Tablet adoption continues to rise

Tablet use in schools continues to rise as barriers to adoption shift, new research from BESA has revealed

‘Tablets and Connectivity,’ an annual survey from the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) suggests that 71% of primary and 76% of secondary schools (an increase from 56% in 2014 in both school types) are making use of tablets in the classroom.

Currently, there are estimated to be 721,000 tablets for use by pupils in classrooms across UK maintained schools and academies, and it is forecast that by the end of 2016 this number will have increased to over 946,000.

This upward trend appears to be continuing with 15% of schools suggesting that they will have 1:1 access to tablet technology by 2016 and 44% of schools having one tablet per child by 2020. The research also showed that a lack of suitable bandwidth remains a significant barrier to adoption of mobile technologies.

Research carried out in May 2014 revealed that schools in rural areas of the UK have poor access to mobile technologies due to inadequate bandwidth. 

Schools have noted little improvement over the past year with only 3% more primary schools, (53%), feeling that they have the ideal bandwidth (up from 50% last year) and 65% of secondary schools feel the same (up from 62% in 2014).

The research also suggests that 88% of primary schools regard the management and security of tablets as a significant barrier to adoption. In secondary schools the barriers to adoption, in order of significance, are training and support (91%), funding (83%) and management and security (83%).

Caroline Wright, director, BESA said: “The research shows there is an opportunity for teaching schools, school leadership organisations and industry to work with schools to help them understand how they can utilise tablet technology to its full potential, and integrate tablets as learning tools into the classroom.

“It is disappointing to see so many schools still struggling with Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity issues. With nearly half of schools reporting poor connectivity we run the risk of failing to equip our young people with the essential digital skills that they need for their future careers. More needs to be done to improve Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity in our schools.”

Are 1:1 tablet schemes the way of the future? Find out what some edtech experts thought in the ET roundtable discussion.