The State of Technology in Education 2019/20

Our annual State of Technology in Education Report is always packed full of candid insights, key trends, and technology predictions within the education sector, shining a light on what's most important. Now in its 4th year, this year's edition is no different.

Schools' Strategic Goals

School leaders are committed to using technology to increase engagement and collaboration while focusing on creative learning experiences and new learning techniques. However, there is less confidence in schools' strategic visions, particularly among teachers and IT managers, despite ever more respondents taking an active role in strategy.

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Significant increase in focus on pupil needs and curriculum

SMT members identify the biggest influences on their strategies as pupils’ needs (81.2%—up by over 20% since 2018/19) and the curriculum, which has risen over 40 percentage points from 20.9% to 61.9%.

Which are the greatest influences when shaping your overall school strategy?

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What overall changes do you think will impact student education this year and beyond?

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Schools are stuck trying to replace traditional methods with technology - this is due to old fashioned curriculum design

Assistant/Deputy Head, Secondary High

Wales

Creative learning experiences and new learning techniques are top priorities, after results

Providing more creative learning experiences' and 'New pedagogical techniques/learning strategies' are the second (34.2%) and third (32.4%) highest priorities for the year ahead - their highest ranking yet. 'Providing more creative learning experiences' in particular has almost doubled since 2017/18 (17.2%). This aligns with Ofsted’s announcement that it will be prioritising broader teaching over exam results.

What does your school identify as key priorities for the year ahead?

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Increased strategic focus on tech

'Delivering educational benefits through technology' is an ever-growing priority for all, up to 22.1% from 9.1% in 2017/18.

% who identify delivering educational benefits through technology as a priority

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Almost 40% of senior leaders say they want to use technology to enhance collaboration in school

SMT members are very focused on using technology to boost collaboration and engagement. Almost 40% say they want to use technology to enhance collaboration in school (nearly twice as many since 2017/18). Nearly half of SMT members (49.7%) say they want to use technology to boost engagement (up around 35% since 2017/18).

In terms of technology, what are the priorities in your strategy?

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The cloud-based development of shared learning resources allows teachers to be more collaborative and creative in meeting the needs of a wide range of students.

Head of Department / Faculty, Local Authority School

Scotland

Online meetings free up so much time. The ability to work collaboratively on line as a MAT is really powerful.

Head Teacher, Multi Academy Trust

North West

However, there is less confidence in schools’ strategic visions—and more criticism...

Only 51.7% of respondents believe their school has a clear strategic vision

Just over half of respondents (51.7%) believe their school has a clear strategic vision for the year ahead, down 17% from last year. 1 in 10 (11.2%) don’t actually know what their school’s key priorities are for the year ahead.

Two years ago, 100% of SMT agreed their school had clear strategic vision for the year ahead—now just over 70%. IT managers are the only group who have remained fairly consistent (at between 60 and 70%).

Yes, my school has a clear strategic vision for the year ahead

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Of those schools that identify a lack of strategy, a failure in leadership is blamed by 40.9%—with teachers and IT being most critical of school leaders.

Why doesn't your your school have a clear strategic vision?

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...Despite more respondents taking an active role in strategy

Interestingly, clarity of purpose is decreasing as more respondents are taking an active role in strategy than ever before (from 9.8% in 2017/18 to nearly 19% in 2019/20).

I played a lead role in formulating the school strategy

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We've seen a dramatic increase in respondents taking a key role in their school's strategy, particularly business managers and headteachers. Everyone, in fact, except for teachers; the group with the lowest influence, which has decreased to just 7.4%. Are schools losing touch with their most valuable assets?

Just 7.4% of teachers take a key role in their school’s strategy

I played a key role in my school's strategy

By role

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The technological advances seem to come from the teachers up rather than being imposed on the staff by Senior Management.

Head of Department / Faculty, Independent Full Age Range

North West

Leadership has no one strategically responsible for technology and most are technophobes.

Teacher / Senior Teacher, Local Authority Primary

London

SLT would like to cut screen time - thinking of it as 'the enemy' - I believe it is lack of understanding of how it can be used effectively in lessons.

Teacher / Senior Teacher, Multi Academy Trust

West Midlands

Technology is widely recognised as helping to improve education—and is therefore a vital component of schools’ strategies. But there remains disagreement over exactly where those strategies need to focus. Senior leaders have some way to go to win teachers and IT managers over.

Workload and Wellbeing

Workload is at a critical level for many educators and represents the biggest threat to staff retention. Schools are also doing more than ever to improve the situation, but there remains a perception gap between SMT, IT managers and teachers, with senior leaders not quite as concerned about the problem.

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Workload is reaching critical levels

8 out of 10 teachers believe workload is contributing to high levels of stress in schools.

81.2% of teachers believe workload is contributing to high levels of stress in schools, up 19.1% from last year. Senior leaders agree, but only 65.6% - revealing a disconnect between senior leadership and the classroom.

Teacher workload is contributing towards high levels of stress in my school

All educators

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Teacher workload is contributing towards high levels of stress in my school

By department

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Which statements come closest to describing your opinions towards the workload of teachers in your school?

