Schoolchildren getting out-of-date education

More than half of UK schoolchildren are experiencing a low-tech education similar to that of their parents, according to new research

Despite Ofsted encouraging teachers to use computers and the internet to enhance learning, research conducted on behalf of Daisy Group, found that 60% of children (aged between 11 and 16) use ICT within lessons sporadically or not at all.   

The survey found clear regional divides with regards to the use of ICT in secondary education. In the south of England more than half of children (56%) say the internet is only used occasionally in lessons. In the north of England this rises to 71%.

The differences were even starker in certain localities. In Cambridge, for example, nearly two thirds of children (63%) say they use the internet at least twice a day in lessons, whereas in Sheffield, just 16% do the same. In London, one in five children (19%) use the internet in every lesson, but in Yorkshire, almost as many (14%) say they ‘never’ use the use internet in class. 

According to the research, interactive whiteboards are the predominant teaching tool with 55% of children saying they were regularly used, but a quarter (24%) said blackboards and chalk were a mainstay in the classroom. Just a third of children said they were likely to regularly use a computer (35%) in lessons, and only a quarter said they frequently used mobile tablet devices (27%). 

When asked about how fast the internet was at their school, one in five children (21%) said that the internet was so slow that their lessons were disrupted whenever they used it. Nearly half of the children surveyed (41%) said that internet speeds at home were much faster than at school. 

Nathan Marke, Chief Technology Officer at Daisy Group, said: “Until the whole of the UK is able to benefit from high speed broadband, there will always be some schools at a slight disadvantage when it comes to the internet. 

“However, according to our research, that isn’t necessarily the problem. Unfortunately, those responsible for procuring ICT, such as school managers and bursars, are often not experts, so it is easy for them to get the ‘shopping’ criteria wrong, especially with regards to internet connectivity. Subsequently, teachers are often left to work with an infrastructure that isn’t fit for purpose. 

“Schools need more encouragement to seek out specialist expertise to get the robust ICT systems they need. That way, we can be confident that schools will make the best use of taxpayers’ money and deliver an education that will better prepare children for the tech-focused society we live in.”