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State of the Nation? October 10, 2009

Posted by IaninSheffield in research.
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BESA Report 2009

BESA Report 2009

BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association) recently released their annual report on the state of ICT provision in state secondary schools.  They gather their information from views submitted through an online questionnaire, completed by ICT Co-ordinators and Heads of ICT in state schools.  770 primary schools and 572 secondary schools responded.

The summary of the report is available for download here – http://www.besa.org.uk/besa/news/view.jsp?item=1957

This summary provides figures in a variety of categories taking in infrastructure (desktops, laptops, IWBs & other peripherals, wireless provision, bandwidth), tools used (software, learning platform), ICT budgets and teacher confidence.  These data allow you to make a somewhat rough, but nevertheless informative, judgement about how the provision in your school compares with the average.  Though it can hardly be considered robust (we compare academic data of ‘like’ schools when trying to establish our performance), at least it provides a starting point.  For example the average ratio of pupils to computers is 4.2 in secondary schools and 6.9 in primaries.  Another useful feature is that you can look at year on year trends – the summary itself highlights a few examples, but previous reports are also available from BESA.

So what does it all tell us?  Well when colleagues suggest that our provision of particular aspects of ICT, or the budget we provide to support it, or the access to ICT professional development opportunities are inadequate, the report can provide a starting point for discussing whether that actually is the case.  We can also see whether we are following or bucking national trends.  But then what?  Do we then use that information to review our provision and perhaps take appropriate action?  Well maybe . . . but there are other questions to answer first.

Computer/pupil ratios have decreased over a number of years now, so what have been the outcomes?  The number of IWBs in schools have increased – what effect has that had?  Teacher confidence with ICT continues to improve – with what results?  These are the difficult questions we need to address if we are to try to ensure the half a billion pounds spent annually on ICT in UK schools is to have an impact.  So ‘impact’ then?  I feel a future post has taken seed.

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