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Education and Technology in the UK

Kumiko Saito
December 17, 2019
Featured Image - Students in a lecture hall with futuristic tablet during lesson

Promethean World has released their 2019/2020 report on the state of technology in education. This fourth-annual report is full of interesting stats, trends, and information about the perception, usage, funding, and future of tech in the UK’s education industry. Beyond that, the report provides insights into the state of the industry in general, including the top current concerns and priorities of all stakeholders in academia (including leadership, educators, and IT staff).

You can read Promethean’s full report here. But for those who don’t have time to wade through the whole thing, here are three key takeaways that caught our eye here at Kivuto.

Tech is Important, But Underfunded

There’s good news and bad news regarding the state of tech in education.

The bad news relates to funding. Although more and more school leaders identify technology as a priority, there’s a perception that these leaders aren’t yet putting their money where their mouths are. 46% of all academic stakeholders, and 56% of school IT managers, don’t think their schools are spending enough on EdTech.

These stakeholders may have a point. Because for all the acknowledgement of tech’s vital role in education, technology still isn’t a top-three budgeting priority for most UK schools. Fortunately, though, there are signs that this is changing – which brings us to the good news.

Recognition of technology’s importance in education is on the rise. The perceived value of “delivering educational benefits through technology” has more than doubled since 2017. So has the number of school leaders who believe that EdTech will play an important role in the future of education. And though these percentages remain fairly low (22% and 49% respectively), the rate of increase is encouraging.

Strategic Planning and Faculty Empowerment

One concerning takeaway from Promethean’s report is that schools struggle to form clear long-term strategies.

A slim majority of respondents (51.7%) think that their school has a clear strategic vision. However, this constitutes a drop of 17% since last year. School leaders are the most optimistic on this front, with 70% claiming their school has a strategy. But considering 100% of leaders felt that way just two years ago, this stat isn’t as encouraging as it could be.

The silver lining is that where a strategy does exist, more stakeholders report feeling involved in its development and implementation. That percentage has been rising since 2017. This suggests that schools are becoming more collaborative in their strategizing, including a wider range of stakeholders in their decision-making.

There is one glaring exception, though – teachers. Only 7.4% of educators believe that they play any role in their school’s strategic vision. Clearly, this is an area where work needs to be done. Faculty form the front line in education. They bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring students’ academic success and training tomorrow’s workforce. At the very least, they should feel like they have a voice at the table when it comes to their schools’ strategic planning.

It’s All About Budgets

Money plays a major role in why schools struggle both to develop strategies and to adequately fund technology. One of the clearest lessons from Promethean’s report is that budget constraints impact absolutely everything at these institutions.

This is no surprise. Schools are notorious for having to operate under tight budgets. Anything from government policies to snap security or compliance audits can tighten these budgets further with little warning. Naturally, this makes it hard for schools to plan very far ahead. As a result, a majority of school leaders (53.6%) acknowledge that budget issues will make it challenging for them to meet their strategic objectives for the coming year. Two thirds of school leaders (66.6%) consider budget to be a key factor when setting those objectives in the first place.

Promethean’s report shows that budget restrictions affect more than a school’s ability to form long-term strategies. These restrictions are also the most commonly cited reason why faculty don’t receive more training, particularly in the use of EdTech. Budgets are also seen as the most likely factor by far to impact student education, both this year and for the foreseeable future.

* * *

So tech is vital to the future of education, but it’s not yet being funded proportionally to its importance. Schools struggle to develop long-term strategies, and educators often feel left out of these strategies. And budgeting constraints remain a constant concern, impacting all aspects of education.

But there’s good news to be gleaned from the report as well. Though many stakeholders still believe their institutions are underspending on tech, overall spending on technology is on the rise. Though more effort to include educators is needed, schools are becoming more collaborative in their strategic planning. And though budget constraints are a big concern, this is a challenge the education industry has plenty of experience dealing with.

Those were the main points I took from Promethean’s report on the state of tech in education for this year. There’s a lot more in there, though, so if you have the time and interest, you can read the whole report here.

Kumiko Saito
December 17, 2019

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