How bright is the future looking for EdTech?
Despite an increased uptake of educational technology in UK schools, the funding crisis holds them back from using more for their pupils' benefit
By Mark Rosser, Communications Manager at the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA)
In June, the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) published its latest report on how edtech is currently used in schools and in the classroom. The report is based on survey work undertaken by the National Education Research Panel (Nerp) on ICT leaders and decision-makers from 437 primary schools and 244 secondary schools in England.
As many as 29% of primary schools and 28% of secondary schools see lack of budget as a constraint to the use of EdTech, whereas they were only 18% and 14% last year, respectively.
A previous BESA research paper published this year did report that school leaders identify shrinkage in resource budget allocations, with 40% of primary schools and 43% of secondary schools anticipating a 2018/19 resource budget with lower cash terms than in 2017/18. While this shows an improvement in sentiment compared to the extreme pressure identified in 2017, this percentage remains higher than before 2016.
Educational technology resources can make a concrete impact in enhancing the learning process and helping children of all abilities, as schools have been realising. It is crucial that schools are able to spend as is necessary to offer children across the UK the education they deserve.
In both primaries and secondaries, school leaders are eight percentage points more likely to consider management systems ‘very important’ to support the effective running of their school than they were last year. The research found that 79% of primary school leaders and 93% of secondary school leaders consider management systems ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’.
“This new report is more proof that schools need additional financial support to access edtech and provide children with all that technology has to offer to enhance teaching and learning.”
The use of parental communications solutions and parent payment systems has particularly been expanding: 57% of primary school leaders and 92% of secondary school leaders have reported using a parental communications solution. Demand for these solutions and payment systems is still growing as well, with parental communications being the top edtech system on demand in primary schools.
Content-wise, maths and reading continue to dominate the use of edtech content solutions in the classroom. The research also found that 63% of primary schools and 67% of secondary schools use edtech content solutions for computer science, and a 12 percentage points increase in edtech being used for special educational needs support in primaries.
The most significant change since last year is a shift in the barriers to using edtech: while still important, teacher unwillingness to using edtech and their lack of understanding of the benefits of edtech solutions are less of a barrier than last year. Internet bandwidth and wireless connectivity also seem to have improved and are preventing fewer schools from using edtech.
This new report is more proof that schools need additional financial support to access edtech and provide children with all that technology has to offer to enhance teaching and learning.
BESA has been campaigning to Resource Our Schools. Sign our statement here.