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How schools can raise attainment on a budget

Budget-cuts or not, you want to ensure that your school achieves the best results. Here’s how to raise attainment without heavy investment.

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As a school leader, you naturally want your school to achieve the best possible results year after year. Of course, achieving these results is far more easily said than done.

It’s important to raise attainment, regardless of your teachers’ workloads (62% of teachers cite this as stress-inducing, The State of Technology in Education Report: 2018/19) and irrespective of factors that are out of your control, such as budget cuts and school politics. But these are age-old challenges that you will likely have to contend with throughout your career in education.

Here are some key ways to achieve outstanding school results, even when budgets are tight.

Strive for parental engagement and promote extracurricular learning

As you and your staff will know all too well, children’s learning isn’t — or shouldn’t be — confined to school hours. The most successful pupils tend to be those who are encouraged and stimulated at home. Parents’ evenings are the perfect time for your teachers to make their pitch to those less-involved parents.

Whether it’s reading for pleasure or playing learning-based games on a tablet, educators can advise parents that anything that exercises the pupil’s mind outside of the school environment will help to promote a healthy attitude towards learning.

Some parents are instinctively supportive in this way, whereas others aren’t. Especially in the cases of lower-attaining pupils, achieving this parental buy-in can be pivotal to progression and improvement – as this government report, Review of best practice in parental engagement shows.

Crucially, this doesn’t require any additional spending from parents or from schools — the only investment necessary is the kind that costs nothing.

Set high expectations, monitor progress and test knowledge

If a pupil has specific goals to aim for, they are more likely to be actively invested in their own success.

One way to quickly yet effectively test pupils’ knowledge and to monitor their overall progress is to regularly conduct simple pop tests. As well as using traditional print-outs, you should mix it up and boost pupil engagement by introducing interactive elements such as quizzes and polls, and by switching between individual and whole-class testing.

Of course, going digital can incur some costs, but there is plenty of free or low-cost educational software out there (such as ClassFlow: our free, cloud-based lesson-delivery software).

Use collaborative learning to engage struggling pupils

Collaborative learning helps pupils to develop the ‘soft’ skills that employers are looking for. By working together with other pupils of different learning styles and different levels of understanding, each pupil can learn from their peers (and vice versa), which, in turn, introduces all pupils to alternative ways of thinking and problem-solving.

A kinaesthetic pupil might well teach a reading/writing pupil a thing or two about navigating a tablet device, and the same reading/writing pupil might help the same kinaesthetic pupil to gain a better understanding of grammar and punctuation.

Again, this doesn’t eat into any budget, yet it brings more variety and more perspective to each and every pupil’s learning experience.

Edtech and the role of technology in modern teaching

Today’s children are adopting and using technology far earlier and more enthusiastically than any previous generation has, and their future employers are similarly keen to maximise productivity and efficiency through digital technologies. In short, tomorrow’s workforce needs to be digitally savvy. Educators must, therefore, embrace education technology and use it to innovate learning experiences, thereby engaging pupils of all ages, abilities and learning styles.

79% of school staff believe that the future of education will entail a combination of edtech and traditional learning resources, and 96% are of the opinion that using tech actually solves problems (The State of Technology in Education Report: 2018/19).

But before this wider use of tech can become a reality across the UK’s classrooms, the first hurdle for many schools will be getting the teaching-staff collectively onboard and trained up, and this can be subject to time (or lack thereof) and budgets. Yet there are internal resources, such as IT staff, that can assist with this transition without requiring high training budgets.

What’s more, interactive technologies like Promethean ActivPanels are upgradeable and supported by a robust warranty, meaning the total cost of ownership for your school is low despite the initial outlay. In addition to this, free collaborative lesson delivery software, ActivInspire, provides a vast suite of tools for teachers to create and deliver dynamic lessons. You can manage your school’s budget more effectively, knowing the tech will continue to deliver results, whilst improving educational outcomes and raising attainment.

This is key, as the adoption of educational technology is clearly growing, even though school-budgets are sadly not.

Download the 2018 edition of our annual report — The State of Technology in Education (UK & Ireland) — to find out more about the increasingly pivotal role that technology is playing in the education of our children.

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