UK&I Edition

The State of
Technology in Education

2021/22

After a period of reactivity and a steep learning curve, educators finally had a moment to catch their breath in 2021. The result? A genuinely holistic approach, one that champions the benefits of edtech: personalisation, engagement and interactivity. One that’s ready to react at short notice. And one entirely underpinned by class-based pedagogy and, most importantly, pupil wellbeing.

Where do you want to start?

Key findings from 2021/22:

Strategy

Schools' strategic plans

After over a year of engagement challenges, and grappling with hybrid learning and remote teaching, educators now agree that social and emotional learning is the highest priority. With staff and student wellbeing thrown into stark relief during the pandemic, they’re now focusing on rectifying the impact of a year of isolation and remote contact. More than ever, therefore, emphasis is placed on collaboration, safety and support.

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2nd Place

Attainment is secondary to improving social and emotional learning, according to nearly half of educators.

Strategy:

The headlines

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A strategy with clarity

7/10 educators say their schools have a clear strategic vision - the highest level in four years.

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Staff speaking up

Over half of teachers feel they get a say in strategy, up from just 37% last year.

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Taking note of tech

Technology is a strategic priority for just over half of schools, but one in five (22%) say they don’t have an IT strategy.

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Are schools headed in the right direction?

During the shock and confusion of 2020, half of educators were unsure how schools would handle the challenges ahead. Now, most (70%) agree their school has a clear strategic vision — the highest level of confidence in five years.

Positivity is not shared equally, though. A closer look reveals more SLT (85%) have confidence in their plans than non-SLT (57%).

60% reported headteachers take the lead role in strategy setting, with half saying it’s a collaborative SLT project.

Does your school have a clear strategic vision?

Non-SLT

56.9%Yes

13.4%No

34.9%Don't Know

SLT

84.8%Yes

8.9%No

6.2%Don't Know

More strategic input equals more buy-in.

The number of educators who contribute to their school’s strategy (71%) is almost identical to the number who believe their school has a clear strategic vision (70%). As expected, most are SLT (81%), while fewer teachers (56%) feel they get a say.

Last year, however, just 37% of teachers believed they influenced their school's strategic direction. Could this significant increase mark the beginning of sustained teacher involvement in higher level decision-making?

What role do you play in formulating your school’s strategic vision?

Training

Teacher training and school CPD

To find out how many teachers believe that technology helps them do a better job, skip to part two — schools’ use of tech.

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IT staff committed to accelerating innovation

At 98%, more IT staff believe they contribute to strategy than teachers or even SLT members, indicating that schools are looking to the transformative power of technology. It also indicates their commitment to steering colleagues away from outdated approaches that limit the evolution of education.

“CLT and SLT follow all the guidelines, policies and mantra — which is why the old paradigm of learning has persisted for so long.”

Targets without tech miss the mark

Some educators expressed frustration that a targets-driven culture can apply unproven strategies, many of which are short-lived, particularly if technology is overlooked.

“The constant drive to increase attainment and meet the DfE targets causes schools to constantly try out new schemes or non-tech based pedagogical approaches (which never last) without taking time to evaluate what works and what does not.”

However, schools must choose from competing tools to fulfil a myriad of government policies and school needs. Many teachers express sympathy for SLT members charged with this complex, never-ending task.

“Our school leaders are being put under too much pressure to reduce the [attainment] gap too quickly, therefore having to put undue pressure on both teachers and more importantly children.”

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Making students feel suppported and connected

Regardless of strategic misgivings, educators are broadly in alignment when it comes to what matters most. After a tumultuous year, student wellbeing is front and centre.

  • 90% of educators agree with their schools’ priorities.

  • 44% of educators say social and emotional learning is the key strategic priority.

What does your school identify as key priorities for 2021/22?

Time to get everyone up to speed

After social and emotional learning comes reducing the attainment gap (43%) and attainment/results (41%). Following naturally from these goals, educators highlight the need to reduce the learning loss from school closures (36%).

