“Funding cuts in state schools mean pupils will miss out on the best IT equipment.
At an age when most children are learning how to hold a pencil, a class of five-year-olds at a school in Scotland are practising writing the numbers one to 10 on their iPads. The Cedar school of excellence in Greenock, an independent school, is thought to be the first in the world where all lessons are taught using iPads.
It is one of a growing number of independent schools and academies that are spending many thousands of pounds kitting their pupils out with mobile technology such as iPads and iPod Touches.
But as teachers eye up all the latest gadgets at the Bett technology show at Olympia in London this week, those in state schools may feel like the poor relations. Technology, one of the most expensive areas in schools, has been among the first affected by coalition austerity. One of Michael Gove’s first acts as education secretary was to abolish Becta, the government’s IT advisory body, and cut by £100m the Harnessing Technology grant, designed to help schools to pay for broadband connectivity and computer hardware.”
By Sue Learner
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In a time when staff are trying to harness new technologies to engage and stimulate students’ learning, funding cuts are making it more and more difficult. Before there had been the recent cuts to funding, schools often didn’t have the money ‘lying around’ to buy a whole class set of iPods, iPads, etc – so teachers were asked to be creative and set up pilot groups to trial projects. The idea being that if the idea had enough ‘merit’ then further resources could be purchased during the next academic year.
I have been involved in such trials – for example using Nintendo DS handsets to improve basic literacy and numeracy skills in low achieving boys. The trials themselves often have amazing results but the initial costs of the handsets and future upgrades means that projects can be disadvantaged from the start – when money is tight an upgrade of the girls’ toilets is often prioritised over a class set of iPods!
Will this mean teachers won’t bother? I believe the answer to that is ‘NO’, mainly because the kind of teacher who sets up a subject blog and wants to trial iPods with their classes, is generally enthusiastic, dedicated and rises to the challenge of such funding constraints (even to the point of securing sponsorship and outside funding to make projects viable). It is because of this determination that our students will benefit through the use of new technologies in the classroom despite of the funding cuts and that fact needs to be recognised!
What are your thoughts? Is your school facing similar dilemmas? How are your staff overcoming the funding issues? We’re interested in hearing your experiences… please respond using the comments box below.