Digital Technology

Department for Education written question – answered on 12th September 2014.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress she has made on increasing the use of digital engagement in the development and implementation of policy.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Digital is the default engagement and communications channel for the Department for Education. In addition to our presence on the GOV.UK website, we use a range of widely available social media platforms to communicate. The Department regularly seeks to develop the use of these channels in new ways, and to reach more people.

The Department has a particularly strong presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, with 129,000 Twitter followers – up by 60,000 since April 2013. Recent tweets on policy activity during ‘Back to School Week’ have reached as many as 1.2 million Twitter accounts. We have 25,560 Facebook followers – up by 12,000 since April 2013. In the last full financial year (2013-14), our YouTube videos were watched around 279,000 times.

The Department also regularly publishes content on relevant third-party spaces, such as the TES Connect website, which is widely used by teaching professionals as a place for discussion and information.

In the last financial year (2013-14), there were 5.4 million unique visitors to the Department’s newly launched web pages on GOV.UK. All the Department’s publications are now published on this website, in line with our digital strategy. National curriculum publications have been the most popular collection of documents anywhere on the GOV.UK website, receiving around 2 million views. Additionally, the Department’s e-consultations application allows users to respond to public consultations online. This tool is widely used to elicit views on a broad range of policy areas, informing their development and implementation.

The Department has used its social media channels effectively to make people aware of public consultations – for example leading to around 5000 responses to the consultation on changes to the national curriculum. On a similar basis, we use our social media channels to make people aware of conferences and meetings at which Ministers or departmental officials are speaking and answering questions. We also provide policy colleagues with relevant public comments from our social media channels to help inform their activity.

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