how are you going to invest

So last week I was called in to school, where I am on the governing body, for a finance meeting to discuss the budget for the next 5 years. It wasn’t an easy meeting and even though the team have done a fantastic job of making the books balance there are tough choices to make. ICT for Schools Technology is not top of the list when you are looking at where to spend your limited funds so how are you going to build it in?

There looks to be a number of ways that you can make the money go further and definitely the big technology companies are stepping up. Google have announced in the last week an iPad trade-in scheme where schools can get up to £120 for their older iPads when buying a Chromebook. This means a brand new Chromebook for school would cost around £30, partners like YourCloudWorks have been quick to get this out to schools in planning for the summer.

HP have also started their subscription program which allows schools to rent technology instead of having to pay outright for the devices. This means it is far easier to build an ICT technology budget that is fixed and delivers from day one what you need to transform your teaching. The cost of renting is often cheaper than buying outright in a 3 year rolling program, so definitely worth looking at.

We are looking at a number of ways of supporting schools in being able to deliver the technology they want to their students today. Whether it is parental contribution, funding, subscription or trade-in schools are going to have to box clever over the next few years with the squeeze on budgets coming!


Working daily with institutions that are looking at ways to increase the number of students with devices in their hands, the focus is on those students and the teachers. Rightly, they are the key focus for using technology to aid teaching and learning but there is another very important group here…Parents!

Parents, the people we are looking to encourage the children in the home, the people a growing number of schools that are asking to donate to get the devices in to every child’s hands. They are a key group for us to get buy in from, if these schemes are going to be a success, what is the benefit to them? If it isn’t clear the child is going to have the technology integrated totally in to the schools ethos then what value is there? The school are driving the use of technology but still have to send home letters in the school bags, should we not practice what we preach?

Recently, I have seen some great solutions like the Virtual Activities Environment from CHQ and School App from Apps Central that drive this parental engagement. Both are focussed on communicating with parents, giving them instant access to their children’s activities at school, changes to schedules, sign up to classes or activities and other helpful info. This is of real value and improves the schools communication to the parent, they are getting the benefit of the schools drive with technology thus increasing their buy in. Another good example is the Educational App Store that can support a school approved parent portal, guiding parents to suitable apps and how to use them with their child in line with the curriculum.

In my experience, you forget the parents at your peril, they are likely to help support your scheme now or in the future so make sure they see the value as well as the staff and students!

So we have seen many attempts at trying to bridge the digital divide, the haves and the have nots with technology. People such as the E-Learning Foundation have done a lot to raise awareness here and with campaigns like “Mind the Gap”, there has been progress. Are we really getting to the nub of the issue though?

According to the ONS 74% of people in the UK access the internet every day however 66% of them were on mobile phones, access on the go! So looking at internet access to the home doesn’t tell the whole story anymore does it?! My favourite statistic of last year was that on average in the UK every child has access to 4.5 connected devices and that is only going to increase. A child at home chooses the right device for the job so why are we so prescriptive when delivering education?

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I was interested this week to read up on the new free schools to be opened by Ian Livingstone in London and Birmingham.  The focus in these schools is very much going to be on STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) with a blended learning approach.  Not being the most engaged child at school this really appeals to me. This will include the setting up of mock businesses in school, using the skills learnt in real life experiences.  In retrospect, 5 months in to my experience setting up and running a business, what I would have done with being able to learn, then put into practice the skills needed when I was at school!

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So 2016, just back to work after Christmas and what is the first email you get?  “Have you printed your badge for BETT this year yet?”  Obviously not, but thank you for the reminder all the same.  Well I have now and I will be at BETT for the week, which I look forward to with a sense of trepidation….how badly are my feet going to hurt by the end?

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edde is working on a simple calculator to give you a budgetary cost of a scheme in regards of the contribution needed for the devices you want to use in your establishment