4 minute read
How to maximise your school tech budget
Wondering where to begin with planning your school’s ICT strategy? Read our guide to a effective school digital framework.
Against a backdrop of shrinking ICT budgets, tackling your school’s technology strategy might not be front and centre of your overall school goals for 2018. But thinking carefully about your school digital framework and its ICT investments is vital if it is to support your improvement plans, and provide the best possible education for your students.
If your school’s ICT strategy is crafted out of a desire for the latest technology, you may end up with a fleet of expensive yet redundant devices. A robust and well-considered school digital framework, however, will save your school money in the long-term if you invest in the most appropriate, upgradable and long-lasting technologies.
Read our guide to planning your 2018 ICT strategy:
1. What does your school want to achieve?
Take a moment to consider the bigger picture to maximise your tech investments. What are the existing pain points you wish to address within your school? How does this translate into solutions, devices and softwares to support these goals?
Ask yourself and your staff the following questions to craft your ICT strategic plan:
- What type of learning environment would you like to see within your school in five years time?
- How will pedagogy have changed and how will ICT support this change?
- Do your staff feel confident delivering effective, engaging lessons with your current edtech?
- How will your new tech be embedded into the school and what training will be required to make it a success?
- How and where will learning take place, and what role will students play?
2. How can you achieve these goals?
Today, technology is an essential part of a school’s success. Often there is a perceived disconnect between the goals and requirements of SMT and the ICT departments. In reality, the whole school is dedicated to the following:
- Promoting a safe and secure learning environment
- Providing students with the best possible digital learning experience
- Meeting the OFSTED measures
- Surpassing national targets
- Meeting the requirements to deliver the new computing curriculum
The art to achieving these goals is collaboration. To ensure the buy-in of your staff, parents and wider community, plan out how to effectively use the new edtech in your school’s learning and assessment practices. What’s more, after choosing your tech partner, take the time build a strong relationship with that reseller; when they understand your school’s needs, you’ll benefit from a stronger long term partnership.
Think carefully about the installation process and accessibility of your chosen technologies before committing. You’ll want something fast and intuitive to learn, well supported for technical queries, sufficiently covered by warranty, and involves minimal future maintenance, like the Promethean ActivPanel.
Next, fully train your staff so they understand the benefits of this technology. Our 2017 State of Technology in Education report revealed that only 5% of teachers believe they receive full training on their school’s edtech. This, sadly, isn’t nearly enough to ensure the long term success of your investments.
Involve the entire school in your interactive learning plan. Take into account the personal development needs of leaders, staff and teachers, and the views and insights of students and parents or guardians. At the same time, develop core policies and practices for the safe use of ICT by all members of the school community.
3. What is required?
Due to the rise in cyberbullying, the use of technology in schools is under constant scrutiny. You’ll need to ensure you have acceptable use policies and online safety strategies in place before rolling out your ICT investments. Make sure that these policies are freely and readily available throughout your school. Communicate your active online safety measures to parents and guardians for full transparency and peace of mind.
As well as understanding technology usage policies, staff and teachers should be given additional training on data protection and GDPR requirements, to ensure your school is compliant.
It is important to look at your school’s budget and check that what you can afford will match your school’s needs. It’s advisable to put desired items in priority order. If your budget is extremely tight, there are leasing models which have flexibility to opt out of the contract if it turns out that the edtech isn’t suitable for your school’s needs.
With some basic internet searching you can also find a free guides, white papers and practical ideas for different services to invest in. Conduct thorough research, to find which are the most suitable ICT products for your school.
4. How to measure success
Alongside implementing your ICT strategy, communicating the requirements of your teaching staff, ICT team and any third parties involved will help set expectations for the school digital framework, and helps to reduce errors and misunderstandings.
Put documentation in place to outline which systems the staff, teachers and ICT team are responsible for, and the types of activities each new system supports. A successful strategic ICT plan includes a defined set of measurable educational outcomes. This ensures that your technology investment is well considered and contributes towards the school’s educational objectives, rather than investing in technology first and retrofitting it to your school’s challenges or goals.
Your school can then review the strengths and weaknesses of each ICT solution, and consider how well it supports your objectives. Overall, before rolling out a school ICT strategy, consider how and why new investments will contribute to the overall strategic goals and solve the pain points of your institution, both now and in the future.
Interactive front-of-class displays, like Promethean’s ActivPanel, provide your school the longevity of an upgradeable and scalable piece of tech. It connects your teaching staff and students in the classroom for a truly interactive learning experience, and relieves the administrative burden of assessment and evaluation practices. Effective use of such edtech promotes digital literacy and improves your school’s results and attainment levels.