We all know exercise books and blackboards have given way to laptops and interactive whiteboards in today's classrooms, but do teachers truly embrace the new opportunities offered by technology?
According to recent research by Steljes, teachers are overwhelmingly positive about the impact of technology in the classroom. A survey of UK teachers showed 97% felt interactive technology in the classroom offers an improved learning experience.
Interactive technology helps children learn by providing a more engaging experience, presenting information in an interesting and age-appropriate way. Technology such as classroom laptops or tablets help to drive up educational achievement by stimulating pupils and allowing children to learn according to the pace and method that suits them best.
Four in five (82%) of the teachers said they use interactive whiteboards when teaching, with almost two thirds (64%) using laptops as well. Around two thirds of teachers (64%) also said they use this technology at least four times a week.
As school budgets feel the squeeze and head teachers consider whether they need education sector finance to fund new technology, the verdict from teachers is clear: equipment must be kept up to date. Only 31% of teachers said their technology suite was regularly updated and refreshed to ensure the best learning outcome and experience for their students.
Teachers were acutely aware that their students recognise when equipment is outdated. Young people today are digital natives, with much more appreciation of current technology than their teachers' generation. Three quarters of teachers reported that their students were more tech savvy than them.
When head teachers use education sector financial solutions to finance new IT facilities, they should be careful to include a budget line for training teachers in using the new tech. Half of teachers rated the training they received in using ICT equipment as satisfactory, poor or very poor. This suggests many schools are failing to access the full benefits that new computer technology has to offer.
The need for teachers skilled in using technology is likely to rise even further as ICT GCSE and A-Level are scrapped in 2017. Tech-minded pupils are expected to opt for the Computer Studies GCSE and A-Level courses, but according to statistics released by the Department for Education, there is a 30% shortfall in teacher recruitment for this subject.
The data suggests that ICT funding should be a priority for heads, but this can be difficult to achieve in today's climate of austerity and pressure on budgets, particularly as imminent increases in National Insurance and pension contributions, as well as a 1% pay increase, draw closer.
According to the Education Funding Agency's Chief Executive Peter Lauener, school leaders should place the same importance on balancing their budgets as on educational attainment. Lauener made the comments at a conference where new professional standards for school business managers were announced, focussing on six key disciplines of procurement, HR, infrastructure, finance, marketing, and leading support services.
Increasingly, schools are taking a more sophisticated approach to managing their finances. With education sector financial solutions, schools can deliver the benefits of updated ICT without delay, while still maintaining responsible and sensible spending plans.
The National Association of Head Teachers recently carried out a survey of 1,069 schools which revealed the pressures on school budgets. The Breaking Point survey found that 64% of heads had introduced spending cuts to avoid deficits.
Key areas for spending reductions included investment in new equipment, essential maintenance, teaching resource and carrying over a surplus. Despite these measures, 7% of schools were already running a deficit. A carefully structured financing plan can help schools maintain their investment plans without falling into the red.
How will your school balance its finances over the coming years? As plans to change the formula for school funding by 2017 begin to take shape, many schools could be finding themselves with altered budgets and different priorities.
For example, £23bn is set to be invested in school buildings. Investment in ICT equipment will be needed to accompany these new developments.
If your school could benefit from education sector finance tailored to meet your needs and objectives, why not get in touch to explore your options?