BESA releases ‘ICT in UK State Schools’ research

Desire for more ICT in schools, yet spending declines

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has released its annual research into the opinions and trends of ‘ICT in UK State Schools’. The highly anticipated research provides analysis into the likely provision of technology in UK state schools in the next year and gives extensive insight into teacher confidence, training and the level of ICT in schools.

BESA’s research is based on a survey of ICT co-ordinators and heads of IT from 770 primary and 572 secondary schools from across the UK, conducted in June 2009. Although the research comes at a time of economic recession and frequent policy and curriculum changes, the results for 2009 indicate a positive approach by educators for purchasing and using ICT, although a reduction in investment in ICT by schools is forecast.

Ray Barker, director of BESA explains: “The BESA ICT in UK State Schools research indicates that after year-on-year increases in ICT budgets since 2001, we are now naturally experiencing a reduction in estimated ICT allocations from school budgets. This is not surprising as schools are under many financial pressures. Education funding has not been reduced and schools know that they have necessary funds; however during uncertain times, and with pressures to change upon them, schools appear to be treating ICT budgets with caution.’

Ray Barker continues: “Many schools indicate they still feel under-equipped in vital ICT equipment, such as laptop computers and internet access for pupils. This is because they are now wanting to use such resources more as ICT becomes more ‘embedded’ within the curriculum. In fact, the figures show that there have never been so many computers and interactive whiteboards in UK classrooms. This is in part due to the efficient procurement of resources by many schools as well as a drop in prices of individual units. They may be spending less, but they can get more for their money.”

ICT budgets

The research shows that primary school ICT budgets are estimated to decrease by 2.2 per cent in 2009-10, while secondary school budgets indicate a reduction of 1 per cent, excluding budgets on curriculum software and digital content. This will result in UK-wide budget allocations declining by £9.8 million.

A typical primary school ICT budget is anticipated to be £13,380 in 2010-11, while secondary budgets are set to decrease to £62,970. This represents declines of 4.4 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively. ICT allocations from school budgets are estimated to be around £556 million in 2010-11 – again excluding curriculum software and digital content.

Ray Barker comments: “Ring-fenced funding for ICT has now ended and schools are making their own purchasing decisions. They will be spending their funds wisely in the light of their own school development needs. This will be reflected at BETT this year. This show has grown because educators believe that ICT can make a difference and they need to be brought up-to-date with what is ‘out there’. This year will be no different with expected numbers reaching over 30,000. We don’t want schools to be saving their money ‘just in case’. The funding is available and needs to be spent on the life-chances of young people. If we are to become a competitive economy then education – and technology – will be key.”

Teacher confidence and training

Ray Barker adds: “Another issue the BESA research identified was the reduction of teacher confidence in using ICT. There was a 10 per cent drop in confidence and competence using ICT in the curriculum from 2007 in primary schools, and an eight per cent reduction in secondary schools.”

The research also found that 59 per cent of primary teachers will receive ICT training in 2009, compared to 67 per cent who expected training in 2008. 55 per cent of secondary teachers will receive training in 2009, compared to 72 per cent in 2007.

Ray Barker comments: “Whether the reduction in teacher training has led to a lack of teacher confidence in using ICT, or if it is the result of a greater variety of ICT being used in today’s classrooms is debatable. Teachers are using technology more so will be finding themselves lacking in confidence in many areas, such as the use of learning platforms, as Government pushes them to meet exacting targets. This is why BESA supports the educational technology show BETT, where educators can continue their professional development while testing out the latest in ICT resources with practical advice from their peers.”

Computer levels

On a positive note BESA’s ICT in UK State Schools research found that, on average, schools offer one computer per 6.9 pupils in primary schools (7.4 pupils per computer in 2005). The same move was found in secondary schools with a reduction in the number of children sharing a computer (down from 5.5 in 2005 to 4.2 pupils per computer). Overall, there are anticipated to be 2.5 million computers in schools during 2010. ICT leaders consider there to be a need for 3.2 million computers to fully implement ICT development plans, a figure which has doubled since 2003.

The ‘BESA ICT in UK State Schools’ publication is free to BESA members, or can be purchased directly from BESA by non-members (Ph: +44 (0) 20 7537 4997). A summary of the study findings is available free on the BESA website, please visit BESA publish several annual research papers, including ‘Resources in English Schools’.

BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, is the trade association representing over 300 educational suppliers in the UK, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, technology, ICT hardware and digital-content related services to the education market.

With 75 years of experience, BESA offers unparalleled support, research, events and advice on both UK and International markets, and the future of the education supplies industry. BESA is focused on promoting and providing support and advice to their members, the industry and to schools.

BESA has a Code of Practice to which all members must adhere, along with a stringent membership process, both of which assure buyers of a high standard of quality in both product and customer service.

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