Celebrating One Year of Progress and Challenges in Educational Technology
In late 2022, IFF Research took on the task of conducting a five-wave biennial Technology in Schools Survey (TiSS), commissioned to aid the Department for Education (DfE) in understanding how best to support schools with technology. The survey’s primary goal was to empower the DfE with insights on developing the integration and utilisation of technology in schools in ways that support cost savings, workload reductions, and improved pupil outcomes.
The TiSS survey builds on its predecessor, the EdTech Survey 2020-21, but in most cases, it is not directly comparable due to changes in the questionnaire design and methodology.
Below, we have highlighted some of the key findings from the report that we believe others may also find to be interesting insights into how School’s are currently handling technology.
Strategic Planning and Decision Making about Technology
- Tech Strategy Boost: More schools are embracing digital strategies, jumping from 54% to 68% in secondary schools and 38% to 55% in primaries. This shift shows a united front recognising technology’s crucial role in education.
- Leadership Snapshot: 39% of School heads are the main steerer’s of technical decisions, with 42% of primary leaders leaning more towards headteacher-led decisions compared to 17% of secondary leaders.
- Teacher-Decision Dilemma: Around one-third of teachers feel left out of the loop in technical decisions, which highlights the room for improvement in collaboration.
How Technology Is Being Used in Schools
- Device Scene: Primary schools lead in providing laptops for teachers (75%) compared to secondary schools (63%), while the survey uncovers diverse device usage in classrooms, emphasising a need for targeted support.
- Quality Check: Most teachers find common devices fit for purpose (whiteboards (86%), laptops/notebooks (86%), desktop computers (74%), and tablet computers (65%)), but wear and tear and outdated software pose cthe most hallenges.
- Workload Wins: Over seven in ten leaders believe technology saves time on tasks like parental engagement, but teachers are slightly less optimistic, emphasising the need for a realistic view of technology’s impact.
- Learning Gains: Both 67% of leaders and 45% of teachers believe technology contributes to improved pupil attainment, highlighting a positive outlook on technology’s role in education.
Barriers to Increased Uptake of Technology
- Money Matters: Financial challenges dominate, with 96% of leaders citing budget constraints and 90% of teachers flagging the high costs that historically come with adopting new technologies.
- CPD Concerns: Professional development barriers have also emerged, with both 63% of leaders and 75% of teachers pointing to cost and time constraints.
Decisions about Future Investment
- Decision Dynamics: School-level decisions govern technology investments at 59%, with primary leaders favouring this approach (60% vs. 52% in secondary).
- Confidence Boost: An encouraging 88% of leaders express confidence in their school’s ability to make informed technology investments. The positive correlation between the presence of a digital strategy and confidence levels (94% vs. 79%) suggests the strategic importance of such plans in creating decision-making confidence.
Infrastructure and Digital Standards
- Standard Awareness: About three-quarters of IT leads are aware of technology standards but only 16% report full compliance, signalling areas for improvement.
- Cyber Security Challenge: Phishing emails top the list of cyber incidents at 62%, underlining the need for robust security measures. Disparities in awareness, especially in primary schools, emphasise the urgency of comprehensive safety measures.
- Teacher Confidence: 84% of leaders see confidence in teachers’ technology use, but training gaps persist in critical areas like assistive technologies and workload management.
- Training Initiatives: Training covers diverse areas, but primary teachers show higher engagement in safety training.
Interaction with DfE Guidance
- Utilisation of gov.uk: The survey highlights gov.uk as a primary source for relevant guidance documents and policy information. However, leaders express challenges in using the platform for specific aspects, notably finding information about funding. This underscores the importance of user-friendly platforms for efficient guidance access.
Academies vs. LA Maintained Schools
- Digital Maturity Variations: Comparing academies and LA maintained schools reveals slight differences in digital maturity. Primary academies showcase higher digital maturity, evidenced by the adoption of digital strategies, business continuity plans, and cyber security policies. These variations emphasise the need for more tailored approaches based on school type.
- Positive Trends Amid Challenges: Despite persistent financial barriers, positive trends include increased cyber security training, expanded use of technology for financial management, and growing teacher confidence. Notably, barriers related to connectivity and staff confidence show a decline, reflecting a gradual evolution in the technology landscape.
The 2022-2023 Technology in Schools Survey provides a comprehensive exploration of the evolving educational technology landscape. From strategic planning and device dynamics to barriers, decision-making processes, and infrastructure considerations, the survey captures the intricate interplay of factors shaping the digital future of UK schools. We highly recommend giving the report a read to understand how schools are navigating the complex intersection of technology and education on a wider scale. The insights from this survey not only shed light on the current state of affairs but also serve as a compass for educators, school leaders, and policymakers as they chart a course for the future.