Most schools around the UK are using educational technology products and services to become administratively more efficient and effective at delivering teaching and learning. However, the school funding crisis continues to hold them back from making more use of EdTech for their pupils’ benefit.
In June this year, the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) published its latest report on how EdTech is currently being used in schools and in the classroom. The report features survey work undertaken by the National Education Research Panel among ICT leaders and decisionmakers across 437 primary schools and 244 secondary schools in England.
The research found that school leaders in both primary and secondary schools are eight percentage points more likely to consider management systems ‘very important’ in supporting the effective running of their school compared to last year. In primary schools, 79% consider management systems either ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’.
Parental communications solutions and parent payment systems have seen particularly strong growth, with some 57% of primary school leaders surveyed reporting that they now use a parental communications solution of some kind. Demand for these and payment systems is still continuing to grow, with parental communication systems topping the list of EdTech that primary schools are most keen to acquire.
In terms of content technologies, primary schools have long recognised the potential for EdTech to be effectively used across the curriculum, though maths and literacy continue to dominate the use of classroom EdTech content solutions. The research did, however, find that 63% of primary schools use EdTech content solutions in computer science, and that there’s been a rise of 12 percentage points in the number of schools using EdTech to support students with SEND.
Perhaps the most significant change compared to last year is the nature of the barriers preventing schools from using EdTech. While still a contributing factor, reluctance on the part of teachers to use EdTech and lack of understanding as to what it can offer are now less prevalent than before.
Standards of wireless connectivity and internet bandwidth also seem to have improved and present less of a barrier than was the case previously.
On the other hand, 29% of primary schools now see lack of budget as constraining their use of EdTech, up from 18% last year. A previous BESA research report from earlier this year found that 40% of primary school leaders anticipated having to work with smaller 2018/19 resource budgets compared to 2017/18.
However, it remains the case that EdTech resources can do much to enhance the learning process and help children of all abilities. It’s crucial that schools are able to spend as much as they deem necessary to provide children across the UK with the education they deserve. To that end, BESA has been vigorously campaigning to Resource Our Schools – our statement can be signed here: besa.org.uk/resource-our-schools.
Mark Rosser is communications manager at BESA.