IT budgets in schools are getting smaller, according to a trade association of educational suppliers.
This was a direct result of the recession, as schools tighten their expenditure in all areas, the British Educational Suppliers Association said in newly published research. It interviewed IT heads in 770 primary and 572 secondary schools.
Overall, UK-wide budgets will fall £9.8 million this year. Primary school budgets will decrease 2.2 percent in 2009-2010, averaging at £13,990, said the ‘ICT in UK state schools’ report. Secondary school budgets will fall one percent to £64,750.
The following year, the fall is expected to be more dramatic, at 4.4 percent and 2.7 percent in primary and secondary schools respectively, in spite of the curriculum placing more demands on technology.
Currently, primary schools offer one PC for every 6.9 pupils, and secondary schools one computer to 4.2 pupils, an improvement on previous years. BESA said there would be 2.5 million PCs in schools during 2010, but that schools estimate 3.2 million would be needed to implement full IT development plans,
Ray Barker, director at BESA, said schools were spending funds “wisely”, noting that budgets had grown consistently since 2001. But he cautioned them against making heavy cuts, adding: “We don’t want schools to be saving their money ‘just in case’. ... If we are to become a competitive economy then education, and technology, will be key.”
Schools saw investment in IT as important as technology becomes “more embedded within the curriculum”, he said. Many were particularly concerned about their lack of laptop computers and wireless networks.
But the BESA report also highlighted a decline in the ammount of IT training for teachers in IT with only 59 percent of primary teachers and 55 percent of secondary teachers receiving relevant training, compared to 67 percent and 72 percent respectively two years ago.