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In the UK, we are proud to be world-renowned for the high quality of education we provide. On one hand, we’ve got more children than ever having access to education, but on the other, government policy shifts and restricted budgets still present a variety of challenges that schools need to overcome to deliver better education.

Technology is now reshaping the education industry. Acknowledging the importance of EdTech, last year the Department for Education came up with a strategy to support schools and embed technology in a way that cuts teacher workload, fosters efficiencies, supports inclusion and contributes to improved educational outcomes.

In this blog, we’ll outline four areas that your school needs to address in 2020 – workload, data, procurement and inclusion, and how Elementary can help you integrate technology to overcome current barriers and realise emerging opportunities.

1. How technology can help cut teacher workload

It’s no surprise that tackling teacher workload is one of the biggest challenges for schools, with exhaust directly correlating to teachers’ job satisfaction and retention rates. This problem was confirmed with the stats from the 2019 Teacher Workload survey, which found that on average teachers worked 49.5 hours a week. Seven out of ten primary teachers and nine out of ten secondary teachers reported workload as a serious problem, as they couldn’t complete their work within their contracted hours, spending too much time on planning, marking, data management and admin work.

The good news, however, is that technology can help reduce your workload. Tools such as Learning by Questions, offered by Elementary Technology, allow for real-time formative assessment with automated live marking, meaning that an assessment can take place at the same time as teaching and learning, as opposed to it being a separate activity, and thus saving you valuable time.

Educational Software such as The SMART Learning Suite is also another software platform which enables an assessment to happen during teaching time, helping you monitor pupils’ progress and adapt your teaching to their pace. Visualisers also help free up teaching time, using a method called front-end feedback. Learn more about this assessment technique by watching Gary Talbot’s video series.

2. How the use of data can help you make informed decisions and improve student outcomes

The collection, analysis and use of data are crucial to help schools make informed decisions and improve student outcomes. Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework now focuses not only on judging the quality of education your school provides but also on how you keep track of learners’ behaviour and personal development. In order to comply with this, you need to implement detailed recording and management of data that ranges from behavioural management to safeguarding, assessments, attendance, parental communications and so much more.

There are several different school behaviour management platforms (such as Go4Schools and IRIS Adapt) that can help your school keep up with these standards and provide easy access to relevant data for staff, learners and parents.

Generating insights from asset data can help you build a better understanding of how a school’s EdTech assets are performing and whether they are supporting the delivery of outstanding teaching and learning. The Classroom Healthcheck® from Elementary Technology is a free tool that can provide you with detailed insight into the effectiveness of the technology in each classroom. The findings can then enable you to plan and prioritise procurement, assess staff training needs, ensure compliance with software licencing, understand operating costs and inform your ICT Development Plans.

3. Effective and efficient technology procurement

According to stats from the British Education Suppliers Association, the average primary school spends £41,780 on school resources and secondary schools spend £172,560, which saw a decrease compared to previous years. In the context of tighter budgets, efficient and effective procurement is more important than ever for schools to get a good return on cost for the EdTech that you invest in.

There are various procurement frameworks that your school can use to compare pricing and offering from a list of approved framework suppliers to save money and time, such as the Crown Commercial Service (Education Technology framework), the Think IT framework and several others. The Crown Commercial Service is the biggest framework, that enables you to reduce spent and get better value for money while purchasing compliantly with easy-to-use click and buy catalogues.

Another useful tool that you can benefit from is technology leasing. Leasing can allow you to upgrade more technology quicker, whilst avoiding large capital spend. A large part of the project work we undertake here at Elementary is now on an operating lease basis. This means that for a similar annual cost your school can equip more classrooms with the latest technology, when compared to a staged upgrade.

4. How technology can improve inclusion in the classroom

Ensuring all your pupils have equal access to education technology can make a big difference in the learning experience that your school provides.

Did you know that, on average, students miss 25% of what teachers say and in the back of the classroom, the amount of missed information is close to 40% Equal access to learning, particularly for primary school pupils, can be affected by the quality of the audio in the classroom. As you are aware, unlike adults, children are still developing language skills, which makes it harder for them to fill in the blanks when they miss words. So how can technology improve student inclusion?

The FrontRow audio technology can bring the teacher’s voice to every corner of the classroom, overcoming barriers such as distance and external noise, allowing you to communicate with all your students in a normal conversational tone. This technology can improve pupils’ attention, comprehension and academic outcomes not only in mainstream schools but also in EAL schools and help with the inclusion of hearing-impaired students.

Visualisers also promote inclusion, allowing all pupils to see the teaching content equally (whether it’s text, images or objects), rather than those who are sat nearer to what’s been shown receiving better teaching.

In most schools we work with, we find that there are big differences in the technology in each of the classrooms, meaning that pupils don’t have equal access to technological resources and different teachers are receiving a different level of tech support. If this is the case in your school, the Classroom Healthcheck can give you a better understanding of how you can provide inclusion to all students and teachers.

Elementary Technology can not only help you assess how current technology supports teaching and learning, but we also provide an initial consultation, installation, training and support for the lifetime of the technology you buy or lease.

Date: 10th October 2019

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Understanding your school and helping you use technology to deliver better education.