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[Our experience at the ISBA 2016]

We would like to say a big thank you to ISBA for allowing us to discuss our services and distribute our 9ine branded water, which proved rather popular in the morning of the second day - possibly the result of too much wine being consumed on the night before at the evening dinner!

Over the course of the two days we have had in excess of 80 individual meetings with representatives from schools in the UK, mainland Europe and the Middle East.

We would like to share with you the three common technology concerns raised and how we feel they can be addressed.

 

1. Embedding 1:1 devices in learning

Many of our discussions involved concerns that significant investment had been made on 1:1 devices, yet there was no tangible benefit to the students’ learning. Bursars are frustrated with the lack of staff and student use of the devices, given the amount of training time allocated and the challenges which the devices raise regarding safeguarding and learning outputs.

In recent news, Maine Schools in America have swapped out all their 1:1 iPads for MacBooks, citing teacher training as a constraint to effective use, and going as far to say that iPads have no educational impact.1

Lessons Learnt

Although the results were overwhelmingly in favor of laptops: 88.5% of teachers and 74% of students favored them over iPads, the need for training investment was not prioritised.

We’ve come across similar issues within schools in the UK. Our schools have addressed these issues through structured training and development of teaching methods rather than replacing ICT equipment and investing in more kit. The focus for our schools has been to enhance learning by supporting teachers in confidently delivering a lesson - whichever their choice of technology might be.

You need to:

  • Agree a model where teachers have a regular series of 1:1 meetings with a coach
  • Set objectives to ensure teachers focus upon improving their teaching, not their digital skills
  • Capture evidence of progress and share best practice in the teachers’ use of technology
  • Review outcomes against objectives and plan for further, personalised CPD

The result of your work would look similar to our Digital Learning Programme outputs. The Digital Learning Programmecoaches teachers in the effective combination of pedagogy and technology, using your own students, lesson plans and technology, for rapid improvement in their professional practice. Read more about our Digital Learning Programme on how it can support your school’s aspirations - and how it will hedge your ICT investment decisions from unnecessary spend - by clicking here.

1 Bonnie Hashuk, “State offers laptops as trade-in for school iPads”, http://www.sunjournal.com/news/lewiston-auburn/2016/05/19/state-offering-schools-ipad-trade/1927446, (May 16, 2016).

 

2. Audit, Compliance and Value for Money

Phrases such as ‘the dark arts of ICT’ and the need to ‘demystify’ were heard on a regular basis over the two days. A common theme from Bursar feedback is that a large proportion of a school’s budget is allocated to ICT, yet there is often concern around the actual need for this significant expenditure. Another concern is over the risks their school could be exposed to should ICT systems fail or a member of their ICT team leaves.

Many Bursars expressed their anxiety around compliance with current and future safeguarding requirements in regards to filtering and monitoring. Many schools are still planning on developing, or furthering, a BYOD scheme. However, the forecast reduction in spend is not materialising. Other Bursars are concerned that they are uncertain as to the policies, processes and procedures at their schools regarding disaster recovery and business continuity.

Lessons Learnt

Our team are working with all of our clients to ensure they are preparing in line with the “Draft: Keeping children safe in education Statutory guidance for schools and colleges” document.2 We are also reviewing a number of 3 - 5 year budgets plans.

In preparation for statutory guidance changes, you need to:

  • Ensure governors are aware of the increase in their level of responsibility
  • Assess your current filtering / management technologies, safeguarding policies, usable acceptance policies, staff training and management processes to be compliant with the draft requirements
  • Effectively monitor the online behaviour of children, and do so at an individual level so the risk (in terms of radicalisation and accessing inappropriate materials) of each child is known and can be managed

Refer to our blog ‘New Safeguarding Statutory Guidance - Are you compliant?’ for more information.

When planning your ICT expenditure needs, you should:

  • Understand your existing ICT assets (client devices and infrastructure)
  • Review your historic ICT running cost budgets (excluding capital expenditure)
  • Review ICT contracts to ensure supplier is delivering in line with contractual agreement
  • Create ‘like for like’ replacement budgets for 3 - 5 years
  • A teaching and learning representative to review the curriculum needs and outline requirements
  • ICT services to work with teaching and learning to realign the ‘like for like’ budgets
  • 3 - 5 year budgets to be presented back to SLT with a clear rationale for investment decisions outlined

Many of the Bursars who visited us took away our example Health Check documentation to assess whether they need to undertake an audit of their technology systems, services and its impact on effectively supporting teaching and learning.

2 Department of Education, “Draft: Keeping children safe in education Statutory guidance for schools and colleges”, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/487799/Keeping_children_safe_in_education_draft_statutory_guidance.pdf, (September, 2015).

3 9ine Consulting, "New Safeguarding Statutory Guidance - Are you compliant?", http://www.9ine.uk.com/newsblog/new-safeguarding-statutory-guidance-are-you-compliant, (May 4, 2016).

 

3. Cloud technology

There’s been a lot of discussion regarding Microsoft O365 v Google Apps for Education. Bursars are unsure of the advantages and / or disadvantages of either platform. They raised concerns on functionality, ease of use, training needs, teacher and student workflow and impact on current working patterns.

Lessons Learnt

We have supported clients to move to cloud platforms for a number of years and found answering the question “Google vs. Office 365” has become harder. Over the last 12 - 18 months Microsoft have spent a lot of time investing in their education service offering.

When making the decision at your school you need to:

  • Clearly define your vision and strategy for ICT
  • Understand how ICT is currently being used by both staff and students
  • Agree which cloud services the school may use e.g. document storage, calendars, emails
  • Allocate key staff to review the features of Google and Office 365 in line with agreed services
  • Compare and contrast staff feedback
  • Understand if your school can feasibly move away from Microsoft packages such as Word and Excel
  • Agree if it’s Office 365 or Google Apps
  • Agree dates for the migration works to be done
  • Plan, plan and plan some more
  • Train staff, train students and continue to train

If you are thinking of cloud services please contact our team to discuss your options. We would be more than happy to put you in contact with other schools who have been on this journey or are currently evaluating their options. Click on the button below to get in touch. 

 

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