The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has allocated new funding for projects testing how technology can assist staff in teacher jobs in raising attainment among less advantaged pupils.
In total, the EEF - in conjunction with the Nominet Trust Fund - has made £3.5 million available to support seven initiatives involving 18,000 pupils in 260 schools across England.
This includes a project in which 1,400 pupils in 24 schools in London, Essex and Manchester will be given iPads to help them improve their learning skills by monitoring their progress and planning their future learning with photographs, written records and audio recordings.
The EEF is also supporting a maths teaching programme involving 24 schools in the West Midlands, whereby year five and six pupils will be introduced to concepts online before lessons to free up class time for areas where teacher support is needed.
Furthermore, it is backing a joint team from Harvard and Bristol Universities in a study involving 34 schools into how text messages providing information about homework, behaviour and upcoming tests can increase parental involvement in education.
EEF chairman Sir Peter Lampl commented: "Schools spend huge sums on money every year on technology, but there is too little evidence on new technology like iPads.
"The gap in educational outcomes between rich and poor is the biggest barrier to social mobility we face and it is essential to find out if and how technology can be used to help close it."
In addition to the above schemes, funding has been made available to trial a free internet-based reading programme with pupils aged four-to-six, and a system providing teachers with transcripts of lessons, in order to improve teaching practices.
Finally, grants have been made to help gauge the impact of low-cost online one-to-one tuition on academic attainment among year six pupils, and of using handheld devices to facilitate instant feedback between teachers and pupils.
The impact of disadvantaged backgrounds on pupil attainment was highlighted in figures released earlier this year showing just 38.5 per cent of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieved at least C grades in five GCSEs including English and maths last year, compared to 65.7 per cent of all other children.
Posted by Alan Douglas