Education in Flux With Funding but They Still Need Hi-Tech Solutions
Before the major upheavals that resulted from the EU Referendum in June, Education Minister Nicky Morgan was pushing a white paper that was essentially starting a rush to change schools across the UK into academies and revolutionise the way they are funded. A few short weeks later and Morgan is no longer in post, replaced by the first state school educated minister Justine Greening and things are in flux once again.
Things might be about to change but primary and secondary schools across the country face the usual challenges, not least how to maximise their budgets and make the best decisions for their pupils. The switch to academies aside, there are still structural and financing difficulties to face with the move from local authority control to the new regime. There’s also the prospect of teachers being ever more difficult to recruit, many leaving the sector because they have lost faith. Amidst all this, there is also a major rethink underway on how schools will be funded in the future.
Prior to the Brexit fallout, Morgan had been advised that some of the new academies were set to repeat many of the mistakes of their local authority run counterparts. Irrespective of the fact that our schools are one of our most important assets we have and need to be funded and managed properly, bringing in radical changes can not only cause an atmosphere of uncertainty but prevent school heads from investing in the future.
Justine Greening has already delayed the school funding overhaul that Morgan’s white paper was supposed to address and which was going to be implemented, despite objections, sometime next year. While the proposal has not been thrown into the long grass, a further consultation is usually a sign that the changes expected may well be watered down as the Government heads into yet more consultations.
While heads of school might hope that the right people are asked for their opinion this time around, they still have to forge ahead with procurement decisions. With questions being asked about minimum funding guarantees, schools have to make the right decisions with the budgets they currently have.
Working with suppliers has always been key for school administration departments if they want to get best value for money. The latest MFPs, for instance, can help improve productivity and reduce costs spent on consumables such as paper and toner. Enhanced digital interfaces also provide the opportunity to bring in new process that save money and better energy efficiency means such devices deliver cost savings on utility bills.
Schools still need hi-tech solutions for the classroom too, whether that’s the large interactive screens used for teaching that many academies now have in place or the ways in which individual schools are connecting with parents, pupils and teachers using dedicated and low cost apps. The good news is that a more integrated approach is allowing schools to reduce their running costs and provide a higher level of tech delivery that is not only benefiting pupils but allowing academic and administrative staff to do their jobs more productively.