Nurture and the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027

School Policy
February 27, 2024
Emer Cunningham
School Engagement at Nurture


The modern world has swiftly become an ever-evolving space of technological change, particularly in the age of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Resultingly, technology has become an integral part of the education system, both now and for the future. With the increasing reliance on digital tools and resources, it is vital for schools to invest time in a measured digital strategy based on their individual needs and context. The ‘Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027’ outlines the aims for technology-enhanced education in Ireland and prioritises the appropriate integration of technology into schools to improve outcomes and opportunities for students. However, as all teachers will be aware, the integration of technology can be difficult to manage along with planning and preparation, assessments and corrections, supervision and extra-curricular commitments and the myriad of other responsibilities that fall at the hands of our educators. 

Nurture is a digital feedback and formative assessment software born out of pedagogical research. Nurture aims to improve outcomes for students without adding further burdens and responsibilities to teachers. Nurture teachers have commented that their favourite aspect of Nurture is:

“the time-saving and the fact that students can access their feedback anytime to see what they can work on '' (Nurture Teacher, CBS Synge Street).

Without doubt, Nurture is naturally aligned with the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027 as outlined by Minister for Education Norma Foley and her department. 

Student, keyboard and notepad

Pedagogy-First Approach

 Digital Strategy for Schools Aim 1: 

p. 22 “At the core of the Strategy is the continued approach of pedagogy-first, technology second where the use of technology to enhance teaching, learning and assessment has an added value and does more than merely replicate traditional practices” (Reference) 

Nurture supports the fostering and development of critical competence, engagement and active learning by embedding pedagogy into the digital assessment flow, guiding students in the skill of self-reflection and self-assessment. This is aligned with the principles of Dr. Reuben Puentedura’s SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) model. This model places emphasis on the transformation of learning by redefining learning tasks and activities with technology as opposed to simply substituting them with technology. Nurture’s focus on formative assessment and personalised feedback supports the goals of the Digital Strategy by promoting critical thinking, collaboration and personalised learning experiences for students. In the words of one of our lead teachers, “Nurture already fit into the way we were marking, it was just packaged up in a technological, more streamlined way” (Nurture Teacher, Shireland Collegiate Academy). 

SAMR Model Infographic. S: Substitution A: Augmentation M: Modification R: Redefinition.
SAMR Model, Dr. Ruben Puentedura

Further pedagogical research that has informed Nurture’s software is the work of Black and Williams (2006) and their investigation into the link between assessment, feedback, learning and student achievement. This research heavily informs the structure of Nurture as feedback is delivered according to the following principles as outlined by Black and Williams: 1. Ensuring the feedback clearly aligns with the intended goals/ learning outcomes/ success criteria 2. Providing feedback on the process rather than the outcome 3. Providing information on where to go next. Nurture certainly has a strong pedagogical foundation, it simply uses technology to streamline such processes, making for more effective feedback for teachers and improving students’ ability to receive and reflect on feedback. 

3 Steps to Good Feedback: 1) Ensure the feedback clearly aligns with the intended goals/learning objectives/success criteria 2) Provide feedback on the process rather than the outcome 3) Provide information on where to go next
Nurture's Guide to Good Feedback

Formative Assessment and Feedback 

Digital Strategy for Schools Aim 2:  


p. 40 “The use of digital technologies and online platforms to support ongoing and formative assessment, in particular where technology can allow for more specific and immediate feedback” (Reference) 

Student attainment and engagement is at the crux of Nurture’s philosophy of learning; formative assessment and feedback are the vehicles we use to reach attainment. According to James Popham, “formative assessment represents evidence-based instructional decision-making. If you want to be more instructionally effective, and if you want your students to achieve more, then formative assessment should be for you” (Reference). Furthermore, Nurture understands that “the most powerful single moderator that enhances student achievement is feedback. The most simple prescription for improving education must be dollops of feedback(John Hattie, Influences on Student Learning). In the knowledge that formative assessment and feedback are the best pedagogical tools to improve student outcomes, Nurture streamlines this process for teachers and students using the digital platform, Microsoft Teams. Nurture understands that teachers have always used the tools of formative assessment and feedback in their teaching- our software allows teachers to enhance their existing practices using technology that is research-driven and pedagogically sound. 

