One third of head teachers don’t know how much they spend on ICT

Continuing my “Things I Learned This Week” series – this week, Part Eight

This week I’ve been continuing my reading of the Harnessing Technology survey from Becta. Buried deep in the data tables, and summarised on the analytical report, is some interesting information about Information Communications Technology (ICT) spend in UK Schools.

1. 33% of head teachers don’t know how much they spend on ICT

In the main report (the “School Survey Analytical Report”) it has an interesting analysis of ICT budgets, starting on Page 19 (Section 3.24). They asked school head teachers, from primary, secondary and special schools, to estimate what proportion of their total school budget they spent on ICT.

Although the report only shows the breakdown for each school type, the background table show the summary across all schools, which is what I’m going to use.

An astonishing(?) 33% didn’t know the answer to the question.

2. 44% of head teachers say they spend more than 5% of their budget on ICT

  • For primary schools – 41%
  • For secondary schools – 53%.

After taking out the “Don’t Know” category (which have unhelpfully been included in Becta’s breakdown), you end up with the following profile, for all schools responding to the question:

“Please indicate what percentage of your overall budget spend is on ICT”

Proportion of budget spent on ICT Percentage of schools
1-5% 56%
6-10% 24%
11-15% 9%
15%+ 11%
Which leads me to What I Learned This Week factoid number 3

3. 11% of head teachers say that they spend more than 15% of their budget on ICT

Surprised? I am. I simply don’t believe it. An average school spends 75% – 80% of the school budget on staff, so even if there are a few exceptions that have made massive investments in ICT this year, it still wouldn’t get us to 11% of all schools.

I suspect the answer is that perhaps in their head, most of those saying above 10% read the question as being about their resources budget, rather than their whole school budget. And the other data published on school ICT spend doesn’t support 15%+

Comments (5)

  1. Sean says:

    Maybe ICT needs to be defined somewhere…. just a thought.

  2. Mike says:

    Studies also show that 85% of blog entry writers don't define their acronyms ("ICT" in this case).

  3. Ray Fleming says:

    Whoops – good catch Sean/Mike.

    I'm guilty of assuming that readers know what ICT is – which is my mistake. So I've corrected it in the blog post now, and added in the definition. It's pretty widespread terminology in UK Schools for the last decade, but I should have remembered that the readership of the blog is wider!



  4. GrumbleDook says:

    I would also raise that what people would put into that budget often misses a number of key areas.…/do-you-really-know-what-your-school-spends-with-ict is my response to this … I hope it raises the issue further.

  5. Alex Jones says:

    Total cost of ownership is one of those thorny issues that no-one has ever satisfactorily nailed down. What to include and what to leave out? How about the opportunity costs of teachers not being able to undertake the lesson they had planned because an Interactive Whiteboard (for example) isn't working? Becta (remember them) did a great deal of excellent work on TCO, but still didn't establish an authoritative list of what is in and what isn't. I'd recommend downloading their fabulous ICT investment planner ( before their website disappears.

    This isn't just an education problem either – there's no wider industry agreement of what to include in TCO calculations.

    Finally I suspect that most of these headteachers who claimed to know the total costs were simply holding a finger to the breeze.

    In my opinion, for what its worth, schools are much better looking at areas of spending within ICT overall and focusing on driving down running costs within these. For example printing is a very useful area to look closely at. Diverse makes and models of printers and lack of overall quotas are to be found in most schools, and they should also look at cost to print including data on costs per sheet, costs for tech support calls to the printers and power consumption. Some printers look very cheap to purchase but once these other costs are factored in they look much less like value for money.