“Where every pupil feels safe, appreciated and supported to be the very best they can be. A truly exceptional school does all of this and supports its staff with constant consideration of workload.”

Half of educators champion technology, yet many are slow to adopt

51% of educators confirm technology is a strategic priority. But one in five (22%) say they don't have an IT strategy, while a further 21% don't know if they do. SLT may be reluctant to commit budget, but will this backfire? Schools that are slow to upgrade technology could find themselves spending more overall to catch up with early adopters.

“I think if technology is not updated, it will be more expensive in the long run to update everything that is outdated.”

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • Strategy received additional support when teachers were involved in the decision-making process. Promisingly, more had a say than last year, a trend that should continue if schools want to account for the needs of the entire staff body.

  • After the fragmented and reactive navigation through 2020, educators are now more united towards more widely agreed priorities. Hopefully this broad alignment will persist and translate into greater successes.

  • Another tough year underscored schools’ commitment to helping students recalibrate and reconnect to improve their emotional and social wellbeing.

  • The pandemic has widened the longstanding attainment gap for many, ensuring a deep-rooted priority has been shifted up a gear for 2021/22.

  • Technology remains a strategic priority for many,s but not enough. A two-tier technology landscape persists, with half of schools pulling ahead using edtech to improve learning outcomes while half risk stalling the advancement of modern teaching.

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Training

Teacher training and school CPD

Training is a higher priority than at any time in the last five years. However, around a third of educators admit it doesn't feature high enough on the agenda. Blame lack of budget and time – the age-old conundrum in the education landscape. Unsurprisingly, safeguarding and pupil safety continues to be the number one objective. Still, many educators think that emotional literacy, wellbeing, collaboration and tech training should be higher on the list.

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67%

Two-thirds of staff say training is a funding priority – up 37% from 2020, to the highest level in five years.

Staff training:

The headlines

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Budget allocation could be better

A third of teachers say too little budget is allocated towards training.

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Funding falling short

Over 2 in 5 say insufficient training is due to a lack of funding.

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A student safety net

Pupil safety and safeguarding is the top training priority.

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A shortage of support

Only 15% receive full training and support, and just 10% report in-class tech training.

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Are schools spending enough on upskilling?

Training is a funding priority according to 67% of educators – the largest proportion we’ve seen. More SLT (79%) agree than teachers (60%), though.

There's some way to go until they're on the same page – but it’s twice as many teachers than agreed last year.

Over the last five years, more educators than ever say training is a priority

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But does the whole staff body agree?

Yes

60%Teacher

78.8%SLT

73%IT

Always more to learn

The highest percentage of educators (46%) say they receive some training and support, but more could be done. Indeed, only 15% receive full training and support.

“Time and money should be set aside for whole staff upskilling in the pursuit of technology for teaching, learning and administration.”

Not always enough time or money

While 40% of educators believe schools are spending enough on training, a significant proportion have considerable reservations.

33% of teachers and 27% of IT staff believe there's too little budget allocated to training.

Budget (42%) and time (28%), the perennial problems, are the main reasons more training isn’t provided. Many teachers are left to train outside of work, placing an extra burden on their wellbeing and private lives.

What do you think is the main reason there is not more training provided at your school?

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“Lack of budget and lack of time. I do my own training and upskilling in my own time.”

“Training time should be funded rather than in a teacher's own time.”

Safety first

Training to ensure pupil safety and safeguarding gets the broadest consensus (29%), followed by curriculum or government-led changes (19%) and modern learning techniques (17%).

What does your school strategy identify as a priority when it comes to teacher training?

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Tech training lags behind

Despite over half of educators affirming technology is a strategic priority, only 10% reported their schools prioritise in-class technology training. Without it, how will teachers – and students – make the most of edtech?

“New teaching staff should be given at least basic formal training on how to use essential programmes and software.”

Teachers need help to be healthier

Some school staff expressed concern that teachers might need additional support to help them cope with the increasing pressures of the job.

