Tag Archives: BESA

Time for schools to re-boot technology use in the classroom

Justin Sycamore, managing director at Vocab Express, provides some food for thought for teachers drafting their ICT wish lists.

There is no question about it, education technology whether hardware like digital tablets, or software like educational games, can greatly improve students’ learning. However, a recent study carried out by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts claims expensive digital technology for schools often sits unused in classroom cupboards.

In the last three years, researchers estimated that schools in England alone spent more than £1.4bn on technology, a staggering amount considering tight school budgets, but it is not being used to its full potential. It was reported that the main reason for this, was teachers’ and learners’ lack of understanding in using these costly digital kits.

In an interview with the BBC, Dominic Savage of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) welcomed the report commenting: “Schools should only invest in technology when they understand what they want to do with it and what it will achieve.”

Here at Vocab Express we support this opinion and believe it is incredibly important for education suppliers to provide resources which are user friendly, support the educator, can be easily updated and strengthen and accelerate learning. There is a rich range of resources available but schools need to be careful not to put excitement at innovation ahead of what actually helps students learn. To all teachers reading this blog and attending the Bett show in January, our advice would be to carefully consider what products will best suit both you and your students. It may be easy to compile an extensive list of flash techy gadgets, but are they straightforward to use? Will you need training to use them? Do they effectively support the work you undertake in lessons? Could they become obsolete in a couple of years? Do they need to be used in conjunction with other products? Is there a more effective alternative?

Suppliers at Bett will be happy to answer any questions and for visitors to trial their products. To find out more information on the show please take a look at the Bett 2013 website where you can find out more about each exhibitor before hand with their exhibitor profiles http://www.bettshow.com/

We would love to hear your thoughts on the use of digital technology in schools!

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Looking ahead, which technologies are forecast to be an increasing part of our classroom environment?

Caroline Wright from BESA offers insight into their recent research on school budgets and expenditure

Another year has passed and in this time technology has continued to become increasingly ingrained in our students’ lives and in their future careers. Despite the removal of ringfenced funding for ICT, schools now recognise that they
must continue to invest in technology to avoid a digital divide. At Bett 2012 an unprecedented number of educators came to keep up to date with the latest learning technologies and more importantly, to ensure they were investing wisely. However, do schools still have the budget to invest in technology?

There had certainly been a perception by schools that there was a significant declinein funding, but our ‘Resources in English Maintained Schools’ research released earlier this year showed that this was far from true. Yes, schools which had thrived on government funding increases of, on average, 3.5% every year, over the previous decade, were, for the first time, faced with budget cuts. However our research showed that in 2011/12 the reduction was by just 1.8% in primary schools and 2.7% in secondary education; they were, in effect, as well off as they had been a year earlier.

So schools still have money to invest and the need for ICT to be embedded across the curriculum is ever present.

Added to this, the move away from local authority control, makes it even more important for schools to visit Bett, to ensure they are seeing all the available product options and of course, having the opportunity to negotiate the best price! So many new responsibilities have been placed on schools and the need for on-going professional development is paramount to a school’s success. Bett’s increasingly popular CPD programme is the ideal platform for visitors to source this.

Looking ahead which technologies are forecast to be an increasing part of our classroom environment?

Our research has shown that 75% of primary schools and 68% of secondary schools currently use visualisers and 85% and 66%, respectively, forecast their use by the time of Bett.

Further research announced in May revealed an increasing focus in the adoption of tablet computers. Our findings showed that 6% of all pupil-facing computers in schools will be tablets by the end of 2012. The schools surveyed forecast that by the end of 2015 the percentage of tablets will have risen to 22% of all pupil-facing computers. Unsurprisingly, 82% of all teachers also said that their pupils have an interest in using tablets.

So once again Bett is set to offer visitors the most pertinent CPD sessions, coupled with a display of the very latest technologies, supplied by over 600 exhibitors. We will be on the BESA Information Point (stand area E250) throughout the show to answer any queries you may have.

We look forward to seeing you there.
Caroline Wright | BESA

For more news and views from Bett visitors and exhibitors, download 2013’s Bett Update

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Whole New World

Ray Barker from BESA (the British Educational Suppliers Association) provides an insight into the current state of the education sector.

The past year has brought a ‘whole new world’ to the teaching profession. With the arrival of the coalition government in May 2010 came an end to the Building Schools for the Future programme, the removal of ring fenced funding, especially for ICT and a slow elimination of the power of local authorities to name just a few changes.

However, it has been the more recent renewed focus on the core subjects with the introduction of the new English Baccalaureate that has possibly had the greatest effect on the secondary school teaching profession.

The speed with which it was introduced and the fact that secondary schools are to be measured on their Baccalaureate grades before they knew they were to be assessed in this way has left schools feeling that the ‘goal posts’ have been moved without any guidance and training.

And it is this lack of mandatory, high quality, continuing professional development that is virtually unique to England.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Education’s recent inquiry into ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Literacy’ raised concerns on several of the government’s recent policies including a lack of CPD. In the USA for example, teachers are expected to attend conferences and exhibitions in order to take part in professional development and learn about the latest resources and approaches.

Evidence gathered from 584 teachers, 32 education associations and suppliers and 1400 National Education Research Panel (NERP) members highlighted the fact that very few professions train their members to qualify without further mandatory developmental training year on year.

We do of course have INSET days but the APPG inquiry suggested that at times these days are used inefficiently and ineffectively.  The alternative is for CPD to happen externally which involves further expense in supply cover, at a time when schools are feeling the pressure of budget cuts.

The APPG report raised the fact that initial training cannot provide all the knowledge and skills that an individual will need for their entire career.  The lack of CPD challenges professionalism and does not provide the best value for our education system. 

However, what we do have in the UK is possibly the greatest opportunity for teachers to maintain their CPD each year, from some of the country’s most experienced and eminent speakers, namely BETT. Every year in January nearly one hundred speakers provide some of the highest quality CPD available, at a minimal cost of £15. In addition to this, BETT has only maintained its incredible level of global success for nearly three decades because sector suppliers exhibiting at the show focus on offering training and advice on their particular products or services, rather than pure sales.

In our time of budget constraints and constant policy change it is vital that teachers have access to good quality professional development (CPD) at a low price.

Make sure you book your ticket for BETT 2012 at www.bettshow.com. For full information on the APPG literacy enquiry please visit www.besa.org.uk.

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