According to British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), on average, primary school pupils spend 53.7% of their time engaging with ICT in the classroom. Well provisioned classrooms and a thorough school digital framework, therefore, are essential. At the same time, ICT strategy is given less emphasis in primary institutions. So, what are the top challenges faced by primary school ICT departments?
1. Unreliable broadband
According to our annual State of Technology in Education report, over half of all teachers think that online assessment, online content and resources will make the biggest growth in the next 1–5 years. High-speed internet access is, of course, crucial to the uptake and use of such educational technologies in primary schools.
Sadly, more than half of primaries do not have adequate broadband. Only 44% of primary ICT leaders said their schools were ‘currently well resourced’ with broadband, compared with 97% of secondary schools, where WiFi is given more attention.
2. Staff training
To keep up with the pace of IT change, teachers need regular and thorough education on the use of edtech and digital resources. In fact, the training requirements in the use of digital materials in primary schools increased from 39% in 2015 to 43% in 2016, and grew again in 2017.
Meanwhile, our report revealed that only 5% of teachers believe that they receive full training and support when it comes to the edtech; down 2% from last year. This training will often fall to ICT departments or third party resellers, and can often be time consuming. It is, however, essential to ensure tech buy-in by the whole school staff.
3. Budget cuts
Just under half of teachers believe that schools are either not allocating enough budget to technology, or are investing in the wrong things, according to our report. Failing technology in primary schools, meanwhile, is preventing schools for making more effective use of it’s digital resources.
The average ICT budget for a primary school is forecast to be £13,800 in 2017/18. This is under a quarter of the allocated budget for secondary schools, and is a year-on-year decline of 4 percent. School ICT departments in primary schools face increasingly challenging environments for implementing new IT strategies.
Consider, perhaps, a trial run with cloud-based technology, or server virtualisation to save costs at your primary school. Read more tips on maximising your ICT budget.
4. Data governance and online security
Maximising online safety and minimising the risk of cyber attacks were agreed to be the most crucial challenges and priorities facing school IT departments over the next 12 months. With the GDPR approaching, data protection is also at the forefront of all IT departments’ minds. In primary schools with less digital maturity, it is absolutely essential that all data collection procedures, as well as online safety strategies, are updated to ensure compliance with the incoming legislation.
Over half of of primary school teachers, meanwhile, need training in e-safety issues, so it is essential IT leaders train and education the rest of the school in how to be data aware.
5. Minimal ICT leverage
As an ICT leader, you will understand that edtech — like a front-of-class Promethean ActivPanel — is essential for ensuring pupils are more digitally literate and are well set up for their futures in the modern workplace, as well as improving attainment across schools.
Ensuring other educational leaders and SLTs in primary schools see the value of a technology strategy, however, is an ongoing challenge. Your IT department plays a vital role in an educational environment, yet the ICT representation at a managerial level is often lacking. Our research uncovered growing calls from ICT leaders to be given a seat at the table to ensure that ICT strategies are championed across the school.
Overall, there are an overwhelming number of new technologies coming to market but limited annual budgets in primary schools. With the continued pressure to exceed goals, it has never been more important for school IT managers and decision makers to consider how to overcome these challenges, ensuring you make the correct decisions and maximise your ICT budgets.
Quick guide to boosting engagement
Pupils learn more, retain information for longer, and behave better when they’re fully engaged. Learn how higher engagement can enhance your school’s attainment in our quick guide.Download