“I worry [the SEM health of teachers is] at an all time low and we're going to lose staff either literally or metaphorically over the next year.”

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • Training is rising up the list of priorities, befitting its acknowledged value, but budgets and time are forcing teachers to shoulder the burden and inhibiting their tech use.

  • Although only a minority received full training and support, most educators received at least some. That said, training outside of work hours will keep taking a toll on teachers if left unaddressed.

  • Modern learning techniques are among the top three training priorities, but technology training still leaves much to be desired for many educators. This conflicts with schools' strategic prioritisation of tech – and students' chances of getting the best from it.

  • Wellbeing continues to rise in importance for all, with signs that teachers need help to look after themselves, as well as their pupils.

  • 2021 remained a challenging time for safety all round. Safeguarding pupils will always be critical, although with the initial shock of COVID-19 behind them, educators should now have more time and resources to focus on other training priorities throughout 2022/23.

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School Budgets

Costs and considerations

Budgets will make strategic objectives harder to achieve this year. According to one educator, the flexible portion of school budgets is now lower than 10%. This familiar story is causing despondency at a time when higher level strategic priorities are shifting from exam results to pupil wellbeing. Technology-wise, there's still too little allocated to new devices and tools, while a quarter of educators believe funds can be invested in the wrong things.

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2%

Wellbeing is schools' highest priority, but precious few believe it will feature in next year's spending.

Budgets:

The headlines

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Money matters

Half of schools agree budget is a major influence on strategy.

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Budget battles

Budgets make it difficult to realise strategic objectives, according to the largest proportion of educators.

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Bringing up the budget

Technology spend is too low, report just under 4 in 10 educators.

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SLT spending satisfaction

Over a third of SLT think they are spending enough on technology.

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Money talks, but not everyone’s listening

Budget is a key factor for 50% of schools when devising strategies and remains a consideration for 46%. For a lucky few (4%), budget is regarded as irrelevant to strategy, suggesting such ample funds are a rarity.

How big a role does budget play when devising your school strategy?

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Do you think budgetary constraints will make it difficult for your school to realise its strategic objectives in 2021/2022?

46%Yes

40%No

13%Don't Know

Less money, more problems

No surprises here. School staff stress that tight and shrinking budgets are among the most persistent factors standing in the way of educational goals.

“School budgets have always been an issue, but as the years have passed the amount that is flexible for a school to spend has become less and less (lower than 10%).”

“We are bound by the fact there is not enough money from central government.”

Are schools allocating enough to edtech?

The most significant proportion of educators (38%) believe technology deserves more investment. A quarter say schools are spending the right amount on technology, but not always on the right technology.

How do you feel about your school's allocation of budget to technology?

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How does this break down by role? The highest percentage of teachers (43%) and IT staff (42%) agree there’s too little budget allocated to technology, whereas over a third (36%) of SLT believe it’s at the right level.

How do you feel about your school's allocation of budget to technology?

“Technology never figures large because we never have enough money in the pot to do it well.”

“There is not enough budget for schools to effectively promote technology.”

After teachers comes technology

There is some suggestion that salaries prevent schools from making adequate investments in edtech. However, excepting wages, technology is the biggest spend for most schools.

“As an academy we are very top heavy when it comes to salaries, so money is always tight.”

“I would love to use technology in the classroom, but we don't have the suitable resources in school to make it possible.”

Money doesn't make students happy, at least not yet

Despite wellbeing being one of the highest strategic priorities, the vast majority of schools report it won’t be reflected in spending next year. Only time will tell if there is a hidden cost to pay. Just 2% of schools will invest in wellbeing for 2022/23.

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • Strategic vision matters, but budget continues to make the difference between "possible" and "improbable" educational objectives.

  • With most upfront spending for COVID-19 out of the way, at least what little budget remains can be directed back to education.

  • Salaries understandably account for the biggest chunk of spending, with technology coming a respectable, if distant, second place.

  • Technology is worth it, most agree. And where would schools have been without it in 2020/21? However, educators are keen to focus on proven tech with clear benefits.

