Money is biggest edtech barrier, say 40% of secondaries

As DfE seeks bigger role for technology in schools, survey also finds that 'teacher unwillingness' is greatest obstacle in primaries

Martin George

40 per cent of secondary schools said lack of budget was the key barrier to using edtech.

The proportion of secondary schools saying a lack of money is the biggest barrier to using edtech has almost trebled over the past two years.

A survey for the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) also found that an increasing proportion of schools say that teachers’ unwillingness to use technology is the main obstacle to making more use of edtech.

A representative sample of 710 schools across England took part in the research.

Quick read: 'DfE investment needed for teachers to benefit from AI'

Analysis: Is edtech immune from rigorous research?

Profile: Interactive whiteboard pioneer with a ‘killer idea’ to cut workload

A report outlining the findings highlights a “sharp increase” in secondaries identifying lack of budget as a key barrier to using edtech, up from 14 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent this year.

In primary schools, 35 per cent chose lack of budget – up 6 percentage points on last year.

Besa director Patrick Hayes told Tes that schools may have higher aspirations for ICT following the launch of the DfE’s edtech strategy in January.

He added: “Certainly at a time when we know there is a huge amount of pressure on school budgets and that in per-pupil terms there is certainly a decline in what schools have to spend, that does mean that very few schools have the budget to realise that edtech ambition that they may have gained over the past couple of years.”

In primary schools, “teacher unwillingness” was the biggest barrier to edtech take up, selected by 39 per cent of schools, up 6 percentage points on last year.

It was the second biggest obstacle cited by secondary schools, named by 33 per cent, representing a 9 percentage point rise on 2018.

Mr Hayes said teachers “are not in any way Luddites”, and added: “Certainly there’s a cultural perception at the moment that artificial intelligence and the rise of technologies may in some ways replace jobs and I think that could speak to a certain reluctance to use it.

“But also I think if you don’t have the right training, if you don’t have enough time in order to do the training and really experiment with which products are right for you, then there will be a reluctance to use new technology because it’s important that kids aren’t guinea pigs.”

Caroline Wright, director general of Besa, highlighted the free teacher-led edtech CPD conferences LearnED, which Besa is delivering across England with support from the DfE.

Ms Wright said she recognised the difficulty schools have funding cover for teachers to attend CPD, and added: “With this in mind, a BESA initiative supported by the DfE, is a free-to-use online portal enabling teachers to source and trial edtech products before making a purchasing decision.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “We recognise the budgeting challenges schools face but we know there is potential for technology to be a force for good for schools, colleges and universities.  

“To make sure every pound is spent as effectively as possible to give children and young adults a great education, the edtech strategy supports schools, colleges and universities to spend this money on solutions that will make a big difference to them, at the best price.

“We are also creating more opportunities for teachers and school leaders to improve their digital skills and knowledge, including the launch of a network of demonstrator schools and colleges across the country which will help provide peer-to-peer support and training.”

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

Latest stories