BESA press release: Digital divide emerges as new research finds ‘poor’ pupil access to computers in half of all schools

Pupils in more than half of all UK state schools have poor access to ICT and computers according to new research released today by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA).

Poor wireless (Wi-Fi) provision was cited as a major problem in many schools with 65 per cent of primary schools and 54 per cent of secondary schools considering themselves under-resourced in Wi-Fi connectivity.

A significant number of surveyed schools also reported that they were under-resourced in broadband provision (42 per cent of primary schools and 31 per cent of secondary schools).

Caroline Wright, BESA director said, “British teachers are world-leaders in the use of educational-technology in the classroom so it is of great concern that pupils are being denied access to innovative and effective digital learning because of poor internet connectivity in more than half of the UK’s schools.

“In today’s digital society, classroom connectivity to an online world of knowledge and resources should be a right for every student in their place of learning and not a lottery.”

The 17th annual Information and Communication Technology in UK State Schools report flags findings drawn from survey questionnaires of ICT co-ordinators at 727 primary and 498 secondary schools across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Changes in the Government’s assessment arrangements also appears to have prompted an increase in the need for continuing professional development (CPD) with 60 per cent of primary schools surveyed identifying a need for teachers to receive assessment training over the coming year.

Continued increases in the numbers of tablet computers used in schools also prompted 53 per cent of primary schools to anticipate a need for teacher training in the use of the technology by 2016.

Whilst today’s survey highlights a growing concern over classroom connectivity, on a more positive note the report highlights the fact that the number of computers in use in UK schools is expected to increase by 50,000 units in primary schools and 92,000 units in secondary schools. The increasing adoption of tablet technology in schools, with its lower cost per device, is also contributing to the fact that more children have access to a computing device.

ICT budgets are also expected to grow during 2014/15 by 5.5 per cent to an average of £14,450 per primary school and by 9.0 per cent, to £64,400 in a typical secondary school.

BESA has made today’s research available to the Department for Education and the Government’s appointed Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) which has been tasked with looking at the future needs for educational technology in English schools.

Key findings from the report will also be shared with the Department for Culture Media and Sport and Treasury joint consultation on Digital Communications Infrastructure.

Ms Wright added, “BESA urges the Government to consider the findings of today’s report and take speedy action to ensure that every child has the opportunity to benefit from an education that harnesses the power of educational technology and equips them with the digital skills they need to achieve success in our 21st century knowledge economy.”

Ends

Notes to editor

Whilst our national figures show the trend and problems as highlighted, the number of schools responding in each listed authority is too small to provide a quantifiable assessment of the problem at the county level; however, once all areas are combined there is an indication of a common outcome to those regions with below average access to superfast broadband.

~ends~

About BESA

Established in 1933, BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, is the trade association representing over 300 educational suppliers in the UK, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, technology, ICT hardware and digital-content related services to the education market.

With 81 years of experience, BESA offers unparalleled support, research, events and advice on both UK and International markets, and the future of the education supplies industry.  BESA is focused on promoting and providing support and advice to their members, the industry and to schools.

BESA has a Code of Practice to which all members must adhere, along with a stringent membership process, both of which assure buyers of a high standard of quality in both product and customer service.

For more information, please visit www.besa.org.uk or download the BESA app: UK Ed Suppliers.

For further press information contact:

Sue Murray
Mango Marketing
T: 01932 829 077
E: sue.murray@mangomarketing.com

For information from BESA contact:

Caroline Wright
BESA
T: 020 7537 4997
E: caroline@besa.org.uk

 

 

Created Date: 

Monday, 29. September 2014