The funding squeeze on schools in England is forcing edtech companies to keep the prices of their products down, a pioneer in the sector has said.
The news comes a day after education secretary Damian Hinds used a speech at the Bett edtech show to hail a new scheme that will see more than 100 edtech firms allowing schools to trial their products before deciding whether to spend any money on them.
Bruno Reddy, who developed Times Tables Rock Stars, which has been used in more than 12,000 primary and secondary schools worldwide, told Tes that edtech price rises in England were currently lower than in the US.
He said: "The number of players in the market has suppressed price rises, certainly compared to what people pay in America for equivalent products, and also because of everybody tightening their purse strings I suspect a lot of edtech providers are having to be sympathetic to that and keep prices affordable.”
Mr Reddy added that teachers are now “a bit more shrewd when it comes to choosing the right edtech for their class”, and were more likely to spend time trialling products before making an investment.
His views were echoed by Patrick Hayes, director of the British Educational Suppliers Association.
He said that, anecdotally, it seemed true that edtech price rises were lower here than in the US, although he was not aware of comparative research examining these trends.
Asked whether this was good news for schools, he instead said it was a sign of the budgetary pressures they were under.
He said: “I think companies are not able to raise their prices as much here because schools don’t have the budgets to pay for existing ICT and infrastructure at the moment.
“With the DfE requesting that schools make considerable back office savings over the duration of this parliament, companies don’t really feel they are in a position to start raising prices.
“Sadly, over the past three or four years, schools have been cutting back considerably on their edtech budgets, and there’s been some very tight competition and a bit of a race to the bottom in terms of prices.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “When we launch the edtech strategy, which we will publish later this year, it will cover procurement for edtech products and suggest ways that schools can feel more confident and ensure they get value for money when buying these products.”