  • Safeguarding and pupil safety, together with social and emotional learning, are said to be top priorities. But a glance at the 2022/23 budgets will reveal that almost all schools won't be paying to improve wellbeing.

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Tech use

Embracing interactive learning

Technology is widely acknowledged to be a great way to engage students and improve educators’ productivity. It’s also seen as a necessary part of everyday life, so should be reflected in lessons. Remote teaching and learning software served teachers best at home, but educators constantly strive to innovate with technology anywhere they can. Tech confidence has increased in the last year, although time and skills remain a barrier for some.

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77%

Technology is a highly effective way to engage students, according to a significant majority
of educators.

Schools' use of tech:

The headlines

Technology is essential to education

Most educators agree that technology is everywhere, so it ought to be in the classroom. And that's not the only reason. Educators value a variety of tech benefits – from gaining and retaining students' attention, to enhancing their own performance.

  • 83% of educators say technology is necessary for everyday life, so it should be reflected in lessons.
  • 77% of educators believe technology is a great way to engage students.
  • 76% of educators believe technology helps them do their job better.

Technology makes students and teachers work together better

Enhancing communication and collaboration is the number one technology priority, according to the largest consensus of educators (40%). At no other time in the last five years has it been so high on the agenda.

Educators agree using technology to enhance collaboration and communication is more important than ever

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Perhaps because of its power to engage and support more effective teaching and learning, 40% of educators also believe technology improves behaviour – nearly 10% more than last year.

What does your school strategy identify as a priority when it comes to technology?

Technology inspires future actions

Technology plays a crucial role in making top-level decisions, according to 71% of educators. 39% agree some technologies are important, while 32% say that technology is essential to strategic goals like attainment, performance and results.

How important is the role of technology on your wider strategic priorities? (eg. attainment, school performance, results)

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Untapped potential

Most educators recognise the power of technology to revolutionise teaching and learning, and are excited to explore its full potential.

  • 54% of educators constantly strive to innovate by using technology as a tool for education.
  • 48% of teachers agree - the highest proportion.

Of the following responses, which statement describes you best?

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Without technology at the moment the school would not function!

Technology helps me do my job better (%)

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A little training makes a big difference

However, many educators (46%) are still struggling to get the most out of technology. Lack of training can make teachers feel overwhelmed and undersupported.

"I like trying new technologies in the classroom, but know I could be doing more."

"I am constantly learning how to use technology to better support the teaching and learning of my class. However, I feel sometimes we are left to 'learn on the job', rather than being trained effectively."

"We don't receive enough training on the best ways to effectively use technology to impact on learning."

Remote learning on the job

Adapting to online teaching was a steep learning curve for some educators. On the positive side, the experience and insights gained will prove invaluable to deliver engaging lessons in future.

"I can use technology personally but to teach from takes a lot of planning and training before I feel it can be a success for the class. It has been tough this year having to get to grips with teaching remotely and using relevant technology to support lessons."

Teaching old school educators new tricks

Legacy technology like photocopiers (66%) and printers (61%) are still being used more frequently than more advanced – and sustainable – technology. That said, interactive whiteboards (53%) are the most popular choice for over half of educators, while cloud-based homework has plenty of opportunity for growth at 31%. Keep scrolling to explore what lies ahead for technology in education.

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • Technology remained indispensable for most schools, reflecting its ever-increasing prominence in life and work and, of course, the value it brings to learning inside and out of the classroom.

  • Many students and educators depended on technology to facilitate remote learning last year, and schools are investing in online resources to ensure it's fully integrated and up-to-date.

  • Where gaps in technology use persist, training and budget will remain the main culprits for now.

  • Despite unprecedented choice and innovation, most educators are still using the technology their teachers used. Increasing numbers are embracing next-generation tech, but it remains to be seen when photocopiers and printers will be retired.

  • Most importantly, technology is helping schools, teachers and students perform better and will continue to do so, provided it’s used appropriately to the learning situation.

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