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Exclusive: Third of school computers 'ineffective'

Lack of funding leaves schools using computers 'until they have totally and utterly given up the ghost', research shows

A third of computers in schools in the UK are ineffective, according to a survey

Lack of funding leaves schools using computers 'until they have totally and utterly given up the ghost', research shows

A third of computers in UK schools are “ineffective” according to a major new survey examining the state of ICT in the sector.

The independent survey of a representative panel of UK schools, carried out by the British Educational Suppliers’ Association (Besa), says that this implies there are 1.1 million such computers in our schools.

Caroline Wright, director general of Besa, blamed a lack of investment in ICT for schools having to keep using computers “until they have totally and utterly given up the ghost”.

The survey showed that 35 per cent of all computers in secondary schools, and 31 per cent in primary schools, were ineffective.

This would leave the average secondary with 144 ineffective computers, compared with 22 in the average primary.

Shortage of cash for computers

The report says that “in recent years an increasing number of computers have been recorded as ineffective due to condition, age or specification”.

It adds that 2018 “could be the year that there is a reduction in the percentage of computers that are deemed ineffective”, because schools are expected to get rid of more out-of-date machines.

Ms Wright denied that the findings showed that taxpayers’ money was not being used well, and said it instead was due to two problems.

She told Tes: “First, it’s a product of a lack of investment in IT equipment. Schools have been forced to keep hold of computers until they have totally and utterly given up the ghost.

“Second, a lack of clarity or knowledge on general issues such as IT recycling/disposal and/or security concerns over safeguarding the data on the disused computers.

“So not so much a problem with taxpayers’ money, but the lack of it.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are investing £84 million over the next four years to train computing teachers so they can teach pupils skills such as coding, and provide schools with resources.

“Alongside this, we are providing schools with government-backed deals for computer and software licenses.”

The survey received full responses from 794 primary schools and 510 secondary schools.

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