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I would hope advancements in educational technology would see a genuine reduction in duplication of tasks and easing of bureaucracy.

Assistant/Deputy Head, Local Authority School

West Midlands

Schools beginning to do more

Workload may be worse than ever, yet 38.2% of respondents also believe schools are doing more to address the problem (compared to 19.5% in 2018/19).

Teachers' workloads are high but it is being actively addressed in my school

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But there's still a perception gap between SMT, IT managers and teachers

70.7% of teachers say workload is harming learning (compared to 58.1% of SMT members or 50.4% of IT managers).

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What's causing the most frustration? Workload, long hours, pupil behaviour, lack of support from SLT.

TA / admin / support staff, Local Authority Secondary

West Midlands

55.6% of SMT members say they’re actively addressing the strategic disconnect. But only 32.6% of teachers agree.

And workload remains the most significant threat to retention

More than 30% of survey respondents believe staff retention is a challenge, and fewer than 4% of educators believe their schools are addressing the issue.

Is staff retention a challenge in your school?

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And workload remains the most significant threat to retention

What’s more, over half of respondents (52%) agree workload or long hours are the biggest threat to retention.

Given that staffing already takes the majority of a school budget, this scenario leads to high teacher/pupil ratios or even more budget required to spend on agency/temporary teachers.

Senior leaders acknowledge that workload is a major issue. However, the overwhelming majority of teachers and IT managers say it’s critical. There are some promising signs that schools are beginning to address the problem, but this is where the time-saving benefits of technology in particular will prove indispensable.

Staff Training

After recent years of focus, training has fallen in the list of school's strategic priorities. But it remains more critical than ever (especially for edtech). Why? Teachers want more spent on training, but can't create more time to manage their overflowing workloads.

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Training has fallen in the list of priorities

Teacher training has fallen in the list of respondents' priorities for the coming year, less than half of what it was last year (31.3% → 12.8%).

Is there anything else that should be a key priority in the coming year?

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Conflict over priorities between SMT and teachers

86.1% of SMT members are onboard with their school's strategic training priorities. Only 58.3% of teachers are.

In particular, more SMT members than teachers (30.6% vs 21.6%) say their schools prioritise training on curriculum or government-led changes.

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

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IT managers and SMT members think training is a higher priority than teachers do

Just 10.2% of teachers said training is a key priority, compared to 19.7% of IT managers and 21.7% of SMT members.

What does your school identify as key priorities for 2019/20?

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More training is required as some teachers are not using edtech at all.

Assistant/Deputy Head, Local Authority Primary

Republic of Ireland

Training is excellent for teaching staff, but as the school is run by teachers, they have no idea what training non-teachers require.

IT/Network Manager, Multi Academy Trust

West Midlands

When it comes to funding, twice as many SMT members (61.3%) identify training as a priority compared to teachers (29.7%).

Is teacher/staff training identified as a funding priority in your 2019/20 school strategy?

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However… Many respondents agree that not enough is being spent on training—especially teachers

Around a third of all teachers, IT managers and SMT members agree that insufficient funds are allocated to training. But of those who think funding is at the right level, the difference is stark: 49.4% of SMT members compared to 20.3% of teachers and 21% of IT managers. It seems this is one of the main areas where the SMT school strategy disconnect is strongest (jump to: Schools' Strategic Goals).

How do you feel about your school's allocation of budget towards teacher/staff training in 2019/20?

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I think our school throws a lot of time and sometimes money, at training but very little of it is actually effective at developing the skills and understanding of the staff.

Head of Department/Faculty, Academy Primary

South East England

And edtech training is in high demand

What has happened in the last four years? In 2016/17, 55% of teachers said they got adequate edtech training and support. Now just 16.5% do.

Most respondents agree on this, especially teachers. Only 16.5% of teachers—down from 55% in 2016/17—believe they receive adequate edtech training and support. Just 6.5% say they receive full training and support.

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It's a shame only a small minority of teachers are supported and encouraged to use technology to engage students in a love for learning. The school is too focussed on training students to pass.

IT/Network Manager, Academy Secondary

London

The real reason teachers are conflicted about training?

Respondents cite 'Budgetary issues/other priorities' (58%) and 'No time to deliver' (25.2%) as the main reason more training is not provided at their schools.

This hints at why there is an apparent contradiction in teachers' response to training. Many respondents say it would be nice to have if they weren't already struggling to find the time to perform their core duties.

We're verging on too much training without time to implement changes effectively.

Teacher, Local Authority Primary

Scotland

There's no time off allowed to attend training.

IT/Network Manager, Multi Academy Trust

North East

Most respondents are closely aligned, although IT managers at MATs have a different perspective. Just 20% cite 'Budgetary issues/other priorities' and 33.3% say 'No time to deliver'. 22.7% gave other reasons—with many criticising how training is planned and delivered.

Training is a thorny topic for teachers. Many appreciate it can help them do their jobs better; but they can't help seeing it as another drain on their time—especially if it's regarded as irrelevant or ineffectual. As we'll see in the following section, whether it's time or money, when resources are scarce educators want schools to focus on what delivers the biggest impact.

