We need to improve Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity in our schools

Despite promises to the contrary by the Government, schools across the UK are facing significant cuts to their budgets. According to IT Channel Expert’s sister publication PCR, redundancies for non-teaching staff are even being considered by some secondary schools as they attempt to balance the books.

These are tough times for teaching professionals and institutes – ‘educating the nation’s young people on an austerity budget’, suggested the National Union of Teacher’s general secretary Christine Blower recently.

However, technology and IT products are still of vital importance to educational institutions, with sales in certain product areas continuing to rise.

As in other sectors, tablet use is growing. The ‘Tablets and Connectivity’ survey by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) questioned some 335 primary schools and 297 secondary schools in June this year. It found that 71 per cent of primary and 76 per cent of secondary schools are making use of tablets in the classroom, compared to 56 per cent of both school types last year.

Currently, there are estimated to be 721,000 tablets for use by pupils in classrooms across UK maintained schools and academies, and it is forecast that by the end of 2016 this number will have increased to over 946,000.

This upward trend appears to be continuing, with 15 per cent of schools suggesting that they will have 1:1 access to tablet technology by 2016 and 44 per cent of schools having one tablet per child by 2020.

However, Wi-Fi and connectivity remain an issue for many schools, particularly those in more rural areas.

Caroline Wright, director of BESA says: “Today’s research shows there is an opportunity for teaching schools, school leadership organisations and industry to work with schools to help them understand how they can utilise tablet technology to its full potential, and integrate tablets as learning tools into the classroom.

“It is disappointing to see so many schools still struggling with Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity issues. With nearly half of schools reporting poor connectivity we run the risk of failing to equip our young people with the essential digital skills that they need for their future careers. More needs to be done to improve Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity in our schools.”

Beyond tablets and connectivity services, there are myriad other opportunities for resellers to target the educational sector, which you will no doubt read about during this month’s ‘Public Sector’ theme on IT Channel Expert.

More on opportunities in the education sector:

The cloud is making education clearer

How virtual reality will revolutionise education

Creating long-term relationships with public sector buyers

Image source: Shutterstock

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