Smart savings

Use the latest technology to excel and avoid capital spend, says Helene Podmore from Elementary Technology

Independent schools are under immense pressure; pressure to generate results, to be the best option for parents and pupils and to stand out among a crowd of alternatives – independent, state schools and academies.

Success in all these areas is vital to generate the financial success every independent school requires.

So it’s the job of management team to decide which areas add most value to their offering, and which best contribute to this success. And to add another dimension to this; what do these different options cost, and therefore which are best value?

Investment in sports facilities, promotional advertising, a new roof, a new member of staff or new teaching and learning technology are all procurement options. Given a pot of revenue per year, the challenge is knowing which will add most value.

Let’s consider one of these in more detail – an investment in teaching and learning technology.

By this we mainly refer to an interactive touchscreen at the front of class, visualisers, mobile devices and classroom audio – all vital in order to generate best academic outcomes. As some evidence of this, over 40,000 state school classrooms have upgraded their out-dated interactive whiteboard and projector solutions to an interactive touchscreen, and approximately half of state schools have purchased at least one touchscreen in their school.

Why is there this level of investment? The reason is because state schools are in competition as well, partly with each other but also with DfE academic targets. They know that using the latest interactive technology helps them achieve these targets, and adds value to their school.

Interactive touchscreen technology is superior in virtually every respect to the obsolete interactive whiteboard, with a projector solution used by nearly all independent schools. This differential is improved when used alongside other technology – mobile devices, visualisers, educational software and more.

Using this new technology makes a school better.

The objection from an independent school will be its cost. The latest technology isn’t cheap, particularly when buying in multiple units. Compared to other spend options, and given the high capital spend, the risk is it won’t add sufficient value.

Yet this approach over several years means an independent school falls behind, particularly behind the state schools every parent has the option to send their child to, but also the direct competition.

Ageing projectors show dim, washed-out images. Their lamps need replacing, and they can be hot, noisy, and project shadows onto a carefully crafted lesson.

Ageing interactive whiteboards develop faults, need continually re-calibrating and the interactivity will often become redundant.

As a system they cost more to run, with both higher maintenance and energy costs.

These issues mean pupil engagement is affected, some can’t see the lesson content without closing the curtains and without proper audio, older buildings with poor acoustics will mean some pupils are challenged to hear lessons properly.

Persisting with old technology does not make a school better – it reduces the value being offered to pupils and makes payment of expensive fees a less attractive proposition to a parent with options.

There is, however, a solution.

The solution allows an independent school under these pressures to fill their institution with the latest interactive technology, and avoid a capital cost. Spend on this upgrade would sit alongside other operating costs such as electricity, staff, grounds maintenance and so on. As a neat line in an annual budget.

Furthermore, the figure for this is much smaller than you’d think. Set against a revenue column which itemises income per pupil, it is in fact tiny. Having use of the latest interactive touchscreen in a classroom, supported by powerful software and lesson resources built for education, can cost just £1.53 per pupil per week.

Just £1.53 to improve pupil engagement, to reduce energy costs and maintenance disruption, and to help you exceed the competition. Only £1.53 per pupil per week to support better results, for a powerful promotional tool to parents and pupils, and to empower your teachers with exciting new teaching opportunities. For £1.53 per pupil per week. What is your school’s fee per pupil per week?

Click here for more information, and to register your interest.

Helene Podmore is Head of Education at Elementary Technology.

Helene has a background both as an Assistant Headteacher and working for a leading education technology distributor. This blend of experience and expertise allows her to provide independent, qualified advice and ideas to schools procuring new technology.

Tel: 01423 876 317

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