By Maureen McTaggart
Independent schools have been playing catch-up with state schools in the ICT stakes according to a report from the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa). It reveals that independent schools are recognising the need to invest in ICT with a third of senior schools believing that ICT infrastructure and peripherals are a priority in 2008 compared to 27 per cent of state secondary schools. In preparatory schools the figure is 38 per cent compared to 31 per cent in state primaries.
The 44-page report, “Resources for Independent Schools”, analysed trends in budgeting and resourcing and based its findings on responses from 14 per cent of the 1,270 schools that are members of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and compared them with the feedback from state schools.
With responses to questions about issues like resource budgets spending focus, curriculum area spending focus, spending changes by product category, purchasing issues and ICT strategy and provision, the report also reveals that, for an overwhelming majority of the schools surveyed, ICT is a key spending area with average allocations of more than 40 per cent of available resource budgets. Seventy per cent of preparatory and 68 per cent of senior schools claim they will spend more on ICT in the next two years than they have done in the previous two. This compares with 58 and 43 per cent of their state counterparts.
Besa director Ray Barker says: “Independent schools do not benefit from the large Government grants that have pushed the ICT market for state schools, and traditionally, they have not perceived ICT to be very important. However, the BESA research indicates that independent schools are beginning to feel that ICT skills are essential to the future and are investing in these resources.”
According to the Besa research, a senior independent school typically spends about £8,000 less than a state secondary school but, with fewer pupils, this amounts to £100 more per pupil than state secondary schools. In preparatory schools the level of spending is even greater at £240 per pupil - £105 more than the state primary school.
“As the Besa research has found that independent schools are spending nearly twice as much as state schools on resources per pupil, does this mean that the state school students may be at a disadvantage?" asks Ray Barker. "If so, it is very important that the sector works with the Government to develop strategies to overcome this funding divide.”
“Resources in Independent Schools” is free to BESA members but can be purchased by non-members directly from Besa.
Tel: 020 7537 4997