Expert panel on apps for young children

Professor Jackie Marsh of the School of Education, University of Sheffield, has been appointed by the Department for Education to chair an Expert Panel on Early Language, Literacy and Communication Apps.

There are hundreds of educational apps on the market for parents to choose from when supporting their children’s learning using mobile phones or tablets, but little advice about their quality. To help tackle this, the Department for Education is bringing together a new advisory panel to assess existing apps, producing tips and guidance for parents on how to use them to aid their child’s learning, and to help them make informed decisions about which have the most educational value.

Professor Marsh commented that, “I am delighted to take on the role of Chair of the panel on early years, language, literacy and communication apps. Young children are immersed in a digital world from their earliest years and have access to many apps on tablets and smartphones.
“There is a need to identify the features of high quality apps that support their learning and to offer parents, carers and teachers guidance on how to select and use apps effectively. The government has rightly identified this as a priority and I look forward to working with the members of the panel on undertaking this important task.”


Photograph of children playing on ipadsChildren and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
“We want to create a generation of confident learners who can read and communicate effectively – these are vital skills that children need to grasp from the earliest opportunity in order to succeed.
“There’s no instruction manual for being a parent. For some who left school a long time ago or who have low confidence in their own abilities, it can be overwhelming to know where to start with supporting children’s learning at home before they start school - and we know that too many children are arriving at school already behind their peers.
“By working with a growing number of businesses, charities and experts, we’re making it easier for parents to kickstart this early development – helping to take forward our national mission to boost children’s early development. New projects are being set up all over the country and our expert panel will create trusted tools that parents can be confident using, so that every child develops the skills they need to thrive.”

Professor Marsh has undertaken a range of studies of young children’s digital literacy practices in homes, communities and early years settings, including an ESRC-funded study of 0-5 year’ olds use of apps, ‘Technology and Play’.
 
The new advisory panel will consist of:

  • Professor Jackie Marsh, Chair: Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield and a leading figure in children’s digital literacy;
  • Olivia Dickinson, Deputy Chair: Digital consultant specialising in children’s and educational digital media, with experience working for Nickelodeon, BBC, Discovery Education, Sky Kids and Amazon; 
  • Peter Robinson: Global Head of Research and Company Director of Dubit Limited, specialising in digital entertainment and education for children;
  • Antonio Gould: Executive Director of Teach Monster Games, a not-for-profit education technology company responsible for the ‘Teach Your Monster To Read’ app, boasting a monthly reach of more than one million children;
  • Dr Rosie Flewitt: Co-Head of Research, Department of Learning and Leadership at UCL Institute of Education and Co-Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy, with 20 years’ experience in early communication, literacy and language research;
  • Sandra Mathers: a former primary teacher and now Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford, with expertise in child learning and development, including the ways in which this can be supported through technology;
  • Jonathan Douglas: Director of the National Literacy Trust, responsible for the Trust’s ‘Literacy Apps’ resource for parents and teachers, and a key advocate of the Government’s work to improve the Home Learning Environment; and
  • Jane Lewis: Head of Programme Development and Quality at Save the Children UK. She is responsible for programme development and innovation, focused on the home learning environment and supporting parents’ engagement in their children’s early education.