Yesterday, at the SSAT Conference, Ed Balls took to the stage to talk about the need for more efficient resource management in schools. The Guardian kicked off the coverage this morning, with their dramatic headline “Ed Balls tells schools to make £750M savings” (probably NOT the headline he wanted to see as he faced 2,000 school leaders in Birmingham).
And at the same time, the DCSF website announced the matching discussion paper ‘Securing our future: using our resources well', which contains a series of ideas for schools to save money, and provides some case studies. When it comes to ICT, there’s a strong point that is made:
The huge investment of the last 12 years in information and communications technology in schools is an important area for review. In many schools the benefits realised from ICT are limited. Becta’s Harnessing Technology survey shows that only a quarter of all schools are using ICT effectively across all their business functions. Many schools use technology imaginatively in some areas of their work such as tracking pupil progress, teaching in some subjects or communicating with parents. But in spite of some good practice, many schools are not deriving the full benefit. Becta’s self-evaluation framework gives schools a ready tool to help plan their use of technology more effectively to improve outcomes and efficiency.
16,000 schools have accessed the framework, and significant numbers are making progress. But better exploitation of ICT across the system would yield better outcomes at lower cost, especially where schools use it as a shared resource.
So, in a nutshell, ‘We’ve put billions into ICT, but still aren’t seeing consistent benefit across all schools’.
Case studies – how to do things differently
And to help illustrate the potential, the discussion paper then highlights examples of ways to save money and resources, with two case studies which are (a) replicable and (b) are based on our products & services (self-interest declared!):
London schools have reduced their ICT costs by adopting shared ICT services through London Grid for Learning (LGfL). In addition to broadband and learning platforms, shared services now include remotely hosted email accounts and personal server space for all staff and students, thus removing the need for schools to host their own exchange servers. Compared to school-hosted email services, schools save upwards of £10 per user per year – more than £11 million for London in total.
As it’s a DCSF publication, probably too much to expect that they would mention that it’s our free Live@edu service that’s doing it. So I will say it, and you can find out more on our main UK Education website
Twynham School in Christchurch, Dorset has developed a Learning Gateway for all its students, available within the school or online at home. The Gateway includes lesson plans for every lesson, allowing revision and catch up for any pupil. Among the supporting resources there are 10,000 digitised videos that students can access at any time. Each subject area has 5 key internet links that have been quality assured by staff members, giving pupils access to high quality internet material. There is a parallel Revision Gateway supporting pupils’ revision for GCSE. The school is collaborative and supports other local schools in the area, giving them access to its materials. During the school’s closure as a result of snow early in 2009 50 per cent of the school’s pupils logged on to the Gateway
Aah, somebody at Twnyham (Mike?) has got the gift of the gab, because there is no end of praise running around the system for what the team have achieved. Of course, the Learning Gateway started out as our idea, but what Twynham have done with it takes it into a whole new century! Read more of their story on this blog, go and see their beautiful Sixth form website and find out more about Learning Gateway here