This content was provided by School Business Services (SBS), expert providers in a range of services including ICT, Finance, HR and MIS support to over 500 schools.

 

It’s that time of year when many schools will be setting their departmental budgets and when it comes to planning the school ICT spend, it can be challenging to know where to begin! With so many technological advancements to support teaching and learning, and an ever-growing number of innovative products and services to support whole school operations, it’s important to have a strategy to help support your decisions.

The first recommended step is to carry out an ICT audit assessing the age, capacity and suitability of your equipment, network and teaching suites. This provides a firm foundation for your multi-year ICT development plan because you can budget for required renewals or migrations well in advance.

In January 2018, British Educational Suppliers Association published findings from a survey of almost 1000 schools that found schools ICT spending is expected to increase by almost three percent in 2018/19 compared with what was budgeted for in 2017/18.

To give you a helping hand with planning your ICT spend as effectively as possible, we’ve come up with our top three considerations for ICT in schools this year:

  1. Online safeguarding software 

Probably top of the list for all schools is an effective online safeguarding solution which can help to ensure:

  • Compliance with key legislation and statutory obligations i.e. Prevent duty and Keeping Children Safe in Education
  • Safety of pupils - using real-time monitoring, activity logs, keyword detection and reports to identify potential risk
  • Confidence of staff – using detailed reports to support conversations with pupils about acting responsibly online

There are many products on offer, but schools should consider opting for a package that is integrated with classroom monitoring and network admin tools to ensure maximum value for money.

  1. Cloud computing

An increasing number of schools have already moved towards, or are considering, migrating to cloud services. Major suppliers of software to schools are either already cloud-based or imminently ready to release cloud versions of their product and this is increasing the momentum for schools to migrate.

 

Hosted Servers

 

With a serverless school environment there is less hardware on-site to maintain, upgrade and manage, particularly for MIS applications such as SIMS. A hosted server environment is also perfect for MATs as staff can access packages such as SIMS/FMS for any school in the trust remotely.

There are many benefits of migrating to this model, including:

  • Cost and time-saving: you won’t need to worry about maintenance costs, buying additional hardware and equipment, or spending time maintaining your on-premise infrastructure. Engaging with a trusted vendor means you will have predictable monthly/annual costs to cover your entire IT infrastructure and environment.
  • Peace of mind: schools or MATs can achieve peace of mind knowing that their IT environments and infrastructure are proactively maintained by highly-skilled technical specialists.
  • Accelerate growth: most managed hosting providers can deploy IT infrastructures and replicate services and software in any of your schools, so if you are expanding, this again saves time and money.

 

SaaS (Software as a service)

A move to the cloud via Microsoft Office365 for Education or Google’s G Suite is an initial step forward into cloud computing in school. This makes use of free cloud resources and enables schools to work more flexibly (by accessing on any device, anywhere) and maximise the use of tools for collaboration. In addition, there are some exciting teaching and learning tools included.

Finally, remember that there are some key dependencies for a successful move to the cloud, and these are:

  • Good broadband - high download/upload speeds, good Wi-Fi, overall reliability and capacity are all needed to enable an effective and beneficial cloud service.
  • ICT infrastructure – reviewed as part of the recommended audit, all ICT contracts and commitments along with future strategy should be assessed to ensure that a move to cloud will not result in duplication of cost.

Widely deployed throughout schools following the Government Primary Schools Whiteboard Project over 10 years ago, the technology in this area has moved on considerably.

If your school hasn’t already, then it is time to budget for the replacement of old interactive whiteboards with LED screens. The advantages are significant and include: 

  • No projector required and, therefore, no costly bulbs to replace/filters to clean
  • No frustrating calibration required
  • Adjustable screen height enabling (tall) staff and (small) children to interact
  • Integrated built-in educational apps
  • Improved touch/pen recognition
  • Use of cloud drives (like OneDrive) to save or email notes from screen to pupils
  • Low power usage

So, once purchased and installed, there is very little, or no maintenance required. You can read more about the total cost of ownership comparisons in this blog on the School Business Services (SBS) website. You can sign up for notifications of all future blogs and explore a wealth of resources and advice.

 

SBS can support schools with ICT Audits, five-year Development Plans, cloud migration advice and procurement services.

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This content was provided by School Business Services (SBS), expert providers in a range of services including ICT, Finance, HR and MIS support to over 500 schools.


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