ICT spend does boost pupil performance


New research shows that secondary schools’ investment in ICT learning resources has a significant impact on performance.

The research by independent finance providers, Syscap, shows that pupils in the 25 Local Education Authorities with the highest per pupil spend on ICT learning resources  outperformed those in the 25 Local Education Authorities with the lowest per pupil spend on ICT by a substantial margin at GCSE level.

The 25 Local Authorities with the highest per pupil spend on ICT, an average of £123 per pupil, saw 58% of their pupils achieving at least five A* to C Grade GCSEs or equivalent qualifications including English and Maths. 

By comparison, only 54.5% of pupils achieved this standard in the 25 Local Education Authorities which spent least on ICT.  The national average for LEA run secondary schools was 57%.

Commenting on the findings, Philip White, Chief Executive of Syscap, said: “Pupils whose Local Education Authorities recognised the importance of sustained levels of investment in ICT did significantly better at GCSE level than those where it slipped down the priority list.”

“This performance gap demonstrates the importance of ICT learning tools in helping students fulfil their potential in subjects right across the curriculum.”

“In fact, with 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 may be a very effective way of ensuring that individual pupils get the levels of support and challenge that they need.”

“These figures demonstrate that while ‘back to basics’ might be the new education buzzword, as far as technology in schools is concerned, there can be no going back. If investment in IT slips, so will education standards.”

The research indicates that maintaining investment in ICT in schools is crucial for the UK to retain its competitiveness.  As well as supporting learning in a wide range of subjects, it is needed to stem the fall in the number of UK Computer Science graduates and fill a serious skills shortage in the IT industry.

Only 14,035 graduates left university with a degree in Computer Science in 2008/09, compared to 20,205 in 2003/04 - a decline of 31% (Higher Education Statistics Agency). 

Philip White adds: “Simply upping spending on ICT is not a practical answer, given that these are difficult times for schools financially.”

“Schools have be more strategic about their ICT spending.  There has been a tendency to buy equipment outright as and when the annual budget will allow it, but this ad hoc approach is no longer tenable.”

“Spreading expenditure by paying for new ICT equipment over the course of its useful life allows schools to plan for the longer term and leasing is the most efficient way to do this.”

“Investing though leasing means that when equipment has become obsolete, the decision to replace it can be made quickly, rather than being entirely contingent on what other major expenses the school might have that year.”

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