Budgets

'Operations & maintenance' and 'additional learning support' have seen a dramatic increase in priority, followed by 'technology'. The latter is now the fourth most likely asset to command the majority of schools' budgets, but many agree they need to spend more. School leaders are most concerned about the impact of budgets on education, and there is disagreement with teachers and IT managers over how training budgets are allocated.

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School leaders are most concerned about the impact of budgets on education

Money is always a factor. As we've seen each year, most school leaders (53.6%) agree budgets will make it difficult for their schools to realise their strategic objectives.

Do you think budgetary constraints will make it difficult for your school to realise its strategic objectives in the coming year?

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Budget constraints are a huge barrier to progress.

Assistant/Deputy Head, Local Authority Secondary

West Midlands

Two thirds of school leaders (66.6%) say budget played a key factor when devising their schools' strategies

Education budgets are having a bigger impact on school strategies. Two thirds of school leaders (66.6%) say budget played a key factor when devising their schools' strategies and 29.1% said it was a consideration. Last year the split was more even (42.7% vs 48.3%).

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

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When it comes to education, 71.7% of school leaders say budgets will have the biggest impact on students (albeit this number is slowly dropping).

What overall changes do you think will impact student education this year and beyond?

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Teachers and IT managers don't agree with school leaders on training budgets

Just one in five teachers say enough is spent on training.

Do schools pay the bills for the skills? Opinions differ. SMT members are almost two and a half times more likely (49.4%) to say that the training budget is at the right level, compared to teachers (20.3%) and IT managers (21%). (Jump to: Staff training)

How do you feel about your school's allocation of budget towards teacher/staff training in 2019/20?

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More investment is needed in providing technology in schools. Not just the purchasing of hardware—more training is required for the teachers. They need to be more confident in using technology, and move with the times at the same pace as technology does.

IT/Network Manager, Free school, Primary Phase up to Sixth Form

North West

It's better for a school to be part of the progressive movement than to lag behind due to IT ignorance. However, I recognise that with ever decreasing school budgets, not all schools have the options to invest in better IT infrastructure, resources and edtech.

IT/Network Manager, Local Authority Primary

London

Big increase in spending on operations and maintenance, and additional learning support

Where will schools spend most of their budget in the next 12 months? Compared to last year, almost five times as many school leaders (10.7% in 2018/19 → 49.3% in 2019/20) agree operations and maintenance will be the spending top priority after salaries, followed by additional learning support (4.5% in 2018/19 → 30.2% in 2019/20).

%10.7

Operations and maintenance budget allocation: 2018/19

%49.3

Operations and maintenance budget allocation: 2019/20

%4.5

Learning support budget allocation: 2018/19

%30.2

Learning support budget allocation: 2019/20

What will your school spend the most on in the coming year?

The SMT perspective

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Technology spend rises to fourth place in budgets

15.5% of school leaders say they'll spend most of their budget on tech in the coming year (compared to 3.9% in 2018/19).

The number of senior leaders who say they will spend most of their budget on tech has more than tripled in the last year, from 3.9% in 2018/19 to 15.5% in 2019/20—putting tech as the fourth highest spending priority.

Over 40% of school leaders say technology will have a major impact on student education during this year and beyond

The number of school leaders that say edtech will impact education has doubled in the last year (17.6% in 2018/19 to 40.9% in 2019/20). This is its highest level in the last four years (35% in 2016/17, 30% in 2017/18). Are more school leaders once more recognising its potential?

What overall changes do you think will impact student education this year and beyond?

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But still not enough is spent on edtech

However, for the past four years, more respondents agree that too little budget is spent on technology—currently 46.3%, the highest percentage we've seen.

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

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%56.7

Percentage of IT managers concerned about school budget allocation for technology

%51.8

Percentage of SMT members concerned about school budget allocation for technology

%44.7

Percentage of teachers concerned about school budget allocation for technology

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

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Back in 2016/17, teachers were the most concerned group. When asked if they thought too little budget was being allocated to technology, 45.5% agreed. SMT and IT were less negative in 2016/17 and more closely aligned (37.5% and 38% respectively).

It's IT managers, though, that have really ramped up their criticism, going from 38% in 2016/17 to 56.7% in 2019/20 complaining not enough is spent on technology.

56.7% of IT managers say not enough is spent on tech

When viewed alongside data on how much schools now value technology, it's clear there is a misalignment in the perception of the value of technology and what is being spent on it.

School budgets are always a contentious issue. Virtually everyone agrees there's never quite enough money, so it's not surprising there's fierce debate over what to actually spend it on. However, we'd expect to see the increased investment in technology translate into greater efficiency savings and improved learning outcomes in time for next year's budget.

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Schools' use of Tech

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The State of Technology in Education
2019/20 Report

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Technology is essential to everyday life. But is it integral to education? With insight from 2,000 senior leaders, teachers and IT managers, this report reveals where schools are strategically aligned and where divisions lie—from workload and wellbeing to budgets and training.

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