As part of the government’s drive to control the nation’s finances, public sector spending is being significantly reduced across the board. Funding for ICT is no longer ring-fenced. Yet schools express a belief in the importance of ICT, and are determined to ensure that students have the quality of access to technology that they need in the 21st Century.
In October 2011 a briefing by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that after a decade of growth, ‘Public spending on education in the UK will fall by 3.5% per year in real terms between 2010-11 and 2004-15.’
The impact of spending cuts on schools will not be even, and current school-level spending will be the least affected. However, there will be, and are already, visible school budget reductions. At the same time, by contrast, we’re told by the latest annual research on ICT in schools from the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) that schools are anxious to keep ahead of the game with technology, with more and more pupil-time engaged with ICT. To support this, schools want better digital content, better training and better broadband. Demand grows across all fronts.
The conclusion for school leaders and ICT managers is clear. If ICT is to work within reduced school budgets, while at the same time supporting rapidly increased use of technology for learning, then decisions must be driven by cost-effectiveness and value for money.
Our mission here is to help you make those good decisions, and reap benefits from the extensive efforts being made by Microsoft to provide products for education which are both affordable in themselves, and also capable of contributing to across-the board spending.
Changing the Mindset.
There’s a lot you can do, and we can help. It’s important that a school sees its ICT not as a drain on the budget but as a contributor to efficient and cost-effective learning. In our first Cost Saving eBook, we started out by urging network managers not to allow their department to be seen as a drain on precious resources. They have to present it instead as a value-for-money driver of efficiency for the whole institution.
It’s a case of moving the school leadership from this – ‘Information Technology costs us money, and we’re living in hard times.’ To this,‘We’re living in hard times and information technology can save us money.’
It’s a change of mindset, from technology as a cost to technology as an investment. The aim is for the school’s leadership to make that change, but before that can happen, the people immediately engaged with ICT, such as network managers and ICT leaders, have to believe in it themselves. That means doing the research, learning and knowing exactly how, when and at what cost (if any) your school’s ICT resources, plans and policies can be deployed, or changed for the maximum impact on your school’s budget. We, with our Microsoft Partners, can help you with that, and if you read this eBook first, you’ll have a good idea of the right questions to ask.