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School budgets: will the pressure ease off in 2019?

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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Today, there are mixed reports on the state of school funding. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the amount of spending per pupil has fallen by 8% since 2010. What’s more, schools are facing a steep increase in the employer contributions they must make for their teachers’ pensions from next April. Yet the Department for Education says funding is at its highest ever level, reaching £43.5 billion by 2020.

To track the true sentiment in schools year-on-year, we ask educators across the UK and Ireland their opinions on school budgets. Interestingly, our State of technology in Education 2018/19 report suggests that budgets, whilst still clearly an ongoing concern, are causing marginally less distress for school leaders than the year before. Yet when it comes to edtech budgets specifically, more educators would prefer a greater budget allocation.

Are budget worries reaching a dip?

As we’ve seen in the past, the majority of school leaders this year agree that budgetary constraints will have a negative impact on their strategic objectives. This figure, however, has dropped 12.5% since 2017.

When discussing the impact on student education, meanwhile, over 75% of school leaders identify budgets as the biggest influence. Again, this number has dropped—down 10% this year.

Concern over tech budgets is higher

SLTs’ concerns about school budgets may be marginally lower this year, but schools’ fears over limited tech budgets are increasing. Our report indicates that edtech budget worries, whilst down on 2016, have increased since last year.

What’s more, the quality of technology in schools is pretty poor, according to the report. Last year, we discovered that over 83% of teachers struggle with failing tech. According to our 2018 survey, the situation is slowly worsening; this year, the number has increased to over 86%.

This goes hand in hand with an increase in the number of respondents stating there is too little budget allocated to updating and maintaining school technology.

So, our State of technology in Education 2018/19 report suggests that the overall budgetary load may be lightening for schools, but when it comes to edtech budgets specifically, the situation is declining. Schools could, therefore, look at smarter IT investments that maximise their decreasing budgets, or strategies to make the best use of their existing technologies until the budgetary landscape improves.

To read these insights and more on school budgets, download this year’s State of Technology in Education Report. Now in its third year, it’s our most insightful report to date. It’s packed full of candid insights from real educators in the UK and Ireland.