To put this into context, imagine you are a teacher dedicated to feedback and spend extra time delivering high quality feedback on student assessments. You’d love to be able to follow the Hattie and Timperley model of feedback and create formative assessments that place an emphasis on curricular learning outcomes. You spend hours each week in the photocopier room printing feedback sheets for you and your students to fill out. Your students receive their feedback and, dissuaded by their grade, throw the assessment in the bin. You can’t say with confidence that your hard work has made a difference and, what’s worse, there's no record of your hard-work. In this instance, Nurture is the solution as it digitally streamlines this process and forces the student to reflect on their work to unlock their grade. This process therefore saves you time, increases your students’ engagement and makes the formative assessment and feedback process more convenient, effective and easier to reflect on as all assessments are stored digitally. 

Quotation from James W. Popham's book, 'Transformative Assessment' 2008 which reads: 'If you want to be more instructionally effective, and if you want your students to achieve more, then formative assessment should be for you'
James W. Popham, Transformative Assessment, 2008

Personalised Learning Experiences

Digital Strategy for Schools Aim 3:  


p. 23 “It is important that learners are encouraged to understand how they learn so that they can control of their own learning and develop their skills further”  (Reference) 

One of the fundamental objectives of the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027 is the importance of personalised learning experiences. Similarly, one of the fundamental objectives of Nurture is to close the feedback loop between students, teachers and students’ actions going forward. We are dedicated to making the process of feedback a more streamlined and effective process for teachers and learners. As previously referenced, there has been extensive pedagogical research detailing the importance of personalised feedback on student achievement and, by default, the evolution of the self-directed learner. The structure of Nurture’s feedback, as previously mentioned, allows schools to achieve digital transformation based on research-proven methods of delivering feedback as this level of detailed personalised feedback would not be feasible without Nurture. In the words of a Nurture teacher, “It puts the onus on the students to consider what they did well. I could not believe the time it saved me in school reports especially” (Nurture Teacher, CBS Synge Street). 

Supporting All Learners

 Digital Strategy for Schools Aim 4:  


p. 23 “Effective use of technology in the classroom and across the school environment supports inclusion, promotes accessibility and participation and can help to personalise the learning process for all learners, leading to better engagement and the ability to be more involved and self-directed in their own learning” (Reference) 

Imagine you are a student who struggles with dyslexia or a similar learning difficulty and have just completed an assignment in Senior Cycle English. You’ve tried your best in this assignment but found the formatting difficult and struggled to write in a formal register. You receive your assignment back and you stare at the grade: 24%. The feedback reads, ‘This grade suggests you need to move to Ordinary Level’. Disappointed with your grade and disheartened at this comment, you throw the assignment in the bin. This exact situation is the type of scenario we at Nurture strive to avoid, and unfortunately such situations can be a reality for students. 

Screenshot of Nurture Assistant and an example of an AI generated piece of feedback.

Our feedback focuses on the process rather than the outcome to guide students in improving their work and our AI generated comments maintain an encouraging and positive tone to encourage student engagement and motivation. Typically, as seen in the above scenario, students consider their grade first and may dissociate from any reflection or goal-setting due to disappointment in their achievement. Nurture fosters a cohort of students who can reflect on their knowledge, skills and attitudes towards an assessment and set meaningful goals as a result of their reflection. In this way, Nurture facilitates and encourages students of all abilities in a digital environment, allowing teachers to seamlessly and conveniently differentiate teaching and learning that has positive impacts for every student of every level. 

Sample of Nurture Assistant and AI generated personal comment

Populated example of AI-generated feedback using Nurture Assistant


The Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027 is an ambitious document that aims to guide schools in their efforts towards increased digital integration. In the vibrant, diverse and evolving world of technology-enhanced learning, it can be difficult for schools to maintain a Digital Strategy that answers to the needs of their teachers, students and the wider school community. 

The Strategy highlights the need for a pedagogy-first approach to digital integration in teaching, learning and assessment, a focus on the value of integrating technology into formative assessment and feedback, the importance of creating and facilitating personalised learning experiences for all learners, a vision for using technology to appropriately differentiate the curriculum for students with a variety of learning needs and a number of other key aims. In this regard, Nurture is strongly aligned with the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027, sharing many of the same philosophies and certainly the same vision for the bright future of technology-enhanced learning in education. 

Quotation from the Digital Strategy for Schools to 2027
Digital Strategy for Schools, 2021, p.40