At the end of last month, Becta added some information on its website about the Harnessing Technology grant for ICT, being allocated to English local authorities and schools from April 2008. It answers some questions you may have, but leaves out one big question - "How much will I get?". Let's see if I can help clarify a little.
Becta's information on funding
The two previous Standards Fund grants (one for 'national digital infrastructure for schools' and one for 'e-learning credits') are being replaced next year with a single Harnessing Technology Grant. You can decide how to spend the grant, according to your own priorities, but there is some guidance highlighting:
- the upgrade of connectivity bandwidths appropriate to particular circumstances and needs, ensuring learners have good access to internet-based services and resources to support their learning at any time while in school
- the extension of ICT access and ICT-based services
- the implementation of learning platforms to enable learners to store and access their work and related information and resources on a secure online space, enabling teachers to share resources and view individual progress more easily
- systems to achieve better use and integration of information to support learning, including assessment, attendance, behaviour and more regular reporting and updates to parents
- investment in a range of technologies to support classroom-based learning (for example, interactive whiteboards and related tools, and other technologies like data loggers).
The grant will be distributed by your local authority, although they can keep 25% of it to "ensure that all schools receive the benefits of aggregated purchasing, including the provision of broadband through regional broadband consortia".
"So, how much money do I get?"
Well, actually that depends. Over time, the grant will be more focused on areas of social deprivation. There's a formula for allocation, based on pupil numbers, 'multiple deprivation indicator' (MDI) and sparsity - and each year the MDI proportion gets higher whilst the sparsity proportion gets lower. And in 2009, there's a drop in the proportion of the grant paid on pupil numbers. So if you're in a densely populated authority with higher deprivation, over the three years you'll expect your funding to rise, whilst sparsely populated areas will probably see their funding fall. The practical result is that Barking & Dagenham's grant will increase by 20% over the 3 years, whilst Hampshire's will fall 10%.
"So, how much money do I get?"
Fair point, I've still not answered the question. And it took a while to compare various sets of statistics...
The two previous Standards Fund grants were worth a total £91m in 2007/8, and the new single grant is worth £237m in 2008/9, falling to £200m in 2009/10.
The overall grant increases by 150% from £91m this year to £237m next year.
This should therefore mean that your Harnessing Technology Grant, in the Standards Fund allocation for 2008/9 will increase by about 150%. It will vary authority to authority and school to school, but it certainly looks as if you should be building your plans for next year based on a substantial increase in IT budget.