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Don’t Cut The ICT Budget – Teachers Need Computing Training

August 21, 2017, 9:18 GMT+1
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  • Schools need to maximise the learning tech they already have – and for that, you need the right know-how...
Don’t Cut The ICT Budget – Teachers Need Computing Training

At the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), we have closely monitored schools’ expenditure for decades – and lately we’ve found that after years of growth, ICT budgets are now being hit hard.

ICT budgets in primary schools were down last year by 4.1%, compared with a 3.7% increase the year before. In such a climate, schools need to get the most from the ICT products and services they already have – yet our latest annual ‘ICT in Schools’ report suggests that many primary ICT leaders believe that schools can do much more on this front.

A sample of 803 primary ICT leaders were asked what their key challenges were, and overwhelmingly they pointed to the need for some 50% of primary teachers needing greater ICT training.

That number’s diminishing over time (in 2014 it was 60%), but it’s evidently still a serious concern. Perhaps the greatest concern expressed was the need for primary teachers to be trained in e-safety. 51% were seen as requiring such training, in areas from cyberbullying to counter-radicalisation efforts.

E-safety concerns also seem to be hampering digital development in schools, with schools expressing wariness at adopting cloud computing, for example, and citing ‘e-safety’ as a factor. Given the prevalence of EdTech in schools, from classrooms to management systems, e-safety affects everyone, not just staff based in ICT. With the online world continuing to rapidly evolve, schools need to organise regular training sessions so that teachers can be kept up-to-speed with new websites, new jargon and emerging online threats.

Training is something that many suppliers will gladly provide upon request – after all, it’s in their interests that their products are used to greatest effect.

A pattern we frequently see at BESA is schools making substantial expenditures on ICT hardware and software, but then failing to follow this up by embedding it into their teaching practices and ensuring that teachers know how to use it properly.

Teachers should, of course, remain at the heart of every classroom. But technology can be a great enabler, giving teachers rich insights into pupils’ learning and allowing them to deliver personalised lessons that simply wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago.

If schools are to realise this, however, then greater training in ICT is essential. At a very low cost, such training could assist schools in unlocking their existing ICT resources in ever richer and more innovative ways.

Patrick Hayes is the director of BESA – a trade association serving manufacturers and distributors of educational supplies, resources and equipment across the UK. To find out more, visit besa.org.uk or follow @besatweet

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