Today’s educational leaders recognise the role technology can play in helping them meet their strategic aims and attainment targets. But, despite this, in reality, edtech is not always being deployed as effectively as it should. So what are the key challenges headteachers need to overcome in order to remedy this?
1. Budgetary pressures
The shrinking school budget is the single biggest issue facing headteachers today, and this chronic underfunding is having a detrimental impact on the ability of schools to meet their strategic objectives. A lack of funds is also resulting in underinvestment in ICT, as conflicting priorities leads to budget being allocated elsewhere.
“There is never enough funding. Too many agendas too little income.” Headteacher, Local Authority Secondary
However, headteachers can do more to ensure any investment in technology is made wisely. One way to accomplish this is to consider total cost of ownership and invest in appropriate, upgradable and long-lasting technologies. For example, with a front of class display like ActivPanel, schools can benefit from the world’s first upgradeable Android-based interactive display while maximising ROI.
2. Lack of support
According to our report, the majority of educational leaders see technology as an identified priority in their 2017/18 school strategy. With 100% of headteachers confident they have a vision for the future of their schools. However, classroom teachers don’t share this belief, with almost half stating that there is either no clear strategy, or, if there is, they are not aware of it. Worryingly, 60% of teachers cite a failure in leadership as the reason for this.
However, in many cases, the issue isn’t a lack of strategy but a failure to communicate it with the rest of the school. Which is understandable when you consider that headteachers are having to deal with a weighty inspection regime, changing goalposts, a recruitment crisis, and significant budgetary pressures. However, with almost half of teachers believing that schools are either not allocating enough budget to technology, or are investing in the wrong things, heads must do more to share their vision if they want to ensure buy-in.
3. Staff training
Due to the pace of technological developments, regular and adequate staff training is vital to help maximise the potential of educational technology. But budgetary pressures have made it increasingly difficult for headteachers to deliver the level of training that they would like.
Only 5% of teachers believe that they receive full training and support when it comes to the educational technologies at their schools. The State of Technology in Education Report 2017/18
Of course, it’s not just teachers that need training. There are also growing concerns from IT staff within schools about managing an influx of new and emerging technologies. To combat this growing problem, edtech providers need to do more to help headteachers provide more practical training in their schools.
Our online world comes with inherent risks, so keeping pupils safe online is a key concern for headteachers. Despite the benefits, without proper care technology can leave pupils open to misinformation and manipulation. But there are steps headteachers can take to prevent this. For example putting the right training, processes and policies in place and making digital literacy a core part of the school curriculum. Check out these top tips to keep your pupils safe online.
“We continually do work with pupils and parents on e-safety as it is a priority.” Headteacher, Local Authority Primary
With the GDPR approaching, data protection is also at the forefront of all headteachers’ minds. They should, therefore, work with departmental heads and any technology providers to check whether data is managed securely and in accordance with the statutory requirements.
With increasingly squeezed budgets, getting the right school technology and management practices in place can be challenging. However, by taking the time to simplify their school’s ICT infrastructure; headteachers can be freed up to get on with making more strategic improvements. To do this, headteachers must work with IT staff on things like:
- Keeping ICT policies and procedures up-to-date and compliant
- Adopting a cloud-based model – with tools apps and platforms such as ClassFlow – to create greater consistency across their school
- Combining valuable educational tools (e.g. ActivPanel) with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives
Ultimately, while headteachers do have challenges to overcome, by formulating a robust ICT strategy, they can ensure that any educational technology they have invested in is delivering as it should, helping to provide a more engaging learning experience, and supporting their school’s strategic aims.