By @runningsbm, Primary School Business Manager
Within the first couple of months in my new job, all I kept hearing was that “the netbooks only last 10 minutes” or “that’s another one that doesn’t work”. There was clearly a problem with the computing facilities we offered, they were not fit for purpose. The problem was how to improve the facilities while meeting deficit forecasts, knowing that future funding was going to get tougher as cuts continued to be made in the education sector.
The setting invested significant cash into upgrading all of the ICT around the school. The showpiece was a 30 PC ICT Suite in which every class would have a weekly slot to teach the curriculum, and could book other slots in the week to support other subjects.
Improving the curriculum through access to technology
This decision, it turned out, was vital to improving the teaching of the wider curriculum for all of the children. This investment wasn’t just about computing: it became about the ability to better research for science, to improve times tables using the latest interactive apps, to create 3D drawings for art, to learn and listen to music. The list of how this investment improved the curriculum is endless, as nearly everything we do can be supported by technology.
It also helped improve the options for our staff. New ICT that is quicker and more reliant means that staff can focus more on teaching and less on trying to fix a computer. Something as simple as being able to access their work from home made such a difference. The introduction of interactive screens, to replace projectors, has saved teachers time too, and in the long term, it has even saved money on bulbs.
But the reduction in school budgets means there simply is not much money. IT suppliers need to listen to the school because while we may not be IT wizards, we do know what we want. In many cases, all we want is to provide ICT for our children. So when a supplier tries to sell us the latest 3D print technology, that really doesn’t answer the needs of a primary school – it is hard enough trying to stop the children touching the screens and to get them to use the mouse.
Has our investment paid off?
Well, it is currently too early to say as we have only had two terms with the new ICT equipment. But what is already clear is that the children, staff and parents love the facilities and all are very keen to use it when they can.
As a Business Manager, I think the unforeseen benefits of having this ICT Suite have been invaluable to support the school. While this was about improving the curriculum, showcasing the suite in our prospectus and on our website has been great to strengthen our brand and image; and when conducting prospective parent visits, we are putting ourselves in the strongest possible position to attract new children.
Investing in ICT was a very good decision. Computers are the future and we must do everything possible to equip our children to succeed.