Training needs identified as key in UK education technology survey

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Shrinking budgets, unmet training needs and outdated equipment are among the headline findings of the 2016 British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) survey of the state of information and communication technology (ICT) in UK schools.

Among key findings is a requirement for training for teachers in all areas of ICT: some 57 per cent of primary and 61 per cent of secondary teachers named this as their key ICT challenge over the coming year. BESA made the results of the survey public in the run-up to last week’s annual BETT exhibition at London’s Excel.

Among its key findings were that:

  • 51 per cent of primary school teachers and 49 per cent of secondary school teachers are seen to require training in e-safety issues.
  • 51 per cent of primary school teachers are seen to need training in using assessment solutions.
  • Training requirements in the use of digital content is expanding in primary schools and has increased from 39 per cent in 2015 to 43 per cent in 2016.
  • On average primary school pupils spend 53.7 per cent of their time engaging with ICT in the classroom, as do 55.5 per cent of secondary school pupils.
  • Concerns around the security of data is the main barrier preventing schools from moving to cloud-based solutions.
  • There are an estimated 906,596 computers in UK schools that are deemed ineffective due to condition, age or specification.
  • The average ICT budget for a primary school is forecast to be £13,800 in 2017/18 and £58,230 for secondaries. This is a year-on-year decline of 4 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Commenting on school’s training needs Caroline Wright, Director General, BESA, said:

With UK pupils now spending over 50 per cent of classroom time engaging with ICT, it is imperative that teachers are able to get the training that they need in order to best utilise digital resources. Not least at a time when, regrettably, budgets are tightening. Nowhere is this more important than in the area of e-safety, which now permeates all aspects of the school. It is vitally important that continuing professional development (CPD) in this area — from data security to dealing with cyber bullying — is readily available.

David Weston, CEO of the Teacher Development Trust, said:

Teachers do need more support on how to use the technology within schools. However, it needs to be more than how to operate the system. Teachers need ongoing support in using the technology to genuinely support what they need to teach and what students need to learn. We need to help technology support and transform learning, not use gadgets for gadgets’ sake.

Mark Chambers, CEO of Naace, said:

There is significant evidence within the data of the BESA Report, corroborated by the findings of Naace members “on the ground” that we have two kinds of schools, those helping young people capitalise on the educational opportunities of the internet and those resisting it tooth and nail. Central leadership on the importance of ICT in schools is sorely lacking, leading to far too many considering ICT a dispensable spend when it is in reality the key to much more effective teaching and learning.

The analysis of Naace members of the responses contained within the BESA Report, suggest that it is regrettable that schools have still not learned that thoughtful investment in education technology can actually either save money, or give better outcomes for the same spend. In the experience of our members this is now beyond debate and we have captured for schools how they might access these benefits in our School Leadership eGuide 8% Budget Cuts and More – how schools are being reshaped for a connected world.

BESA’s survey of 1,325 ICT leaders in UK schools was undertaken by the National Education Research Panel (Nerp).

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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