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Four ways schools can improve their ICT

Research highlights the need to train teachers in ICT and how schools are moving away from desktop computers

A survey by the British Educational Suppliers' Association revealed major concerns about ICT training for teachers

Research highlights the need to train teachers in ICT and how schools are moving away from desktop computers

A detailed study of ICT in state-funded schools has pointed to four areas where they could make improvements.

The independent survey of a representative panel of UK schools, carried out by the British Educational Suppliers’ Association (Besa), received full responses from 794 primary schools and 510 secondary schools.

Here are some of the main points:

1. Give teachers more ICT training

Two-thirds of secondary schools believe that training teachers in how to use their ICT resources is the biggest ICT challenge facing them over the next year.

A total of 66 per cent of secondaries, and 54 per cent of primaries, picked this.

Securing funds to spend on ICT and sourcing effective digital content were the next most popular options.

Caroline Wright, director general of Besa, said: “Lack of training and CPD is hindering the efficiency gains that are possible in schools by using school software systems.

“Without effective training, many school staff don’t grasp the full power of some products to help with back-office tasks or time-saving processes.”

2. Train teachers in e-safety issues

Over a third of teachers in primary and secondary schools need training in e-safety issues, according to the survey.

Although the figure may seem high, over the past two years it has fallen from 51 per cent to 37 per cent in primaries, and 49 per cent to 34 per cent in secondary schools.

3. Allocate more money to ICT

Schools are expected to increase their spending on ICT in 2018-19, but Besa said this was simply making up for cuts in previous years.

According to the survey, ICT budgets for 2018-19 will rise by 4.5 per cent in primary schools, and 4.2 per cent in secondary schools.

However, the report cautions that “while primary ICT budgets recorded expansion between 2012 and 2015, there was contraction up until 2018-19”, and Ms Wright said that “unfortunately, the expenditure is unlikely to be spent on new investments – rather a case of treading water to stand still”.

4. Move away from desktops

Schools are rapidly moving away from desktop computers, with the number in schools forecast to fall by 31 per cent in primaries and 26 per cent in secondaries between 2018 and 2019.

Over the same period, the number of laptops is expected to rise by 10 per cent in primaries and 14 per cent in secondaries, while tablet numbers are expected to rise 20 per cent in secondaries, although they are set to fall 2 per cent in primaries.

Ms Wright said laptops and tablets have “flexibility of usage”, and added: “Laptops can be moved to where the pupils and teachers are, rather than pupils/teachers having to go to the computers.

“That means there can be a better spread of technology access across subjects and year groups throughout schools.”

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.”

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