as wraparound digital skills CPD (continual professional development) training for teachers.

Underscored by a survey conducted by the DPA, approximately 700 teachers covering 200 schools found high levels of digital exclusion amongst teaching staff. In total, 47 per cent of those surveyed did not have suitable technology to enable them to teach remotely, highlighting a large unmet need of teachers being able to access devices to benefit their student’s education.

Digital technology enhances student engagement through multimedia content, gamified learning platforms, and online forums. These tools create interest and participation in learning.

The use of technologies in education also addresses diverse learning needs by incorporating adaptive platforms and assistive technologies, ensuring inclusivity for students with disabilities through features like closed captioning and screen readers.  However, teachers need support with skills and techniques to embed digital learning into the curriculum.

The scheme has helped to overcome the need of access to digital devices in education, and limits the digital divide among teachers, creating equal skills and tools of technology among all schools.  Through its white paper, the charity is calling for digital skills to be embedded into teacher training.

The scheme resulted in 85 per cent of teachers experiencing significant support with their teaching with a laptop, and 80 per cent acknowledging an improvement with their digital skills. The project was evaluated by the University of Wolverhampton, and the white paper sets out a number of key policy recommendations for government.

Elizabeth Anderson, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance, said:

“There is currently a significant unmet need among teachers to access devices for student support in education. Teachers feel insufficiently supported in integrating technology into the curriculum, due to limited time in the working day for engaging with tech skills.”

“The integration digital competence in education, including teacher training programmes and ongoing professional development, should be a key focus for the Department for Education and industry as we look to equip schools and teachers with the resources they need to provide the best level of education. Additionally, exploring possibilities for Ofsted and teacher training providers to further emphasise these skills is crucial for addressing these challenges.”

“Currently, there is limited opportunity for teachers to enhance their digital skills or engage in continued professional development, largely due to lack of time. The current reality is that, for teachers aspiring to incorporate digital teaching methods, the responsibility falls on them to pursue this learning independently, often sacrificing personal, unpaid time outside of regular work hours.”