Slight Recovery In School Expenditure Following Investment Drought
The average annual expenditure by schools on ICT has increased for the first time since the public sector spending cuts, according to new research from Syscap, the leading independent finance provider.
Annual expenditure on ICT amongst schools in England and Wales increased by 5% in the last year, while the number of schools spending less than £10 per pupil has fallen by 14%.
Despite the modest increase, the overall spend on ICT remains low with 1 in 10 schools in England and Wales spending less than £10 per pupil per year, while 395 schools failed to invest anything at all during the last year.
Private finance to fund rebuilding of 46 schoolsPhilip White, Chief Executive, Syscap, comments: “After last years shock drop in spending, these are positive signs for pupils, with schools beginning to allocate more of their beleaguered budgets to technology. Many schools that have been trying to rebalance the books by keeping their technology expenditure to a minimum have witnessed an immediate deterioration in the overall performance of those ICT assets and are now looking to redress the balance.”
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With continued budget cuts putting more pressure on class sizes, the many excellent technology resources available for supporting learning in key subjects like Maths and Modern Languages are increasingly seen as effective ways of ensuring that individual pupils get the levels of support and challenge that they need.
Increasing spending on ICT using budgets ring-fenced for capital expenditure is not a practical answer for most schools given that these are difficult financial times, –Schools now have to be more strategic within their spending on ICT technology.
Philip White continues: “We believe that this shows that many schools are now realising that they can use alternative financing solutions to meet their technology needs. The UK is suffering from a chronic underproduction of IT skills. Running school networks, PCs and laptops on creaking equipment will undermine pupils’ interest in IT and make it harder to produce the accomplished IT professionals which UK plc so desperately needs. Schools must invest now before their equipment ages and becomes redundant. ”
“Before the Government’s budget cuts, there was a tendency for schools to buy equipment outright as annual budgets would allow, but this approach is no longer tenable for many schools. Spreading the cost by paying for new ICT equipment over the course of its useful life allows for long term budget planning and leasing is the most efficient way to do this.”
Technology can be extremely effective in helping pupils to acquire skills such as improving literacy skills. For example, technology can be great at engaging children who are reluctant readers and writers.
Adds Philip White: “It is easy to forget that for some children school is the only place where they can access a computer.”
By leasing ICT equipment
Syscap can also help schools to supplement their budgets by drawing on parental support. Syscap’s ‘Learn Anywhere’ scheme manages parental contributions to help finance the acquisition of ICT resources, especially laptops, which can then be acquired by the parent at the end of the lease, with a total cost considerably less than buying on the High Street.”
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