Schools should spend technology budget on teachers

tech back to school blog

A leading headteacher has said that schools should stop spending money on computers and tablet devices and spend the money on hiring 8,000 great teachers.

The amount of money schools spent on technology hit a new record in 2014, with each primary school spending over £14,000 and each secondary over £65,000 on software, hardware and technical support. By April this year, there will be an average of 429 devices in every UK school.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby has questioned whether the spending can “be justified at a time of austerity,” the Independent reports. Writing in a personal blog, he claimed that the quarter of a billion pounds spent on technology in schools every year would be enough to pay the wages of more than 8,000 teachers or build 40 new secondary schools.

Mr. Hobby is “dubious” about the use of technology as a teaching aid in non-IT lessons. “It is early days, of course, but an animated presentation on an electronic whiteboard or a lesson plan on an iPad are not transformative in terms of standards,” he believes.

His intervention was backed by Louis Coiffait from NAHT Edge. “Schools need to be able to decide which tools are best for their students, and support and develop their staff to use them. There’s no silver bullet, no revolution and no killer app,” he said. “Education is a long-term, messy and complicated business. At the very heart of it we need great teachers and principled leaders.”

Do you agree with the NAHT’s comments that less money should be spent on technology and more on hiring great teachers? Share your views with the Eteach community!

13 thoughts on “Schools should spend technology budget on teachers

  1. In schools today teachers’ lessons are judged too much on their ability to innovate and entertain rather than by their impact on learning. There is also too much expected of children to be able to teach themselves whilst the teacher is a facilitator. Schools seem hell bent on reducing the voice of the teacher and expanding the ill informed voice of the child. This perhaps explains the growth in usage of the interactive whiteboard and the computer.

  2. In some Moscow schools there is a similar situation. These devices are mostly “to dust eyes” (to show that lessons are modern) and “to clean” stolen from teachers means, but the real result is worse quality of students knowledge and “nice” classrooms for revisors from Departament of Education. Everything is “smooth on the paper” but real ruins in real education and little teachers salaries (240-400 pounds a month, but prices is similar UK ones).

  3. I would not work in a school which was not investing money in technology. As educators we have to upskill ourselves and recognise the value of tablets and computers which can and do enrich the curriculum. Students grow up with modern technology all around them and can understand and use these tools generally with ease. I’ve seen great changes in education throughout the years I have been teaching and can see that schools who invest in technology are preparing students for the future.

  4. I am an advisor and just the other day I was in a secondary school where each pupil had an iPad. Was the lesson any better? No. Where the pupils more on task? No. Did the pupils find the lessons less boring? No.

    What was evident was the lack of money being spent on the school itself. The science lab hadn’t been cleaned properly in goodness knows how long – chemicals dried to the tables, dead flies all over the place, dust etc. On top of that, the false ceiling panels had been gouged by pupils at some point, to the extent that there was insulation coming through – a health hazard all of its own. I nearly suffered an asthma attack in that room, thankfully I was only there for an hour, I dread to imagine what it is like during double and triple lessons.

    I meet far to many ‘teachers’ who can only be called that because the stand in front of a classroom, not because they know how to teach. I have seen them belittle pupils, single out those with a disability, escalate situations unnecessarily, grab hold of pupils, poke them with pencils, say the most inappropriate things – some bordering on misconduct.

    I went into education back in 1999 because I had a bad teacher and thought I could make a difference. I can’t make a difference as academies don’t have to have our serivce in, academies don’t have to best support pupils with special needs – they only have to follow the obligations of their contract, or pay the money back.

    Education in this country has gone to the glitzy corporate types, and not to the die-hard teachers.

  5. I am an advisor and just the other day I was in a secondary school where each pupil had an iPad. Was the lesson any better? No. Were the pupils more on task? No. Did the pupils find the lessons less boring? No.

    What was evident was the lack of money being spent on the school itself. The science lab hadn’t been cleaned properly in goodness knows how long – chemicals dried to the tables, dead flies all over the place, dust etc. On top of that, the false ceiling panels had been gouged by pupils at some point, to the extent that there was insulation coming through – a health hazard all of its own. I nearly suffered an asthma attack in that room, thankfully I was only there for an hour, I dread to imagine what it is like during double and triple lessons.

    I meet far to many ‘teachers’ who can only be called that because the stand in front of a classroom, not because they know how to teach. I have seen them belittle pupils, single out those with a disability, escalate situations unnecessarily, grab hold of pupils, poke them with pencils, say the most inappropriate things – some bordering on misconduct.

    I went into education back in 1999 because I had a bad teacher and thought I could make a difference. I can’t make a difference as academies don’t have to have our serivce in, academies don’t have to best support pupils with special needs – they only have to follow the obligations of their contract, or pay the money back.

    Education in this country has gone to the glitzy corporate types, and not to the die-hard teachers.

  6. Paying teachers more money doesn’t get you better teachers, it just gets you more overpaid teachers.

    In my experience many older generation teachers don’t understand technology enough to get the most out of it, and there’s no one to teach them. Schools have all this technology without it being effectively utilized. How about starting by getting more IT technical staff and getting them to educate the teachers in the use of the technology you already have?

