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UK schools to maintain ICT spending

Despite budget constraints

Most UK schools are set to keep ICT budgets flat next year, according to research by the British Educational Suppliers Association.

The ICT in UK State Schools report by the trade body for educational suppliers' reveals that 58 per cent of primary schools and 51 per cent of secondary schools are likely to maintain planned ICT investments for the 2011-12 financial year.

Projected budgets for 2011-12 are expected to be the same as recorded in 2004-05, despite the current and anticipated reduction in school's ICT budgets.

But Besa does not expect the proportion of budgets spent on desktop and laptop computers to increase substantially, as schools move their ICT spending into new technologies.

The findings also show that 71 per cent of primary and 70 per cent of secondary schools believed they provide teachers with good access to computer equipment for curriculum use.

88 per cent of primary schools said that they provide good internet access levels to teachers, compared to only 75 per cent who held the same views in 2006 and only 30 per cent in 2001.

Besa says that interactive whiteboards and other technologies which are now used in the majority of classrooms in the UK were viewed with similar optimism.

A more polarised view emerged when primary schools' ICT leaders were asked about digital content, with 48 per cent considering their school to be well resourced. Secondary schools were less confident than primaries about the adequacy of their digital content, with just 32 per cent of ICT leaders considering they are resourced. They expected an improvement in 2011, however.

The provision of wireless networks across schools continues to rise with an average of 9Mbps provision in primary schools, up from 3Mbps in 2007, and 31Mbps in secondary schools. The research suggests that 75 per cent of primary and 92 per cent of secondary schools have wireless networks, but secondary schools demand more than twice the current available bandwidth (68Mbps) to meet needs.

The findings come from a survey of 1,379 UK schools, 812 primary and 567 secondary, in July 2010.

Ray Barker, director of Besa, said: "Despite schools being faced with many financial pressures, the survey indicates schools are managing the cuts sensibly and with optimism. This is in part due to the efficient procurement of resources by many schools as well as a drop in prices of individual units. They may be spending less, but they can get more for their money."

He added: "Those schools indicating they feel under-equipped in vital ICT equipment, such as laptop computers and internet access for pupils, do so mainly because their levels of expectation have grown over recent years."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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