Tag Archives: budget

Free to do what I want: That is the challenge!

Dave Smith, ICT Adviser for the Havering School Improvement ServicesDave Smith, ICT Adviser for the Havering School Improvement Services, offers his view on the changing world of ICT in education. 

It may be an overused phrase, but when it comes to ICT in schools the times certainly are a-changing. In fact there are probably more ICT challenges facing schools now than there have been in a whole generation.

Recent messages relating to the future of ICT in schools whilst making the ICT Programmes of Study and Attainment Target non-statutory, have certainly caused concern and excitement in equal measure. In addition, there has been a definite need for clarification and direction from the schools I have been working with.

Some schools are grasping the freedom to devise their own ICT curriculum; others are looking for structured materials to support it. Announcements and discussion regarding computer programming and coding means that many schools are looking at programming for the first time in at least a generation.

With this desire to refresh the ICT curriculum comes the challenge of ensuring that we still enable pupils to achieve future economic wellbeing. Changes to the English curriculum – a greater focus on phonics, spelling, grammar and punctuation for example is also causing schools and academies to focus on supporting ICT solutions. If we are to nurture pupils to earn well, our curriculum must offer them the necessary skills to do so.

It’s been interesting to observe Secondary ICT leaders adjusting to the changes in the Primary phase. Schools that were introducing Scratch software in Year 7, have to adjust their curricular offer to take account of children now being taught Scratch in Key Stage 1. Secondary leaders are also reviewing their exam offerings to put more emphasis on computer science.

In Havering we have worked with our partners at Rising Stars Publishers to develop a progressive scheme of work for ICT called Switched on ICT. From autumn 2012 it will deliver materials from Foundation Stage through to and including Key Stage 3. It is now being used in more than 1500 schools.

Budget restraints and the removal of ringfenced funding, is hindering ICT leaders in putting forward a strong case for further ICT funding, with learning platforms and online subscriptions often falling foul of the funding axe. Schools and academies also have to look more carefully at the equipment they already have, such as interactive whiteboards and visualisers, in order to make more effective use of them in teaching and learning. Interestingly, this means that there is an increased need for continuing professional development. However, refresh rates for hardware are not as regular as they once were. With RAM upgrades and reconditioned equipment being of interest to the more financially challenged. In addition, schools seem to be spending more on outsourced technical support to make sure their existing equipment works well. Cutting technical support is a perilous road to follow.

So, the challenges are there. Budgets may be tight, the support is different, the freedom is immense, and to some extent it is frightening. However, it is the educational establishments that show true impact on pupil outcomes that we need to look to. In the changing world of ICT, it is those that embrace the challenges that will be the leaders of the future. Those who close their eyes will be failing the leaders of the future. I’m ever optimistic and believe that we can build upon what we have and meet the challenges head-on. We owe it to our children and young people to embrace the present to secure a prosperous future.

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


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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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The tide is turning

Valerie Thomson is Chief Executive of the e-Learning Foundation, a UK charity that aims to reduce the effect of the digital devide by working with schools, parents and other stakeholders.

The scale of the capital budget cuts that schools have suffered in the past year could make BETT 2012 a challenging show. Yet increasing demand for technology to support teaching and learning continues to grow apace from learners, parents and many teachers. The tide is turning for Government policy too as Ministers at the Department grasp the importance of technology in terms of parental engagement, closing the attainment gap and employability skills. Watch this space for announcements!

So where will the money come from?  The truth is that the options for schools are limited. But there are solutions out there, and schools have to bite the bullet on their priorities and be prepared to do things differently. Here are 5 things schools can do to make sure their ICT investment doesn’t go backwards:

  1. Consider leasing or subscription based arrangements (e.g. Google Chrome)
  2. Involve parents in an e-learning programme where pupils get their own device part funded by the school and part funded by the parents via a voluntary donation
  3. Deploy some of your Pupil Premium where parents are unable to make a contribution
  4. Apply to the e-Learning Foundation for a small grant
  5. As more pupils have their own device, start closing down your ICT Suites and transfer the savings into 1:1 provision and a network upgrade.

And in answer to your questions:

Is it hard work?  Yes, but the e-Learning Foundation can take some of the administration burden away by collecting the donations for you and handling all enquiries from parents

Will it make your school budget go further?  Yes, typically by a factor of 500%

Is it sustainable year after year?  Yes, and there are schools that are now in their 10th year of working in partnership with their parents to provide pupils with the ICT resources they need

Will it help you close the attainment gap in your school?  Yes, ICT and parental engagement are proven approaches to improving the academic achievements of children from low income families (check out the recent Sutton Trust report on the “Pupil Premium toolkit”)

Can I use my Pupil Premium to make up for budget cuts elsewhere?  No, this money is for the most disadvantaged children in society and it is their right to benefit from it. Schools are required to make public what they spent this funding on. A school that deprives these children of the benefits that this funding can bring because of their reluctance to tighten their belt elsewhere will be accountable to their parents and the wider world.

Who can help us?  Becta is no longer around, and your Local Authority may only have limited capacity to support you. The e-Learning Foundation is a small charity but keen to help as many schools as possible so get in touch and tell us what you have in mind.

Visit the e-Learning Foundation’s website at: http://www.e-learningfoundation.com/

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The future is bleak, but get it right and the future could be bright…

Dave Smith is ICT Adviser for the Havering School Improvement Services’ ICT Team, Finalists in the ‘ICT Service and Support’ category in the 2012 BETT Awards. The Hsis ICT Team has co-produced ‘Switched On ICT’ with Rising Stars Publishers, Finalists in the ‘Innovation in ICT’ category too.  Dave is also Chair of the Visualiser Forum and Teaching Technology Group.

So, the world’s economy is teetering on the brink, the future is looking bleak, yet we still want to improve educational opportunities for our children. The latest UNESCO publication designed to help train teachers on ways to optimise the use of information and communication technologies in the classroom has been launched and emphasises that teachers need to be able to help students become collaborative, problem solving creative learners through using ICT so they will be effective global citizens. http://www.unescobkk.org/education/ict/online-resources/databases/ict-in-education-database/item/article/unesco-ict-competency-framework-for-teachers-version-20/

Therefore, if we are to fulfil the aims of the UNESCO framework within the straightjacket of the current economic crisis, we need to look carefully at how we deploy educational budgets to enable our children to flourish for a brighter future. With this in mind, you might like to consider the following advice:

  • Ensure you have a fully costed plan of future and previous expenditure, showing analysis of impact of expenditure and total cost of ownership and outlining ‘non-negotiable items’ in case the financial axe has to fall
  • Make the best use of existing technology and dispose of unwanted software and hardware that might be costing you money to maintain
  • Reduce printing costs by using print credits and storing outcomes of work electronically
  • Make use of free and educationally rich Web 2.0 applications – check out BETT Awards Finalist http://www.risingstars-uk.com/series/switched-on-ict/ for ideas on how to make effective use of existing tools and Web 2.0 applications
  • Review levels of technical support to ensure best value and look for additional free support from local partner educational establishments in order to pool resources
  • Engage with parents and carers as a source to support ICT provision – through a BYOD ‘Buy Your Own Device’ scheme. Checkout the e-Learning Foundation http://www.e-learningfoundation.com/
  • Look for additional funding from commercial or charitable organisations

ICT in Havering – www.haveringict.edublogs.org

Havering School Improvement Services – www.havering-sis.org

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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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