    While we’re at it how about educating teachers towards better ways of using digital information rather than printing everything. Printing costs for a lot of secondaries are around or more than the yearly wages of a 1st line technician.

  7. Quite right! Don’t agree with some schools spending a ridiculous £15,000 on camera equipment just for teacher’s CPD either, when that amount of money could have been spent on extra staff to run intervention groups for those children who desperately need extra 1:1 support.

  8. Primary schools need at least 2 staff all day in every class. In what other job would you have to teach and mind 30 children at the same time.Teachers have only two eyes and ears.Children enter school with bad manners,behaviour problems and no thought and respect for others.A Reception teacher has to instill these in their children and teach at the same time, a big ask with only a TA .When a child kicks off you are on your own with 29 .Yep teachers manage but in this day and age this is not a responsible way to deal with children.Reading needs to take priority.In England today NO child should leave school not being able to read.

  9. I agree with the comments above. I was told once by an hmi that I needed to be a ‘performer ‘ in my classroom. If i d wantd to be on stage all day five days a week I would have done just that.
    I belong to a generation which sat in rows with no differentiation work, I worked hard, school was never easy for me and it was with that in mind I wanted to become a teacher and support future generations with their learning.
    There wasn’t a computer in sight , not a live tablet ! I became a teacher, many of my companions became doctors and some have even higher ranked positions.
    I believe that giving children the confidence to learn and do well for I we own future is the key, not how many minutes my PowerPoint will take to deliver and how much the children will instigate independently ( ha ha ) from that.
    I have not had another adult in my classroom for the last 10 years , working with years 2 and 3 and that other adult would have made so much difference to their learning ! We were told quality first teachers do not need other adults, as they engage their children all day everyday !

  10. Having to manage TAs in my classroom has become a real burden over the years. I do not want adults with poor grammar and questionable social skills running interference in my classes; it’s about time we got rid of TAs and used the money to hire more graduate teachers. Do you remember those people? Teachers with BA(Hons) and a PGCE or a BSC with the same?

  11. I read the previous posts with sympathy and general agreement. However, long observation suggests to me that technology IS potentially very useful but is vary rarely used effectively and is very difficult to use effectively.

    From the beginning, teachers have gladly introduced ‘new’ technologies and gadgets into their classrooms, beginning with text books, with the exchange of chalk and slate to paper and pen, the introduction of the piano, the gramophone, the earliest projectors, the use of film (It’s half a century since a leased 16 mm print of ‘Lord of the Flies’ made an impact on the literature students in my then grammar school and my first secondary school language teacher introduced us very effectively to a French language learning system which used 35 mm slides and audio tapes), etc. Computer technology can supply the equivalent and more, but a facility for using new technology requires a higher level of training than ever those early technologies did. And it is rare that I see such training happening, primarily because there is insufficient time.

    Nor does the current environment of education encourage taking risks, teachers too often and too deeply afraid of being judged harshly by government agencies and their own managers.

    Indiscipline in the classroom – in my experience, that is – is also a major problem. Offering a technological solution to a teacher recently, the answer I received was, in effect, “I can’t let my lot loose on computers because the instant they have access they will be playing games or looking up fashion websites instead of working.”

    There should be more adult bodies in the classroom, and it’s a sad reflection on education provision that new technology and more teachers/adult workers should ever be seen as mutually exclusive. It is sad, too, that the inculcation of respect for teachers, for adults in general and for education itself should be allowed to slide so far as it has through laxity of discipline.

    Sorry, rant over. Teachers are not to blame. Short-sighted management and government are.

  12. It is important not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Having the teacher in charge of the technology is paramount. I say in charge and mean totally in charge. No students should be using their smart phones, ipads laptops etc unless the teacher has directed them to do so. It is mostly uneccessary for students to use this technology. The students do often get distracted and go on other websites wasting time. I was extremely frustrated by this behaviour at the high school and college level where fashion car buying websites and the dreaded social network were all accessible to students. I did find the interactive whiteboard a very good tool for showing and demonstrating tasks but in order to get the class to attend they could not be seated within reach of their device. At the younger ages smaller class sizes would mean more help. am now in Canada and my son is in year 2, their are 20 children in his class with a full time EA and part time help as well. It seemed backwards to me to be teaching college classes of 17 pupils with primary classes all pushing 30.

  13. I certainly agree that ICT equipment purchases in primary schools can be wasteful and ineffective. I worked for a short time in a school where the headteacher admitted her own limitations in ICT, but devoted a large part of her budget to it. Her strategies for purchases could be compared with a teenager who must impress with the latest pair of trainers with the right logo on show! Suppliers ran rings around her and the staff laptops were not fit for purpose – they were low capacity and low speed when multi-tasking. She was impressed when observing a lesson if children were playing fun games on computers. Despite being ICT equipment ‘rich’event at Year 6 the children in that school had a lack of basic ICT skills and understanding, a general level well below that achieved in other schools less well funded for ICT.

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