School spending on ICT is set to rise for the first time in three years according to a new report released by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA).
The report’s publication coincided with the opening of BETT 2018, the UK’s largest showcase for ICT companies catering for the education sector. While school budgets are continuing their decline in 2017/18, the report shows that budgets are on the upward in 2018/19, both in primary and secondary English maintained schools.
Commissioned by BESA, the research was undertaken by the National Educational Research Panel (NERP) with 557 primary schools and 366 secondary schools.
Primary schools are projected to expand spending on ICT during 2018/19. The increase is likely to equate to an average of £400 per primary school. The overall market impact is forecast to extend spending by around £7m.
For secondary schools, the forecast for 2018/19 is also more positive, with spending expanding by £9m (+3.5%).
BESA says that while this additional expenditure is welcome, it is much needed. The latest research found that only 33 per cent of secondary schools and 60 per cent of primary schools consider that they are sufficiently equipped with ICT infrastructure and devices. Primary schools are therefore planning to dedicate the additional spending to networking and peripherals items, in addition to allocating about a third of their budget to devices for pupils and teachers.
Caroline Wright, Director General of BESA, said:
Seeing schools ready to increase their spending on ICT in 2018/19 is an encouraging sign that schools are increasingly recognising the positive impact educational technology has, when applied well, on pupil performance.
The Bett Show will likely reflect this change and I expect to see strong interest by teachers as they will witness the infinite potential of EdTech knowing that they now have some additional budget to bring this transformational technology into the classroom.
On the lack of ICT infrastructure in schools, Wright added:
Disappointingly two-thirds of secondary schools still say that they are not being sufficiently equipped with ICT infrastructure and devices. There is, therefore, more to do to provide pupils with access to the necessary resources, EdTech tools and skills to enable them to compete in a global skills market.
These findings show that schools are making a step in the right direction, but it is the first step in the longer marathon of ensuring schools are well resourced in their curriculum and resources budget across the wider system.