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The State of Technology in Academy Schools 2018/19

Are educators worrying less about budgetary restraints this academic year? The annual State of Technology in Education report suggests they are, but edtech budgets are getting worse.

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Our annual State of Technology in Education report is packed full of first-hand insights from educators. Now in its third year, we collected feedback from over 1,800 educators and school leaders across the UK.

How many academies did we survey?

According to statistics on the educational system, nearly a third of publicly-funded schools in England are now academies (22% of primary and 68% of secondary schools). In line with these figures, this year over a third (33.5%) of all our survey answers were from staff in academy schools.

Academies’ strategic visions

Over 73% of all academies are run by Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). These schools no longer exist as legal entities and cannot independently decide to leave the MAT. This can lead to a greater number of strategic difficulties and leadership issues than in local authority funded and independent schools.

“Since being part of an academy chain, leadership can no longer make strategic decisions and our academy masters are incapable of making timely decisions.” Teacher, academy secondary school, South East England

This gap is clearly highlighted in our report; only 42% of respondents from academy schools believe they have a clear vision for the year ahead, compared to almost 70% of the total survey.

Do academies suffer with faulty technology?

Last year, we learnt that 83% of all teachers struggle with faulty tech to some degree. This situation is slowly worsening; this year over 86% of teachers made the same claim. That’s only 14% of teachers that aren’t held back by failing technology in 2018.

Academy schools, meanwhile, from their conception were encouraged by the government to adopt new technologies, introduce more innovation to learning, and improve school collaboration with tech.

Whether that goal has been achieved is unclear, but academies do appear to buck the trend in our survey—over a third of respondents from academy schools have minimal issues teaching with failing technologies.

Do MATs have better tech budgets?

Despite claiming fewer challenges with faulty tech, academies are still under budgetary pressure, much like the rest of the education system in UK and Ireland. Perhaps even more so.

“As an academy we are technology rich, however maintaining the technology due to a lack of money is making it difficult to continue with some aspects of technology. For example, we’re moving from Apple Macs running on an Apple server to using them to run Windows, to save money.”
Deputy head teacher, academy secondary school, North East England

Under 15% of academies believe their budget for edtech is at the right level, and another 14% believe it’s incorrectly invested—a few percent less than the survey total.

A quarter of respondents from academies, meanwhile, have no visibility on their allocation towards technology.

“There’s not enough realisation that we employ far more technology now and yet our budget in real terms has shrunk, therefore it’s impossible to stay current.” IT manager, academy secondary school, Yorkshire and Humberside

Overall, it would appear that academies and MAT schools were positioned to sit at the forefront of innovation, encouraged to use tech to drive better pedagogical outcomes. And to some degree, this has been achieved. Yet, with the country-wide budgetary pressures in education, keeping up with fast-paced technological change is just as difficult for academies as all schools.