School leaders have to deal with a weighty inspection regime, changing goalposts, a recruitment crisis, and significant budgetary pressures. And, in 2017/18, when it comes to priorities, the most important goals for schools (The State of Technology in Education Report: 2017/18) are:
- Reducing the attainment gap
- Improving attendance
- New pedagogical techniques/learning strategies.
So there is no doubt that the role of educational leaders in 2017 is not an easy one.
But, while 94% of educators agree with their school’s priorities, school leaders and teachers aren’t always on the same page when it comes to how best to achieve these. In fact, while 100% of head teachers are confident they have a vision for the future of their schools – and a clear strategy to help them reach these objectives – classroom teachers aren’t convinced, with almost half stating that there is either no clear strategy, or, if there is, they are not aware of it.
Indeed, according to the same report, 66% of teachers have no input into their school strategy, and less than 10% of plans are looked at collaboratively as a shared project by SMTs. So, it seems that the majority of teachers remain an unexploited resource. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and with increased collaboration, teachers could provide much-needed support to heads. What’s more, by bringing them into the strategic process early on, leaders could help to ensure a higher level of buy-in from all stakeholders – making their professional lives a lot easier.
Technology in the classroom
Take technology for example. On its own it might not be the answer to all educational challenges, but it can help to provide schools with a strategic way to improve attainment and deliver more collaborative, relevant, and engaging educational experiences. But only if invested made in edtech is done so wisely.
Unfortunately, all too often, schools are spending money on technology without a clear understanding of HOW it can help teachers. The result is that many teachers feel increasing pressure to use technology for technology’s sake, rather than when it is relevant to teaching and learning; and in the long-term, this leads to technology being incorrectly used, or not used at all.
“We have, in the past, bought technology and then been asked to find uses for it in lessons. Surely the question, ‘What technology would enhance your lessons?’, should drive purchases?” Teacher, Academy Secondary
What’s more, almost half of teachers (48%) now feel that their schools are either not allocating enough budget to technology, or are investing in the wrong things. Likewise, the majority of teachers think that technology is not always being used correctly or maintained. So, it’s no wonder that, while today’s educational leaders recognise the role technology can play in helping them deliver their current school strategy, in reality, it is not being correctly deployed.
Today teachers want a bigger role when it comes to deciding which technologies are used in their classrooms. But despite this, it seems that they are not always being consulted when it comes to purchasing decisions, and that’s a problem, with teachers closest to the needs and behaviours of their students. At the same time, heads need more help when it comes to creating and delivering on their school strategies, but as yet, teachers remain an untapped source of support.
For technology to deliver on its promise when it comes to teaching and learning, more must be done to improve communication between heads and staff, and to ensure the right investment to help schools meet their strategic objectives.